The Booth Bus process began seven months ago now. The goal was to provide a space for young budding musicians that is mobile, and can be accessible anywhere. The bus has now been transformed into a fully functioning studio, with brand new equipment. The Booth Bus can pull up anywhere for a session with anyone who needs it, from professional artists to school children who want to learn how to make music. The emphasis is on the young generation coming up and supporting them, and giving back to the community.
The Booth Bus is the brainchild of Faron Alex Paul and his friend Cairo. A known advocate for preventing knife crime in London, who has been actively working towards making it a safer place for the young generation by taking weapons off the street, and using his own financial means to give people JD vouchers in return for handing in their weapons.
Through his genuine effort of educating young people and encouraging them to stay off the streets and turn their life around, Faron Paul is the initiator of numerous movements that aim to bring the community together and protect the young generation.
Having a rough past himself, Faron Paul changed his life completely and decided to give back to the community. He started Faz Amnesty in 2019 and since then he has taken more than 12,000 knives, swords and guns off the streets by meeting people who contact him on social media, wanting to get rid of them and come out of the situations that they are involved in. In return, they receive a £50 JD voucher whilst Faron turns in the weapons to the police anonymously.
Since March 2021 Faron has been fundraising for a smart knife bin where people can dispose of their weapons without any further consequences and he is hoping that the project will come to life one day, after raising all the money he needs to build it.
Determined to create a safer environment for young people, he bought a bus with his friend Cairo, and together they created the Booth Bus. As they started building the studio with their own finances, GRM Daily came through to support the cause and join them in giving back to the community, and give them a chance to better their lives through music.
What can you tell me about the concept of the Booth Bus?
“We are trying to encourage more positive music with the young children in school. I’m not judging people that make the music they make, but at the same time if we can maybe get into a school, and give younger children a chance to make music that’s maybe a little less volatile. Or even when we take this bus to a school we are teaching a child how to do beats, or make things, as long as this bus is helping a young child to better themselves in their music career then we’re winning.”
“If we can get in touch with the local community, the local council, and say “Alright then, that park there, this Saturday, us and GRM Daily want to hold a community event for the people in this area here, like an all dayer, and it’d be sponsored by GRM Daily and Booth Bus and whoever else is involved. And then on top of that you see how GRM Daily are involved with Wireless Festival and you get artists to come down, we can get them in the Booth Bus, the equipment’s there.
“We can pull up round the back and they can chill in the bus, they can record and lay their stuff, they can watch the live show from the bus. So we can support private studio hire, we can support community work with the children, we can support a community event, and also the artists coming through from events.”
When did you start working on the project?
“We had the idea seven months ago. It got a bit strenuous for finances and stuff like that but GRM Daily helped with that, with equipment and money.”
What artists have you worked with so far?
“We’ve had Kele La Roc, we’ve had quite a few drill artists. It’s early now but I don’t discriminate against the music. I can’t, you know what I mean? But I just want to make it clear that it’s not all for that, like I’m not trying to add to the problem of it.”
How did you come up with the idea of Booth Bus?
“Lockdown. Everyone’s in lockdown, people want to go studio but they can’t, so what if we bring the studio to you?”
What are your goals for this year?
“I want to have a contract with a local authority in terms of schooling. Once you get the go ahead from a local authority, it’s not just about the money but it’s about being a part of the community. Once you get that you have your bus in a school with friendly children around it, a picture’s worth 1000 words, that’s it.”
“I just feel like this is the kind of thing where anyone that provides electronic equipment, once we get certain stuff going, then this is something everyone will want to invest into because it’s feasible, it makes sense, it’s music – music turns into songs, songs turn into money, money turns into artists, artists turn into platinum albums, do you get what I’m saying?”
Mid interview we were paid a visit by none other than Jammer BBK, who came to check out the bus himself and show love towards the project and Faron’s initiative.
Jammer, what do you think of the Booth Bus?
“I think it’s amazing and I’d love to get involved. It’s about youth culture, it’s about bringing people together, it’s about connecting people and that’s what we do best, you get me? So this is what we’re gonna do, we’re gonna push forward.”
Faron, how long did it take you to convert the bus?
“About two months. We had to get the carpentering done, and then we had to wait for DVLA to allow us to convert this stuff over, we had to go and take it to a place to get weighted because there’s a certain weight that you’re allowed to have. We also made sure we got the best equipment as well. The podcast equipment is the best equipment you can get, the mics are the best equipment, the MACs, thanks to GRM Daily as well. Proper speakers, powerpacks, heaters, LED lights.”
It looks amazing, sitting in the bus is such a cool experience. Can you tell me a bit about yourself and your background?
“I grew up in Tottenham, man used to run for England. I got into a situation twice where I got stabbed nine times both times. That left me with physical and emotional damage and I just thought to myself, like I was really really down in life and slowly but surely I got myself back together and I thought “You know what, I don’t want anyone to experience what I’ve experienced”. So I just tried to basically give back to the younger children by using my experience as something they can avoid, and something that can guide them.”
