Tell us a little bit about yourself and the 4bar Collective.
Ten years ago I dreamed up 4bar Collective as an escape from the competitive, cutthroat business world of music that I had been a part of as a session guitarist. I wanted a project that focused on collaboration and cross-promotion rather than competition!
When I first launched 4bar in 2013, I would travel all over the UK meeting up with musicians I had been in contact with on Facebook. We would write and record four bars of music together that would contribute to an original collaborative song/music video that promoted everyone involved. Since then the project has developed and evolved. I have done away with the restriction of 4 bars per musician and the primary output of 4bar Collective is now documentary films that tell the stories of the musicians involved.
Where has 4bar collective taken you so far?
So far 4bar Collective has taken me all over the UK, Italy, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Afghanistan, Palestine, and Israel!
Where is your favourite place and why?
New Zealand. I feel completely at peace there, the country has a beautiful culture and it feels so far away from the rest of the world.
Which country has had the most interesting music scene or really surprised you?
So far it has to be Israel/Palestine, it is such an incredible melting pot of cultures and musical styles.
Tell us a little bit about your work with Zohra
I found out about Zohra when scrolling through Facebook: a video about them had gone viral online explaining a little about their story as Afghanistan’s first ever female orchestra. Some members had been disowned by their families or threatened by their communities just for playing music!
I was so inspired by their passion for music and women’s rights in such a difficult situation that I composed an original piece of music called Sister. I released the piece online as an open letter video with the aim of making contact with Zohra. The Zohra women saw the video and loved ‘Sister’ and they invited me to record them performing the piece.
With such an incredible story I couldn’t just record the music so I borrowed some professional cameras, learned how to use them and flew over to Afghanistan to work with Zohra and film a 30 minute documentary about the orchestra.
What were some of the best things you found in your time in Israel?
Spending time with the locals on street corners talking about their heritage and cultures over a cup of traditional tea!
Do you have any recommendations for Beats Travellers in the area?
Tel Aviv is the place for live music! There is such a wide variety of genres, no matter what you are into there will be a place for you to go. I would recommend Radio EPGB, (a venue reminiscent of New York’s CBGB) and Levontin 7 for a wide variety of artists and good food.
What is the main thing you have taken from your work with musicians around the world?
That music is a universal language and it has an incredible power to bring people together.
What is the best moment you have had since working on this?
There was a member of Zohra called Zarifa Adiba. During my time in Afghanistan, I managed to meet with her the day before she fled the country due to a family dispute over an arranged marriage she was being forced into. We talked for hours and hours and made a really strong connection. Her Viola belonged to the music school so she had to say goodbye to it which was absolutely heartbreaking. When I returned to England I bought a Viola and was able to ship it to her small village in Pakistan. The happiness it brought her gave me the best feeling.
Are there any musicians that you have met around that world that have just blown you away with their talent?
There have been so many! Most recently, I must say it has to be Tania Vinokur. When she began improvising with her Violin I couldn’t pick my jaw up off the floor! I met her at a studio in Jerusalem in October 2018 and she jumped straight into recording, laying down take after take of amazing original material.
Are you aware of any other Musicians tackling social causes in a similar way?
Shortly after I launched 4bar Collective, a friend showed me a group called Playing For Change which is a huge project that records, films and collaborates musicians around the world to record a cover track to promote peace. They have become a great inspiration to me.
Do you have any advice for people thinking of taking a similar path to you?
Make sure that passion is always your source of motivation rather than money. You have to be prepared to fail again and again before you start to get any success, most people fail once or twice and give up. My advice is to surround yourself with positive people and always fight against the negative voices in your head.
Is there any way that people can get involved and help with 4Bar?
The best way for people to get involved with 4bar is to head over to the Facebook page and get in touch! I want 4bar Collective to be a worldwide community where we can share ideas and connect with each other.