Using art as a vehicle for change, Brisbane multi-instrumentalist Matt Hsu is taking his penchant for collaboration to the next level, making a rallying call to citizens everywhere to address, embrace and celebrate diversity on his unifying new single and music video, Welcome To The Neighbourhood, out 1 September.
Playing most of the instruments in the mix, Matt’s latest soul-inspired piece brings together diverse artists of First Nations, refugee, immigrant, and gender diverse backgrounds to share their personal experiences and stand in solidarity as movements like Bla(c)k Lives Matter continue to raise global awareness of racial injustices.
“Welcome To The Neighbourhood is a response to the very real, ongoing Australian issues of unethical detention of people seeking political refuge, black deaths in custody and systemic racism. It is a message of welcome and acknowledgement to those denied safe harbour and fair treatment, and a celebration of people in our community speaking, blockading, and standing in solidarity against these injustices,” said the Queensland Music Award-winning artist.
“The song is a kind of celebration and excitement for a time that we’re hopefully arriving to, where we value every type of person the way we do our own friends or family — not just those who superficially look or speak like ourselves.”
Sharing unofficial DNA with La Boite Theatre Company’s 2020 production, The Neighbourhood, Matt’s fellow castmates became his collaborators for Welcome To The Neighbourhood, translating their real-life stories from the stage to sound, to further explore themes of belonging and inclusivity. His castmates-turned-collaborators and their contributions to Welcome To The Neighbourhood include:
- Vocals by Solchld aka Aurora Liddle-Christie, a Jamaican/Indigenous-Australian activist-artist.
- Spoken word by Anisa Nandaula, a Ugandan-Australian award-winning poet and author.
- Spoken word by Naavikaran, an Indian-born LGBTIQ+ activist and body-movement artist.
- Rap by Nima Doostkhah, an Iranian-Australian hip-hop artist.
- Vocals and instruments by Cieavash Arean, an Iranian-Australian refugee and multi-instrumentalist.
- Baby sounds by Mira (who was born on the opening night of The Neighbourhood) and her father Amer Thabet, a Syrian actor.
All activists, community leaders and artists in their own right, Matt says it was a no brainer to bring his former castmates onboard for his latest musical effort. The accompanying music video for Welcome To The Neighbourhood also sees the troupe reunite on the very stage where they met, performing against a backdrop of Matt Hsu’s Obscure Orchestra (aka Matt simultaneously playing multiple instruments clone-style), interspersed with joyful dance moves and a section dedicated to hugs. The video was directed by Matt with the support of La Boite Theatre Company, The Neighbourhood co-director Aleea Monsour and QUT Creative Industries.
In using art to commentate on life, one can only hope that life and global society as we know it will now begin to reshape and imitate the joy, inclusivity and compassion that exudes from change-making and brilliant pieces of art like Welcome To The Neighbourhood. For as Welcome To The Neighbourhood shows, collaboration – in art and life – is key.
“I think a single person is powerful and has immense power to endure and make impact. But having a community around you to be part of, to work with, to create together, to affect change is crucial.”
Be inspired to be the change you wish to see in the world watching Welcome To The Neighbourhood. Welcome To The Neighbourhood is out now. Listen via Bandcamp HERE.
WELCOME TO THE NEIGHBOURHOOD – MATT HSU’S OBSCURE ORCHESTRA
Feature image (L-R): Welcome To The Neighbourhood’s Anisa Nandaula, Matt Hsu, Solchld, Nima Doostkhah and Naavikaran by Rod Pilmbeam (Chromogenic).
‘WELCOME TO THE NEIGHBOURHOOD’ COLLABORATOR COMMENTS
Art is a map that help us traverse landscapes of trauma. Creativity will always lead us back to one another. That is what this song is, the coming together of the many into one.
Welcome To The Neighbourhood reminds us of the importance of community. It reinforces that whilst our diversities make us unique, our similarities and humanity will help us grow and support one another through ups and downs.
Good art can change the way you look at the world, great art can change the way the world looks at you.