This Thursday's Black Lives Matter gig at NOTW is definitely going to go down in NZ Music history. NZ-born, LA-based producer Soraya is the women behind it all. Soraya has pulled together a lineup that is not to be missed. We caught up with Soraya to ask her about the drive behind the gig, and what to expect.
As a musician, what pushed you in particular to organise the BLACK LIVES MATTER gig?
As a musician, producer, song writer, entertainer or DJ you have to put yourself in the shoes of others when you are trying to connect with an audience. You have to pay attention to what affects the people. Even though I am a musician, I can still understand how it is to sit next to your partner, friend, mother, father, brother and for no reason at all they're unjustly taken away from you never to be seen or talked to again. This affects us all.
When my friends from NZ who are not American or African American expressed the same feelings as mine about recent events in the states we decided to do a show together to bring awareness to inhumane, unjust prejudice and treatment around the world. I wouldn't of had the courage to do this without their support and help.
As a musician I am fortunate enough to have friends in the industry that were willing and able to help me bring awareness to something that I think is an atrocity as do they. Music has an uncanny ability to heal and bring people together. This was a way that we could actually do something instead of just saying something.
You grew up in New Zealand however you have family connections back to the U.S and have spent time in the U.S working as a producer. Do you think the people of New Zealand are fully aware of what's happening in the states right now?
Yeah, my Dad is African American from Alabama and I have been living in L.A for a while now. I really didn't understand what was going on in the states (even though my father educated me deeply on Black Civil Rights and our family’s struggles in life to do with race in America) until I lived there and it took a couple of years to really even begin to see the cracks. After i was pulled over and put in handcuffs a couple times I began to understand a little of what it might feel like to grow up knowing that people think of me as dangerous or untrustworthy because of my skin color. I don't think that New Zealanders are fully aware because we just don't have the same struggles as Americans do with violence and guns. Many New Zealanders haven't been exposed to that. After working with musicians in LA (especially rappers who grew up in areas like Inglewood and Crenshaw) I would ask questions that related to song lyrics because I just couldn't understand the aggression or the extremity of what they were saying, I thought it was a tough guy act. I wanted to understand what they had been through so I could communicate that in the music. That’s when I put myself in their shoes and began to understand that what’s happening in America has been going on for a very very long time. Over 500 years of damage can not be fixed overnight, the only difference is that people have cameras in their hands at all times now.
The line up for Thursday's gig is one of the strongest we have seen in a while. What can we expect?
I think people attending are going to see the magic of a collective of talented people doing what they are born to do with the passion of a strong message behind their performances. I truly believe it will be one of the best shows in Auckland music history. Leonard Charles, P-MONEY, ARCADE and LIT ENTERTAINMENT have all been a part of curating this event. So far we have the most amazing lineup including spoken word artists and professors of African American studies from America. As well as a huge raffle that people can buy tickets for. This has truly been a unifying experience organizing this show for all of us.
Artists performing include: CHE FU, LEONARD CHARLES ALL STARS : TYRA HAMMOND , CHIP MATTHEWS , JULIEN DYNEand BJORN PETERSEN, SWIDT, BAILEY WILEY, ENO X DIRTY, LOUIS KNUXX, THIRD3YE, TEAM DYNAMITE, RONALD LAPREAD (BASS PLAYER for the COMMODORES), SESH, P MONEY, ILL BAZ, DEBRIS, JESS B, T BAILEY, LMB GANG, KING KAPISI and SILVA MC.
As a fundraiser gig, where will the proceeds be donated?
On the night guests will pay for entry and be given a choice of one of the following causes and/or families affected in the recent shootings. The choice will be theirs because the message we really want to bring is awareness.
The five charities are: BLACK LIVES MATTER, ALTON STERLING Family (Civilian shot and killed in Baton Rouge Louisiana by Police Officer), PHILANDO CASTILE Mother (Civilian shot and killed in Minnesota during a routine traffic stop), National Legal Guild (Lawyers who are working to maintain the rights of peaceful protestors and those who need protection from police) and United Negro College fund (Money raised to help African American students without financial support to attain university degrees).
BLACK LIVES MATTER (Fundraiser) is being held at Neck of the Woods this Thursday, doors open at 5:00pm and music starts at 8:00pm.