Nubya leads our latest gender equality residency at Blueprint Studios this week from Monday 27-Thursday 30 March. She’ll be supported by artist and facilitator Holly Phelps, also known as IORA, who took part in one of our first ever gender equality residencies with Beth Orton in 2017!

The group of artists taking part is made up of all kinds of genres, styles and backgrounds. Collectively they take inspiration from neo-soul, hip-hop, Afro-Latin percussion, Electronica and Gospel to name just a few.

Together across four days, they’ll explore their creative practice, challenging their writing skills by using different instrumentation sets. With everything from brass, keys and percussion to strings, vocals and woodwind, there’s infinite possibilities at their fingertips.

“This is an opportunity to hold space for everyone’s creativity, and create something completely improvised together. I want us to feel free to expand our creative selves.”

Nubya Garcia

Meet the Artists

Francesca Knowles is a musician from Newcastle upon Tyne, specialising primarily in drums as well as piano. Since earning an MA in Ethnomusicology in 2014, forging a curiosity which underpins many of her musical interests, Francesca has toured internationally with drumming theatre show, Spark!, and plays with numerous bands and artists from the North East, including Ruth Lyon, Ceitidh Mac and Beccy Owen. She is also one half of collaborative accordion / percussion duo Amy Thatcher & Francesca Knowles. Alongside regular performance and recording work, Francesca is a drum kit and piano teacher and workshop leader, and has more recently begun exploring solo and ensemble-based composition.

Originating from Wolverhampton, 23-Year-old Karis Jade is an R&B/Soul singer and songwriter with a story to tell. Whilst her music journey is only short, she has since heavily featured on her brother’s (Superlative) music, alongside juggling motherhood and artist life. Karis has since collaborated and toured with Manchester’s iconic Hip Hop group ‘The Mouse Outfit’ alongside Superlative and Oneda. This, paired with gracing the Youth Music Awards stage and taking part in their programme with Reform Radio, ‘SoundCamp’, has definitely opened our eyes to the potential that this artist holds! If you’re looking for honest music that doesn’t shy away from reality, then you’ll be happy Karis Jade crossed your radar.

Sonia Killmann is a Glasgow-based international composer and multimedia artist. As a saxophone player and electronic musician, they have performed across the UK and Europe and were nominated for best electronic 2022 in the Scottish Alternative Music Awards. She frequently collaborates with dancers and visual artists, such as Constant Vigier. In Sonia's ambient duo Failed System Test, she creates immersive experiences with Aidan Lochrin through melodic saxophone playing and live digital processing of multiple mediums. Sonia also teaches electronic music techniques and live visual coding with the aim to make electronic and audiovisual music more accessible.

MARF is a vocalist and videomaker, AV and sound artist, fangirl of the Arts Industry’s unsung infrastructure and tech heroes. Affectionately known as 'Swiss Army Marf' amongst colleagues 'cause she’ll have a go at most of the things. Supporting Artist to many, she's currently exploring what her independent work might look like as an audiovisual songwriter combining music, sound and voice with live AV - a reimagining of the concept album for solo performance; experimenting with the value(?) of trying to do-it-all-yourself. MARF’s current work holds concern with the reuse and repurposing of media in a data-dumping society, our obsessions with nostalgia aesthetics and the quest for awe.

Hannabiell Sanders is a bass trombonist, African and Latin hand percussionist, composer, producer, and activist. She is a charismatic performer and teacher who is committed to using her music and knowledge in service to social justice to break stereotypes and bring diverse communities together. Hannabiell is the Artistic Director of the social enterprise, Harambee Pasadia which creates, organises, and manages festivals and events that focus on community building, arts from the African Diaspora, and intergenerational collaborations with artists and organisations all over the world. She is also the Musical Director for the Ladies of Midnight Blue and the Hannabiell & Midnight Blue Collective.  

Jemma Freese is a full-time musician and composer who plays keyboards/synth/piano and vocals/spoken word. She is a graduate from Leeds Conservatoire where she studied Pop Composition and Jazz vocals and graduated with First BA Honours and received The Directors Prize. Jemma is in numerous original projects where she plays keyboards and vocals and composes; J Frisco, J2oh and her own band under her own name. Jemma has played keyboard and backing vocals for Maximo Park since 2019 and has done several UK and Europe tours with them, along with festivals such as Latitude, Isle of Wight, TRNSMT and Neighbourhood Weekender.

Yeguachita is a queer musician from Abya Yala, bringing you tunes of all kinds for all people. They make music to fall in love to, to riot to and to heal to.

