A LOCAL grime artist is getting young people interested in music off the streets and giving them the opportunity to record their own songs for free.
Connor ‘SmallzDeep’ Hammond, originally from Chafford Hundred, has been offering young people under 20 in the borough the chance to use his recording studio Uncxt Studios in Grays since March last year, officially opening at the start of July.
He currently has around 13 young people using the studio for around 10-12 hours per week during times when Connor is not working in the studio for other artists, as part of a social enterprise first pitched for funding at a Thurrock Soup event in September 2016.
Connor, 25, said: “I have wanted to do something like this for years because when I was first starting out I was in the position that many of these kids find themselves in and it can be really difficult. It was costing me £150 just to get four hours in the studio.
“For a lot of these kids there just hasn’t been the money to do their own recordings. These are really talented kids and it would be such a shame if they didn’t have the opportunity to make the most of that. This is what we are trying to do here, I’m not asking for any money from them because I just want to see them do well and succeed.
“Many of these kids are from a difficult background and have had really hard lives so far. Here they are working hard to get away from all that and make something positive in their lives.”
The project was part-funded by £1,000 from the Riverside Community Grays Big Local group and £5,000 from UnLtd, a group who fund social entrepreneurs, after seeing Connor win the Soup event with his idea.
Connor has sometimes been working 17-hour days to give the young people enough time in the studio, but this mentoring and contacts has resulted in their work being played on major radio stations BBC Essex, Radar Radio, Reprezent Radio and Funky SX.
Ritchie ‘Mister Ritchie’ Osagie, from Grays, has been writing music for the last six years, but his career stepped up a level since working with Connor. He has now completed his first EP and even recorded a music video, which Connor is hoping to share widely using his contacts.
Ritchie, 20, said: “It’s helped me because Connor lets me know what I’m doing wrong and what I’m doing right and that really helps me to improve.
“I’ve been going to different studios out of the area since I was 15, but having Connor’s studio here is not only more accessible, but the quality is better as well because Connor is an artist himself and he has that experience he can share with us.”
If you’re interested in using the studio, contact Connor through a designated Facebook page at @uncxtstudios