As an up-and-coming artist, Chesqua Evans took part in residencies led by Snarky Puppy and Everything Everything. Now she leads music sessions for young people herself.

I’ve been involved with Brighter Sound for the last 12 years as an artist and most recently as a facilitator.

I initially started on a music residency when I was 18, led by the incredible Snarky Puppy. I was one of about 15 musicians from across the UK. We all stayed in Manchester, ate and went to gigs together. 

The residency itself was amazing. We went on to form a band afterwards. We wrote and released an EP, and gigged together for about two years afterwards. My musical journey before this was very sheltered - I’d grown up in North Wales and sang in a choir. 

During the pandemic I started a traineeship and now I also facilitate music workshops for Brighter Sound. 

It's given me a massive network - I've made friends for life that I've done other projects with and run workshops with, and gone on busy nights out with! It's given me a real sense of connection to other artists across Manchester and the UK.

Every residency that I've done has given me more confidence to pursue other things, try different areas that I might not have considered, and given me a real kudos with others. 

It's a great conversation starter because everybody's heard of Brighter Sound and the projects that they've done. Because they're so varied, they’ve made me connect with people I might not have connected with before.

Their approach really puts the artist or the participant first. They let you lead a lot and really listen to your ideas. It really does come from you.

From an artist’s point of view, this means that you have so much freedom - you have a lot of time and space and a really good platform to explore from. It really lets you be creative in a playful way, which is kind of where you want to be at with music. 

Now, as a facilitator, it’s also really fed into the way that I deliver workshops and work with others. I deliver so that people can just be open and feel really safe. So that they can use their voice or bring ideas to the table and know that I'll listen, and others will as well.

It’s also given me a lot more compassion. I’ve seen people develop a lot within a short time. People who are incredibly shy to speak at first who can then, over the course of a session, express themselves. Their experiences and their difficulties through writing lyrics, or by vocalising through a song. You can't measure that when somebody walks into the room because everybody's different. These are the pinch-me moments that make me think - “this is why I’m doing it.”

I think we’re seeing a real shift in the music industry and the landscape is changing massively. We're all more used to being independent now. The industry is a nice place to be in, but it's also really tough at times. If you can find organisations or people that back you as much as Brighter Sound has backed me, it can feel like you have that team when you need them, and this can be invaluable.

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"As a facilitator I deliver workshops so that people can just be open and feel really safe. So that they can use their voice or bring ideas to the table and know that I'll listen, and others will as well."