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Spring is in the air!  In our latest newsletter we're shining the spotlight on Naji Richards, one of our veteran delivery staff who has been with us since the very beginning.  Naji has extensive experience in the music industry and has long been involved in music-making activity.  He talks to us about his passions, upcoming projects and experiences.

Interview with Naji Richards


Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be involved with Pedestrian.

I became involved with Pedestrian back in 1998 or 1999, soon after it was first established.  Back then Pedestrian was built around delivering DJing and turntableism workshops and experiences, and one of the founders asked me to help with this.  At that time I was doing a lot of DJing myself, both in the country and abroad in Germany, Belgium, Portugal and Spain.  I was also in a Portugese funk band called Blackout and was touring with them from 1998 for a few years. My first love is producing Hip Hop music, so at this time I was also busy putting my home studio together.

What has changed about Pedestrian over the years?

I think the biggest change has been the range of activities that we now deliver – when Pedestrian started we were predominantly delivering music and turntableism workshops but over time that scope has broadened to include photography, creative arts, crafts and digital arts.  Of course the technology has changed too: vinyl used on a turntable has for the most part been replaced by digital controllers and DJ software.

What have been the biggest changes in the lives of the people you’ve worked with?

Well for the other Pedestrian staff members the biggest change has been having kids – nothing changes you like that!  As regards the young people I’ve worked with, it’s great to see the success stories: many come to us facing issues and difficulties so it’s good when they overcome those and go on to be successful.  Lots of the young people are proud to have grown up and moved on, and several are still involved in music.  For others they got a lot out of just being in a creative environment and getting support from the tutors.

What’s the most important/effective thing you do as a tutor?

Inspiring the young people is the most and only important thing you can do: encouraging them to see the value in themselves and manifest it, do great things and fulfil their potential.

What do you like most about your role at Pedestrian?

The best part of my role is providing young people with the tools they need to build their own ideas and aspirations.  Showing them how to make things is very rewarding.

What has been your greatest challenge in life so far?

The greatest challenge has probably been raising my children and juggling them around work!  But it is also my proudest achievement.

 What makes you happy?

Music, family, sunshine and good food (not necessarily in that order!)  Music is like medicine for me, and the studio is my sanctuary.  If I’ve had a particularly stressful day I head to my studio and get creative – that always makes me feel better.

What’s the hardest thing for you to do?

I sometimes find it hard to hold my tongue when needed – I have a low tolerance for foolishness!  I tend not to dwell on life’s difficulties though as I believe that nothing is impossible, I prefer to think of ways to make hard things easier to deal with.  Rather than focusing on problems I like to concentrate on finding solutions.

Is there a project you’re working on at the moment that you’re particularly passionate about?

The project I’m most excited about at the moment are some workshops I’m hoping to do in Antigua teaching young people how to make music using technology.  The first ones will take place in the village that my Dad is from; we have lots of family and friends there so it will be pretty special to give something back to the community and share my skills.  There will be some tasters in July, hopefully followed by further workshops at the end of the year and eventually expanding delivery to other regions in the Caribbean.  The Caribbean is saturated with talent and ability, but chronically low on resources and funding.  At the moment I’m looking into funding streams to acquire the equipment and kit needed.

I’m also really enjoying working freelance at the moment: it allows me to do more creative work and have control over my own time.  I’m looking to do some recording work with Leicester MCs, as a lot of talent has emerged over the last two years.  The hip-hop scene is growing and very healthy in Leicester, and I’d like to contribute music to their creative journeys as well as building bridges between old school and new school ways of making music.

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