"We have not yet been able to catalogue or understand what is Suquṭri heritage and culture. It is trees, birds, mountains, etc., but it is also people and language. And if we protect the environment, but not people and language, then we hav e nothing. How can you preserve the hand without preserving the body? To save part without saving the rest is to let the whole body die." - ‘Umar Khâlid, Association for Suquṭri History and Heritage
My name is Myke Dodge Weiskopf. I travel around the world with microphones and shortwave radios to create audio travelogues of incredible places. In 2005, I started a project called ShortWaveMusic from my one-room apartment in Boston, Massachusetts. After three years of recording and presenting signals from India, Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, Bulgaria, Algeria, Nigeria, Romania, Kuwait, and dozens more, I decided that the best way to hear the world was to see it for myself. Since then, I've taken the project to Ibiza, Bulgaria, the United Arab Emirates, and the West African country of Mali.
Along the way, in addition to recording radio broadcasts from Albania to Zambia, I've captured the living sounds of regional musicians and singers out in the field, all of which are available, permanently and for free, at my Web site: www.myke.me.
For my eighth year, I'd like to go somewhere few people have even heard of: the archipelago of Socotra in the Gulf of Aden between Somalia and Yemen. Socotra is virtually untouched by tourism or mainland culture, a mixture of East African and Middle Eastern influences (albeit with its own unique identity). I'll be traveling with photographer Kelly Davidson and a Socotri guide around the main island for two weeks in March of 2013. We'll travel through mountain villages, caves, and seaside towns to meet the people of Socotra and record their songs, stories, and folk traditions. Along the way, I'll tune in for the next season of ShortWaveMusic, recording regional radio stations from Somalia, Eritrea, Yemen, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Oman, and beyond -- adding to the more than 24 hours' worth of recordings from over 60 countries now available at www.myke.me.
My work isn't funded by media outlets or record companies, but by real individuals like you. I simply believe the best way to share and experience the world is through music. The music that spills from our radios and colors our conversations and becomes a part of our shared language. And I'll keep on going as long as I can find a way to do it.
I need AT LEAST $3,500 to get to Socotra and back. That's my plane fare; a fair wage for my guide and translator; payments to all of the musicians and singers I record; a little bit of repairs for my equipment; and online hosting for all the files once I get back. There is no personal profit involved.
With a little MORE money, I could pay extra to the musicians, or donate play and sporting goods to Socotri children, or upgrade my equipment to bring back better recordings. But I can't do it all alone. Please consider donating some of your hard-earned holiday money to ShortWaveMusic … for yourself or on behalf of another adventurous and open-minded friend or loved one.
You can check out my work at www.myke.me. And if you find something that strikes, moves, or intrigues you, please share it around and tell folks about this campaign. Thanks a million!
Risks and challenges
The primary thing to remember about any project which involves traveling as an "outsider" in a foreign country is that one has to remain continually open to chance. Itineraries change, new opportunities arise while other ones fall through, people or buses or equipment becomes unreliable. This is now my fifth consecutive trip to a new territory. Every year, I get a little wiser, learn from prior mistakes, improve on my methods and my ability to flow with the rhythms of a new place. At this point, I feel confident that I could be dropped almost anywhere in the world and find a way to do what I do.
The first thing I've learned is to always find someone "on the ground" who will agree to be your guide, translator, and principal troubleshooter: someone who knows your expectations in advance, and brings detailed ideas on the best ways to meet them. I interviewed five different locals on Socotra to find just the right person who could meet my questions more than halfway, who had proactive and interesting thoughts on places to go and people to meet. I'm pleased that I've hired a terrific man on retainer for the duration of our journey. He'll go a LONG way towards implementing any contingency or emergency plans as they arise. (Although hopefully they won't!)
I've had more than my share of discussions with people concerned about traveling to this part of the world, and all I can say is: Scour the news, dig as deep as you like, but you'll find no evidence of trouble on Socotra. I travel without fear, knowing that (a) I don't enjoy putting myself in harm's way, and (b) most people in the world are as decent, curious, honest and hospitable as I hope I can be.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (27 days)