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‘We will all find our way through’

February 7, 2011

Gabin is one of the people who runs Rising Tide – a charity that creates opportunities for young people in Hackney to get into music. Labrinth used to go there before he was famous. Bianca and I went to meet him to talk about what the Olympics mean to him and the young people he works with.

What does Rising Tide do Gabin?

Rising Tide is a youth focussed music charity working with young people who want to get into music. Recently it’s music and what we call the ‘creatively related industries’ – so it might be photography, it might be video, it might be design – we do alot of event management training as well – so it’s alot more creative than just music.

Are there people here right now?

Probably yeah. We’re got studios downstairs, rehearsal spaces, classrooms and courses that run throughout the day depending on what we’ve got. We have a core body of around thirty or forty young people who use recoding facilities and pre-production suits and rehearsal spaces ad hoc, mostly when they get home from school. Most of them are in their school uniform most of the time, so most of them don’t even go home. They just come straight here from school.

What kind of music do they make?

The big dominant thing is grime and hip hop and  R&B is a dominant thing, definitely. We’ve got a couple of rock chicks and we’ve got a couple of funky house DJs and stuff like that as well.

What’s the most important thing somebody learns who come here?

We have Tinie Tempah hanging out here. We have Bashy hanging out here. We have alot of people who come here to do their thing as well and then we’ve got a young guy Panther who has just been signed to BMG. Wonderboy, Size 10, Shiv – all these young artists who are training and developing themselves as performers. When they break through the others will watch them. It has that kind of undercurrent, subculture of succeeding and not being ashamed of it. Not being ashamed of trying. That’s something that’s really remiss in places where young people hang out. You can sit and play pool all day but if you’re really good at pool and somebody says to you ‘Look there’s a pool centre down the road. You could be world champion’. What’s a young person going to say! ‘Yeah whatever, i’ll stay here’. But when they come here – it’s already perceived that you will push yourself, whatever you’re doing. Here it’s always ‘you can achieve to your highest potential’

A young person will come in and go ‘that’s a million miles away… i can’t ever imagine doing that’ and somebody will be sitting next to them and they’ll go, ‘Well Tim did’. And he’ll be like ‘who’s Tim?” ‘Labrinth’ ‘d’you know him?’ ‘Yeah he used to come here – don’t you know?’ And then this guy will be sitting there going ‘Labrinth used to come here!’ ‘OH MY GOD” ‘Yes’ ‘So I could do that then!’

How do you think a young persons experience of growing up in Hackney compares to when you were young?

Completely different but exactly the same. A young person in Hackney when I was growing up – depending on who you move with or who you hang out with – you like playing football and hanging around BMXing, or hanging around, getting into fights and going out clubbing. And my friends did both. And I was involved in alot of BMXing at the time. That was one of the things I did constantly when I was growing up.

Where did you go?

All over – really. There weren’t parks like where you can go now with a quarter pipe. There wasn’t any of that. But you’d just make your own. In Kingsmead there was an adventure playground – we’d go there. We’d just go all over the place.

Did you ever go in the Olympic Park?

Probably not. I think not. Wait No! Yes! I tell a lie. There was a BMX track! I used to go there every weekend to the dirt track yeah. all the time. I mean – I’ve got serious cuts and bruises still from that track. Yeah we did definitely. That was great fun.

The youngsters now. Some of them do exactly the same type of things but then things like technology and stuff like that – that’s the main difference – they’re communicating completely differently with each other. But just getting up to the same kind of stuff. You know historically you had mods and rockers and all that stuff. And now you’ve got other gang members. You know the thing is there are people like getting pulled up to gang activity just because they live on a certain estate. I mean that kind of used to happen if you went to a certain school, you’d get into fights with other schools if you were around and your face was recognized. I never used to get involved with fights, but I went to school with people who did and if somebody saw me and said – ah you know so and so – I’d have to watch my back a little bit. It’s just alot more sensationalised now and its alot more tragic in terms of the young people losing their lives now. I don’t know what the numbers were – but I can’t imagine that it’s anywhere near as bad as now. And that’s the most scary thing.

Do you remember where you were when London won the games?

