Normanton Street Create a Song Inspired by East Sussex


Brighton band Normanton Street have been commissioned by Brighton Dome and Sound UK to produce a Song for East Sussex, as part of nationwide project A Song For Us, which commemorates the response of local community to the pandemic and celebrates the power of music to bring people together.  

Normanton Street have worked with two choirs from Varndean School, led by David Berliner, plus local artists AFLO. the poet and rapper Bobbie Johnson, to create a song called The Last Time I Held You. We chat to band member Ned Archibong about his involvement in the project. 

Can you tell us about your links to East Sussex and what it means to you?

My links to East Sussex began in September 2011 when I moved into a house on Normanton Street, Brighton with a few friends. We subsequently started a band named after the street. East Sussex has been a home to Normanton Street and our record label QM Records for years now. Brighton is a creative city with lots of artists attracted to live and to work here. It’s a very transient place with people coming and going, which creates a really exciting energy that we like greatly.  

Can you tell us about the inspiration for your Song for East Sussex?

The song was inspired by lockdown and the views of local residents. We surveyed how people were feeling and this informed the vibe and some of the words of the song. We took a really collaborative approach, calling on our friends and fellow artists poet AFLO. the poet and MC Bobbie Johnson to lend a couple of verses to the track.  

This has been an incredibly difficult time to live through. What have you learnt about yourself in the 18 months? What keeps you positive? And how important has creativity and music been to you?

In the last 18 months I personally have learnt that life is precious. I really took time to analyse how my music and business and personal life is going. I was able to chill – for the first time in a long time and plan ahead. Obviously, it was tough too as the industry I'm in is based on people gathering so I had to deal with a lot of work-related anxiety. Some of the questions I was grappling with was how do we move forward? Where are the future income streams? I’m still on that journey now.

What kept me positive was family and friends. Putting everything into perspective really helps.

I was able to play music for the sake of it again during lockdown. I re-found my love for writing songs and impatiently awaited when the band could play again.

A Song for Us encourages creativity in everyone. Do you have any tips or words of encouragement for people wanting to create their own song?

My tip for people who want to create their own song is to go for it. Write down the first thing that comes to you. It’s trial and error. Don’t be afraid to try. It’s really to collect your thoughts and then you can put them in song form. It's healthy.  

The public are also encouraged to share their favourite songs to the Song for Us music map, that comfort, celebrate, commemorate or simply sum up this time. What track would you choose and why? 

I’d probably choose something old school by Mc Fadden and Whitehead  Ain't No Stopping Us Now. It gives me motivation and energy to get through any difficult circumstances.   

Can you tell us about the local musicians performing on the song? 

Bobbie Johnson a Brighton-based MC – she's such a good lyricist so we approached her to get involved and thankfully she said yes.

AFLO. the poet is a Brighton-based spoken word artist, activist and academic who embraces creative expression to disrupt the status quo and inspire social change. AFLO. The Poet uses poetry as a vehicle to address hard-hitting topics, particularly racism and mental health and has performed to crowds of thousands at Black Lives Matter protests and other demonstrations in Brighton and beyond.

Don’t miss the premiere of Normanton Street’s A Song for East Sussex, The Last Time I Held You, on Tue 14 Dec 12.30pm on our website.