Check out Julias Nijimbere’s experience attending Rhythm Science Sound’s “Mixdown Mondays” and learn how creating music helped Julias channel his energy and influence his future.
“My first memory of Louisville? Snow. Cold. People here were nice. But that was just one side of it. The other side of it was that you had to struggle to try to adjust to many things. The environment. The language. It was so different.”
Julias Nijimbere came to Louisville when he was 13. Like many young teenagers, his struggle to adjust to life in a new town manifested in complicated ways. He was rebellious and argumentative. On top of the freshly-teenage uncertainty of youth, his actions were a response to his struggle with a dual identity—as a new Louisvillian and as a Tanzanian refugee.
Early in his time in Louisville, Julias became involved with an after school program provided by Rhythm Science Sound (RSS) that teaches kids how to write, record, and produce music. He continued to participate with the project when RSS secured a brick-and-mortar in the Smoketown neighborhood. The sessions were dubbed “Mixdown Mondays,” and are led by RSS founders and artist/mentor duo, Jared Zarantonello and Scz. His early participation ebbed and flowed, as his energy desired a channel.
Now, nine years later, Zarantonello and Scz describe Julias as an ideal leader, the hardest working person they know, and “almost too polite.” What contributed most heavily to his transformation?
“The music. For sure,” said Zarantonello. “With every song… those songs were not really for the outside world. Those songs were things he needed to get through. I have never seen somebody record and re-record and re-record… that’s his process. When he put in the work it always came back to him… That’s been the story of his life. When he works hard then it always gives him the things he needs.”
Julias’s immense growth continues today. He works at UPS, is a full-time student at UofL, and serves as an interpreter at RSS.
“I’m in school for political science and global affairs,” said Julias. “I’m trying to find a way to give back to my people one way or the other. I love activism, and speaking for those who don’t have words.”
This past fall, RSS received an Imagine Greater Louisville 2020 grant to expand Mixdown Mondays to serve more students like Julias. RSS serves 2,000 youth and community members each year, and 15 young people weekly on Mondays. Since January they have engaged 14 sites, including their Shelby St. location.
“We are community-minded cultural producers who use not only our individual craft to fund our work but we try to build spaces for intentional community too. And I can’t really say it enough that’s why Imagine was so key,” says Zarantonello on the impact of Imagine 2020 on RSS and the students they serve.
Creating music helped Julias channel his energy into prolific activity. To support the growth of youth from all backgrounds and in all arts disciplines, visit the Fund for the Arts website.
Imagine Greater Louisville 2020 grants are made possible by Louisville Metro Government in partnership with the Fund for the Arts.