What the hell is Chasing Shadows?
Chasing Shadows make interactive audio-trails around cities that encourage people to get outside, interact with the physical world them and each other – and, most importantly, question why it works the way it does.
We are dynamic duo – Max Hayward and myself, Jamie Brown – based in South London and established in January 2019. So still pretty fledgling at this point.
What made you want to make… an interactive audio trail?
Good question – I guess it’s the belief that our entire worlds are built on stories… stories inform the way we think, the value we give things, the decisions we make and the societies that we leave behind.
And I do mean very literally ‘built’, from the Palaces, cathedrals and old pubs to the materials used to build the tower blocks on the estates. These buildings are physical symbols of the stories that built them and they can help us reflect on stories we think we know really well, and discover the ones we don’t, that still shape the world around us.
But I used to do something totally different - I studied sciences and used to work in pharmaceuticals. I wasn’t very suited to that. I thought I’d go and make TV documentaries and maybe be the next David Attenborourgh, but he’s still going and I didn’t like TV much either.
I wanted to make something that got people off the sofa and out in the world exploring! Audio is great for that – people are getting more and more used to listening to things through their headphones as they move around and audio has this wonderfully intimate quality. If it’s done right it can add to your experience of a place rather than obstructing it.
But there is a real necessity to get people engaging with one another and the world around us – this phenomenon of digital loneliness is making young people miserable. So we’re trying kinda hack the opportunity that everyone has a smartphone in their hands and try to get them to go on a wander!
For this trail around Gloucester… how did that come about?
So the Gloucester Rooftop Festival (4th– 7th July, get it locked in your diary!) is being supported by the Roundhouse up in London. If people don’t know about the Roundhouse, beyond being an awesome venue, then please check it out – because they’ve been a wonderfully creative force in my life!
I used to be part of the Roundhouse’s Poetry Collective and this year they ran their first Co-Working pilot scheme. I applied for a space, got accepted and had several months working on the idea for audio trails alongside a whole bunch of incredibly talented young entrepreneurs.
My supervisor at the Roundhouse mentioned Rooftops, the ambition of the city’s Culture Trust to engage young people in culture, and said they had this awesome central venue, but were looking for ideas to engage people with the rest of the city – and it sounded perfect! So I pulled a bit of a pitch together and with their support here we are!
So what is the trail in Gloucester about? History?
Sort of – but really it’s more about the relationship that young people in the city have with the physical spaces around it. Where do young people spend there time and why? Especially the historic bits.
If you walk through the centre of town, you’re surrounded by historic buildings but kids have been hanging out on Boot’s corner for a decade… where are the spaces for young people to go? Do they care about the city’s history and if they don’t why should they?
That’s the kind of stuff we wanted to explore, so we’ve been trying to speak with young people across the city to build a story that reflects their views on it. Hopefully we’ve done it justice.
All the voices you’ll hear are from local young people so I’d hope that makes more sense than me chatting nonsense.
And how can people experience your trail in Gloucester?
All you need is a smartphone and the Facebook Messenger app – and enough data to stream about 10 minutes of audio. Go in to your FB messenger app and search for us @chasingshadowsstories. Say hello! And everything goes from there.
You can play on your own or in groups – from 4th July 2019. It runs from about 9am to 5pm 7 days a week! Occasionally special events may get in the way but by and large it will run all year round and it’s totally free to play!
I hope you all check it out.