Discover ‘Your Forest’ – New Music, Poetry and Spoken Word Inspired by England’s Community Forests

Musician Emmy the Great, performance artist Keisha Thompson and author Nicola Davies, respond to the first ever urban forest soundmap.

Earlier this year, outdoor arts specialists Wild Rumpus commissioned a collective of inspiring artists to respond to Your Forest, a map of crowdsourced sounds from England’s urban forests, parks and woodlands.

Musician, writer and composer Emmy the Great has released a stunning piece of music, with Keisha Thompson delivering a spellbinding spoken word performance and Nicola Davies unveiling a powerful collection of poems to reflect the project.

Supported by the Audio Content Fund, the artists’ interpretations follow the Your Forest radio series, which saw Wild Rumpus, award winning producers of Just So Festival and Timber Festival, collaborate with England’s Community Forests and a network of 11 community radio stations in and around some of England’s towns and cities.

Your Forest aims to connect people in towns and cities with trees – and one another – by gathering the sounds of local green spaces

Introducing the three commissioned artists who have created new pieces inspired by the Your Forest submissions so far…

Emmy the Great (Credit Alex Lake)

Emmy the Great

Born in Hong Kong and raised in East Grinstead, UK, Emmy the Great is a musician, composer and writer with a career spanning 4 studio albums. A few years ago, she began using music to access Cantonese, her mother tongue. This led her back to Hong Kong, where she lived again from 2018-2020, and where she wrote her fourth album, April/月音.

Emmy releases Parakeets 1-2 luscious track filled with nature which is breathtakingly intimate and includes a wealth of samples she recorded with her daughter over lockdown.

Emmy says:

“I’ve never craved the sounds of forests more than during this last year, and I believe, as we emerge from this year of isolation, that trees will be integral not only to our healing, but our future survival. I’m so happy to be working on a project that brought people together while we couldn’t gather, and to begin healing while working with these sounds of wild places beloved to those who know them.”

Listen to Emmy the Great – Parakeets (1+2)

Keisha Thompson (Credit Elmi Ali)

Keisha Thompson

Keisha Thompson delivers the spellbinding Unperceived a mixture of storytelling, looped sound, music and spoken word.

Thompson who performs as Shebekeke, is a Manchester-based writer, performance artist and producer. A stalwart of the Manchester creative community, she is Senior Manager of Children, Young People and Learning at Arts Council England, chair of radical arts funding body Future’s Venture Foundation, a MOBO x London Theatre Consortium Fellow and a member of Greater Manchester Cultural and Heritage Group.

Keisha says:

“Listening to these sounds from all over the country is nothing short of magic. I am feeling so blessed to be able to play with them to make something new. The process alone is precious as it allows me to connect with other people, the land and the bigger picture.”

Listen to Keisha Thompson – Unperceived

Nicola Davies

Nicola Davies

Author and poet Nicola Davies channels her lifelong love of nature and mixes the profound and the personal in her poem 321 Record Your Sound which forms part of a series of 6 poems inspired by the Your Forest project.

Davies focuses on the natural world and human relationships with it. Author of more than 60 books for children spanning fiction, non-fiction and poetry, her love of the natural world drives her involvement in ‘Your Forest’.

Nicola says:

“There is such great texture to this project, like the layers in a forest canopy. The trees themselves, the life they support, their role in fighting climate change and the past and future of where they stand. Then there are the stories of the people who love to be among them and want to share the delight that trees can bring into all lives all played to the soundtrack of the rustle of leaves and the sound of birds song. So much lovely material for a writer to play with!”

Listen to Nicola Davies – Planting for Everyone (Near the M62)

You can listen to all the Your Forest submissions on the Wild Rumpus Soundcloud web page

About the Your Forest project

At the start of March, radio stations invited people to submit one-minute sound recordings of woodlands, forests, parks and trees near where they live to help create the first ever urban forest soundmap.

Trees and forests in urban areas are so important for exercise, play, access to nature, health and well-being. Your Forest aims to connect people in towns and cities with trees – and one another – by gathering the sounds of local green spaces to create a soundmap from the sound of the wind in the trees or the birds singing, to the bark of a fox to noise of children playing or the traffic in the background.

The sounds form an open source library that anyone can listen to or create from. Research shows that even just listening to the sounds of nature can have a positive effect on well-being and mood. Anyone can explore the sounds of nature from the comfort of home by clicking on a pin on the map.

The Your Forest project continues to invite the public to submit their one-minute recordings to help grow the soundmap for their local area.

Find out more about Your Forest on the Wild Rumpus website

Your Forest is funded by The Audio Content Fund and run in Partnership with England’s Community Forests.