In an unassuming community hall in Wellington’s Hutt Valley is the Naenae Clubhouse. A hub for a new generation of tech-savvy young people who are using their interests to build skills in music, fashion, film-making, design and computer science. In a space not unlike a college common room or Information Technology classroom, Naenae Clubhouse boasts a full, functioning recording studio, about twenty Apple Mac workstations, iPads, a 3D printer and a host of software that allows these young people to explore possible careers.
Today, DJ Mu from Fat Freddys Drop is visiting the youth centre with his Akai MPC to show Clubhouse members how to use the sampler.
Surrounded by about twenty young people keen to learn how to make beats, Mu “is piloting a new initiative called ‘Naenae Beats 17’”. Lily Chalmers, Clubhouse Coordinator, explains the project is about inviting local beatmakers and producers to show the young people how music can be made. It’s also about showing them how much work goes into honing that musical talent - something that Lily is keen to instill in the 10-18 year olds that voluntarily attend her centre.
Naenae "often gets a bad rap” as a low-socio economic area with few opportunities for a predominantly young population - especially in the creative technologies that Clubhouse offers.
Naenae Clubhouse is part of a global network of 100 Computer Clubhouse centres that provide creative technology access to young people from underserved communities. The Clubhouse Network emerged from Boston’s MIT Media Lab, where research showed that accessible computer technology had a positive impact on young people, especially those in areas like Naenae.
For Lily, she sees potential and opportunity in her community, and wants to foster the interests and grow inspiration amongst her young people; “having someone like Mu to share his skills with these budding musicians is really inspiring, he came from Wainui[omata] and it’s good for these guys to see that someone from a similar background can be successful.”
Over the afternoon, Mu has input various Clubhouse members’ vocals, guitars and percussion into his MPC. The aim is that he will leave these Clubhouse-sourced beats with the budding beatmakers, producers and rappers. The latter being of most most practical benefit for Naenae Clubhouse as many of the young MCs are looking for backing beats to rap to. Lily is excited at this prospect as it’ll give her rappers a local and legitimate source of music to lay their rhymes to.
Once the Clubhouse members have laid some tracks, they'll be running them past Mu's ears, and perhaps he'll be running a follow-up session on how to successfully navigate the music industry.