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Studio Live 

A music-making project for freedom, involving the training and equipping the Saharawi refugees with skills, resources and knowledge to produce high quality music and cultural events and help preserve their unique oral heritage. Studio-Live aimed to facilitate the building of a professional music making scene in the Saharawi refugee camps that could gain international recognition and become a creative hub for the displaced and dispersed community. 
Young band Zeeza being recorded with Studio Live sound equipment
Sandblast worked in close partnership with Saharawi artists, the cultural authorities based in the camps and the UK-based Fairtunes charity and music professionals such as Sara McGuinness (University of West London), Andy Coules (Live Sound Training) and Sam Jones (Soundthread). Training opportunities largely targeted women and youth, who make up more than 70% of the camp population.

Project History

Preparing the ground

In September 2010, the Studio-Live team, made up of Danielle Smith and Steve Stavrinides of Fairtunes, travelled to the camps to meet and establish a partnership with the Ministry of Culture. Agreements were made to provide training for live concerts (a priority identified by the Minister) and to assist in equipping the studio in the new Saharawi National Music School (ENAMUS) that was being built in the camps. In March 2011, the Studio-Live team returned with new member Nick Minton, also of Fairtunes, to record established and emerging Saharawi musicians, such as the traditional music group Tahadi, the new band Zeeza and Tiris. London-based Algerian darbucka player Karim Dellali also joined the team to contribute his skills. In the second week of the trip, the Sandblast-Fairtunes donated, van full of sound equipment, arrived to the camps in a humanitarian convoy and was stored at the Ministry of Culture to be used in the first training workshops.

Studio Live gets off the ground!

Sandblast with Enamus crew
Young Saharawi singer Shmeidah and band
In February 2012, the Studio-Live team, made up this time of Danielle and Violeta Ruano from Sandblast, spent two weeks in the camps. We participated in Run the Sahara 2012 as part of the UK group who were raising funds for Studio-Live. The trip included a cultural day organized by Sandblast where all the runners could enjoy learning about Saharawi traditions and music with fantastic group Salwan. We also interviewed different musicians across generations about their ideas, dreams and aspirations, discussing Studio-Live and the development of Saharawi music. We visited the recently inaugurated ENAMUS, where music
director Leily and coordinator Lebsir introduced us to the students and showed us the facilities, including the recording studio. Sandblast also provided the means to install Internet in the school.

Studio Live Training and Expansion

In January 2013, the Sandblast team travelled to Vitoria-Gasteiz in Spain to help coordinate a Historical Encounter of Saharawi Musicians living in Spain at the Conservatory of Music ‘Jesús Guridi’. The meeting, organised in collaboration with legendary revolutionary singer Oum Reghia, gathered more than 40 musicians and cultural figures, including singer Oum Dleila, musician Bachir Sidi, composer and guitarist Ali Mohamed, poet Ali Salem Iselmu, and young musicians Yslem and Lehsen, among many others. Studio-Live was presented for the first time in Spain. Throughout the day, interesting conversations sparkled around Saharawi music, its role in the struggle and its current state. The day-long event concluded with a concert in the evening, given by a number of the attending musicians, who delighted the audience with legendary songs such as ‘Sahara is not for sale’, by Oum Reghia, and ‘A song to the martyrs’, by Oum Dleila, who had not sung in more than 8 years.
Young Saharawi rapper Yslem during the conference
Saharawi musicians during the concert

Studio-Live Training and Expansion II

In September 2013, a second Studio Live workshop in sound recording showcased music tracks recorded and mixed by our fabulous technical team. The music was played through the PA Stagepas 660i newly acquired by Sandblast for the project. Danielle was there to hand out certificates to the six students (3 boys and 3 girls) after completing the intensive 12-day training period with Sara McGuinness. Numerous musicians also collaborated during the workshop to take advantage of the opportunity to be professionally recorded and to conduct practical exercises for the students in running a recording session. This time, the workshop was set up in the headquarters of the Saharawi youth organisation, UJSARIO, in the Camp Boujdour. This was possible thanks to the official invitation and facilitation offered by female governor Ezza Brahim to hold the Studio-Live workshop in her newly established camp.
Sara McGuinness with the students
Students using the recording equipment
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Registered Charity (England and Wales) :1115288 | Companies House Registration number : 05397223
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