A new generation of artists tasked to write and produce a 21st century track inspired by the earliest recordings in music history

Photo Credit: Carsten Windhorst

LONDON, December 10, 2019:  The EMI Archive Trust and its benefactor, Universal Music Group (UMG), in partnership with London based youth-community charity, The eXceL Project (XLP), today announced the release of two new original tracks born out of an experiential three-day education programme, Secret Studio.

The challenge brought together six young creatives, from a variety of backgrounds across the city, all with their individual story and experiences to share. Each participant was individually chosen by the charity’s community leaders, XLP Senior Community Projects Manager, Ethan Bernard and X-Mobile Project Manager, Beres Williams, based on their talent and personal drive.

XLP, operating across nine London boroughs, engages with and supports some of the most under-privileged young Londoners with an aim to build trust and empower them to see that an alternative future is possible.

Ethan Bernard, Senior Community Projects Manager comments: “At XLP we’re focused on empowering young people to establish themselves and ultimately form a brighter and more positive future. Together with our friends at the EMI Archive Trust, we came up with an idea that exposed young artists to the earliest sound recordings and allowed them to use their gifts to create something that would resonate with young audiences today.”

Under the banner of “old becomes new”, the mission was to create new music inspired by the world’s earliest recordings. Participants were given access to ten rare wax recordings made between 1901-1906 and shown how music’s earliest recording techniques, from the turn of the last century, were shaped by innovation, exploration and entrepreneurship. The young musicians studied the historical context and 20th century technology on site at the EMI Archive Trust in Hayes while following the exploratory musical journeys Fred Gaisberg and William Sinkler Darby, the world’s first A&R men, took around the globe.

During the three-day programme, the young creatives ranging from 16-20 years, split into two teams to write, record and mix two new tracks. The results were ‘Freddie & Will’, a homage to Gaisberg and Darby’s adventures and ‘Healing’, a personal and highly-relatable song, depicting the emotional journey of a young person experiencing a hard time. The tracks were recorded and mixed in the charity’s ex-police riot van turned mobile recording studio, the X-Mobile, and at XLP’s South London recording studio. The new releases are distributed by UMG’s unsigned artist portal, Spinnup, with 50% of royalties heading direct to the XLP charity and 50% to the young musicians, in a shared commitment to support XLP’s ongoing programmes.

The Secret Studio programme was designed and delivered by professionals from the EMI Archive Trust, XLP and UMG, with support from leading educationalist, Sally Greaves, The Trust’s Heritage Curator and Manager, Historic Collections, Joanna Hughes and XLP’s, Ethan Bernard.

During the project, participants were also introduced to UMG executives including; Rich Castillo, Senior A&R Manager, Polydor; Alex Sayers, Senior Marketing Manager, Virgin EMI and Georgie Koch, Content and Communications Manager, Spinnup, who offered the young creatives advice for their future music careers.  XLP’s Beresford Williams also supported the two teams, featuring Rai-Kwaun Bailey-Brooks aka Tn_490, Malachi Asare-Appiah aka KMally, Alfie Williams aka Aaze, Jacob Varley aka J Varley, Tex Tuwizana aka Tex and Skye Francis, through their creative process.

“The EMI Archive Trust holds a collection of great depth, full of incredible stories, seeing it come alive while working with XLP and the talented young musicians on this scheme has left us energised to open the archive to a whole new generation. The Secret Studio programme will roll out with a second XLP edition early next year and then broaden out across the UK”, comments Caryn Tomlinson, Chair, EMI Archive Trust and SVP, Global Communications for Universal Music Group.

The participants credit XLP for not only creating a safe and inspiring mental and physical space for them, but for helping them evolve their dreams and motivate their ambitions.

“I’ve seen a lot of dreams be built on the van…that’s where my dreams were made”, comments 20-year-old rapper and participant, Tex Tuwizana (pictured above).

Watch a visual recap of the project here. The clip was filmed and edited by a team from UMG’s UMusic Experience initiative under the guidance of, Gary Knox, which gives paid freelance opportunities to graduates and talented, young visual creatives.

Tracks ‘Freddie & Will’ and ‘Healing’ are available to stream across all major platforms now.

Click here to stream “Freddie & Will”

Produced by: Rai-Kwaun Bailey-Brooks aka Tn_490

Written and performed by: Malachi Asare-Appiah aka KMally and Alfie Williams aka Aaze

Click here to stream “Healing”

Produced by: Jacob Varley aka J Varley

Written and performed by: Tex Tuwizana aka Tex and Skye Francis


About the EMI Archive Trust

The EMI Archive Trust was set up in 1996 to preserve and share the history of music, dating back to 1897 and encompassing an extraordinary journey through music, technology and British history starting with EMI’s precursor, the first record company, the Gramophone Co.

The Trust holds the world’s most complete collection of over 305,000 rare pristine shellacs, early vinyl recordings taken from wax. These include the first music and voice recordings captured in the UK, India, China, Japan, Vietnam, Russia and many more countries around the world.

Artefacts range through the industry’s technological developments as music recording and playback systems evolved from acoustic to electric, magnetic and finally into the various digital format transformations culminating in “day-one digital”.  In addition to material relating to musical heritage, The Trust also preserves artefacts associated with the company’s significant achievements in electrical engineering including television, radar, and medicine.

EMI Archive Trust has charitable status in the UK and is wholly supported by Universal Music Group (UMG). The UK’s prestigious British Library understandably calls the EMI Archive Trust one of the world’s largest and most diverse music and technology archives. 



About XLP
XLP is creating positive futures for young people living in the inner city making a serious and sustainable impact on poverty and educational failure.

XLP’s focus is on some of the most disadvantaged young people in London. Founded in response to a stabbing in South London in 1996 (the same year as the EMI Archive trust), 23 years on we are still at the forefront of tackling the causes of knife crime at source. Our aim is to keep young people in schools and out of gangs and help create positive futures for them. XLP is in it for the long-haul. We know that long-term relationships and an investment of time and skills are key to enabling positive futures for young people.

XLP engages with approximately 1600 young people each week on a one-to-one and small group basis and works closely with over 50 schools and pupil referral units (PRUs), and on 33 estates. Currently, we work with children and young people across nine of the most deprived inner-London boroughs (Lambeth, Southwark, Lewisham, Greenwich, Newham, Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Islington and Camden).

Our youth workers are fully embedded in the areas in which they work, understand the issues the young people are facing and their fears, and have chances to engage with the complexities of their family lives. We are therefore able to help those living in estate communities to transform the culture of their localities. www.xlp.org.uk  @xlplondon

About Universal Music Group

Universal Music Group (UMG) is the world leader in music-based entertainment, with a broad array of businesses engaged in recorded music, music publishing, merchandising and audiovisual content in more than 60 countries. Featuring the most comprehensive catalog of recordings and songs across every musical genre, UMG identifies and develops artists and produces and distributes the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful music in the world. Committed to artistry, innovation and entrepreneurship, UMG fosters the development of services, platforms and business models in order to broaden artistic and commercial opportunities for our artists and create new experiences for fans. Universal Music Group is a Vivendi company.