Mother Sugar is the stage name of singer-songwriter Rehana Jomeen. Her sound is a fusion of jazz, neo-soul, hip-hop and ska. In her songs, Rehana addresses social struggles, systemic racism and sexism, the police state and other subjects centred around oppression. Rehana grew up in a household filled with Motown vinyls spinning in the living room and Mauritian seggae cassettes spilling from suitcases freshly returned from the island. She plays the piano and the flute, and is now teaching herself to master the saxophone. Rehana’s vocal influences include Ella Fitzgerald, Lianne La Havas, Astrud Gilberto and Judith Hill.

Multi-instrumentalist Trees.R.Good produces at the edge of Electronica with overarching influences of Jazz, and Spoken Word. Their music asserts the innate and unbreakable connection between human life and natural entities, drawing us closer to our environment at a time of ecological crisis. With their 5-track self-titled EP to be released at the end of this year, listeners will be taken on a musical journey from roots to canopy and explores how to rekindle with our natural world by turning key scientific themes into soothing and contemplative music with the ultimate message: Trees are good.

Hoda Jahanpour is a Manchester-based cellist, songwriter and composer interested in musical experiences that generate energy and bring people together. Hoda’s love of popular music and jazz has led her to perform with Arlo Parks at Manchester International Festival as well as a solo improvisation set at the Save me a Seat festival last spring. She recently participated in Manchester Jazz Festival’s Hothouse Scheme, exploring themes of belonging and home through songwriting and is excited to continue writing her own music, especially exploring the various ways that the cello can be played in different contexts. Hoda also finds herself drawn to perform in various events advocating social justice in her exploration of how to use her love of music to contribute to a more united world.

Caroline Webb is a musician, primarily a Flautist, based in Leeds. Caroline enjoys collaborating with other creatives and creating music to connect with people and spread joy. Classically trained and a Leeds Conservatoire graduate, Caroline now plays across many genres including Indian Improvisation, Dub Reggae and Latin Jazz. She is a member of the 9-piece band Tempo Feliz who play Funk, Soul and Disco with flavours of MPB, Samba and Bossa. Caroline is also a community workshop leader working in Yorkshire with the charity Purple Patch Arts who provide innovative, accessible, creative learning opportunities that improve the lives of learning-disabled and autistic adults. As a Creative Practitioner, Caroline is passionate about working with people in the community using music, art and play to nurture creativity and promote inclusion.

Fee is a trumpet player, singer, jazz student, and a frequent face in local Leeds venues, being part of multiple jazz, fusion, afrobeat and soul bands. Classically trained for 8 years before achieving the Leverhulme Scholarship for outstanding potential from Leeds Conservatoire, Fee has fallen in love with the jazz world, drawing influence from a plethora of British artists from Ezra Collective to TC and the Groove Family. Fee has performed with established names like Nubiyan Twist, as well as fronting the band Goddess Collective. Not content with letting genre define her, Fee also has a foot in the rap world, performing with the Energy Collective for emerging London artist Yusuf Yellow.

Yilis del Carmen Suriel is a percussionist focusing on West African and Latin Percussion; Djembe, Dundun, Mbira, congas, hand percussion. She’s also a visual artist specialising in print and paper, producer, and activist. She has worked as a multimedia artist, graphic designer, technician, performer, and musician. Yilis believe in the power of people to make change. She’s the Co-Founder and Director of the social enterprise Harambee Pasadia CIC which creates, organises, and manages activities and events that focus on community building and arts from the African Diaspora. As a performer, Yilis is involved with two ensembles, the Ladies of Midnight Blue (LoMB) and Hananbiell & Midnight Blue Collective (HMB).

Mara Cruz is an Angolan singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist born and raised in Portugal until migrating to the UK in her early teens. Her musical background stems from South African Gospel, Semba and contemporary worship. Mara’s music ranges from Nu-jazz to Gospel including reharmonisation and a soulful churchy feel. For the future Mara aspires to take her music all over the country and successfully grow into the role of a music director and session musician. “Here to conquer the World One Note at a time.”

Sam Brown is a Jazz violinist based in Leeds, west Yorkshire. She is a renowned player and very respected in her creativity and musicianship and recently completed her 4 year study of Jazz Performance at Leeds Conservatoire in summer 2022. Sam is a fiery energetic violinist whose work is crafted on the Loop Pedal, where she began to experiment with different sounds, styles and rhythms that could create a trance-like cyclic feel to her music. The music has a very lively and upbeat feel to it and each note Sam plays has great soul and emotion. She really tells a story with upbeat dance songs and rhythms. Her music is so much fun and peaceful to listen to, for people of all ages and backgrounds.