WAYOut West Studio Update


We’ve just had an update from our studio in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The studio is run by WAYOut Arts, an organisation that offers training and shelter, make films that can effect change and record music that enables excluded people to re-engage. Here’s the update from WAYOut Arts founder Hazel Chandler:

The Black Street Family, who are a group of street youth who we have been working with for some time now- have just completed their album and it will launch on the 12th April. There, this means a gig and lots of promotion so we are gearing up to this. The videos should be online soon. Included are 2 photos of them that they will be using on the album . Since they have been recording their music they have been accepted back into the community and are no longer feared.

We also have a group of young street youth – 16-20 year olds called The Way group. They live by their wits but, again, since doing their music they have changed and come in to the centre every day and if they cant get into the studio they work at video or photoshop. They are in the studio now recording their ‘anthem’ so there is a photo of them out and about when they were recording the video.

As an incentive we give certificates for completion of work- which includes music tracks so there is also a photo from this month of artists receiving their certificates. 42 certificates were given for new tracks completed this time – thats in the last 2 months. – Hazel Chandler, WAYOut Arts

We helped fund and set up the studio, and with £2,000 donations from Strummerville supporters and a £2,000 match fund from Dr. Martens means the studio will remain open for another year, for which we are truly grateful.

Strummerville x

Dr. Martens Match-Fund Our ‘Save Our Studio’ Appeal!

WAYOUT WEST - Strummerville

WAYOUT WEST - Strummerville

Today we are very excited to announce that our friends Dr. Martens have made a very generous match-fund offer on our original SOS: Save Our Studio appeal.

Our original target was to raise £2,000 which would be enough to keep the studio open and running for 6 months. Along with Dr Martens £2,000 match-funding this means that the studio, in Freetown, Sierra Leone can stay open for a whole year!

Hazel, Michael and all at WAYout are delighted with the news that Dr Martens will match the £2000 raised by Strummerville to support the studio in Freetwon, Sierra Leone. Since the studio opened, it has recorded over 250 musicians from the street or slum areas and inspired many others but it couldn’t run without engineers- John and Gibo and producer -Thomas who have volunteered full time for 17 months and, despite their own desperate need for money, so believed in WAYout goals and the Strummerville studio that they remained committed and loyal. Thanks to Strummerville and Dr Martens that loyalty is now rewarded. – Hazel Chandler – Charity Founder, WAYOut West

We would like to thank the team at Dr. Martens and to everyone who donated to the SOS: Saver Our Studio appeal for your ongoing support for our work which is to give opportunities to aspiring musicians and support to projects that create social mobility through music.

And we wish Hazel, the WAYOut West studio engineers John, Gibo & producer Thomas and to all the fantastic Freetown musicians the very best for 2014. Keep the music alive!

About Dr. Martens
Dr. Martens is a British footwear brand & without music Dr. Martens would have remained a work wear boot and shoe. The music of the tribes who wore and continue to wear Dr. Martens is inseparable from the brand itself. Music is the lifeblood of the brand and Dr. Martens want to celebrate the self expression of musicians who stand for something by promoting new talent.

About WayOut Arts
WAYout changes the lives of street, vulnerable and conflict affected young people through music and media. We offer training and shelter, make films that can effect change and record music that enables excluded people to re-engage . WAYout promotes artistic freedom, education and empowerment.
More info & Press Contact:

Strummerville – The Joe Strummer New Music Foundation
Strummerville is a registered charity that was set up by the friends and family of Joe Strummer in the year after his death. Strummerville gives opportunities to aspiring musicians and support to projects that create social mobility through music.

Fundraising Appeal: Save Our Studio

Strummerville campaign - save our studio

Strummerville campaign - save our studio

Today we announce our SOS: Save Our Studio appeal to raise £2,000 to keep our recording studio open in Sierra Leone.

In 2012, Strummerville was delighted to announce their support for WAYout Arts, a charity whose amazing work with disadvantaged young people helps to bring joy and opportunities into fledgling peace-time communities in Sierra Leone.

We provided funding, equipment and training to set up a recording studio in Freetown for WAYout who use music to inspire, give hope and to bring people together, ideas which fit perfectly into the Strummerville ethos of social mobility through music.

Tragically, however, the sense of unity brought to the community by WAYout Arts is under threat and unless funding is found immediately the centre will be forced to close down to the detriment of both the musicians who record and play there and the people employed there.

More info about the appeal & how to support can be found by clicking here.

Thank you,

The INSound from WAYout: Volume 1 – sample recordings from our studio in Sierra Leone


The WAYout Studio in Freetown, Sierra Leone, supported by the Strummerville Foundation, offers a facility for recording live music and electronic music that is free to street youth – one of the few studios with engineers trained in recording and mastering live instruments.

