Today, Drake Music and the Brazilian NGO Mais Diferenças are making face-to-face contact via Skype, and a significant cultural exchange is taking place. Over the past few months, a group of five disabled musicians have been collaborating in a transatlantic musical project. We are currently at CEDA in Exeter, where four of them are about to showcase their work to the fifth member of the team, Billy Saga – a Brazilian rapper and disabled activist who has added lyrics and instrumentation to the original ideas sent to Brazil by email. The time has come to share musical compositions, discuss music and disability and to show each other different ways musicians can overcome physically disabling barriers to music.
Skype is working, the ipad is working, our accessible software is working – even the kettle is working. In a flurry of activity we try to stick to our sharp 9 o’clock kick off, stretching cables, shifting furniture and trying to find the Brazilian guys on Skype – they are not online! Shortly though, we make contact with Billy and Luis Mauch, co-ordinator at Mais Diferenças and it’s all working. The Brazilian Summer sunlight is flooding into their office, bleaching out the image a little, as we struggle to illuminate our space on this grey, icy December morning. You could feel the excitement in the air.
Soon, the camera is rolling and we start our interview. After introductions, the CEDA guys demonstrate some of the technology they used to create their work. We have the Soundbeam at hand, an iPad to play Thumbjam, an accessible version of Sonar, and Clicker 5 to help with interview questions. Billy and Luis are thrilled to see how the remixes were created, and a live jam session takes place with Billy freestyling some rap lyrics. The musicians take turns to ask each other questions about the project, music and their experiences as disabled musicians, as I interpret the Portuguese as rapidly as possible. Huge smiles, rounds of applause and eventual shedding of tears punctuate this amazing exchange. As Kevin aptly explains using his VOCA, ‘music helps me express myself and talk to others’. According to Mais Diferenças, this is the first time a connection of this kind has been made, and all present agree that it should be the first of many.
Kevin is interviewed live by Billy in São Paulo and responds using his Dynavox:
Our live Skype feed, using Clicker 5 for interview questions and accessible Sonar for remix demos:
Chris, one of the four remix maestros:
Rob shows how he used Soundbeam in his remix:
Kevin demonstrates to the Brazilian team how he used Thumbjam on an ipad to create his Remix of Billy’s song:
Rob gives Brazilian rap the thumbs up:
Stay tuned for the video!
Update – Watch the video on our Showcase page: The Brazilian Connection