The finalisation of this project brings me to reflect back on the critical concept, practices implemented and the challenges we faced during the creative process.
The concept for this project is reflected in week 9’s lecture, The West and the Rest, which discusses cultural hybridity and cultural diversity (or a lack thereof). With this project we wanted to bring awareness to Australians that we live in an extremely multicultural society, and that we need to start acting like it and accepting all ethnicities, religions and cultures within our country.
Particularly in light of Pauline Hanson’s ‘Ban The Burqa’ movement with her political party One Nation, the message this project is bringing forth is super important. The statistic we found saying that 1.5 million of Australia’s adult population believe that some races are inferior or superior to others is quite frankly, horrific (Challenging Racism: The Anti-Racism Research Project, n.d.). When we discovered Harmony Day, our project changed a little bit and turned into more of a campaign ad for everything the day stands for. For more information about the day go here.
Furthermore, when trying to find a reference for what we wanted to do with our project, the closest we could find was this video (below). However, in this video the Australian’s only fully accept their Indian neighbour after he has shunned his own cultural background, which entirely misses the point of acceptance.
While completing this project, my eyes were really opened to the world around me. I have never thought of racism as a massive issue in this country, maybe because the people surrounding me have always been very accepting and also because I am of the majority, which perhaps makes me an ignorant person. However, I’ve become much more aware and invested in the concept of harmony between all religions, cultures and races in this country. Before this project I think I assumed that in a majority of places there was already harmony, but there are people everyday who on the street, in school or in their workplace experience discrimination because they are not ‘Australian.’ Abe W. Ata describes just some of the horrible behaviours towards other cultures within Australia:
“Harassment in the street and schoolyard have involved name calling and slurs, abuse, pulling headscarves from women’s heads, spitting, refusal of housing and accommodation, telephone or mail threats, graffiti on houses, and throwing of dirty water on women wearing traditional dress in shopping malls (Ata, 2009).”
Furthermore, there is a heavy irony in the fact of racism in Australia, because as Claudia wrote in our lyrics:
We remain determined to defend our nation,
But recall the values of the founders of this foundation.
Our ancestors were people who forcefully invaded and cruelly overtook a country that was already claimed by the Aborigines of the land. Who are we to say who does and doesn’t belong here?
In relation to the technical aspects of our project, there were a few bumps along the way. The first problem we came across was that our lyricist came to us about a week before the recording session with the lyrics completed, which was awesome, however there were not to the original melody that we had chosen, which was One More Night by Maroon 5. She said that she was looking into another song and that it would be sorted. As a group we all had a look at a few songs, but nothing really fit. Claudia also, due to family commitments went MIA during this time and I wasn’t sure if she was going to be available for the recording session and we had no word on her progress in finding a song to fit her lyrics. The result of this was that the night before the recording session I frantically looked and found 7 Years by Lukas Graham, and spent a few hours changing the lyrics around to fit the melody. Everything worked out great in the end, but in retrospect it would have been awesome for Claudia to communicate with us more and let us know that she was having issues with writing the lyrics to that melody, so that we could find a different song she was more comfortable writing to, rather than trying to find a melody that fit lyrics she had already written. It also would have been great to know before she went away that she wasn’t going to have internet for a couple of days and therefore wouldn’t be able to communicate etcetera. From this I’ve learnt that in a collaborative situation, clear communication should be the highest priority so that everybody is informed of who needs to do what and where everybody in the team is at.
This brings me to the recording session itself, where we met a few small bumps. The lyrics were sent to our talent as soon as we had them, even though we didn’t have a melody as yet, so that she could try to familiarise herself with them. However, obviously it’s a bit difficult to learn a song without knowing the melody. Therefore, we had a few issues with the talent not knowing how certain words were supposed to fit into the melody, but it was mostly smoothed out with further recording, and mixing afterwards. Another issue we had was that our artist had never been in a professional studio before and was therefore not completely confident with that situation, so it took her a while to be able to sing comfortably into the microphones. Lastly, the only session we could book was 2.5 hours in the Neve, so not a lot of time to record a song even with a professional artist, let alone a newbie. Obviously, there was a few things there that could have been done differently: firstly, having a melody earlier would have been great, but also a practise session or even just a longer session with more time for the singer to get comfortable would have been ideal. I think the lesson here is definitely to be more prepared in general, and put the effort in to make sure that your talent is going to be as comfortable as possible because in the end your product is only as good as they are.
Moving on to the mixing, I used the original 7 Years song as a reference, and read an article about how it was mixed so that I could try to recreate the same effects with our artist. This proved a little bit difficult. Partly I think because we were using a flat karaoke backing track rather than being able to change the volume and panning of each individual instrument and make the voice sit in the mix, and also just because our talent’s voice is obviously different to the original artist. I also discovered that it sounded pretty cool with different takes on top of each other in a chorus effect, so I used that in part of the song. However, as not all of the takes were good enough for the audience, I think the chorus may have sounded a bit random because it is only in one verse and also the last line. The mixing I think was probably as good as it could get, the only thing I can think of to improve it could have been to listen to it on a few different speakers to make sure it sounds decent overall, and not just in professional headphones.
I was really surprised by the feedback we received, mostly because it was such a mixture! This really showed me how differently your creative work can be received and interpreted by different people. I thought Chloe’s feedback of feeling confused about how the video related to the topic was helpful, as we didn’t think about the fact that people might not see that the footage juxtaposing with the lyrics was supposed to be ironic. I was really pleased however, that she felt engaged by the song. I was a little disheartened by Jake’s feedback, which stated that the video didn’t bring forth any new ideas or concepts to him. However, I think that perhaps he was already more educated than most on this topic, and that our purpose was more to raise awareness with a little bit more information rather than going massively in depth with new information. Most of the feedback we got was really positive and spoke about how engaged people were with the project, which I’m really happy about!
Overall, this project has been an amazing experience both in the sense of helping me grow as an audio engineer, but also as a person and furthering my knowledge about the world around me.
Ata, A. (2009). Us and Them : Muslim – Christian Relations and Cultural Harmony in Australia. Brisbane, AU: Australian Academic Press. Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com
Challenging Racism: The Anti-Racism Research Project (1st ed., p. 2). Retrieved from http://www.uws.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/173635/NationalLevelFindingsV1.pdf
Deemed Pathetic,. (2015). Australia Day – We are Multicultural!. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsYXztPE6So