Hear Me Out



Band formed in a central London ‘asylum hotel’ to launch EP at debut gig

10 April 2024

11 April 2024 - The Unknowns band, who fuse musical styles from the Middle East, Europe and Africa, have a unique origin story. Made up of talented musicians who are currently seeking asylum in the UK, or have recently secured settled status, they met and formed a band in an ‘asylum hotel’ in central London in 2022.

The Unknowns met during weekly music workshops at the hotel run by charity Hear Me Out. After creating music together during the workshops on a weekly basis, the musicians formed the band and today launch their first EP ‘Echoes of Hope’ at their debut gig at Islington’s Union Chapel.

Asylum hotels across the UK (and other temporary accommodation such as disused military barracks and the Bibby Stockholm barge) currently hold approximately 50,000 people seeking asylum. These settings are typically characterised by poor living conditions and a lack of activities and support services.

The unique tracks on the EP speak to the band’s current migration journeys with resounding themes of homeland, family, and hope for the future. The EP transcends different languages and countries – lead singer Aksa is from Kosovo, four band members are from Iran (Navid, a vocalist/guitarist/flutist; Ardavan, a guitarist/vocalist; Ehsan, a cajon player/rapper; and Esmaeil on percussion), drummer Kidu is from Ethiopia, and vocalist/keyboard player Kwaku from Ghana.

The band say that when they come together to create music, they are living in the moment and don’t think about anything else. They say it’s important that in the future people seeking asylum in the UK will be able to listen to their music and feel hope.

Echoing this, band member Navid said: It is the power of unity that brought us together from all around the world and now we have the opportunity to shout it loud and sing to others.”

Band member Kidu recalls finding the band in a time of need: “Honestly speaking. I was desperate, I knew no one. Besides the music I had no one. Then I found people at this time.

Hear Me Out artists Anna De Mutiis (drummer) and Shammi Pithia (keyboard) lead the music workshops in the asylum hotel where the band met and today remain a key part of the band. Hear Me Out run music and arts workshops with people in the UK’s immigration system to raise the voices and experiences of the people held inside.

Johanne Hudson-Lett, Artistic Director at Hear Me Out said: “We all understand the power of performance and the need to be seen and heard. Being able to give The Unknowns a public platform in such an iconic venue is core to our mission at Hear Me Out in raising the voices of people who usually sit on the outskirts of society. But tonight the band will take centre stage and we’re proud to support them as musicians and creators.”

Band member Aksa said: “I chose the name ‘The Unknowns’ because there are a lot of talented people out there who are unknown, as we are now”.

The Unknowns will perform their debut gig at Union Chapel, Islington, London on Thursday 11 April 2024 at 8-10:00pm (doors open at 7:30pm). Listen to their EP on Hear Me Out's music player.

For more information or to arrange interviews with band members, Hear Me Out artists, or spokespeople, please contact Anna Zabow on 07713 619077 or anna@hearmeoutmusic.org.uk


Notes to Editors

1. The Unknowns’ gig will be held at Union Chapel at 19b Compton Terrace, London N1 2UN on Thursday 11 April from 8:00pm-10pm (doors open at 7:30pm). Tickets are ‘Pay what you can’ so that everyone is able to attend.

2. Listen to The Unknowns’ EP ‘Echoes of Hope’ on Hear Me Out’s music player: https://hearmeoutmusic.org.uk/?p=1&m=a&v=d&s=echoes-of-hope

3. About Hear Me Out

Since 2006, Hear Me Out has used music to support some of the most marginalised people in our society—those held in the UK’s immigration system. Our vision is of a society in which migrants are treated with dignity and humanity, confidently using the power of their voices to make themselves seen and heard, and finding common ground with the people around them. We bring skilled artists together with people held in immigration detention centres and asylum hotels to create and share music, celebrate their cultures, and connect them to people and communities in the UK.


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