Brighton-based charity Best Foot Music has been supporting musicians from refugee and migrant communities for over 12 years.
Best Foot Music most recently helped Lebanese rap group Ghoraba2 release a cracking EP, but the charity has been supporting refugee and migrant communities for over a decade. We spoke to founder Phil Minns about the charity, its ethos, and how the power of music and promote social inclusion while celebrating cultural diversity.
UC: Best Foot Music was established in 2009, can you tell us a bit about the origins and the ethos of the project?
Phil Minns: Best Foot Music was initially started as a reaction to some of the negative UK press about migration and refugees, and also a celebration of music.”
UC: You’ve just released the Ghoraba2 record on 1 October. How did you first come into contact with the act? Has the response been good so far?
PM: “In lockdown, I did a weekly live stream called “The Stay Home Travel Show’ using the money I normally spent travelling to work to purchase music via Bandcamp (BC gives 85% of sales to the artists, it’s not a streaming service, so it’s a good way to support) I stumbled on a project called Mishwar and bought the music, then invited them in for a chat on the show – it went from there. We work closely with the producer.”
UC: The project is wonderfully broad, how do you go about finding all the wonderful people, causes and artists you do?
PM: “It’s a bit random, but over the years, we’ve managed to build a network, and people hear about the work – I used to just approach people in the street, if I saw someone with an instrument, I’d go say hello.”
UC: Looking at your website, Best Foot music is a lot more than just releasing records, you’re involved in a lot of releases, projects and live events.How has live events coming back been for you? Have there been any big highlight events or projects for yourself?
PM: “We just did our first live show in 2 years, at the Jubilee Library in town – it was great to be back, felt a bit emotional, and I was really nervous, but it was a successful day, people enjoyed it and that’s what counts. Over the years, we’ve been lucky enough to do some quite high profile venues, South Bank Center/Royal Festival Hall Bar, which was nice, but then a small gig in a community hall can be just as rewarding – it’s all about the music and people coming together, if that happens, then that’s the main thing.
We’re working with local groups to plan something big for next year and hopefully, we’ll do more at the Jubille library, they’re a great bunch of people and its a nice place to work.”
UC: Lebanese rap isn’t a genre that many will have experienced before. Is highlighting the diversity of art and expression and key part of the Best Foot Music project?
PM: “We believe music is a very powerful means to encourage social inclusion and celebrate cultural diversity. It is important to support and document music projects from a diversity of artists. Ghoraba2 is an example of great talent coming together and producing honest, powerful music that reflects the complexities of life in Lebanon. We hope to promote such artists to introduce people to new, exciting genres.”
UC: The group is based in Brighton, was this just because you happened to be living here at the time? Do you feel that the city is particularly open to projects such as yours?
PM: “Yes – many of the people we work with live here. When we started very few English people used to come to the gigs, and musicians always wanted a wider audience – that’s improved over the years, and we get good support, audiences are quite diverse, which is good to see.”