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Fountain of youth project (Part 1)

We have always been blown away by the beauty of the songs written by our students.

As musicians, we find these songs stay with us, added to our personal music libraries and appear every now and again, triggered by a memory.

There is an innocence about these songs. They capture real moments in a childs life, be it musically, or just a special week during summer when you met some new friends or tried a new instrument. The songs are often about love, rebellion, friendship and having fun - like all great rock songs.

These songs have short lives. They are presented at the end of a week long course or performed at the end of term show. Then, we move on to the next one. After nine years of this we have over six hundred songs.

It was Sebastian who said to me, wouldn't it be great for us to record these songs professionally? After all, they are recorded by untrained musicians, with a haste that can only be experienced on the last day of Rockjam Summer Camp! What if we took the songs and let professional musicians record them, give these beautiful songs the time and artistry they deserve? Its a sweet idea, but never gained oxigen. That is untill Anthropologist Dr Kayla Rush began observing our methods back in 2020. At the end of her time with us and some funding she approached me to discuss a project.

And so the Fountain of Youth Project was born.

Choosing 4 songs from 600 proved a very difficult task. I initially whittled them down to 32 of my favourites and then spent lots of time listening and imagining how they would work with the musicians we had to hand. I also faced some interesting dilemmas when it came to professional musicians interpreting the music. Should we fix things? It certainly was tempting. A lyric here, a stray chord there.. easy to see how the original compositions could be buried under a new arrangement with new meanings and.. no soul. The opposite was also unpalatable. Simply mimicking the performances of the students would be a pointless exercise. In the end my approach was to honour the original music as much as possible while utilising the instrumentation and musicians available.

Chosen songs;

1. Fountain of Youth by 5HIGH5

2. Second Best by The Unnamed

3. Only one way by The 11th Paradox

4. Time by Alibi Island

Studio time was booked and it was time to play how these songs would be delivered!

Next time: Studio Sessions

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