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We’re very proud to be hosting Episode 1 Open Conversations with incredible young composer Will Davenport in which he chats to musicians within the LGBT+ community about their wonderful work, their time in lockdown, the power of community and their thoughts and feelings on the future. This week Will is joined by fantastic artist Asher Fynn and previously CM featured vocalist and creator, Luca Manning. Tune in below!
We also had the pleasure of chatting with Will about his own incredible work as a composer, as the chair and founder of the LGBT+ Working Group at The Ivors Academy and his ideas behind Open Conversations.
Hey Will, we’re so pleased to be hosting your webinar series Open Conversations with some brilliant musicians. First, however, we’d love to find out more about yourself! You’ve been involved in a plethora of amazing projects. What was your introduction like into composition?
You’ve been involved in a plethora of amazing projects. What was your introduction like into composition?
My introduction was in many ways bizarre, but also in many ways fairly traditional. I started playing the piano when I was 8, and when it came to my grade 5 exam a few years later it was decided that I would give the Trinity College exam a go, which includes the option to be examined in one of your own compositions. This was the first time I wrote a piece for piano. This was pretty revelatory because I realised that making new music felt more natural to me than performing old repertoire.
Simultaneously, I started messing with Garageband and eventually Logic from age 12, making electronically produced music quite obsessively. I was on a computer making music for fun whilst piano practice was more of a chore, but eventually I began to realise that both worlds could collide. I’m still excited by the relationship of these two worlds.
Can you tell us any more about your current musical projects? We would love to know more about the ideas behind your experimental audio book!
The audiobook, entitled How Did We Get Here? Is an utterly mad homage to all the sci-fi movies, stories and music I have grown up with. I wanted to create a piece of immersive fiction, and explore how sound can build an auditory world around the listener. I have written the script and am exploring the relationship between dialogue and sound as an element of the story. I love sci-fi as a genre as it can be so accessibly political, the story is set in the far future but it very much relates to our current predicaments. This project shall hopefully be released by the end of the year, alongside several other projects such as my debut album release and an online event for String Quartet and Electronics… 2021 is proving to be a busy year!
Identity and composition seem to be very closely linked in your work. How important is music to you in expressing and developing identity?
It is so incredibly important to me. My debut album I Can’t Get Out of Bed tackles issues of identity, shame and guilt. It has taken an awfully long time to find the confidence to release it but finally this year I can say it will be released. When I listen back to it I often don’t recognise myself in the lyrics, which proves that identity is something which can be transient and changeable. But also with my less autobiographical projects, whilst I’m working on big sci-fi concepts or writing for String Quartet, there is still undoubtedly a lot of my identity and ideology in the work. I see music as a direct conversation with a listener, and I feel like I am often revealing my crazy innermost thoughts.
You have been part of the Ivors Academy for a number of months, can you tell us more about your time there and the work you have been doing?
My relationship with the Ivors began just as the UK got struck by coronavirus, so it’s been an entirely online relationship (like many relationships at the moment). Despite that, the support that I have felt from the Ivors and all the wonderful, inspiring people I have met through the academy has been invaluable. It has allowed me to maintain a sense of community through all of this.
The Ivors are dedicated to change and improvement within the industry. Part of this improvement revolves around pushing further equality, diversity and inclusion both within the Ivors and the larger music community. As a gay musician I voiced that the academy should put work into LGBT+ equality and diversity. They were incredibly forthcoming to meet my request, allowing me to chair an LGBTQI+ working group and network, this opportunity has allowed me to work with Wesley John, Graham Davies and Emily Saunders!
What are your aims and objectives for the Ivors’ LGBT+ working group?
Firstly, my aim is to open up room for conversation within the industry and connect LGBTQI+ creators and allies together. Simply sharing experiences unleashes so much power and confidence for musicians, and confidence translates to an audience. Visibility is integral in destroying stigma. This is why I am so glad to be launching this new series.
We’re really excited to be launching ConnectsMusic’s Open Conversations. What were the initial ideas behind the webinar series?
Me too! I am very grateful to Emily Saunders for allowing me to host this for ConnectsMusic. The initial idea emerged from a really fantastic conversation with Emily, and led to me to wax lyrical about so many powerful and inspiring LGBT+ people within the industry. It seemed like such a clear route to use the platform to highlight new and upcoming LGBT+ musicians and highlight that queer and creativity go hand in hand.
What are your aspirations for Open Conversations? What do you hope people will take from it?
I hope that people are inspired by the creative conversations, inspired by the power of the LGBT community and the visibility of the musicians involved. I hope people will be inspired to fight for further diversity and inclusion within the industry.
What’s in store for Open Conversations’ first video?
My first Open Conversation is with the indomitable Jazz vocalist Luca Manning, and the incomparable sound artist, producer and vocalist Asher Fynn. Whilst being two genuinely kind, powerful and inspirational individuals, they also manage to be two incredibly prolific talents who I think you will be hearing much more from in the future. You don’t want to miss it!
What’s in store for Open Conversations Part 2?
Part 2 will feature some more inspiring conversation and a truly beautiful piece showcased by Asher Fynn.
Stay with us for more installments from Open Conversations and Will Davenport!