Parents and teenagers rarely agree on what is “cool”. A local rock and pop band project, however, seems to have stolen the hearts of all generations. Celebrating its fifth anniversary this year, Powerjam has already left its mark on Richmond and Twickenham’s music scene.
Powerjam is a unique not-for-profit for 11-18 year olds, dedicated to helping young musicians join a band, form a band, or find other musicians, as well as holding weekly rehearsals and producing, marketing, and booking its bands for regular public gigs – a package deal that many veteran adult bands would gladly sign up for.
Also offering opportunities to musical young people whose families are unable to afford private music clubs or lessons, Powerjam was established by music industry professional and volunteer Anna Texier, who won a Community Heroes Award for the project in 2018. She runs the initiative with gigging musicians Andrei Sora, Oxford graduate with a doctorate in Musicology, and Luis Chico, a highly sought-after Twickenham school music teacher.
The innovative Richmond and Twickenham-based project support local young musicians whose talent is simply undeniable. Performing on prestigious community festival stages such as Strawberry Hill, where they were featured last year as the only teen bands in a line up of adult professional bands, Powerjam bands are also due to perform at Richmond Riverside Music Festival, The Crawdaddy Club, Eel Pie Record’s High Tide Festival, St. Margaret’s Fair, The Basement Door, Heathstock 2020, the International Youth Arts Festival in Kingston, and the legendary Hanwell Hootie Music Festival.
Summer 2020 was looking to be full of incredible opportunities for Powerjam’s young musicians, and although gigs have been postponed and social distancing can make rehearsals logistically difficult, they haven’t been discouraged. Having recorded 15 of their bands’ songs earlier in the year, Powerjam has been continuously active since lockdown, releasing powerful original songs and exciting covers on all major streaming platforms including Spotify, Apple Music, Soundcloud, and iTunes, thanks in part to support from RFU and an ArmyvsNavy Rugby Match grant.
Drawing on her own experiences in a rock band, Anna explains, “I honestly don’t know a cooler and more exciting way for young musicians to learn about accountability and how to work closely and creatively with others than being in a gigging and recording band. It also naturally builds confidence both on and off stage, and self-esteem is something this age group needs more than anything. We aim to provide the infrastructure that helps musical teens and tweens to find each other, and discover and improve their talents while doing what they love”.
In a recent interview on SW London’s Riverside Radio, where some of the bands’ songs received their first radio airplay on the Alice Amel Show, Andrei, Powerjam’s in-house music producer and sound engineer, comments: “Personalising the project is extremely important to Powerjam. Kids change quickly, especially at that age, and you want to be part of that transition. ”
Engaging bands and musicians throughout lockdown, Powerjam has also managed to set up and run weekly online band meetings and music sessions, in order to stay connected and gain valuable knowledge about the process of releasing songs, from marketing and distribution to artwork designs for streaming platforms.
“On top of the 15 releases, we’ve been extremely busy since lockdown offering a slew of other things just to make sure they’re still involved not only in the community, but also in terms of music making–online sessions where they songwrite, music production sessions, skill building sessions,” explains Andrei, adding that, “it is unfortunate that this pandemic happened, but at least it happened in a time when we have access to this amazing technology which actually lets us be productive within the confines of the lockdown”.
“We have new members joining every year, but some of the members have been with Powerjam since they were just starting an instrument or as vocalists. To watch their confidence grow and their talent explode over the years, is pretty amazing. And of course it’s a kick when the bands are excited about a song we’ve recorded, or buzzing before and after a gig. They may not realise it now, but they’re learning some important life lessons, and that dedication and hard work not only brings rewards, but can also be fun!” Anna says.
She concludes: “We’re so fortunate to live in this special community with fantastic community stages and organisations that support our efforts. Involving young people in activities that help them feel proud of and good about themselves is the best way to help move them in a positive direction and become happy adults”.
Watch Powerjam’s special fifth anniversary video here. Make sure you keep up with your young local musicians on Powerjam’s Instagram and Facebook, and listen to all the latest releases and gigs on their YouTube channel. And if you’re a wiz musician or know someone who plays music, be it a bass player or singer, and are looking to find band members, you know where to look for musician classifieds.
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