EMI Archive Trust & XLP create Secret Studio education programme

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

11 December 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. 

XLP film by Gary Knox. Camera operators: Gabrielle Salonga & Sydney Van Gelder
This 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.

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.”

The inspiration behind Secret Studio – Fred Gaisberg (right) and William Sinkler Darby (left). Pictured here in Vienna in 1900, they crossed cities, countries and continents recording anything and everything for The Gramophone Company at the turn of the 20th century.
Photo taken from Fred Gaisberg photo album (1897-1903) part of EMI Archive Trust collection.

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.

Left to right: Beres Williams (X-Mobile Project Manager), Rai-Kwaun Bailey-Brooks aka Tn_490, Tex Tuwizana aka Tex, Skye Francis, Jacob Varley aka J Varley, Malachi Asare-Appiah aka KMally, Catherine Williams (XLP support worker)
Photo: EMI Archive Trust x XLP, 11 April 2019, taken by Carsten Windhorst

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.
“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).

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


Produced by Rai-Kwaun Bailey-Brooks aka Tn_490
Written and performed by Malachi Asare-Appiah aka KMally and Alfie Williams aka Aaze


Produced by Jacob Varley aka J Varley
Written and performed by Tex Tuwizana aka Tex and Skye Francis

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. LINK HERE for more information about XLP

‘Round The Horn’: Left to right – Skye Francis, Tex Tuwizana aka Tex,Rai-Kwaun Bailey-Brooks aka Tn_490, Jacob Varley aka J Varley and Malachi Asare-Appiah aka KMally, recording with an early acoustic horn from the EMI Archive Trust collection.
Photo: EMI Archive Trust x XLP, 11 April 2019, taken by Carsten Windhorst