James and David Healy are twin brothers from Rossnagalliagh. The 16 year-olds are also members of rock band Seraphis which was born out of the Greater Shantallow Community Arts (G.S.C.A.) programme, ‘Messing with Music’.
The ‘Messing with Music’ started just under two years ago when the G.S.C.A. team secured a unit in Skeoge Industrial Estate and turned it into a recording and musical rehearsal studio. That’s now known as Studio 2.
“This place is just amazing and without it I don’t think our band [Seraphis] would be still going,” said James.
The ‘Messing with Music’ programme starts each January and offers children aged between 14 and 19 the chance to come to place where they develop their musical skills, form a band and write their own music and songs.
Jack Mac and the Rats are an eight piece band. They only formed last week, as a result of ‘Messing with Music’.
Guitarist and violinist Rebecca McMonagle (16), vocalist Nicole McMonagle (16) and keyboard player Cliodhna Doherty (15) are three eighths of Jack Mac and the Rats. The three girls, who have all been involved with music for a few years, said that not only does the ‘Messing with Music’ programme give them the chance to make music, it also gives them the opportunity to meet new people.
“The three of us are at Thornhill so we already knew one another before we came here,” said Rebecca.
“But we didn’t know everyone else in the band but now we are all really good friends. We play different kinds of music but the main thing about the Messing with Music programme is that it gives young people like us something to do.
“Young people are crying out for things to do so the more places like Studio 2 for us to go the better,” she said.
On Friday evening of last week, all those involved with this year’s ‘Messing with Music’ programme staged a showpiece event in the upstairs room of Studio 2. Friends and family belonging to the young musicians attended.
“Our parents came to hear Seraphis play,” said David Healy proudly.
“Our music is best described as funky rock, and I think almost everyone who heard us last week liked what they heard.”
Many of the bands born out of the ‘Messing with Music’ programme first performed live on stage at the Earhart Festival during the summer.
It was such a success for all of the young people involved that many of them have become hooked and are looking forward to their next live sojourn when they take to the stage during Derry’s Hallowe’en Day celebrations.
“I can’t wait - it’s going to be so much fun,” said 16 year-old Luke Lafferty from the band Rodageddon.
“There are so many young people like us in Derry and all they want is a chance to shine in their hometown.
“Like many of the other bands here today, our band, Rodageddon, formed as a result of meeting up during the ‘Messing with Music’ programme.
“The other aspect of the project that I really like is that we get to experience a variety of different musical genres. We have our own style, Seraphis have theirs and Jack Mac and the Rats have theirs,” said Luke.
When asked what they would like to see in the way of musical provision for young people in Derry during the city’s year as City of Culture, each one of the young musicians said they would like to see a musical festival specifically for local young and up-and-coming bands.
“We might not be as big some of the bands you see playing the big festivals around the world but all of the young people have a lot of friends. If there was some local musical festival during the City of Culture year I am sure it would be successful and there would be no shortage of bands looking to take part,” said James Healy.
Oliver Green, Artistic Director with Greater Shantallow Community Arts, paid tribute to the young people and said that the music they were producing was like nothing he had heard before.
“There’s so much amazing local young talent here,” he said.
“The bands will be recording albums here over the coming months and we would also hope to record a special ‘Messing with Music’ album where every band involved would record a song.
“The young people also get the chance to work with the programmes facilitators, Denis McLaughlin, Tommy McAleer and Caolan McLaughlin - they are of great support and help to the young people.
“I’ve high hopes for this project as I am sure we will continue to give as many young people as possible the chance to access the arts.”
The 2013 ‘Messing with Music’ programme starts in January; for further information contact the G.S.C.A. team on 028 7135 7443.