Introducing Buzzing Minds: a marriage between social work and noise music

The idea behind the Buzzing Minds noise project, the brainchild of Newtown Neighbourhood Centre caseworker Jason (Jay) Simonit, came to fruition almost out of the blue.

“I just had this weird and wacky idea that one day down the track I wanted to somehow get [our] service users involved in some musical endeavour,” Jay explained to Young Henrys. 

“We thought about bands and stuff but you needed some skills. I’m a punk rocker, I don’t know how to play blues.”

Photo: Diana Shypula

Buzzing Minds is, at its core, a community project. It’s a compilation of original noise material written and recorded in the Rainbow Room at Newtown’s Neighbourhood Centre. But in the minds of its facilitators and contributors, it’s so much more.

Buzzing Minds is a place for people to express themselves, to feel comfortable and gain confidence. It’s a pillar of stability in an otherwise uncertain life. It gives purpose and peace of mind, and it provides both those working on and behind the project a chance to network and connect with those in need.

Most Buzzing Minds contributors are residents in boarding houses; unstable accommodation deemed by governments as a form of tertiary homelessness. There are around 400 boarding houses to be found within the Inner West Council’s boundaries alone, and, while individual conditions do vary, residents are all in similar situations of vulnerability and isolation.

When a grant popped up at the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre, Jay jumped on it as quickly as possible. With the grant, the NNC was able to purchase recording equipment, produce 500 copies of the CD and commission Inner West artist Glenno Smith to create the cover art. Each recorded track is set to be accompanied by a written component from its contributor. Every person involved with the project was given free rein.

The finished product is an amalgam, a sonic collage and aural experiment that, despite its uncertainty, has garnered positive attention throughout.

The Buzzing Minds Project is set for release this January at selected stockists throughout Sydney. With only 500 physical copies available scattered over the city, it’s best to head to Newtown Neighbourhood Centre, Young Henrys, Repressed Records, Petty Cash Cafe or Beat Disc Records in Parramatta as quickly as possible to get your copy. They’re free, to keep with the ethos of the project.

At this stage, project mastermind Jay isn’t 100% sure of what the future holds for Buzzing Minds. A few of the contributors have a gig lined up at February’s Inner West Noise Fest, and there is talk of releasing an all-female project as a counterweight of the original.

Buzzing Minds: A Sydney Noise Compilation will be released in January thanks to Newtown Community Centre.

Available from:
– Newtown Neighbourhood Centre
– Young Henrys
– Repressed Records
– Petty Cash Cafe
– Beat Disc Records Parramatta

Via Young Henrys.