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Friends of Noise is a 501-c3 organization that seeks to foster healing and growth for the creative youth in our community via the arts by hosting professional development workshops and inclusive all-ages concerts that provide live performance opportunities for youth artists and hands-on experience for emerging youth sound engineers.
Friends of Noise is a non-profit, educational, all-ages organization. Our mission is to provide safer and productive spaces for all-ages concerts, focused arts education, and leadership opportunities for youth with a focus on providing marginalized youth and youth of color access to performative creative expression. Our long-term goals are to contribute to the development of a region wide network of young people and adults that are learned and ready to pursue a career in the music industry on stage or backstage and to grow into a youth centered arts center that resides in a music focused arts hub in an underserved community within our city.
We seek to create a non-profit, all-ages arts venue that is youth-oriented and youth-driven. We envision a safe, inclusive community meeting place for arts events, with a strong educational and mentorship component. We intend to engage young people in all aspects of event planning and production within this space, in order to encourage real world skill-building. We believe these skills will serve students well in their future endeavors and help them become cultural leaders and engaged citizens in their communities.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
We’re going to keep this simple.
Diversity of artists, music genres and audience members makes for a safer, more vibrant and more open all ages music scene. When Hip Hop is on the same lineup as Rock cool things happen. When youth from different communities are dancing side by side to different styles of music you can see their walls come down. We have a growing roster of artists that span a broad variety of genres. We see diversity not as a task to be achieved but as a feature that draws in like minded participants of all ages.
Equity of access and opportunity makes for a healthier music all ages ecosystem. When we started FoN we noticed that there was an abundance of youth that were ready to play and see rock and Punk shows. We surmised this was because there was an music education infrastructure that focused on those genres. School of Rock, Rock Camp for Girls Montavilla Guitar Studio were examples of extracurricular music instruction that put youth on a path towards performing. In our second year we started recruiting poets to perform at our shows. We figured that writing poems could be a pathway to writing Hip Hop Lyrics. We also scouted locations for our concerts that were within Black and Brown communities so that the youth of those communities could see and attend our events with minimal travel considerations. In our third year we invested in laptops beat making software so that we could develop a beat making crew to support our poet/mc’s. This led to offering free beat making workshops at Boys and Girls Clubs, Portland Parks and Rec Summer Free for All and a grant funded program at a Home Forward low income housing development.
Inclusion is the key that unlocks and opens the door to a diverse, equitable and accessible all ages music ecosystem. By supporting inclusive representation it’s much easier to accomplish the following outcomes: booking shows that are diverse, getting underserved Black and Brown youth onto a pipeline towards playing in our shows, getting a diverse assortment of youth performers and sound techs paid gigs. E were approached by a group of young men that wanted our help producing a Day of DIY festival. We agreed to find them a venue, loan them our gear, get them a teen sound crew and assist on all logistics in exchange for booking half of the 10 band lineup. All of the bands that they wanted to book were punk and rock boy bands. We advocated and booked a multiracial Hip Hop act, a queer singer songwriter, a trans metal duo and other diverse BIPOC acts. Our co-producers voluntarily shared that if not for our advocacy all the acts on the lineup would have been filled with men of European descent. Six months later when the young men were booking another show they reached out to me to help them find a Hip Hop act for their lineup.
Board of Directors
Gina Altamura (Chair)
Gina Altamura resides in Portland, Oregon with her cat Zizek. She has worked in Portland’s music industry for the better part of a decade, curating interdisciplinary arts programming at Portland nightclub Holocene. She also manages R&B and pop artists as a founder of local firm Nature\\Nurture Artist Management. She is compelled by the philosophical implications of emerging pop cultural trends, and moonlights as a DJ for community radio station XRAY.FM, where she examines the latest trends in pop music on her show Intuitive Navigation. She is a passionate advocate for youth voices in the music community, working both in and out of the classroom to bring music industry education to teens, via nonprofit organizations like Friends of Noise.
Andre Middleton (Secretary, Executive Director)
Andre Middleton is a native New Yorker that moved to Portland to attend college. He has many ties to the arts and music scene via friendships that stretch back for at least 2 decades. He is the Executive Director of Friends of Noise. Andre is a community activist on issues of inclusion and equity and a community connector within the arts. He produces Friends of Noise Presents: a weekly hour of radio curated by youth DJs Monday’s 2-3 on XRAY.fm. He’s on the Board of Directors for the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, where he hopes to have a profound impact on their efforts to connect and share current and challenging art within a broad cross section of our fair city. André also serves on the Portland Parks and Recreation Budget Advisory Board as well as on Literary Arts Youth Advisory Committee
Rachael Allen (Treasurer)
Rachael Allen is a native Pacific Northwesterner who spent her youth overseas and in Baltimore before settling back in Portland in 2005. Coming from a legacy of educators and youth advocates, she brings passion for education that empowers people. As a director of the Village Free School, Rachael explores the balance between freedom, accountability, and authenticity with students of all ages in a self-directed, non-coercive environment that operates democratically. Her love of music has been a palpable guide and constant companion all her life, providing many opportunities to be involved in music communities personally and professionally: most recently as a board member of the local non-profit Friends of Noise. Rachael is a voracious reader, avid people watcher, and adventure enthusiast
Lisa Vazquez is a lab rat, beat nerd, multi instrumentalist, vocalist. Lisa creates intoxicating layered rhythms and vocals both live and in the studio.
