TBB Talks To … Malaki Patterson Artistic Director Of The Music Works Charity

Through his work Malaki has transformed and helped disadvantaged and underrepresented young people in his hometown …

Malaki is a musician, music producer, manager and mentor born and raised in Gloucester who has passionately worked to support young people to gain entrance into the music industry from a very young age. In 2021, The Music Works won a Queen’s Award for enterprise for social mobility and Malaki was also nominated for the Inspirational Music Leader Award at the 2021 Youth Music Awards.

The Music Works delivers one-to-one music mentoring, small group work, accredited training, apprenticeships and internships, festivals and events, artist and career development, helping disadvantaged and underrepresented young people access the industry. The Music Works, which won the Association of Youth Offending’s Award for best delivery programme in the UK and became a PRS talent development partner, guides 2,500 young people aged 8-30 on a regular basis and a further 2,000 through its events programme.

We spoke to Malaki about his career, why he chose music (or it chose him) and the reach of the Music Works Charity …

Please tell us who you are and what you do…

My name is Malaki Patterson and I am the Artistic Director of The Music Works, a music charity that supports young people through the engagement of music. I started my career at 17 as a self-taught musician, then started working in the industry as a music producer and recording engineer. I was born in Gloucester but my grandparents are from Jamaica, they migrated to the UK during the Windrush generation.

Describe your life right now in a word or one sentence.

Growth.

Tell us about your latest project.

As the Artistic Director of The Music Works, I support the planning, shaping and implementation of the vision of the organisation. Ensuring young people have a voice in decision-making and that our work is accessible to all young people. Much of my time is looking at how we can remove barriers and provide opportunities for those young people who are underrepresented or those in challenging circumstances.

How did it come about?

Since leaving school, I have always found myself trying to be in spaces where I wasn’t accepted, I didn’t get into music the conventional way, so progression routes and pathways were few and far between. Barriers to accessing music have always been difficult, whether that were due to finances, education, networks or culture. However, once I started to make a career in music I began facilitating music workshops and recording sessions in my local community to help other emerging musicians that were either doing it in an unconventional way or also found barriers to entry.

After years of doing this on my own, I found other people who shared the same passion as me, together we were able to build and develop the organisation which has now resulted in The Music Works.

The Music Works

Tell me about the high points, any obstacles to completing the project, and how you resolved the obstacles.

Highs: The work we do is very rewarding, we have seen the impact music can make in young people’s lives. From personal outcomes where young people build confidence and self-esteem, or to go on to achieve musical outcomes where they have built skills and develop their practice in genres where they may not have otherwise been recognised for their talents.

Lows: There are many barriers to accessing the creative industries and even more young people that face challenges in their lives which will put them at a disadvantage compared to others (i.e low socio-economic background, race, disability, mental health, etc…). We are also facing unprecedented times, the pandemic has been really tough on young people and with the cost of living rising things will only become more difficult for them and their families.

Solutions: There is not one simple solution and our work is a constant continuation of supporting young people, we work with various services such as; Youth Justice, Youth Support, NHS, Schools, as well as community groups and organisations. We are also working with industry bodies such as Warner Chappell Music to help break down barriers and provide more equitable access to the music industry. I have had many knockbacks when things haven’t gone to plan or worked out how I wanted them to, however, sometimes to fail is a part of the process and gives you the necessary experience to succeed.

What’s your current plan B?

I don’t think I’ve ever had a plan B, I have been pretty committed to what I have done since leaving school and it hasn’t been about having a backup plan, but more about doing something I believe in.

What’s made you sad, mad and glad this week…

Sad – Cost of Living Crisis
Mad – Arranging travel for musicians and the realisation of how Brexit has made it difficult for independent artists to tour outside of the UK.
Glad – Spending time with friends and family since recently coming from a two-week residential.

What are you watching right now?

Wu Tang Clan: An American Saga on Netflix.

What are you reading right now?

Holding Change by Adrienne Maree Brown.

What are you listening to right now?

Anthony Hamilton – Everybody.

The last thing you saw on stage?

A local theatre scratch piece curated by a range of local artists collaborating with Breakin Convention.

What’s on your bucket list?

Visit Brazil, Run a marathon, create/finish an album, sky-dive.

Celebrate someone else! Who do you rate right now?

A young artist called Grove who we used to support on our music programme a few years ago. They have achieved so much in a short space of time and it’s amazing to see what they are achieving now, especially as I know the adversities they have had to overcome. They have gone on to do exceptionally well in the music industry (on their own terms) gaining national radio play on BBC Radio Two & BBC Radio 6 Music and performing at Glastonbury.

Celebrate yourself – make us proud of you!

The past two years have been very rewarding. Last year our organisation opened the first fully inclusive music hub in the southwest which houses five studio rooms, a broadcast editing suite, and a 250-cap music venue. In the same year, I was nominated for The Inspirational Music Leader Award by Youth Music. This year I have been accepted onto two major professional development and cultural leadership programmes; Clore Fellowship and PRS Power Up.

Where can we find you and your project?
www.themusicworks.org.uk

Do you have anything else on the horizon that you would like to share with us?

One of our most recent projects about to launch is our brand-new Music Bus; a state-of-the-art mobile recording studio sponsored by Genelec, that will travel out to disadvantaged young people in faraway areas to bring them access to making and recording the music they love. Follow our Instagram for all the latest (@themusicworksglos).

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