How does that feed into the concept of the Booth Bus?
“I believe that music is a universal language, and I feel that if we connect it with these younger children that have a passion for music we’d be able to make a career for them, or maybe just take them away from any sort of antisocial behaviour. And I also feel like there’s a big stereotype of the young children with the music they make as well, and if we can be a part of maybe changing that perception of how some of these young children think music needs to come across, I’d like to be a part of that.”
What artists would you like to work with in the near future?
“I feel like in terms of profile I think it’s gotta go hand in hand with what we do. So if I had to pick an artist that does maybe speak a lot of bad terminology in their music, he has to be giving back in a way to say “This is the life I’ve lived but it don’t mean that you gotta live that.” That’s good enough for me.”
“But other than that if we’re talking about artistes that stand neutral I’d say Chipmunk, Aitch. Aitch done a post the other day saying to the kids that he doesn’t think knife crime is good for their lives and the rest of it. So I just feel like any artist that’s had the courage to go out and say to young children “Don’t do that, it’s not for you” then by all means I feel like we can work together. And I feel like that person would have a very good, big impact along with GRM Daily and what I do as Faz Amnesty.”
Can you elaborate a bit on Faz Amnesty and how you came up with the idea?
“I believe five years ago I was at home and my niece was having a party. Actually before Faz Amnesty, I used to just go online and do videos to encourage kids to to go to school, not to get involved in antisocial behaviour and stuff like that.
“After a while I just thought that it wasn’t impactful. I mean I’d go on Twitter today, I’d scroll down the timeline and I’d see another guy’s been stabbed and I thought to myself “Nothing’s happening. I want a physical impact where I can impact people” and I thought to myself “If I can physically take knives off people.”
“Actually, sorry, so after that my niece had a party. My daughter went to the party. My brother was supervising and some guys wanted to come to the party and my brother wouldn’t let them in. So they started showing knives on their waist. So what happened was I went down there, a few of my friends went down there, and then I basically took all the knives off them. When it happened I put a video on social media and it went viral and after that I thought to myself “You know what, I’m gonna capitalise this”. So I went online and wrote a post and said “If you got any knives you don’t want I’ll pay you for it.” And it started getting good interaction and Instagram deleted it saying that I was talking about money and stuff like that.”
“So I thought I gotta change this from money, what can I do to make this be acceptable? Because people said “Oh, if you give them money they’ll be buying weed and stuff” so I thought “Let me turn it into a voucher.” And then I knew that the police runs something called amnesty which means you can drop knives off anonymously without telling people your name and address and stuff like that. My nickname is Faz so I just joined the names Faz and Amnesty together.”
“Since the very first time doing it, I’ve taken over 12,000 knives and swords off the street, shotguns, handguns, things like sprays, tasers, literally everything. And I’m still doing it, I feel like when I do it, it just makes me feel a little better because my motto is this: “If I can help save one life or prevent someone from going to jail then it’s all worth it to me.”
When GRM Daily came across Faz and all the hard work and dedication that he had been putting into helping the community and making it safer for the young generation, getting involved was a no brainer. Speaking on the importance of the movement that Faron Paul has started with Faz Amnesty and the Booth Bus, Posty gives us more of an insight into how GRM got involved.
Posty, how did you come across the Booth Bus? and what is your vision moving forward?
“We’ve just been fans of Faz and everything that he’s been doing in the streets of London for a long time. Our vision was to really approach Faz and see if we could help with everything he had going on. Faz let us know he had envisioned making a bus which would help keep the youth busy, and keep them motivated which sounded like a great idea. Obviously, we come from a musical background and it really all just came together and worked perfectly.”
How are projects like this important? And what role is the Booth Bus going to play in the community and in the youth music culture?
“I think it’s definitely important to encourage the youth to do something productive. I think that’s what the Booth Bus is there for. Just to occupy the minds of young kids coming up, give them something to focus on, you know, something to do. And not gonna put them out of pocket or anything, it’s just there for the community so I definitely think that is a positive thing.”
What sort of impact do you think this project is going to have in the long run?
“In the long run, hopefully it will produce kids and young adults that want to become artists. That would be great because they came from something that we’ve helped be a part of. And really deter young adults from engaging in activities, that if they had some focus and drive that they would stay away from. So hopefully those are the long term effects. And obviously if it works well, hopefully we can look into doing some more. This could potentially be the first of many!”
What advice would you give these kids?
“To stick to the values that they’ve been brought up with, and to be confident and have faith and to dedicate themselves to something that they’re passionate about. And to know that they can achieve anything that they put their minds to.”
Is there any secret to becoming someone in the music industry? Is there something that everyone should do?
“Just being consistent and talented. And making good music I suppose, it always helps!”