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Jasmine Gardosi's Dancing To Music You Hate

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by David Vincent (subscribe)
Occasional blogger and sometimes freelance writer, hammering away in the West Midlands.
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Verse and music collide for thoughtful show on identity


Birmingham poet and beatboxer Jasmine Gardosi debuts her first-ever full live show on Tuesday 26 to Wednesday 27 October 2021.

Entitled Dancing To Music You Hate, the show sees the award-winning performer and writer team up with a group of local musicians for a night of poetry, beatboxing, and "Celtic dubstep."

WeekendNotes caught up with Jasmine during a break in rehearsals.

Can you tell us a bit about Dancing To Music You Hate?

The show explores gender identity and being genderqueer - but really, at its heart, it's a set about self-expression.

What are some of the themes you explore?

As well as those mentioned above, I also touch on the pandemic unlocking some epiphanies (of course - it's right there, in the middle of everything) and the near-impossibility of finding space for your art in our capitalist present day. I also speak about gender euphoria, breaking down the binaries, and something a lot of genderqueer folk think about - do you tell your family about your identity? When? How?

Can you tell us about the musicians involved, and what they bring to the show?

Jobe Baker-Sullivan is an incredibly prolific multi-instrumentalist and Irish music specialist who pours his musical heart and soul into the Erdington (and greater Birmingham) area. We first met when collaborating on a musical/poetry event for Sutton Town Hall called Musical Mouthpieces, run by Joe Cook. Since then, we've jammed and made more stuff - and he's even composed music to one of my poems which was played by members of the CBSO. He is now the musical director of this show, and I couldn't do it without him. Not only does the dude play 50 instruments, but he knows EVERYTHING, and is generous with his time and input.

Damo Wilding and C@ in the H@ (aka Richard Shawcross) came on board as previous members of Alternative Dubstep Orchestra. Have you heard their sound? Check them out on Spotify! I'd had this vision of combining massive, heavy dubstep bass-lines with folk influences, and Damo (drummer extraordinaire) and Richard (DJ, producer, master of live bass synths) deliver just that. Damo's beats give the poems the kick up the ass I never knew they needed - and he's also a beautifully receptive collaborator who bounces off creative ideas so well - a literal dream to have in the rehearsal room. Richard's work ethic is legendary and has made me come to respect the amount of thought, time, (equipment!) and love and care that go into creating and playing those ridiculously amazing sounds that are going to blow people's brains through the speakers.

Sam Wooster is a phenomenal trumpeter and techno artist who I first met at jazz/poetry night. The trumpet is like a rubber band in his hands - that's how much power he has over that instrument - to say he's proficient is an understatement. He's also a wondrous collaborator who knows how to get things going in a room so the music happens. I feel truly spoiled to work in this kind of company.

jasmine gardosi, warwick arts centre
Jasmine Gardosi and band rehearse for Dancing To Music You Hate, her debut show.

How did the show come about?

In 2019, I was lucky enough to be granted two awards - the first was a Jerwood Arts Bursary that allowed me to learn how to beatbox, with lessons from songwriter and beatboxer Ed Geater. The other was a Developing Your Creative Practice grant from Arts Council England, which funded me to get in a rehearsal room with musicians, jam, and investigate new and exciting ways in which poetry and music could interact. Soon after, I had a conversation with Andrew Fletcher from Warwick Arts Centre, who was amazing to speak to, because he believed in my work and understood my musical and poetic interests and ambitions. I had the honour of being offered a commission to create a show for Warwick Arts Centre's studio. It had to be pushed back a year due to the pandemic but... well, here we are.

Any plans to perform it elsewhere or take it on tour?

Yes - the hope is that this is just the start of the journey, kickstarted by the support of Warwick Arts Centre. We'd love to perform it elsewhere - we think it'll go over really well at theatres, music venues and on festival stages.

As a writer for whom performance is so important, how did you approach lockdown and the lack of in-person performance opportunities? For example did it change your practice in any way - such as doing (more) online stuff, or using the time to write more?

I had a pretty solid writer's block during most of lockdown - so I used the time to practice beatboxing! It was perfect, because it's much harder to practice beats and sounds when you're out and about. In the privacy of your home you can spit and splutter however much you like. I did loads of online Zoom gigs and workshops, and to be quite honest, I didn't hate it. It just pushes you to make use of the camera as a performance tool. And man, it's good to make a really small commute from your kitchen to your desk instead of a 4-hour train. That said, I've missed live gigs, the hotel rooms, the vibe of the audience mid-poem, and the chatting before and after - so it's good to be back, though the occasional Zoom gig is no bad thing.


What other projects are you working on at present?


I've been working on a commission about the pandemic, which will be made into a video. I features me, performing a poem... on a rollercoaster. National Literacy Trust are releasing it soon - check it out. I've also been working with the Brontė Parsonage Museum as a Writer in Residence, on a commission about Anne Brontė. It's been created into a video exploring censorship, which is being released in November.

jasmine gardosi, slam poetry, beatbox, warwick arts centre
Beatboxer and slam poet Jasmine Gardosi.

Jasmine Gardosi visits Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, from Tuesday 26 to Wednesday 27 October 2021 as part of From The Source.

Other artists appearing include Sarathy Korwar (Friday 29 October 2021), Kofi Stone (Saturday 30 October), MOBO-nominated Camilla George (Sunday 31 October), and trip-hop pioneer Tricky (Wednesday 3 November). For tickets and more information, see: warwickartscentre.co.uk

For more about Jasmine, head to: www.jasminegardosi.com



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Why? Poetry. Beatbox. Celtic dubstep.
When: 7pm
Phone: 024 7652 4524
Where: Warwick Arts Centre, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL
Cost: £ 8 (£ 6)
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