Busking inside a shopping centre – Merry Hill, a high street within a claustrophobic complex. I’ve never really liked spending time here as the lack of fresh air always makes me uncomfortable, and I really don’t like shopping, I have no desire in consumerism, I feel I don’t need anything new, I basically spend my money on food and travel. But it’s a placed I’ve always loved to play music in; a) to see how long I’d manage to play before getting kicked out by security and b) to see what the reverb would be like inside. So when I got an invite to come busk here, definitely. But there was the internal debate, like ahhh, I hate that place, but I love music, can you rid hate of something by bringing what you love into it? Turns out, yes you can.
Maybe that could work in another context like, ‘Ahhh I hate this job, but I have a love for conversation and learning new things’ – start having conversations with everyone at work, even your managers and find out new information about them or what they know. The daily ‘Three New Things I Learnt About This World in a Workplace I Hate’ quest……….? The Lunch Break Podcast inside….x company. Lessons Learnt From the Workplace of Hell. – #tangent
So it wasn’t technically what busking is defined as, because there was a payment upfront for the performance. I wasn’t allowed to have a case out for coin drops, but I was allowed to display my CD box, which I had to hide by the side of me, it was barely noticeable. But people still found a way to give me a coin or two, they didn’t even ask if I was collecting, they were just determined to gift me something. Which is absolutely fascinating, people are incredible and when they feel something gives them value they want to show it with a physical gift, a natural instinct to give back to something that’s gifted them in some shape or form. People would come from a distance with a coin in hand, flying and seeking a place to drop it, (like when you try feed a baby, spoon like a plane, zooming around to land in the mouth) eventually the CD box hidden beside me, then a “thank you, it sounds lovely in here”, walking off smiling.
So really, it was just like busking, with that magic ripple affect of positivity that street music brings. People walking past smiling, stopping and swinging their hips, starting a street party in a shopping centre. Old men eating sandwiches and applauding each song, smiling and giving the good ole thumbs up. Babies and children totally mesmerised by the weird blue box that’s making sound, their parents pulling up beside the music and watching their child smile and laugh. It’s amazing their bodies dance like they’re not in control, a natural instinct to the music.
What was truly amazing, within the first couple of songs a woman, Nina and her Mum stood watching smiling massively. Nina bought a CD and later sent this message via Instagram;
When this happens, when music creates an effect like this, it’s truly amazing. I feel so grateful that our paths crossed and this connection was made. These little moments add up to big change, and it fuels my belief that I’m doing something good for this world, it makes me never want to stop and only grow it and keep on giving music to the world. So that’s my plan – don’t stop.
A little clip of some looping I did towards the end of the day, which was 3pm – 9pm.
Shopping centres like this, just like High Streets are designed for people to come and buy things, encouraging and installing consumerism on those that wonder it. Why I’ve always loved street art and busking, is because it’s totally contrasting to that, it fills a need that we all have, an artistic, creative and somewhat in-explainable need, it gives without expecting anything in return. It allows people to step out of their world and into a moment, one that could last for just a few seconds, but it politely interrupts their day. This is why I’ve always felt busking is important in any high street, and what ultimately fuels me to continue, to give strangers those kind of moments of relaxation, taking their mind someplace else.
I feel this project within Merry Hill is so important for shopping centres like this. Personally I feel somewhat trapped inside the place at times, like I can’t escape the one-thousand half-price discounts or bright lights or temptations to buy a million things. So a spontaneous event where a musician or artist is sharing their talents and creating these little moments to take you outside the inside shopping centre – well that’s just magic. I’d love to see this happen more frequently in shopping centres, maybe this blog post could be a gateway into a conversation to start a regular project within them. Maybe it could grow to really add value to the centres and a place for musicians and artists to earn part of their living by giving their talents to the thousands who wonder through these centres.
Ultimately I thoroughly enjoyed the experience to play here. A new experience and a new place to bring music to, one that has filled my mind with many more ideas. One which involves playing music fairly loud while being pushed around a supermarket in a trolley, utterly stupid, but fun. Bringing music to new environments to see how it affects people, which currently on my journey so far, has seemed to affect people in a positive and beautiful way.
I shall continue…
Thank you for reading this post 🙂
Wishing you a wonderful day! 🙂