SCHOOL OF BOP
A soundtrack of a community: inspiring musical youth with School of Bop.
By Amira Hasan | 31st July 2020
Music is at the heart of everything we do. Whether it’s the playlist you’re listening to while walking down the street, the soundtrack of famous movies, going to the gigs of your favourite artists, relaxing to compositions that soothe your anxiety or simply the tracks being played in the spaces you frequent… music is always there. We are all familiar with the varying forms of modern music, but their deep roots in Black culture are often overlooked. Intalekt, Founder of School of Bop, speaks to me about his journey with his organisation, the many music genres and the importance of celebrating the Black community.
“School of bop is about making sure that we are inclusive and allowing people to harness their talents.”
School of Bop, a music workshop for the youth of London, gets its name from ‘School of Rock,’ the well-known movie following the story of a struggling rock guitarist who finds himself as a substitute teacher in a private school, and uses the opportunity to turn his musically talented class into a fully fledged rock band. Bop, the term given to a dance or movement to music, “could be anything” and “encompasses all genres” which has translated in School of Bop’s approach to teaching. They work with an array of producers who focus on the history of all genres - from soul and jazz to grime, and even a bit of rock.
“For us, it is important to help the students understand the different avenues of success and also understand what success itself means to them.”
School of Bop is well on its way to becoming an entire school of its own. They have already held two workshops in the last year and were both in collaboration with 1948Ldn; Nike’s community space in Shoreditch and Native Instruments; a leading developer of music software and hardware for music production and DJing. The workshops were open to those aged between 16-25 and were free to attend with all equipment provided by Native Instruments. During the 3-day workshops, students were given the opportunity to meet special guest producers including LOELASH, Eve Horne and Melle Brown.
On the final day, a showcase of the students' work was presented and supported by an appearance of music artists from Intalekt’s ‘tribe’: Afronaut Zu, Barney Artist, Lex Amor, Tinyman, Ella Frank, Sen Chedick, Emmavie, DIPS & LO-WU, Blue Canariñho, and Temple. These are the relationships Intalekt has formed throughout his career, his ‘tribe’, as he firmly believes in having strong connections around by “[networking] side to side, not above.” He explains that “without having these people around me, School of Bop would never have happened.”
“I understand the importance of having someone to talk to and to get advice from, a person who doesn’t expect anything in return. I feel like being a mentor is what I am by default.”
Beyond the workshops, Intalekt and co-founder Lory Louves hope to achieve not only a space for budding music producers, but to also become long standing mentors, establish music-infused wellbeing sessions and turning School of Bop into its own production label. “Something we really want is to have an alumni [sic],” Intalekt explains. Through both creating connections with their students and providing them with the opportunity to establish themselves with marketing knowledge, the School of Bop team is guiding them step by step through their journey into the music industry. By design, School of Bop fosters a sense of community; they encourage students to celebrate not only their own work, but also the work of others.
“Inclusivity at School of Bop is what we do by default. I am a black man and I want people who look like me to prosper and to thrive. I want to make sure the people who are like me get a fair chance.”
In light of current affairs with the Black Lives Matter movement as a result of the murder of George Floyd in the United States, Intalekt and I converse a little about where School of Bop stands. With Black culture and Black music being the genesis for much of pop culture, Intalekt points out “without Black music there is no modern music.” He goes on to say “I have a responsibility, as a Black man, to push my community forward into the industry.” At School of Bop they make the conscious effort to ensure students are taught about each genre of music and where sounds come from - all to highlight where respect and homage are well overdue.
With talks of running a workshop in South East London to start a jazz band with local youth in the near future, School of Bop has exciting developments coming its way. More than that, they have something even bigger to celebrate: being an organisation who are helping to build the careers of music artists and producers we are sure to be listening to in the future.