From Silhouettes to Centre Stage: The Collective to Remember
Updated: May 6, 2022
A fundamental pillar, in music, is community. The home that we so often find in this wonderful world of sound we call music would be structurally unsound in its foundations without the people, places and stories that make up who we are, and how we listen.
And from community, is born collaboration. Below the ‘ft.’ we see on the songs we love from artist collaborations are the wades of producers, mixers, mentors, family members, friends and countless other sources of inspiration that we draw from when we do what we do.
And from an undeniably brilliant fusion of those two things, community and collaboration, comes The Silhouettes Project.
The brainchild of Eerf Evil and Kosher (Jaden and Asher respectively) The Silhouettes Project falls outside of the conventional definitions of a label or management set up, and this is part of what makes it special. Providing a platform for up-and-coming artists and creating structures to allow them to flourish, the project finds itself outside the industry box, but very much inside the hearts and minds of those who interact with them.
The show itself started with Eerf greeting those who arrived into the Jazz Cafe at the door, handing them tickets for a raffle which would occur later into the show and exchanging always-very-heartfelt greetings. Just picture the scene: the co-founder of the group due to perform a sold-out show at the door of the Jazz Cafe, doing his level best to say hello to everyone and offer them a chance to get involved. It was from the very first seconds of the gig experience that we got those key tenets of the project in the flesh. This was love for the community personified, and to see the Cafe transformed into something akin to a community gathering was beautiful, setting the stage perfectly for what was about to come.
And what came, opening the show, was an act of chemistry rarely seen in such good form on a stage. Jaden and Asher opened the night with a double act that jumped from stand up, to inspirational storytelling, to top-drawer hype men for the show and its participants. All the way through it was focused on the story that would bring them together and instigate community participation and quality music making en-masse.
And it’s this story that is in many ways central to the operation. Almost every The Silhouettes Project collaborator has some reflection of their first time in the original jamming sessions that preludes the project’s incredible rise. Almost every The Silhouettes Project collaborator has some variation on the idea that it was another person, who knew another person, who knew the place to be.
In speaking with one of the first members of the project, Manic MC, this process first played out when “Jaden [Eerf Evil] drew 3 columns on a whiteboard - rappers, producers and others - listing everyone that was attending the Root 73 studio, and just drew lines from one name to the next. That’s how The Silhouettes Project began.”
The strengths of The Silhouettes Project aren’t just buzzwords arbitrarily picked because of how they sound, but the very real philosophies and subsequent origins that people found a home in. Everyone fills their share of the silhouette.
So on the night what we saw wasn’t just a bunch of talented people who happened to find themselves in the same jam, but a stage shared by housemates, co-workers, business partners and friends. It increasingly felt as the show went on that part of what the night was was to redefine the concepts of co-performers and audience members as something more like companions and confidantes, bound together by the grasp of a concept real and highly impactful spread across every corner of the musical community the project has created. These positive relationships radiated across their sounds and through their music on the night.
Through this there seemed to be a balance between this being a night of demonstrating good music and getting through a contextually very important gig on the one hand, and appreciating the people around you on the other. There was so much time for the band, so much time for the artist’s themselves as contributors, and an unbelievable amount of time for the audience to share in these moments. “By buying a ticket for tonight, you lot are investing directly into the artists”, Eerf said in gratitude toward the closing of the show, encapsulating exactly what it means to be grassroots - the need for community, and the love that comes with.
We once wrote with our friends at YGN on why the crowd are the stars of the show, but tonight felt just that bit different. Each person on the floor stood as a member, invited and welcomed into the community, to really share in the collective experience. In conversation with Majoris Music, Anna Frances, fan & photographer, told us that she “really felt what they [Jaden & Asher] meant about this being a community”, whilst another fan expressed that “this was a gig unlike any other… the energy in there was spiritual”.
The setlist was a skilled presentation of Volume 1 of the project’s eponymous LP and the live show had a really good effect in showing off the diversity of musicality on the album. It seemed like everything The Silhouettes Project offered, the Jazz Cafe took. Every groove, every story, and every sentiment in every direction. There were over 15 collaborators (paling in comparison to the over 30 on the LP itself), a well rehearsed band fusing jazz and hip-hop effortlessly, complex lyrical flows, feisty punchlines, beautiful voices and a consistent passion and energy. The audience took it all in total delight.
In the way of The Silhouettes Project completely, what we saw were occupants of the Jazz Cafe stage - one of the most prominent in London - that are still yet cutting their teeth in the industry and on circuits. They felt placed on that stage exactly right, and exhibited just what the power of The Silhouettes Project is - bringing up talent to its highest heights through the unceasing force of community and togetherness. Rapper & artist Kieron Boothe told Majoris Music “it was a bucket list event for me. It’s been on my mind to perform at the Jazz Cafe since 2017. It is a monumental venue in the industry. I felt mad happy that we sold it out & the response.”
And this idea that Keiron captures is… powerful. To see 10 different artists on stage at the same time was powerful. To see a band ooze talent for 90 minutes straight was powerful. To witness a collective delivering their pure passion for music was powerful. To be hit by inflatable dolphins mid-set was powerful.
Inflatable dolphins? Eerf and Asher took to the stage to deliver ‘Chase it’, featuring Joe Beard. Aside from an engaging delivery by the co-founders, there was a second in which, at once, a segment of the song built, lighting around the venue took on a life of its own and with one explosive crescendo of jazz… the stage went into a fucking frenzy - to use a technical term. The drop became an all encompassing rave where pretty much every artist burst onto the scene, and burst off of the stage all kinds of inflatable beach paraphernalia; dolphins, flamingoes, beach balls and more.
A super fan told Majoris after the show that that moment, and everything that followed, felt like “that section of a house party when everyone is up and dancing to their favourite songs, people are shouting in energy and it’s a moment of ecstasy”.
Highlights like this, perhaps with slightly less physicality, were aplenty. Because of the show’s set up, an energising song would play, there’d be a bit of jubilation, and then it was onto the next banger ready to be slapped. This was in some ways representative of the project itself. TSP allows creative talent to flourish, and then allows other creative talent to flourish, and so on. This is the The Silhouettes Project lifecycle. The next person would be brought out, and the next, with each introduction as if to say: ‘This is your time to shine’.
And we stood there, sort of half-blinded by the constant onslaught of high energy entertainment, realising that between these points we were watching some real magicians at work. This gig was all about the sum of its parts rather than the parts individually, naturally. But to watch the likes of Nix Northwest, for example, carry words into their moving poetical form so effortlessly, or Summers Sons’ Turt land on and live every single beat perfectly, or even Poppy Daniels bring alive brass and push it into the centre of the stage - it was amazing. It was more difficult than usual to pick out those individual moments of brilliance because of how strong The Silhouettes Project is as a pack, and how strong that pack works together to do what it does. But in that very much non-exhaustive list is the fact that the very reason these artists have the chance to have their moments of brilliance is because of the platform of cohesiveness and excellence that allows them to do that - the platform of The Silhouettes Project.
There was nothing that felt quite on-piste about the show and the artist performances. Everything felt positively incongruent, and uniquely special, through the project itself to each live rendition, making the show lovable in the most inviting kind of way. It wasn’t, good as it was, admiration based on debt or favour to the music. It was rather based on the warm and consistently open invitation offered by The Silhouettes Project and the people that come together to create it.
It was a really good gig, with a quality of music that holds true from studio to stage and a roster of artists ready to deliver the goods. But what will always make this show memorable is that, more than the music, this is a demonstration of the human qualities we’re slowly starting to realise we need to strive for. The Silhouettes Project is people doing what people do best, but man, it sounds damn good too.