Bishi – a Q&A about A Song for London
A Song for Us celebrates our communities and the power of music to bring us together. A nationwide project, Sound UK has commissioned Bishi, in partnership with Spitafields Music, to write a new song for London.
Ahead of the premiere, we catch up with Bishi to find out more about her connections to London and about the new song, Can You Hear Our Souls?
Can you tell us about your links to London and what it means to you?
I’m a born and bred Londoner. My parents emigrated from West Bengal in the 70s, so London is in my blood and veins.
Tell us about the inspiration for your song for London?
I conducted a creative workshop with the children, led by Jessie Maryon Davies of Lips Choir. We got the children of Swanlea School to write out their feelings and experiences during the pandemic.
This was a way of getting to know and understand what the last 18 months has been like for them. I absorbed their lyrics and started improvising on sitar and piano until the song flowed through me.
This has been an incredibly difficult time we’re all living through. What have you learnt about yourself in the last 18 months? What keeps you positive? And how important has creativity and music been to you?
Making the best of a bad situation has always been my super power. I had to focus on being pragmatic and adapting digitally as an independent artist.
I’ve acquired a whole new set of music production and digital marketing skills. I’ve met a lot of musicians, artists and collectives who have brought amazing opportunities and friendships into my life. However, the most important thing I’ve learnt is how to find contentment in a difficult situation.
A Song for Us encourages creativity in everyone. Do you have any tips or words of encouragement for people wanting to create their own song?
When you are writing music, I believe no idea is a waste of time, however things turn out. Music making is quite literally at our fingertips. Document anything you like, whether it’s writing notes on paper or singing/speaking into a phone. Songs have a way of emerging, if you let them.
Can you tell us about the local pupils performing your new song and how these collaborations came about?
These are the children of Swanlea School in Whitechapel who I was introduced to by Spitalfields Music. I believe they are in Year 7 or Year 8 – that crucial period when children become teenagers.
People can really shut down at this age, for a number of reasons and I want to give them a unique experience of creativity. I think this commission was a first for them, so there was a big learning curve but I was really captivated and inspired by their big personalities. I was inspired by the whole team.
Can You Hear Our Souls? – A Song for London – will be available online from Thursday 4 November (1pm) on the Song for London county page.