Heaps Decent is an Australian organisation empowering young people through skills building, cultural access and creativity. 

Working with underrepresented and marginalised youth, our participatory program of music and visual media activities provides a pathway to discovery, personal growth and agency through self-expression. 
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Workshops: Wagga Wagga

February 21, 2011

It was an early start on the Wednesday morning; arriving in Wagga Wagga by 9.30am to get the workshops at the Riverina Juvenile Justice Centre underway meant an early trip to the airport. The ever-amazing Thom Paton was there, smile on face, coffee (3rdof the day) in hand, waiting to pick us up and get us to the centre.

We commenced proceedings with workshops for the second half of the school day. We split up into two workstations, with Heaps Decent’s go-to producer Adam Bozzetto, a seasoned Wagga Wagga Heaps Decent veteran on his 6th trip, manning the beats station while I got to work on recording.


The boys from the Riverina Community Centre with the centre’s youth worker Thom Paton in front and Heaps Decent’s Charlie

It was my first Heaps Decent trip to Wagga Wagga and having done plenty of workshops at places like Juniperina Juvenile Justice Centre, where we have a great standard of work from the girls, I’m used to a rapport with the girls and a level of productivity that we’re really happy with! The boys at the Riverina Juvenile Justice Centre surpassed these expectations significantly! I was astounded to be met with the level of enthusiasm that these guys had.

First up was a young Indigenous guy, ‘Belly’, over the next three days it would prove near impossible to remove him from the mic! He had incredible flow and a natural knack for words, coming up with way too many great rhymes!

From there, three songs started to take shape and over the course of the coming days, we had recorded and made beats with some 25 incarcerated boys. With varying skill and confidence levels it was awesome to see that so many were keen to record some lyrics and have a go. A few of the boys took some coaxing but the look of exhilaration after completing the dreaded task of performing in front of their supportive peers was great to see. A couple of the boys in particular found it hard to face recording their lyrics, it was a foreign concept for them and after some back and forth I finally convinced them to record something. The looks on their faces after they had finished were those of pure relief and they definitely had a sense of accomplishment from overcoming this hurdle.


Heaps Decent’s Adam Bozzetto sharing a few trade secrets at Riverina Community Centre

On the Thursday night, after a full day of workshops at the juvi, it was time for our bi-monthly visit to the Riverina Community College. About 6 boys attended the session. We broke up into two groups with Adam showing one of the boys a few Serato tricks in a DJ workshop while I took a group of boys that played in a band together through a brief introduction to Logic as they are keen to get some recordings of their band underway. After a long day at the office, it was time for Adam and I to hit Nina’s parents’ place for a much needed home cooked meal! It lived up to our expectations!


Heaps Decent’s Adam Bozzetto with the boys at Riverina Community Centre

The following day was the one where it all came together. We chose the boys showing the most interest to spend the day with us recording and working on finishing the songs we had started. This meant for a super productive day and some excellent material recorded by the boys. The intensive session gave us the chance to polish what we had already done, work further on the vocals we had already recorded, and try to come up with some hooks for the three songs that we had started on.

The session ended on an optimistic note, with the majority of the boys wanting to stay in contact following their departure from incarceration. For a few of them, this date was approaching quickly, for others it was still a while off. Regardless, they were excited at the prospect of working with us in the future and picking up where we had left off.

A massive thanks to Thom Paton and to the Agzarians for their hospitality! I’m very much looking forward to returning to Wagga Wagga for more workshops after such a great trip!

Words: Charlie O’Brien, Photos: Adam Bozzetto

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