[Image description: Performers huddled on stage, facing a crowd, with different lights focused on them. A screen is in the back with a faint Freedom Fest logo. Multicoloured words which read “Freedom Fest LDN.” are written above the performers’ heads. A silhouette of a crowd is seen at the bottom of the picture.]
Last month, I was fortunate enough to be a be a part of the first ever Freedom Fest at Rich Mix Shoreditch in East London. I shared a stage with some of the most exciting up-and-coming young musicians in London and exhibited some of my art.
The event was organised by Keaton Dekker and Sophie DeMasi - 17 year old students and musicians from London, who wanted to create a safe space promoting self-expression for young creatives of all genders, backgrounds, sexualities and respective passions. 50% of the proceeds made were donated to Stonewall UK.
Sophie De Masi (@sophiedemasi) is a singer/songwriter/producer from West London whose music has been described as having a pop structure with a hip hop beat and layered, harmonized vocals.
“Organising Freedom Fest with Keaton took a lot of hard work and planning but seeing our festival come to life was the most rewarding thing. Something we came up with on a walk home turned into a reality and seeing people be there and actually enjoy it means our goal for it was reached. Playing my first proper set was amazing, especially being to such a supportive, encouraging audience. Can't wait to see what the future holds for the festival.” - Sophie.
[Image description: The photo is split into two sides; the left shows Sophie singing into a mic and facing the right. There is heavy hot pink cast on the left side, while the right has a dark blue background, with Sophie facing the left; there is a bright red light shining on her - making her face and hands appear red. There is black text on the top-middle of the photo which reads “Sophie” and “@sophiedemasi”, as well as black, red and white doodles around her face and body.]
Keaton Dekker (@keatondekker) is an East London-based artist whose indie/pop music is driven by guitars and vocals.
"I can't describe that night without using the words proud and grateful. Freedom Fest was such a dream. Playing music live is something so surreal but that night, was just electric. Meeting and playing to people so lovely was such an honour. Just closing my eyes right now, I can remember so many special moments that happened that night. And that's super cool, I hope they stay in my mind for a really long time." - Keaton.
[Image description: A large image of Keaton singing into a microphone is on the left hand side of the photo and takes up most of the image. There is another image of him collaged on the bottom of the photo, laying on his back on stage and singing into the mic. There is a red light shining on his hair and bright green lights on his face which cast a heavy green tinge onto the photo. There is a vertical strip on the right hand side of the photo with a red to aqua coloured gradient from top to bottom. There is red text on the screen reading “Keaton” and “@keatondekker”, and red doodles around him.]
CJ Calanday (@chaariz): I got to exhibit some of my digital art at Freedom Fest, which was nerve-wracking, as it was my first time exhibiting any of my artwork, and having people physically come up to my work, look at it and ask questions was so exciting and fun.
[Image description: I’m sitting underneath 3 pieces of art which are mounted onto a colourful wall. There are yellow lines doodled around my body, with yellow text reading “@chaariz” at the top of the photo, and “CJ’ above my right shoulder.]
Freedom Fest was a truly humbling experience; an evening full of love and support between the audience and the performers alike. This event not only showcased the immense talent young people have to offer, but also the incredible things they can accomplish when given a chance.