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Didier Kisala: British Red Cross Long Road Project
18th January 2016

Created by the British Red Cross, The Long Road highlights real-life experiences of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK and across the world. The  record features the likes of Grammy Award-winning group Tinariwen and spoken word poet Scroobius Pip and Congolese-born musician and singer Didier Kisala. It is produced by Brit Award winner Ethan Jones, who has worked with the Kings of Leon, Laura Marling and The Vaccines. The record will be released on 4 March 2016.

We spoke to Didier about his involvement.

How did you become part of the Long Road Project?

I am a musician based in Birmingham, and part of the Platforma network. Last year I was invited by the British Red Cross to be part of the Long Road music project. After discussion with project manager and clear explanations of the project I was really happy to participate in a collaboration to write a new song inspired by the experiences of a refugee who has been helped by British Red Cross.

What was the collaboration like?

I was sent a one hour interview about the story of a young Congolese refugee who spent about 12 years without status in the United Kingdom.  From that story I worked to create lyrics and music, that I would share with the other artists I was collaborating with. From the management of the project to the producer things worked in professional way. We had  time to communicate and share ideas, so when we met the recording was really smooth and easy.

Where did you do the recording and what was the process?

Recording took place at the Real World Studio a residential recording studio located in Wiltshire in the south west of England. It’s a very inspiring environment with the very best acoustic technology – it was conceived by Peter Gabriel and is a beautiful place to work. I would love to have the chance to record there again!

Tell us about the track you recorded

The interview with the Congolese refugee and the broader refugee crisis that is happening inspired me to create this track that I call “Who Are You Mama”. It is about a young man crying Mama and looking how to help his family, but all the time they have to go to school and are not able and have to move to different land because of conflict. I was lucky enough to be working with Scroobius Pip, one of the most talented spoken word artists. Ethan John  contributed his wonderful guitar sound and I also worked with my acoustic band while preparing this track.

What does this project mean to you?

This project has been a great opportunity to raise my voice and to help make people aware of what’s going on around the world.

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