Unlocking Our Sound Heritage Artist-in-Residence

Unlocking our Sound Heritage's Artist in Residence, AWATE, stands in front of shelves of LPs and other sound recordings.

Unlocking Our Sound Heritage is delighted to welcome critically acclaimed rapper AWATE to the British Library as the project’s Artist-in-Residence.

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An Eritrean born in Saudi Arabia and raised in Camden, AWATE has been producing music for over fifteen years, learning the craft from mentors including Stylah and Lowkey from the iconic UK group the Poisonous Poets, BBC 1Xtra’s DJ Semtex and boyhood hero and legend, Yasiin Bey.

Also an accomplished multimedia artist, AWATE served as The Roundhouse’s Resident Artist in 2016 where he was heavily involved in their 5* rated 2015 Bloomberg Summer installation, ‘Utopia’. The Roundhouse also commissioned AWATE to produce a work, ‘Askari’, commemorating the centenary of the end of World War 1 for a project called ‘Cause & Effect’, alongside seven other musicians.

In 2017, the twenty-eight year-old was also one of six UK-based performers to collaborate and tour the nation with six Asian acts for the Southbank Centre and British Council's ‘Alchemy Tour’ for which he created new music. AWATE was also the PRS Foundation and British Council’s ‘São Paulo Musician in Residence’ 2018, working in Brazil with street and classically trained musicians in state of the art studios and immersing himself in the art and political spaces of São Paulo for a month.

Recently nominated for 'Best Urban Act' at the 2018 Unsigned Music Awards, AWATE’s music, including his Happiness EP - praised as a ‘British rap masterpiece’ by Trench Mag - has been featured on BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra and 6Music, as well as Noisey, Spotify and Complex.

The Residency

Bringing his visionary creative approach to the British Library this autumn, AWATE will serve a five-month residency, using the extensive sound archive to weave together a long-form genre-bending musical piece exploring the subject of diaspora and human migration.

Working with two youth music groups and local musicians in the London scene, he aims to incorporate archival sound recordings alongside voices and poems, using contemporary production techniques.

Project updates (September 2019)

Since joining the Library in September, AWATE has been familiarising himself with Unlocking Our Sound Heritage’s vast collections. Working with the curators, cataloguers and other Library colleagues, AWATE has been researching the sounds that will shape his long-form music piece.

AWATE writes about archival discoveries in his latest Sound and Vision blog.


Unlocking Our Sound Heritage

Unlocking our Sound Heritage is a UK-wide project that will help save the nation’s sounds and open them up to everyone.

Save our Sounds

Save our Sounds is our programme to preserve the nation’s sound heritage.

National Radio Archive

We aim to create a digital radio archive which will preserve a representative proportion of ongoing UK radio output.

Digital Audio Collection

The Digital Audio Collection aims to preserve a broad spectrum of sounds to reflect the UK’s audio publishing industry.

All projects