Christmas albums aren’t usually the kind of thing that gets us excited at Unpaved, but for many reasons this extraordinary collections of songs by local artists in support of asylum seekers gives us something to genuinely celebrate. It seems to us that the idea of “good will to all men” is tragically lacking for asylum seekers, apart from that expressed through organisations like the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, who will receive all proceeds from this album. Many of the contributing artists will be well known to Unpaved readers and chances are you’ll discover more excellent artists you’ve never heard of, all in the aid of a great cause. Though the album is listed at only $5 for 25 songs, you can always pitch in more to show your support. We asked singer-songwriter and project director Lindsay Phillips how it all came together.
How did the idea for the fundraising album come about?
The impetus for the compilation was actually a song that I had written and recorded earlier this year, something that I thought had a ‘quality’ but would certainly never wind up on any Lindsay Phillips release. Thus, I struck upon the idea of putting it out as a download only ‘christmas single’ and give the royalties to Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, at which point I wondered who else would have something unreleased. And of course it was obvious that the more artists I could have involved, the further I could make the project stretch from a publicity and sales perspective.
Were you surprised by the number and quality of contributions?
One can never know quite what to expect. Having said that, there were around 50 submissions (as if that weren’t enough!) and the real difficulty for me was in ‘culling’ the material to put together this record. By this, I mean to say that the quality was consistently and ridiculously good. I needed to find an aesthetic in order to make an album that actually WORKED, as well as supporting diversity, gender balance and so on. What we have in the end is a record that is a little over 1.5 hours long and which to my mind flows nicely as an album, as opposed to a bunch of tracks thrown together. Actually, I’m quite proud of it and have enjoyed being intimate with the material and shaping this. It is a fine listen! Further more, I’m most grateful for everything that was submitted, whether I was able to include it or not.
Do you get the sense that more and more artists are willing to speak out on issues like asylum seekers?
It would be difficult for me to say across the board, but from a personal standpoint, and considering artists that I’m connected with on ‘social media’, it certainly would appear that many have concerns with regards to events of recent times, with much sharing of articles and information; and to my mind, such a platform is useless if not for such exchanges. I’d probably be inclined to suggest, though, that people in general seem more willing to speak out on the current state of affairs. There seems to be an increased level of awareness overall. I was also pleased to find that all who were wishing to contribute to the album had more than a passing interest in this cause!
For those who don’t know, what can you say about the work of the ASRC?
No better way to answer this than ‘from the horses mouth’.
“Since 2001 the ASRC has grown to be Australia’s largest asylum seeker organisation. With 32 paid staff and nearly 750 volunteers delivering services to over 1,200 asylum seekers at any one time through programs such as material aid, health, legal, counseling, casework and food bank. In its first 9 years the ASRC has assisted over 7000 people seeking asylum, provided more than 1 million hours of free help and turned no one in need away. All of this has been achieved with almost no government funding and more than 95% of our funding coming solely from the community and philanthropy. The ASRC does it all – from direct aid, welfare and medical care, to strengthening families and communities through community development, to campaigning for social change.
To sum up – That all those seeking asylum in Australia have their human rights upheld and that those seeking asylum in our community receive the support and opportunities they need to live independently.”
How can people buy the album?
Simply by following this link: australianartistsforasylumseekers.bandcamp.com.The album is available from Saturday Nov 15 through to 11:59pm Christmas night, 2014. ALL proceeds go to Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. There’s also an option to send the album via email as a gift, and may I add that Bandcamp have waived a percentage of their fees for the release!