Following up on our music residency in October 2019, we interviewed talented young creative Tian Mhende. Tian was originally a participant on Concept in 2018, and has since gone on to engage with project The Drop and has become a Trainee on Perfect Score Press Start sessions. Last week he joined Concept as a volunteer looking to develop his skills as a music tutor. We chatted to him about his experiences so far and his plans for the future.
Tell us how you came to be involved with Concept.
Originally I started on the project as a participant. Several people had mentioned Concept to me: the team at YEP (Youth Education Project), Wavey (Naji Richards) and Shay (Akshay Sharma). I had already been involved with some projects, including The Drop with Pedestrian and a poetry one with Shay, so doing music at Concept was definitely of interest to me. At my first week-long residency I got so into it, I created three whole tracks!
I then got involved in another Pedestrian project called Perfect Score, where my role required that I be DBS checked as part of their routine safeguarding procedure. I thought it would be great to learn properly how to be a tutor, since that’s something I’m interested in pursuing. Concept was the first project I was really involved in and where I got to perform; it actually lead to me getting my first headline show! That was really exciting for me, so when Kate (Concept’s Project Manager) asked me to be involved in this Concept residency as a volunteer I jumped at the chance. It all came full circle!
What were your first impressions of Concept?
I thought it was good! It was the first project I was shown where an organisation gives young people an opportunity to create their own project, with support from professional musicians. It was more guided and aimed towards the goal of producing a concept album, I think that helped me a great deal as I was then able to go on to create my first solo project, which I released on Spotify. Pedestrian was recommended to me as a place where I could learn music craft, as well as have access to recording and producing technology.
What lead you to want to volunteer on Concept?
The fact that I want to become a music mentor! Being good at performing is a great thing but even though I’m starting to emerge as a successful artist on the local scene, I still don’t get paid gigs every single week. Getting the experience in mentoring means that I can build a career doing something I enjoy, rather than relying solely on recording and performing.
What’s your experience been like during this week-long residency?
It’s been fun, seeing how young people that arrived with no confidence have grown and developed. At first a lot of them seemed nervous and reluctant to engage, but I worked with four young people and they all ended up with really solid songs that you could listen to. It’s good to help people improve their confidence. It was great to work with Shay too since he’s seen my full journey: from participant, to headlining show and now learning to become a tutor – as I say, I’ve come full circle!
What is the most enjoyable part for you?
Seeing the growth from someone who has no rapping experience that then puts together a track in a week – it’s mad! I wouldn’t be able to do it, when I look back to when I first started I wouldn’t have done half as well as the young people here – some of their stuff is better then my earlier work that I released on my SoundCloud! Seeing their confidence and ability in music develop is a really good feeling, you feel like you’ve helped.
Tell us more about your headlining show.
I performed at Echo Factory, with seven support acts! That was a really big deal for me, as up to that point I’d been doing open mics. I had my name and pictures on the flyer, the lot. I thought ‘wow, I’m good’! During the headline show I performed a track with Shay that we’d created - that was our first time performing together, it was really fun.
What are your aspirations for the future?
I’m looking to develop my professional music career: getting as many shows as I can and putting my music out through distribution companies. Music is one of those things you can really have fun with, and I honestly believe I’m good enough to make it and earn a good income, whether that’s through tutoring, or rapping and being on stage. I enjoy everything to do with music: the writing, creating and recording; the performing and the teaching. Anything where I can teach people how to write lyrics is great!
So what’s next for you?
Finish my next song! This one is about children who don’t have options or confidence and use music to support themselves emotionally. After that, I’ll be involved with the Perfect Score Press Start sessions, I think we’re going to London next week. I also want to release my own EP. They’re the next few steps.