Brainchild x On Mass: Introducing the Artists

On the 9th November we’re hosting one of our most ambitious events yet – an evening in partnership with Roundhouse‘s On Mass project, where we’re bringing young musicians from the Faroe Islands, Brazil and India together with some of the London-based musicians we know and love. 

This is a once in a lifetime kind of project that we are very excited about, and with less than one week to go before the big night, here’s a bit more about all its parts:  the On Mass programme, Total Refreshment Centre, and our own London-based musical hero Nubya Garcia…  


A few days after our own event, On Mass will shake the walls of Camden Roundhouse on 12 November. It’s a mass music-making spectacle bringing together 180 young musicians and performers from the Faroe Islands, Brazil, Scotland, Palestine and India to take over the Roundhouse. Each international group is given the same specially created track by Grammy award winning Angélique Kidjo, to interpret and rework for months before they perform together with Kidjo herself on the big night. It’s a chance to get a deeper understanding of how different countries make music, brought to life on stage with circus performers, beatboxers and hip hop dance theatrics.

WHAT’S going down at brainchild’s event?

With our own night, we hope to open up the conversation that On Mass has started, and introduce these artists to how London makes music. We’re so excited to welcome them to the DIY musical hub of Total Refreshment Centre and to the music of London’s own Nubya Garcia. A saxophonist, composer and DJ, Nubya this year put together her own band and released her debut record – Nubya’s 5ives with Jazz Re:freshed (it sold out in 2 days). The project is a culmination and development of the sounds and musicians bringing the fire to London’s young jazz scene right now.

Reflecting on making music in the city, she tells us: “everyone in London making music around me is inspiring and influential at the minute… The people I play with in bands, the musicians’ gigs I go out to see… All of it. I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of making music at this point in time”.

Nubya playing in Joe Armon-Jones & Maxwell Owin’s Idiom @ Jazz Cafe in May 2017

We’re so pumped to hear how Nubya and her band get stuck into the music from our visiting musicians too. Leaders of Roundhouse’s music & beatbox collectives have been visiting the countries involved in On Mass to explore their musical approaches, and it sounds like we’re in for a treat. We caught a glimpse from composer and saxophonist Wayne Francis, who runs the music collective, and plays in United Vibrations, Ahnansé as well as running Steam Down – his monthly night exploring the sounds of Afrofuturism. He recently headed out to the Faroe Islands:

“Their musical heritage is uniquely different to ours. Faroese music is rooted in strong choral tradition; the song is very important and tells the stories of their people… Everyone sings even if you don’t consider the voice to be your lead instrument. Their variation and interpretation of the piece we working on – a song rooted in six eight African rhythms – was one of the highlights of the project.”

Chatting to Wayne, we became very excited to hear how Faroese approaches to making music contrast with what’s going on in London. He says: “within traditional Faroese music there are elements of jazz, pop and other groove-based music – they’re open to global influences. There’s experimentation with crossing jazz and traditional Faroese song, and young producers are making experimental hip hop beat music that has parallels with musical ideas in London’s scene.”

We can’t wait to see what musicians from each country bring to the floor. In a time time when being able to cross borders and play music must be cherished and protected, gatherings like On Mass and our own event are a powerful celebration of collaboration, new ideas and new jams.

Wayne Francis playing in United Vibrations, Brainchild 2016 by Jerome Toole



London’s flourishing music happenings are sown and nurtured in intimate spaces like Total Refreshment Centre, and we’re so grateful to be able to host our event there; the venue has been earmarked for development for over five years, but they were recently granted an extra year’s lease with only weeks until their eviction date.

Lexus Blondin, who runs and curates the venue, knows the perils of making space for music in the capital all too well. “Running a venue in London can be demanding. Financially, rent and business rates make it difficult, but there’s other challenges like the council and not disturbing neighbours”. Other spaces haven’t been so lucky, with only 245 of the 430 music venues that traded in London from 2007-2015 still open in 2015.

In spite of this, Lex and his team keep on programming and nourishing a musical culture, providing a fertile ground to exchange and develop ideas, because communities need “a place to congregate and feel comfortable on a regular basis. It’s super important for people to be able to connect, be in one space together and interact with each other. When you create a project with people it’s the most empowering thing ever”.

That much seems true whether you’re working with friends from down the road, or strangers from around the world. As Guðrið, one of On Mass’ musicians from the Faroe Islands, says, “being around artistic people and environments is always a source of creative inspiration”. Sailesh, one of the musicians from India travelling to London to take part in the project, adds that for him, being part of On Mass is a chance to “share techniques and experiences with people who are in the same mindset as mine, so I can master skills and grow in the art form”.

Skin Deep: Sonic Transmissions with Shabaka Hutchings @ TRC



You know what to do. Join us at Total Refreshment Centre next week as we come together to discuss, play, jam and dance to the music of the Faroe Islands, Brazil, India and London. It’s gonna be big and beautiful – join the fun, and get yer tickets!

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