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Today's Future Sound is bringing another epic Beat Battle to Melbourne

15 Aug 2016 event news words by Terence Ill
Today's Future Sound is bringing another epic Beat Battle to Melbourne

Philthy Drummond is back in town and fundraising for his Today's Future Sound project with another epic beat battle at Horse Bazaar.

The competition will be judged by Plutonic Lab, Skomes, Julez and Walla C, while Optamus, Rapaport, Social Change and DJ Sizzle are providing further entertainment on the night.

Dr. Elliot Gann, Psy.D., also known as Phillip ‘Philthy’ Drummond, Executive Director of Today's Future Sound, has been taking his youth education program on the road for a while now. Originally based in the San Francisco area, Dr. Gann has been promoting his approach across the globe.

Music is the vehicle for the program, but its ultimate goal and contribution is bigger than music. It's about steering young people’s natural curiosity towards something positive as they mature and gain independence, and teaching them life-skills along the way.

I asked Phillip Drummond to explain how his workshops impact young people's lives.


In a nutshell, beyond music, what are the benefits for schools and other organisations who engage you to run workshops, and also the young people who take part in your workshops?

Phillip Drummond: I think the benefits are many. From providing arts/music (NOTE: culturally relevant stuff that kids actually relate to like Hip Hop, electronic music, etc.) where schools don't have this, to providing youth contact with non-mainstream, independent artists in their community, to finding their voice through the arts - we are providing these things for youth. Youth also learn media skills/literacy (how to create and decode or understand media such as video, text, audio, etc.), music theory and audio engineering (learning Science and Math in a way where they care about it), and learn ways to help cope with stress and trauma in a healthy way. Repetitive rhythms and beats put them into trance-like states and help them regulate themselves, where they would normally be dysregulated by the trauma they have experienced, which affects their relationships and functioning in a negative way.

Schools get kids to engage and learn content they normally would reject through the beat making process. Students build up their self-esteem through a mastery of skills and have a take home - the music they make, but also the experience they had. Our informal motto is "I wish I had this when I was a kid" - shameless plug for our t-shirt/sticker four years in the making illustrating this - since we all wish we had this when we were young. Even for the metal-heads, the goth kids, the country fans - we always find a way to engage them and help them realize what kind of beat or composition they want to make. The goal is for participants in our workshops to learn and grow through the process and help discover themselves as artists, creators and community members, work collaboratively

I could go on and on about the benefits, but I think that captures it in a good part.

 

TFS School Music Workshop
TFS school workshop in music production

How important is fundraising for your project? I know you are very accommodating. When someone is keen to put on a workshop and can't raise the funds to facilitate one, money often takes a back seat - you try to make it work somehow.

Phillip Drummond: I can't emphasise how important fundraising is, especially for small grass-roots non-profits like TFS. We have an operating budget that is the salary of a larger non-profit's Executive Director, but serve thousands more youth than larger ones and a large part of this is pro bono/volunteer work.

Anyone who comes into the organization, I require them to volunteer first, so I know they are really about it and not in it just for the money. I still volunteer hundreds if not thousands of hours each year myself because I deeply believe in the mission and it's important to me to share my love and passion for music and Hip Hop/beats culture. Again, "I wish I had this when I was a kid" is the Modus Operandi here. I volunteer whenever I can. It’s my goal to volunteer wherever I travel to in the US or the world - especially with the most vulnerable populations, who are often in prisons or in the inner city and underserved neighborhoods - youth of color or impoverished youth, youth who have experienced significant trauma. And don't get it twisted, there are rich/privileged white kids who have experienced terrible trauma or can really benefit from our program and I'm all about helping them as well. But social justice is a fundamental aspect of our guiding principles and mission. I'm about helping youth have a happier and healthier development and life.

As part of your role you ultimately teach kids life skills via the fun medium of music. But I'm interested to know, what have you learned since you embarked on this journey with TFS? What have the kids you work with taught you?

Phillip Drummond: Man, working with kids has humbled me. It’s taught me so much about myself. You have to be confident, but you also have to be humble - willing to learn, willing to listen, willing to be flexible. It's a balance between sharing and imparting your knowledge and skills and giving the kids a challenge to explore and discover. I still struggle with that and am learning the balance.

I've also learned how incredibly powerful this "intervention" (mental health term there)/vehicle of Hip Hop and beats is and how we impact kids more than we realise. The kids have great creative ideas and I try to not interfere or quash that. Again, I think that's about listening and giving up control, and kids will tell you in various ways to listen to them or let go of the steering wheel, which you need to do sometimes.

They also have taught me how important good role models and dependable adults are in young people’s lives and how given bad role models, oppressive conditions and repeated exposure to trauma it can really have a terrible impact on them. I've also learned it's important to stay current and know how to make Trap beats, be familiar with what kids like. Don't be that curmudgeon that won't listen to new stuff.

 

TFS School Music Workshop
TFS school workshop in music production

Are you still looking for producers who want to compete in the beat battle in Melbourne on the 26th?

Phillip Drummond: Oh hell yes! I'm all about as many folks as possible getting in the battle! info@todaysfuturesound.org or facebook.com/todaysfuturesound - give a like to our profile page and hit us up to enter the battle, or get at me via @tfs_beats on Twitter.

It's gonna be nuts!