From Pen to Stage

words by Mario de Rosso

For months and years, we have been accompanying young artists in the
neighborhood in their artistic process. All week, they look forward
to the Hip-Hop workshops we conduct on Wednesday afternoons. Some of
them come to pass the time, others to discover a universe or to be
able to record for the first time in a professional studio. But six
of these young people are more than assiduous, invested, and
artistically, they are making great strides. We see them evolve
personally, gain maturity in the writing of their texts or in the
construction of their pieces.

We, the artists – educators, became attached to these teenagers and
created an almost family bond with them. We consider them our little

The idea then comes to us to go with them in artistic residency, far from
the neighborhood, in order to immerse this group of young people in a
living environment that promotes creativity. We know a good address
in a neighboring department. Lost in the middle of the Cévènnes
mountains, the cottage we think, of would be the perfect place to
create an EP in a few days.

Quickly, we structure the project and prepare our departure.

On D-Day, young people are excited! For most of them, it is the first
time they go to the mountains and after 60 kilometers of road, we
arrive there. In the process, we set up our ephemeral recording
studio in one of the workshops of our host Paola. In one of the
wings of the reception establishment, the young people take
possession of their rooms. It’s a unique experience. They will live
independently, far from home, far from their apartment and family.

We are well established, and we are launching the creation of the EP
(Extended Play). Here we go!

For five days, the young people structure their pieces as a collective.
While some write the verses by the river, others build the choruses
in our improvised recording studio. Those who have advanced on their
texts, are already thinking about the development of the next pieces.
From morning to night, young people work to give the best and design
quality music. The objective of this artistic residency is to
immerse young people in a creative process, and make them discover a
daily life that would be close to that of professional artists. We,
the artists – educators, supervise this week with a beatmaker
(Tumor Beatz), who produced all the instrumentals of the project. He
helps us on the artistic direction of the project and in the
supervision of daily life times. One evening, an artist (TIT) that
we accompanied to UNi’SONS as part of a stage residency came to visit
the young people. The latter were able to make him listen to the
pieces already created, and told him about the progress of the
project. We took advantage of the presence of this artist in
professionalization voice to involve him in the artistic direction of
a new piece built with young people. TIT was able to help the young
people, he advised them and supported them in the creation of this
music, the exchange was very enriching.

On the side of daily life, we have no cook, no housekeeper. We are
independent, we have to make our meals and keep our spaces clean.
These points will allow young people to participate in daily tasks,
that they are not used to do at home. At first, these parameters do
not please them, but we know that this stay will benefit them and
promote their autonomy. Convivial times in community make it possible
to launch debates, exchanges, and share. They also make it possible
to get out of creative processes, sometimes heavy and
energy-consuming, even if unconsciously these times feed the personal
culture of each one and indirectly feed the inspiration of young
artists. Pedagogically speaking, it is important to us.

Friday, after five days of writing, recording, the quantitative and
qualitative assessments are very positive. We have created six pieces
and are all satisfied with these new works. We pack our bags with a
twinge in our hearts, saddened by the “return to normal”.
Everyone will find their home, their little routine, far from the
unique experience we had this week. But to never forget this
extraordinary adventure, a video director immortalized all these
moments and gave life to a report “From pen to stage”,
available on the YouTube channel: @UniSons.

Montpellier, here we are again. Contrary to what we thought, the young people are
happy to find the asphalt of the city, their big building and all
their friends. They talk about this artistic residency with a big
smile, and are proud to say that they have created a mini album that
will be released soon. The promotion hasn’t started yet, they’re
already in action!

For us, the next step is the mixing of the project. We will spend hours,
days, nights, in the studio so that the sound quality is the best
possible. With Lionel, we decide to remove a track from this EP. The
lyrics are too light, the recording could have been done better, this
sound is a level below the others. If we want to set the bar high and
not go down a notch in the quality and intensity of this project,
this music must unfortunately be excluded.

After many cleaning and arranging sessions, we send the mixed EP to
mastering. We will receive the finished pieces a few days later. Here
it is, it is finally here, in our hands!

Without waiting, we summon the young artists for a general listening. Nearly
four months have passed since our week in Vigan. We can’t wait to
introduce them to the project finally finished! Their faces have lit
up, their heads are moving in all directions, their big smiles are
showing immense satisfaction. We put as much energy into this
project as we put into creating our own albums. Everyone is unanimous
after listening to the 5 titles: this project is the bomb!

For the promotion of the project, we plan to release a music video! In
the wake of the final listening, we mobilize the young people and all
their friends for the shooting of their music “Tiki Taka”.
This event brings together many participants and raises awareness of
our projects, our activities and the practice of Hip-hop. We now move
on to the editing of the clip that we release two months later which
now accumulates nearly 5000 views. A few days later, on March 2,
2022, the EP was released: “MSC DÉCOUVERTES”. It is always
available on all platforms (iTunes, Deezer, Spotify…). They have
prepared flyers announcing the event, which they distribute in the
courtyard of their college and throughout the neighborhood. They are
proud of themselves, and want this project to live as it should.

We could have stopped there, but a new idea crosses our minds. In May,
for its first edition, we host the festival “T’as La Ref”.
We present the EP to the organizers of the event who respond
favorably to our request. It’s recorded: our young shoots will be in
the first part of the concerts of the Festival, and will go on stage
for the first time.

But to pass this stage brilliantly, you have to be prepared! We therefore
set up stage residency slots so that our young artists master the
presentation of their works live. Having many concerts to our credit,
with Lionel, we give our best advice and accompany our five little
protégés. Doing a concert is a stressful, important ordeal. We must
put them in the best possible conditions so that they ensure the show
on D-Day!

May 21, 2022, our “little brothers” tread the stage for the
first time in front of a hundred people who came to attend the event.
The feedback from the public is more than positive, all those present
have greatly appreciated, and let them know.

Today, one year later, we continue to follow these 5 young people. They
still participate in our Wednesday afternoon Hip-hop workshops
(Computer Assisted Music, writing workshops, professional studio
recording) and continue to evolve. They grow, pass training,
diplomas, and evolve while maintaining the link with us. We performed
them again at the beginning of the year, and are planning two more
events at the dawn of summer 2023.