Bim is a life-long professional artist from the Pacific NW who has been playing in and touring with Portland based bands since he was a teenager. Bim has spent his life advocating for the people who comprise the Creative Class. He envisions a real future for them, one where they are unhindered by systems that tell artists they are too young, too strange, not business oriented enough, or too creative to be allowed to pursue their wild visions for a better world. Bim is a published music journalist and his work spans from music-tech & streaming, distribution, to fictional pieces that orbit sci-fi interpretations of the consolidation of power in society and how the internet became a corporate force against art. He ran for Mayor of Portland in 2016 on a platform that focused on the value of art and music in cities. The cultural, economic, and civic value of art is a constant theme in Bim’s life. At the end of most days though, you’ll simply find him at one of the tiny, dimly lit and fiercely independent, venues in Portland. Just there, listening to a band play some songs, and perhaps between the sets, lightly discussing the future of society with other weirdos.
Lucas Strelchun is a music producer, DJ, audio engineer, sound designer and audio geek. In 2013, he began releasing EDM remixes, originals and edits under the alias DJ Stretchman. Aside from his main project, Lucas produces lots of Hip-Hop, Pop and Trap beats for various artists.
A comedian and professional stick figure artist on her off time, Raiyasha Paris is a long term student new board member on our team here at Friends Of Noise. In regards to music she is a vocalist and pianist who strongly follows in the footsteps of Alicia Keys, Mary J Blige and Erykah Badu. Music is a staple in the Paris family and Raiyasha desires to live up that family tradition and second nature. She states, “the moment I heard the story from my mom that my grandmother sang at Carnegie Hall in New York alongside Marian Anderson (St. Mary’s High School) and saw that how powerful one can be, I knew a gift was in me somewhere, and once found, I knew I had to share it with the world.
I was born in Kelso, Washington, my identity was strongly tethered to seeking out and cultivating a musical identity in a climate that wasn’t necessarily supportive of such things. Forays to Portland were regular and life-affirming. I studied ethnomusicology and audio engineering at TheEvergreen State College and quickly fell in love with the DIY, micro-communities of music in the NW. Having graduated and consumed a glut of preoccupation with all things under the banner of “social justice”, I departed for about 8 years of travel, during which I had a 4 year stay in New Orleans. Over the ensuing years my work predominantly fell within the broads bounds of service work, from environmental stewardship in the role of a guide to teaching gardening to kids in New Orleans. Having known no other real sense of “home” like the Pacific Northwest, I returned, armed with little other than an ambition to serve and a pretty decent sense of humor. I presently am enjoying the sensation of those roots running wild via my work with a wonderful non-profit, starting a small song-writing enterprise, and having two pretty cool houseplants. Bio over.
My family has a long history of music appreciation. My grandmother was a radio DJ for KMHD 89.1 throughout the 70’s. My father was a DJ in the late 80’s early 90’s when breakdancing and pop locking were the scene. Today I have the privilege to express myself creatively through music curation in all genres. Exploring new restaurants and vintage shops are a favorite way to spend my time. I also have an interest in the fashion industry and I hope to be more involved in the future.
Vaughn Kimmons, affectionately known as Brown Alice, is a multidisciplinary artist born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Through music and dance performance she celebrates Blackness as the cosmic source of sacred inspiration and gives voice to the connective power of shared human nuance. She is a vocalist and songwriter in Portland based bands Brown Calculus and Tribe Mars.
What’s good? I’m Mulu Habtemariam, a cultural producer from Portland, OR.
I was born in Sudan to Eritrean parents, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in Communication, and spent the past few years leading community art projects in my hometown. After a stint in a strategic role, I formerly worked as a production coordinator at Wieden+Kennedy and spend free time being the ultimate hype man during my music buddies shows.
Gus Cannon is a transgender music educator living in Portland, OR. He has been teaching private music lessons at various music schools for 5 years and in that time has had the privilege of facilitating music growth among a wide variety of individuals. Outside of private lessons on drums, piano, and guitar he joins with Friends of Noise to occasionally host a workshop showing kids how to use music production software to produce music themselves. He also teaches a few private lessons at his house, does some freelance illustration/design, and loves to get out and enjoy nature.