One day, one song, one message: Occupy London’s School of Rockupy with Kate Nash & Sam Duckworth
In a former bank near Liverpool Street in the heart of the City, Occupy London and Occupation Records recently hosted the School of Rockupy, bringing together Kate Nash, Sam Duckworth (Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly
), thirty young people from across London and occupiers to create a song in one day, with one message. Entitled Ephebiphobia, meaning “the fear and loathing of teenagers”, the song they created has been unveiled on the School of Rockupy’s website
, alongside album artwork, pictures of the day and video by Jamie Lowe.
“I had no idea what to expect and the whole event was completely original,” commented Olivia, 18, from the East End. “I learnt that anything is possible, we did a single in a day and we got in the papers on the same day. It is definitely something I will remember for the rest of my life.
“Ephebiphobia was all on everyone’s mind, it’s how we all feel, there’s so much negative press about teenagers. We wanted to do something to show that we are not all bad. I was working in the press group and learnt that it’s a lot harder than you would imagine. I couldn’t believe it when we started and they said that the first thing we had to do was to get ready for the Evening Standard coming in ten minutes.”
Kate Nash said: “The media portrayal of the riots criminalised a lot of young people, and it feels like a lot of youth have been stigmatised. The bankers have done terrible things, but yet they don’t get blamed in the same way. It is time to reflect on way we treat and respect our youth.
“Occupy is such as huge movement across all areas of the world and it is great to get some first hand experience. Music is a great way to explore emotions, something you have a lot of when you are young, so it is good to explore these together.”
Organised as part of a range of Occupy Half Term events by Occupy London and Occupation Records, the entire process of writing, producing, recording, and promoting a single was carried out in one day utilising the tools of Occupy. Through a general assembly, young people decided be consensus what issues were important to them and how they could address them, what style of music they would write, how the artwork for the album cover should look, and what should be done with the single when finished. 
Everyone split into four groups, each tackling a different field in the process. One group wrote the lyrics and music with the help of Sarah Jewell and Kate Nash, one group handled the publicity side with Ronan McNern, fielding questions from the Evening Standard, NME and writing the press release about the day. One group created the album art concept with Siobhan Malhotra and another took on the production and recording with Sam Duckworth and Jay Malhotra.
Song to feature on upcoming album
At the end of the day at the Silver Cloud Gallery at The House of Fairy Tales, all those present – including the young people – were asked what they would like to do with the song they had created. 
All photos by Jamie Lowe or @HeardinLondon
Participants wanted to share what happened with as many people as possible via the internet and also agreed that the song would feature on one of the upcoming album releases from Occupation Records, the new record label being created to benefit the Occupy movement around the world. Occupation Records is currently crowd-funding its start up costs and will shortly release its first album – Folk the Banks - featuring artists including Ani DiFranco, Tom Morello, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, Billy Bragg and Chumbawumba, with artwork by Jamie Reid, the artist behind the Sex Pistols’ artwork. 
Jamie Kelsey-Fry, who helped coordinate the day and who is part of the Occupy Citizenship initiative from Occupy London commented: “Giving a voice to young people, so that they can express their feelings and thoughts about the issues that matter most to them is a central initiative for Occupy London. Theirs is the generation that will inherit the worst effects of an unjust, unsustainable and undemocratic economic system.”
“In one day, these young people, artists and occupiers, pulled off one amazing feat! The School of Rockupy Class of February 16 did us proud. One Day. One Song. One Message. Expect to hear more from them and, expect to hear more from Occupy London as it prepares for Occupy May when we expect to see mass action and community events around London.”
Upcoming performance for The School of Rockupy Class of F16
In addition to publishing a blog about her experience of the day, Kate also invited the young people present to come and perform their song at the Rock ‘N Roll for Girls After School Music Club Concert which she will be putting on later in the year following work with schools across the country. 
Kate added:”Young people are often told that they might not make it, which can be really difficult for their morale. They can be such a creative force for good and it is good to harness that in such a positive way. It’s important the government needs to stay aware of the feelings of their citizens. The riots were an expression of real people’s feelings and issues with government.”
Other comments from participants
Johnny, 14, who was involved in creating the artwork to accompany the song commented: “I feel a part of music history. It is a good experience and opportunity to be creative with other young people.”
Christian, 17, from the East End said: “I really liked the way everyone was coming up with separate ideas but the way we worked was that everything ended up really gelling together perfectly. The way we were able to all share our ideas like that was really cool. And the hard work really paid off. I had no idea what to expect but very soon I thought ‘wow, this is really cool’. We were all strangers but we were all together because we all cared about what we were doing and trying to say and we all loved music.”
“It was a really amazing experience. Occupy didn’t tell us what to think but let us express ourselves and because of that, I have taken a real interest in Occupy. The whole event gave us the opportunity to get our voice out there and to show us to be something completely different to the way we are usually portrayed.”
Poppy, 15, said:
“I’m mainly interested in music production and I think Occupy sends out a good message.”
Ella, 16, said:
“I was so glad to be involved in something that showed young people in a positive light. It was an amazing day and something that I was proud to be a part of.”
 School of Rockupy Class of February 16 Schedule:
- 10am: Young person’s assembly. The assembly allowed young people to work together to decide what kind of song they would like to write, what kind of issue they would like the song to address and why they think that issue is most important to write about. This was done using break out groups and then each spokesperson will feed back to the whole group and the decision about the song will be made using consensus.
- 10.30am: Young people decided which of the four groups they want to focus on during the day all had the opportunity to help in the process of all sections but had to choose one skill to focus on for the day: song writing and playing; song recording and engineering; cover and packaging design for the CD; press release and media for the song.
- Break – drinks and snacks.
- 11am: Young people meet Kate Nash and the other workshop facilitators. Introductory talk from Kate and Q&A with young people.
- 11.30am: The four groups break off to start their work in different areas of the room (songwriters start developing song, engineers setting up the recording equipment and learning how to use it, artists start creating ideas for the cover and the back cover of the CD and the press team facilitated interviews and photographers for the Evening Standard and then worked out interview questions for Kate Nash, Sam Duckworth (Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly) and for the band writing the song.
- 12.30pm: Mic Check! Each group fed back what they had done so far and the rest of the group, using facilitation and process, added in their thoughts and ideas.
- 13.00pm: Each group feedback what they had so fa including the band playing what they had worked out so far. Break for lunch (media team interviewed Kate and others).
- 13.30pm: Each group continues with their work.
- 14.30pm: Mic Check! Each group fed back what they have done so far and the rest of the group, using facilitation and process, added in their thoughts and ideas.
- 16.30pm: Groups finish up their work and present to everyone else. Prepare an assembly for when the adults return (and for the press).
- 17.00 pm: Final assembly. Each group presented their work to the adult audience using the assembly techniques. All listened to the song and decided on next steps.
- 17.30pm Session finishes.