Hello, I’m Karla and my partner is John. We’re the parents of Johnson Harris-Herbert, aka ‘bouba’, aged 12, Kale Harris-Herbert, aka ‘woo’, aged 10, and our little girl Indiana Harris-Herbert, aka ‘boo-lash’, aged six. During the COVID-19 lockdown, Kale who has asperger’s got together a pop band with his younger sister and older brother, turning our living room into a music room where they practice performances and write their songs. We now watch TV and eat our meals in the garden! Here’s their musical story so far…
The musical group was inspired by a homework project set by Kale and Indiana’s teachers during their distance learning. They were asked to write a poem or song about how they feel about what they are going through as children in lockdown. Kale was inspired to start writing a song after watching the news on television and searching the world’s reaction to the pandemic over the internet.
He sheepishly involved his older brother Johnson and little sister Indiana, humming away in the living (now music) room, when their older sister Amber, aged 18, was going by and settled down to write Quarantine/COVID-19. Courageous Captain Tom Moore inspired some of their lyrics along with Joe Wicks, the keep fit guru.
After a few hours of practice, they asked me to film their wild and energetic show on my phone. Once I created and uploaded their performance to their YouTube channel Stencil Pencils, it started getting quite a bit of media interest because of the song’s controversial lyrics written about COVID-19. It received over a thousand views in less than a day and the band were invited down to NBP Studios in London where “Nardo” (studio owner/engineer) helped them record two songs: Quarantine/COVID-19 and Gullible.
Kale came up with the name The Stencil Pencils as he has always been immensely creative with drawing and painting and loves using stencils. For the VE Day celebrations in May 2020, the band performed their first ever live show in our street at a safe distance to all our neighbors and they have been singing ever since.
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An aim to spread inspiration and give children a voice
The Stencil Pencils hope to inspire children and grown-ups to be heard. As Kale says: “Children are often told to be seen and not heard but we aspire to change that, as we are future voters and possible politicians who can make a difference. We wrote Gullible due to watching the news and seeing what was happening on the web and wanted to put our questions to Prime Minister Boris Johnson. We were then contacted by our local media who were extremely interested in our political views as we’re so young and this kindly led onto our first radio interview with BBC Three Counties and our second radio interview with Secklow Sounds, which was a more in-depth look at our journey in life so far.
“We were also humbled to be asked to perform for the elderly and dementia residents at Burlington Hall, Woburn Sands, which they seemed to thoroughly enjoy. These events are just a little way of us giving back to society and we are really excited to possibly be working with various charities in the future which we would love to support.” Indiana has suggested in order for the band to be heard louder they need to reach people who have the choice to listen or walk by, and Kale said: “Let’s jump on a box and state our views,” which has germinated into their idea of a Speakers Corner Tour. This means the band hope to perform at all the Speakers Corners in the UK (official areas where public speaking and performances can take place). Kale comments: “As Captain Tom Moore says, ‘Tomorrow will be a better day’ so I guess we’ll just have to carry on, whatever happens.”
This article was featured in Issue 113 – Transitioning to Adulthood