Sunday, 26 January 2014

Happy: we didn't make this!

Don't miss the nuance of the colon: the video is called Happy, and we didn't film or edit it. Rowan, however, did lend her smiling face and improvisational dance skills to the project. Internet people will probably have heard about Happy, the song from Despicable Me 2 by Pharrell Williams. You can watch the original version on the IamOTHER Youtube channel. If that's not enough for you there is 24 hour version, split into hour-long movies on the same channel. It's a genius way to prove a viral concept doesn't have to be short and sweet.

Far from the streets of LA, this dance response comes from the streets of historic Jajce, in Central Bosnia. The project was organised by volunteers at the Omladinski Centar, the local youth centre in town. The video was uploaded yesterday and as I'm writing this has just under two thousand views. That's good going. Judging by the number of people we're seeing share it on Facebook that's just the beginning. Enjoy the video. It shows off some of the prettier parts of town and includes a few decent dance moves. Spare a thought for Rowan who is not the biggest fan of appearing on film. But most of all, as the song says: clap along if you know what happiness means to you. We hope you do!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Where's winter?!

Today is FIS World Snow Day. Last year we were out on a very patchy piste making the most of some less than ideal conditions at the slope above Jajce. This year there isn't a ski lift working in the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina! You can't even say it's been a bad winter, it's barely been winter at all. There was a snow fall in November. A few resorts got enough of a base to open up for a week or two. We managed a trip to Vlašić on 21st December, the day before World Snowboard Day. It was squeezed into a really busy period of work but the decision to head for the hills when we did looks better and better the longer winter waits to put in a proper appearance.

Since the New Year the forecast has been promising snow 'next week'. It's well known that tomorrow never comes; next week has been showing even less intention to turn up. Locals tells us tales of a town virtually besieged by snow during their childhood winters. Even allowing for a little exaggeration, things are much different now. The climate has changed, whether you choose to blame climate change or not. The one bit of good news in all this is our solitary snowboard trip has established we haven't forgotten what we learned last year. Winter is once again being promised by the weekend. If it arrives we may yet get the chance to enjoy our newfound slope skills.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Solving it

Lest our last post read as some sort of rant against English language music let us redress the balance. Last weekend we got to see the powerful impact some properly performed pop can have on people's imagination. The video below is a short clip of Chip Kendall and DJGalactus Jack encouraging teenagers in Mostar to Solve It On The Dancefloor. It proves that language barriers don't get in the way if the energy is right, and that people from all different backgrounds can put their differences aside and party together. It may be presumptuous to suggest such moments solve deep-seated social issues but they have to help build a better tomorrow. So much of our behaviour, individually and as communities, is governed by emotional reactions to events; positive emotions from a shared experience have to be a good thing. It was a night they won't forget. The young people we know are asking for copies of this music which shows the moment may well live on for a long time yet.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Make more music!

The main reason our blog had been sitting unattended was work winning the battle for attention. Part of what we do here is work with the Evangelical Church of Bosnia and Herzegovina on youth work projects. This includes summer camps and conferences. Anyone who has ever been to a Christian camp will probably have experienced singing of some sort or another: maybe camp-fire songs, maybe things that sound like they come from the Bible, maybe tunes that sound like they came off the radio. The English speaking world has hundreds of artists producing all this and more. The Bosnian, Croatian or Serbian speaking world doesn't. All of that to say the work in question - producing new music recordings – is something that needs to happen more here.

Music is such an important form of expression; we don't want young people to miss out on the chance to sing things they mean in their own language. People can, and do, translate English language songs and sing them. Sometimes they work, but often they lose some of the nuance of meaning. They say something good but not in such a profound way as the original text. Our answer is to challenge people to write what they want to say in their own language. We can then help them take these words and melodies and turn them into fully-formed tracks. That's what the recording process over the past couple of months has been about. A week ago we got to unveil the finished songs, playing them live at a conference in Mostar. Judging by the response it won't be the last time we help people like this.

Here's one of the six songs we recorded. You'll find the rest on YouTube.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Playing catch up

New Year has come and gone and we've missed the opportunity to tell some good stories here. Well we have if we enforce a new news policy. However, in the interests of letting you in on the interesting stuff we're going to do a bit of a rewind over the next couple of days. Sometimes there isn't the time to be involved in cool things and blog about them at the same time, so kicking off our retrospective of recent events we'll start with New Year's Eve.

Budo, our Novi Most co-worker in Jajce, decided the town needed an open air concert with fireworks to see in the New Year properly. This is not an unusual idea, similar events happen all over the world, but this had never happen here before. Together with the local Omladinski Centar (Youth Centre) he got the idea off the ground, securing the all-important permissions and sponsorship from the town council, local businesses and Novi Most and the Omladinski Centar.

Budo plays in one of the main local covers bands. They opened up the evening. He also teaches music as part of his work with Novi Most. This has led to him helping young people get a start at playing live. 'Underground' are the first band to form as part of this process. The Evangelical Church, where Novi Most runs its activities from, has provided rehearsal space. Budo has encouraged and coached them through their preparations. Their first concert was in a cafe bar in Jajce on Christmas Day; the second was on the streets, seeing in the New Year. For a young band they delivered an impressive performance and the event was a success. Next year will likely be bigger and better.