Richy Carey: 'My own accent is a lot less bendy now'
- Brian Donaldson
- 8 March 2019
UNESCO City of Music Artist in Residence discusses his new project ahead of the Glasgow Short Film Festival
The first Glasgow UNESCO City of Music Artist in Residence is bringing his latest project to the Glasgow Short Film Festival. Here, Richy Carey tells us about the process behind making a film about the many accents of one city's people.
What was the initial trigger for the idea of Accents?
Initially I was invited to create a piece of work that celebrated Glasgow as a 'music city' and that involved working with communities around the city. I asked myself 'what might a "music city" sound like?' Glasgow has an amazing culture of people making and performing music all the time, across so many genres and styles, in so many different venues and spaces. It got me thinking if there might be something like a sound-in-common amongst all the music made here; or if not a sound, then something like an ethos. It was from there that the idea of accents as sounds-in-common came around, that though every band or music group has its own unique sound, there's something shared amongst them, a bit like an accent.
How did the notion of accents and music then come together?
As a composer I'm always trying to listen better, to hear musical gestures or phrases in the sounds around me, and it struck me that it might be fun to try and make a choral work that comes from this music that's in all our voices. I work a lot with communities to make music, in places like schools, community centres, prisons, or in collaborative projects like films and theatre shows. Mainly because I like working with people rather than on my own, but also because I always learn new things from the people I work with. It felt right that if I was going to make a piece of music that was about accents, a material that is so subjective and also has the potential to be harmful (because of the way they have often been politically co-opted to put people down or put them on the outside due to the way they sound) that I should learn as much as I can from people in the city about how they think about accents, to find out what other's experiences of them are like. So over the course of the year I did various music and sound-making workshops with different community groups to research it.
What did you discover about people's attitudes towards their own accents?
Generally I found that every single person I spoke to had a story about their own accent, about times they were either excluded, made fun of or at the very least felt self-conscious about their own voice. But at the same time there was an overriding sense of pride in the way people felt about their accents, that it held something like a history of their lives, the people they'd met and the communities they identified with. I've now come to think of them as sounds that sit somewhere in the grey between our individual and communal identities.