In the latest issue of Waltham Forest News, some of the people who’ve made our year as the first-ever London Borough of Culture such an amazing experience explained what it has meant to them. Here, local musician and producer of Chingfest, Lemzi, talks about a celebration for the youth of Waltham Forest...
For me, as co-producer of Chingfest, ‘accessible’ and ‘aspirational’ were the key words.
Before Waltham Forest’s year as London Borough of Culture had even started, I wanted to make sure the ‘millennial and under’ generation of Waltham Forest had at least one major event that we could look at and sense was ours. This was heavily inspired by the fact I do events (Hidden Gems LIVE and IN-FACTS, a monthly London Borough of Culture event by myself and Amelia Poamz) focusing on under-acknowledged but prodigious artists in hip-hop, rap, spoken word, grime, blues and other black urban artforms.
It started with a tweet to the council to get them to focus on us a bit as up until around June, there was nothing really in the calendar for young people. They saw it, got in touch and from there the idea was in motion.
Getting the artists was easy enough – I had seen a lot them perform and knew they could put on a show. It was amazing seeing the outcome of all the artists together; whether DJs, vocal artists, or those doing talks. For some people it was their first time doing a festival, or performing on a main stage, or within the borough.
#ChooseMeChingfest was a big part of engaging with other artists as well, targeting 13-25 year olds around the borough to give them their chance to perform and win money. This wasn't an easy decision, but the winners definitely brought a good audience and killed their sets!
Ultimately, Chingfest looked different this year as we had a true celebration of what is in our borough. No tribute acts or people from overseas, just people connected to where we're from with aspirations of going further and sharing the stage with internationally recognised and critically acclaimed talent like NAO and Incognito.
It's no secret that Chingfest this year has been met with criticism, particularly from those that have previously attended and wanted to maintain what once was. The acts are all accurate representations of the borough in which we reside. Artists such as Incognito and Afrikan Simba performed neo-jazz, world music and reggae. Myself and Rose Gray work with blues/jazz and hip-hop, Bonez with rap music, and DJ Luck & MC Neat appealed to various age groups with a plethora of genres.
Let's hope 2020 is even bigger.
The next edition of IN-FACTS takes place on Thursday 17 October, click here to book tickets and check back for more events in the future.