Distant Voices

IAA.Feb 16. A Downie 6 copy


In a system often reduced to black and white positions and roles, Distant Voices explores what happens when we make and share human stories, ideas and emotions.

Distant Voices is an evolving collaboration between Vox Liminis and the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research, along with other partners. An innately innovative project, it teams up some of Scotland’s finest songwriters with people who’ve experienced the criminal justice system from different perspectives. We bring together:

  • People with convictions (prisoners, former prisoners, and people who have served community sentences)
  • Prison Officers
  • Criminal Justice Staff
  • Victims of crime
  • Academics
  • Families affected by imprisonment

Together we write and record songs that refine the way that we think and talk about crime, punishment and reintegration.

The project began in 2014 with funding from the University of Glasgow’s Knowledge Exchange Fund, before securing support from the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for a second pilot phase in 2015-16. Over this period we developed and refined our approach to running these creative encounters, which we called ‘Vox Sessions’.

In July 2016, Creative Scotland provided a large grant to take Distant Voices to the next level, over a two-year period, along with additional match funding from S.P.S. and the Glasgow Community Justice Authority. During this time 10 songs from ‘Vox Sessions’ will be brought together into an album that will be recorded, released and toured. Again each song will be a collaboration between someone with experience of the criminal justice system and an established Scottish songwriter.

From April 2017, the project has also been funded through substantial grants from the  ESRC and the AHRC, with additional match funding from S.P.S. The latest award reflects Distant Voices’ development into a collaborative action research project. This chapter of Distant Voices will be led with colleagues from the University of Glasgow (Fergus McNeill), UWS (Jo Collinson Scott) and the University of Edinburgh (Oliver Escobar). For more information on the research project, see this blog post from SCCJR. Further info here: Research Councils UK website

As well as releasing the album mentioned above, Distant Voices will also be producing a podcast series and a range of other outputs.

Previous Distant Voices work has included:

  • Nov 2015: A festival of ideas at the CCA, where we launched the ‘Silent Seconds’ EP
  • June 2014: A concert at the Briggait, and subsequent live EP.

To date the project has attracted significant interest, across TV, print media and radio, provoking a creative conversation on the issues surrounding imprisonment.