For this years World Refugee Day, Common, Gregory Porter, Keyon Harrold and Andrea Pizziconi teamed up to release 'Running', geared to raise awareness of the refugee crisis in foreign countries. In addition to the record, all proceeds raised by either donation via gofundme or purchasing the single via iTunes will support numerous refugee charities abroad.
HYPEFRESH, Inc. staff had the privilege to chat with both Keyon Harrold (Music Producer) and Andrea Pizziconi (Writer). We asked a few questions on the creative process behind the making of 'Running' Refugee Song. Read the full interview below.
What made this recording process more unique than others?
Keyon: The process for this song was special because of the many people involved. Gregory and I have been working together for a few years. This was the first song he has done with me... so it was special. I had to take a train to meet him in Portland, Oregon after my rehearsals with Maxwell. A late night hotel room boot strap session that to me, led to greatness. Common, the first artist i've toured with and it is such an honor for him to graciously be apart of it. He and Gregory have supported me the whole way a testament to how this project has turned out.
Andrea: In terms of recording it, of course, we were extremely lucky to have collaborators such as Common and Gregory Porter. Common wrote incredibly thoughtful words that filled in perfectly where we left the story after the second verse. And Gregory is the consummate story teller. He is so incredibly warm and compassionate. His tone and inflections reflect perfectly the layers of their struggle and their inner glory. They were the perfect ambassadors for this message. They didn't need much from us, just the song we gave them. From there, they had the wisdom and heart to bring it to life as sensitively as they each did.
What about the creative process behind this record?
Andrea: In terms of the creative process, this song came with a lot more weight and responsibility than I have ever felt for a song I've recorded in the past. The rhythm, the beat, every single word were a testament to a group of people who have suffered greatly and who have shown a will to survive and triumph against all odds. We didn't want the song to be sad alone despite the fact that aspects of their stories are horrifying, nor did we want it to be so upbeat that it didn't give proper respect to what each and every one of them has endured.
There are single words that we debated for weeks until we finally got to the right place. And, of course, we asked refugees as well. When we had a demo we both liked, we played it for them to see if we earned their blessing and if they were proud of how we represented them musically and lyrically. We knew we wanted a song with a groove that could pass muster on its own, regardless of the subject. Equally, we wanted the lyrics to be extremely genuine and to stand up to scrutiny.
“This tragedy affects all of us... I am grateful to lend my voice to these courageous survivors. I hope everyone downloads the song so we can raise desperately needed money to help these families and let them know we have nothing but love for them.”
Can we expect more philanthropic records from you two in the near future?
Keyon: The fact that this is the first of many songs written by the collective group "compositions with a cause", an initiative started by myself and Andrea Pizziconi. We wanted to write songs that had material purpose. Specific goals that had a specific plan of targeting a solution to the cause. In this one it is raising funds for refugees world wide with a focus on resettlement and education for refugees. Africa, Syria, Asia and beyond. There will absolutely be more music coming that will indeed give voice to many voiceless people.
Andrea: In the end, our goal was to write and produce a hit song with a message that would change hearts and minds and honor the millions of refugees that moved us to do something in the first place. Balancing those two objectives--the commercial and the socially conscious-- was a challenge we embraced, which made the project that much more meaningful and interesting. I'm also very grateful to Keyon for committing to this creative journey with me. We both brought different experiences and instincts; Key with more musical experience than me, and me with more experience engaging with social activism.