Sierra Leone is a country with a deep love and passion for music. Live music was a key part of its culture and heritage, and Sierra Leonean musicians would record using a range of local instruments, performing concerts across the country and recordings using live bands.

But this live music culture died down after the country’s decade long civil war. Following the war, many instruments had been destroyed and musicians increasingly turned to using digital equipment , computers and software to make music, with Western, electronic and other popular African influences becoming more prominent in the Salone sound. Now, there is less appetite, less training and very little capability and facilities to record with or using live instruments.

This style of electronic music changed the sound of most popular Sierra Leonean musicians, and is enormously popular with younger audiences in particular. However, some local musicians are working to reverse the trend and bring Sierra Leonean live music back to the fore. Alieu Turay AKA Zebulon from the group Asho Packer says “Live music is part of us and we should not frown away from it.” he said. They continue singing live music so that the future generation will learn from them, as it has been the tradition. “We should not allow it to die like that.”

The WAYout Studio offers a facility for recording live music and electronic music that is free to street youth – one of the few studios with engineers trained in recording and mastering live instruments.

Through opening up this accessible recording studio and media hub for disadvantaged Sierra Leoneans – live musicians and street youth alike – WAYout is working to both support a resurgence of live music in Sierra Leone whilst continuing to engage young disadvantaged street youth through a free studio to produce contemporary music-making, media and arts projects.

Strummerville open up music studio in Freetown, Sierra Leone

Earlier this year we embarked on a project to set up a recoding studio on behalf of WAYout project. We were lucky enough to have James Adams, a very talented multi-instrumentalist, who offered to head over to Freetown and set up the studio, train people how to use and maintain it.

We would like to share with you this a letter from James, in his own words:

“I wanted to let you know how much of a success this project was/is. With the equipment we sent out, we had just about the best studio in Freetown and people were coming from all over to check it out. Everyone was really impressed by the fact that we had live instruments and that we were able to record them.

Before going I didn’t fully understand how little live music was played in Sierra Leone. Lots of people were coming to the studio claiming they were musicians but mostly were rappers and none had any knowledge of instruments.

I was constantly asking for anyone who was playing any kind of music and came across ‘Supercombo’ who are all in their 70s and have been playing since the 60s. They play once a week at a venue not far from the studio and attract an older crowd….the young guys dismiss it as old timers music and favour the US style hip hop/RnB. All Supercombo’s instruments are on loan from government officials. I convinced them to come and record 3 tracks in the studio…to give them a recording and me a way to teach the WaYout guys how to use the studio.

I also found a guy with a guitar who turned out to be a Ghanaian musician, waiting to play a wedding gig. He was an awesome guitarist and I got him in to record a track. I was hoping to set him up as a guitar teacher there….but he was a much better player than he was teacher and I had difficulties getting him to commit.

At the same time I was taken to meet the Blackstreet family who Hazel had been working on engaging. They are a large street gang, once very violent and feared but now more interested in peace and music. They had what turned out to be a whole album they wanted to record and had been given a CD of backing tracks by an English contact.

So we had a mega busy 5 weeks with great things happening. The old guys and young guys had a taste of each others music and appreciated how each others tracks were coming together. I taught the students all I could about producing, recording, mixing, mastering and studio maintenance. A few of them were learning piano with me, a couple on drums and one on bass and one on guitar. We did a weekly music workshop with everyone which was always fun.

It was incredible for me to see how much use was being had out of this studio….and how much it meant to people. The quality of sound production in general in Sierra Leone is so poor…most of the NGOs and government organisations source that kind of work from abroad. I started to see potential for these guys at WAYout to be able to pitch for this kind of work in the near future. Hazel went back out there recently and said they’re looking after and running it so well. They’re doing work for an organisation campaigning for peaceful elections and continue to record local artists. They still have a way to go with their knowledge to be able to pitch for work confidently….and they all need to develop musical understanding to produce and mix effectively. I hope to be able to go back out there and continue the work someday. Something really great has been started and there is a lot of buzz around the studio now.”

If you get a moment to have a look, James has put some of the recordings he made and pics to go with them up on his website – click here

We would like to offer a massive thank you to James and to everyone involved in this amazing project. Strummerville are very proud to have been involved and we can’t wait to hear more music from Freetown!

Strummerville x

Opening the studio in Seirra Leone

Our studio is now set up at The Hub in Sierra Leone and we have the very talented James Adams in there for the next six weeks running workshops every day.

One love,
Strummerville x

Strummerville supports the WAYout project in Sierra Leone

We are very happy to announce our plans to support and complement the wonderful work of WAYout which is another charity that works with street youth and disadvantaged young people in Sierra Leone.


Strummerville will be opening a music studio in the new WAYout Hub in Freetown where we will be sending instruments, full back-line and someone to help get the all set up making music.

More news to follow …