I was at Stratford when they announced it. They had a big stage show – we had some young people performing on stage. It was mad. They had the clock counting down and everyone was there. I’ve still got my web cam recording of it. The amount of noise when they announced it was so big the camera malfunctioned – because of the noise. You’ll see when they start cheering the whole screen goes ‘crack’ because it just couldn’t take the volume you know? It bought everybody together for that day. And if the Olympics can do that for a week or two. That can’t be a bad thing.

What opportunities will having the Olympics here make for young people?

We’re training up young events managers and we’re like – go and set up a show. Go and set up something. And when the Olympics comes, if there are clubs that are empty start putting on shows. During the day time there will be people sprinting up and down tracks but at night time people need to be entertained. Even if its not tourists, the whole place will have that kind of a buzz. There will be media around and people in hackney will feel different when that’s going on – I can guarantee it . Because you do. You get caught up in it. You go home. You might not be able to afford a ticket to watch it but you go home and you go waaah yeah! yeah! that’s down the road! People will have Olympic parties – I guarantee you – all sorts of things will be happening.

Are you worried the Olympics could make Hackney more expensive?

I was bought up in Hackney but I couldn’t afford to live here and buy a house. I ended up moving to Greenwich because of it. You get used to it. You know what happens? – five years down the line it all becomes normal again. I used to ride down Carpenters Road (in the Olympic Park) and all of a sudden I couldn’t so that was a pain in the neck. I stopped cycling for a while because I was just trying to find my way around. People oversimplify it but we, people find our own way through. we will all find our way through. I don’t think it’s going to be this great lovely shiny thing that’s going to leave everyone feeling happy for years to come – people have lost thier businesses, been moved… If you live in this part of london traffic’s a nightmare. It takes me ten minutes to drive from Greenwich to hackney but it takes you half an hour to get from one bit of Hackney to another. it’s outrageous but you got a do it. You haven’t got a chance. And I think young people are more resilient than us adults. They’ll just get on with it whether it’s part of what they do or not, they’ll just make it work.

Do you think the Olympics will do anything for young people in Hackney?

I think it’ll bring alot of opportunities but young people have still got to take those opportunities. The Cultural Olympiad is going to bring alot of projects here – yes it will. So for instance you know. I met you. and I had conversations with you about the Olympics – for instance we’re doing Spotlight which is going to happen around the Olympics. There’s the youth ambassadors who are getting opportunities through that. We’re going to do a photographic project around the Olympics. All these things. It’s not to say that they wouldn’t happen its just to say that they’re going to happen with this as a catalyst.

Is that it?

No. I don’t think I’ve ever sat in so many meetings about ‘joined up thinking’. There are young people that will find opportunities that seemingly will come out of the Olympics whether or not they were exclusively for them. I sat down and talked about it with Councillors in Hackney like Guy Nicholson and said ‘What’s this really going to mean to youngsters?’ And they’ve been like ‘you tell us – lets get them together and talk about it.’ And so as a catalyst. As a way of developing that dialogue, yeah fair enough. I’m not going to argue about why that dialogue is happening as long as that dialogue is happening’.

So is that’s what’s special about the Olympics?

Yeah the Dialogue. I suppose yes. And the emerging possibilities for organisations like ours. You know. Is a young person going to become a sprinter in the next year? No.

There are young people in Hackney who are involved in sport. Will they feed into the Olympics? I don’t know. I came through semi-professional sport and things like the Olympics – you never really think about it. But yeah if you’re on the cusp of breaking into the national side – yeah that’s all you’re going to be thinking about but the majority of young people aren’t in that mould. With all the building work you’re seeing in every last bit of Hackney. Everything being painted and touched up – alot of young people are seeing that kind of thing. So young people might notice it looks nicer for two minutes… In Hackney Wick we’re going to have the media centre so alot of people are talking about the legacy of this Media Centre. But, from what I can gather it’s going to be alot of big companies that they’re going to get to try to go in and take up the spaces after – to pay its way

Does it matter who gets the stadium?

To who? For what. It’ll matter to West Ham and Spurs supporters and the police who have to police it every weekend! I mean I have to say as a Spurs supporter I don’t want them to move there.

Why not?

It’s just a move too far isn’t it. You’re moving to Newham from Tottenham and there’s arguments about whether they can keep the name now. I wanna take my kids to White Hart Lane man! That’s where we always go! So why are we going to Stratford all of a sudden? But you know Arsenal moved from Woolwich years ago.. so who knows?

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