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Meet The Team: Alisha Shah

Please tell us your name, age, role in the magazine and what you currently do?

Alisha, 21, Contributor and freelance writer but also full time Societies Development Coordinator at Arts Students’ Union (UAL).

Tell us how you got involved with BabyStep and what your role is within the magazine?

Simply was inspired by Josh’s raw passion to showcase all the beautiful musical talent residing in, and visiting, Leeds. The north is something to be celebrated and I was to be a part of that as much as possible.

Tell us about some other projects your involved in

I Co-founded my own collective for Leeds-based womxn of colour and non-binary people of colour. Our aim is to create a platform where they can comfortably share their creativity and ideas. We operate digitally on social media (@onbeatzine), annual print, monthly radio shows on Sable Radio, and bi-weekly events across the city. Our latest issue is to be revealed to the public next week so keep your eyes peeled! We’ll be rummaging through the past and paying tribute to all of those before us.

What or who do you go to for creative inspiration?

My surroundings mainly and watching how people behave. I think emotional reactions are so often underestimated in the current world as logic tends to take priority. However, people have, therefore, disengaged with themselves and their ideas. It’s important to unite these two again and I look for the most exciting ways to do that. Whether it’s music, writing, art, sports, etc. I think drawing on people’s emotions is the most exciting way to create.

If you were stuck on island and could only bring one Album what would it be? (please try and explain the significance of the Album to you)

Now, don’t take me for a cliché but it’s got to be Joy Division’s ‘Unknown Pleasures’. Amy Winehouse and Missy Elliott also crossed my mind but Joy Division was so instinctual. It was the first time I had ‘discovered’ music of my own and I listened to it on repeat in my room until it got dark outside. I had 10,000 songs on that iPod classic and it was the only album I listened to for months. I had never felt such an emotion when listening to an album in my life. It was the first vinyl I owed. First everything and, to do this day, still one of the best bands to have ever existed. Absolutely haunting.

What does BabyStep mean to you?

BabyStep screams DIY. It means that if the big names won’t give you a space, we’ll make one for you. It’s all about basements, silly chats and a community where everyone is welcome and everyone is nurtured. You can’t get much more wholesome than that.

Whats the last film that made you cry?

I can’t be for sure but I think it was Gurinder Chada’s latest film, Blinded by the Light. The film itself didn’t hugely grab me but there were certain moments that really resonated with my family’s history and the struggles of assimilation into the UK that really caught me in the throat. Hugely cringey and wouldn’t necessarily recommend for the average viewer but if you have immigrant parents, I’d take a look.

Is there anything you’ve recently watched/listened to/ attended that you think our readers should check out?

Of course, always keep your ears pricked for the underground bubbling happening all over Leeds. There really is an untouchable community here. However, on the whole, I’d say briefly divert your attention away from “western” music. Draw your inspiration from new sounds and sights across the globe. People forget that there’s a whole world out there that exists outside of electric guitars and tapping into that can really expand your train of thought. Seek to truly understand these communities and honour how they have shaped the creative world today. Like Rupa’s “Disco Jazz” album or Soledad Bravo’s “Hasta siempre”. There’s nothing like discovering new music.

How does the cultural scene in Leeds compare to London(Are there any noticeable similarities or differences for you)?

I’d say, personal experience, Leeds is far more familial. Everyone is here to help each other and give you a leg up. And then they’ll pull you up with them. London isn’t as friendly. The creative scene is incredibly saturated which is great because there’s so much to draw from but, sometimes, it can make you feel out of your depth – like you’re already 12 steps behind. You can definitely find that in the big, big city but it takes a lot longer to form those connections. Whereas Leeds, there’s just something in the water. Everyone is collaborating, crossing over, writing, producing etc. It’s like one giant collective with tiny little offshoots which you just can’t mimic anywhere else.

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