Conceived after an extended period of covert operations helping Banksy produce the Walled Off Hotel art project in Bethlehem, London artists Block9 returned to the West Bank in February 2018 for "Creative Retreat at The Walled Off Hotel" which saw them host a musical creative retreat… with a difference.
A twist on traditional, peaceful retreats for writers, musicians and painters in the Swiss Alps or the South of France, the retreat aimed to stimulate creativity and cultural connections, taking inspiration from the geo-political landscape of Palestine. The clichéd chalet with open fire and mountain views was swapped for "the hotel with the worst view in the world”, which sits in the shadow of the 25ft high concrete Israeli separation barrier.
A group of select recording artists from across the globe were invited to take part including world renowned musician and producer Brian Eno, Beirut's much heralded Mashrou Leila, underground US DJ/Producer The Black Madonna, avant-garde singer/songwriter/producer Roisin Murphy, and Palestinian heavyweight Samir Joubran of Trio Joubran who joined fresh from recording with Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame.
Other artists included Palestinian violin virtuoso Akram Abdulfattah and up-and-coming Brixton lyrical gymnast EBS. Multi-talented UK musician and producer FRED also joined. FRED's behind-the-scenes credits include Ellie Goulding, Stefflon Don and George Ezra.
Due to travel restrictions Mashrou Leila and Brian Eno worked remotely via live video link.
Each artist was given a loose brief - to respond musically to their time spent in Palestine. All were given a month following the retreat to deliver. All have created incredible music.
Gideon and Steve would like to thank:
Banksy for trust and philanthropy. Holly: The godmother of everything. Paula, Leila for literally everything. Alyssa, Josh & Margy at Block9 for carrying this project all the way to the starting line. Ed Cartwright for spiritual guidance and mentoring. Adrian Meehan at Soho Radio for all his help, volunteering his time, studio and genius production skills. Lance DeSardi for his endless generosity, many many hours in the studio and his masters ears. Luke Solomon for being a fixer and a powerhouse. Above Board Distribution for out of hours help. Jo and Clare for Claridges crisis meetings. Aly at Bandcamp. Raoul at Soundcloud. Hoare Associates for free legal support. Nick Dewey & Emily Eavis. Jonathan Cooper OBE, Daniel Machover and Emily Schaffer for legal support in UK and Israel. Ray Hearn for his endless patience. Eleven Management for bearing with us. Tom Faber. Oliver and David at Nerve Management. Sandy at Coda. Midland, Prosumer, Andy Butler, Emma Eastwood, Robin Dundas, Mel Poluck & Joshua Fisher for encouragement. Ryan, Stevie, Amy, Ben and all at RA for the months of complicity. Avihay Partok, Roi Perez, Tim Rosenberger, Yoni Margulies, Eyal Shalom, Oren Marzam, Or Magal, Ori Druckman, Oded Ben Shimon, (Gay Jew Mafia). Matt Colton for gratis mastering. Wisam, Rasha and their beautiful girls. Abu Hassan & Bisher and all the wonderful people at the Walled Off. Esme and Olivia. Firas for Beirut based friendship and trust. Abed, Martin and Rami at PMX. John Humphrey & Nai at Higher Ground. Wolfgang Tillmans, Martin Perry photography. Karim & Mayte.
And finally all the artists who worked tirelessly to make this thing happen.