A new app has been launched and is inspired by Aboriginal Australian song lines, a 60,000-year-old tradition of mapping the land.
SONGSTREETS was made in response to a Brixton community project led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander musician Jessie Lloyd in Autumn 2022. The app provides users with fascinating new way to explore Brixton. SONGSTREETS takes you on an interactive, theatrical journey through this south London neighbourhood, following in the footsteps of its residents in this unique guided tour.
The app, launched in commemoration of the 75th Windrush anniversary, and to mark the anniversary of the 1981 Brixton Rising, brings together the songs and stories of Brixton, for an interactive app experience designed by sound artist Thor McIntyre-Burnie. Starting from Brixton tube, you can take an hour-long walk through the streets of Brixton, which burst to life through this theatrical experience, with the music, voices and stories of local people guiding your way.
Narrated by Tony Cealy, the Voices of Brixton interact, guide, read and sing to you as you meander through the Brixton streets, learning about its history and community in an intimate, moving and uplifting performance experience. The Voices of Brixton are a wide-ranging cast, including artist and Notting Hill Carnival Board Director Linett Kamala, and actress Vivienne Rochester (Love in Idleness, Mernier Chocolate Factory and West End; Django, Sky Atlantic).
Lloyd applied her Indigenous methodology of working with communities, previously utilised in Australia for her acclaimed Mission Songs project, which saw her gather and revive the music of Page | 2 Indigenous Elders. Her Brixton residency in Autumn 2022, Mapping Brixton Through Song, saw Lloyd similarly gather the rich stories and songs of the local area, working closely with community animateur Tony Cealy.
The project explored the commonalities of experience between Indigenous Australians and Black Britons, using music to commemorate heritage, and emphasise it within global histories of racism, and emerging processes of reconciliation. Border Crossings Artistic Director Michael Walling comments, , “Working with the Brixton community has been a deeply rewarding and very powerful experience. Jessie Lloyd’s way with song really enabled people to open up about their memories and feeling, so that the streets came to life. “
“The way the app brings the songs and stories into your ears as you walk is so immersive and so moving – you see these streets in a completely different way.” Mapping Brixton Through Song and SONGSTREETS a are part of arts organisation Border Crossings’ ORIGINS festival. SONGSTREETS has been made with the support of Arts Council England and the Australia-UK Season. For more information on SONGSTREETS and the work of Border Crossings, please visit https://www.bordercrossings.org.uk/
Join us today (Tuesday 11 April) at 2.30pm in Windrush Square as we launch a brand new immersive app experience for Brixton.
Encounter the characters, stories and songs that make Brixton resonate, in an intimate, moving and ultimately uplifting performance experience. Led by the knowledge of Black Brixtonites, we journey into the heart and fire of what empowers this unique place.
SONGSTREETS is accessed via the Aswarm XR mobile app, don’t forget to download using a strong Wi-Fi connection before you come down to the launch. Please note, SONGSTREETS is designed to be experienced with earphones.
About the project
During October 2022, Indigenous Australian musician Jessie Lloyd undertook a residency in Brixton, working with the community to discover songs and stories from the 75 years that have passed since the Windrush brought the first post-war migrants to London from the Caribbean. Applying the methodology she evolved to work with Indigenous Elders in her MISSION SONGS project, and collaborating with Brixton-born artist Tony Cealy, Jessie explored the commonalities of experience between Indigenous Australians and Black Britons, using music to commemorate local heritage, within global histories of racism and emerging processes of reconciliation. Jessie’s grandfather Albie Geia was a leader in the 1957 Palm Island Strike, which, like the events in Brixton in 1981, were labelled ‘riots’, leading to Albie’s imprisonment.