Ensigo believes in the power of music to offer a universally accessible medium that carries the voices and beauty of the world into people’s lives, elicits a sense of wonder, and awakens a deeper sense of relatedness to other cultures. In this way our focus is on engaging creative practitioners from across a diversity of cultural, political and linguistic lines in collaborative global art projects.
Through these projects we are dedicated to:
• Emphasizing cultural pluralism and valuing diverse ways of thinking and being as an important avenue to engender peace.
• Contributing to the future richness of a diverse world brimming with cultural expression and sustainable livelihoods.
• Furthering artistic imagination and playfulness.
Method (the ensigo initiatives):
1.) Seeds Albums
As our primary project we create albums that engage talented musicians, visual artists, fashion designers, filmmakers and authors from from across a diversity of cultural, political and linguistic lines in a collaborative effort. Once we sell each of the albums, 100% of the profit made will go toward micro grants focused on funding creative projects in the country of focus.
For this project we have traveled to the countries of Uganda, Belize and Guatemala and recorded local vocalists to basic instrumental tracks that the RAC (Remix Artist Collective) provided for Ensigo. We then brought these vocal tracks to various U.S. based bands, producers and remixers and they have re-created the instrumental parts of the songs (and some have added additional vocal parts). The next step is to go back to each of the countries where the vocalists were recorded and work with local visual artists and filmmakers to make “MusicArt” pieces to the songs…then back to the U.S. for more visual art creation. (please see the Ensigo Facebook page for up to date news on the progress of these albums).
2.) Volunteers for Creative Collaboration
By utilizing the unique artistic abilities of our volunteers we will be attempting to use an approach to short term trips which fosters sharing of ideas, empowerment of local creative talent, and economic development through the creative industries. Volunteers from the U.S., Europe and Australia will be connected with collaborator’s from Uganda, Guatemala or Belize who share similar artistic talents. Months before the volunteer comes they will discuss and develop a fun and focused project that can be accomplished within the timeframe of their trip with their collaborator via Skype and email.
Projects will partner together the following:
Photographers, filmmakers, visual artists, singer/songwriters, instrumentalists, producers, graphic designers, web developers, authors, radio documentary producers, and fashion designers.
Once a project is completed each participant will share their creations with one another. If the project is focused on making a tangible product (i.e.: photography book, art prints, film, album, novel, poetry book, clothing, etc.) then the U.S. collaborators will sell it in the U.S. Like the seeds album 100% of the profit made will go toward micro grants focused on funding local music and art based projects.
Ensigo was conceived by Aaron Appleton in 2006 after a powerful experience through staying with a Ugandan family in their village during a study abroad program. Immediately after graduating from Greenville College with a degree in Music Arts and International development, Appleton began pursuing his dream of starting Ensigo through various music and art focused collaboration projects around the world.
In the 3 & 1/2 years since its inception, ensigo’s activities now encompass 4 countries and have expanded from recording benefit/collaboration albums to include musical training workshops (ethnomusicology/songwriting, studio recording, music business), and designing and building recording studios.
Aaron interviewed on Belize’s national television channel (5), about a Kriol songwriting workshop he led in Belize on behalf of the National Kriol Council of Belize:
In 2009 musician Brandon Heath came to Uganda. While in Gulu (Northern Uganda) Aaron and Brandon recorded the song “Give Me Your Eyes” with students from Restore International’s school. Here is the music video to that song:
Aaron interviewed on Central Wisconsin’s ABC channel about Ensigo and the benefit album Ensigo: East Africa In Binaural
The HALO Foundation and Ensigo have a great relationship. In the past Aaron has volunteered and recorded music that the children at their orphanage composed, and there are future plans for Aaron to lead music workshops for the children. Here is a video HALO produced that features an Ensigo song from the upcoming Seeds Album.
On Sunday afternoons Aaron will often go over to visit the students at Empower African Children and teach songwriting lessons. Here is a fun video clip from a song written at one of the lessons:
Aaron interviewed on the Ugandan radio show “Nubeat”:
Nubeat Interview With Aaron