Saturday, July 5, 2008

Squire Road business hopes to create a positive outlet for young artists and musicians

The Revere Journal

Wednesday, July 3, 2008

Community


Jasen Sousa of J-Rock Publishing and Oryn Ghafur, co-founder of the United Front Company on Squire Road in Revere. The new business hopes to create a center for area artists, writers and musicians.

By Seth Daniel
seth@reverejournal.com



In chemistry lab, it’s commonplace to take something that has a negative charge and turn it into something positive.
Rarely, however, is that same feat accomplished in social situations, especially when it comes to teens and young adults who don’t know quite how to focus their creative energy in positive way.
Enter the United Front Company on Squire Road- a local start-up business that is trying to provide a forum for young people to turn potential negatives into positives- and without the help of any chemistry manual.
Oryn Ghafur and his wife, Jill Brandenburg, both of Winthrop, have recently opened up their business at 318 Squire Road and are hoping to not only turn a profit, but also affect the youth of Revere, Chelsea, Lynn, and surrounding areas in a positive way.
Ghafur and Brandenburg – who often bring their young child, Freedom, to work with them – said they wanted their business to be just as much a community service as a moneymaker.
I’ve always had a sense of wanting to have my own business, but I didn’t want it to be something where I was the only one collecting money,” said Ghafur, who is an Air Force veteran and served four tours of in Iraq. “I wanted it to serve the community, too. I wanted it to be something where I can help them as much as they can help me.”
So, what exactly is their business?
Well, you name it.
Primarily, though, they promote numerous music shows in Boston, New Jersey and throughout New England. That is something they now do from a small office in their shop. However, it was a business they conducted from their home.
They expanded to Revere because of a moment of inspiration.
Ghafur said he was driving down Squire Road one day and, at the same time, brainstorming about how he could work in the music industry and serve the community.
It was at that time that he saw a “For Rent” sign in the window of the Squire Road building.
“I made a deal with the landlord that if we cleaned up the place, we could get a deal,” he said.
That deal has blossomed into an opportunity.
Now, they use their store for their promotion company and a variety of other ventures, which primarily are centered on taking things that are usually considered negative – such as graffiti and hip-hop music – and celebrating them as a youthful art form.
In their shop, colorful, creative and positive graffiti art lines the walls. If such artwork were splashed on public walls, one would get arrested; but at the United Front Company, it is encouraged.
“A few of the local graffiti artists really helped us out in decorating the shop,” said Ghafur. “This place looked like a hospital when we moved in, and now it’s really come together.”
Likewise, the shop hosts a local graphic artist, Jasen Sousa of Somerville, who has taken his degree and used it to launch his own publishing company, J-Rock Publishing.
The publishing company uses the store as an outlet to sell many books on poetry and short stories.
Additionally, they offer dance classes, monthly poetry nights and frequent art parties with DJ-led music.
They also offer self-defense classes for adults and children that’s taught by Justin Martin of Winthrop.
Martin, who has a background in yoga, jiu-jitsu and muy thai boxing, said the classes are geared towards knowing how to avoid potentially violent situations.
“It’s not just some fighting class, but more like a class about how not to fight, and also how to protect yourself if you’re attacked,” he said.
Finally, they have ventured into the studio business, offering studio time to local recoding artists at a decent rate. Most of the musicians who come there are interested in hip-hop and tend to have trouble finding a place to display their talents.
United Front’s owners hope they have filled a niche.
Additionally, they also block off recording time to offer studio classes to disadvantaged kids. Already, four kids from Revere and four kids from Lynn have taken the class.
“They love it, and they’ve learned a lot,” said Ghafur. “I’ve learned that the youth of today are very educated, despite if they excel in school or not. I’ve learned they are very ambitious, but also misguided and misdirected.”
In learning that lesson, he and his wife have only emboldened their vision for making their business a mecca for artists and young people. They hope that their company can bring some unity to the artistic community, hence the name United Front Company.
“It seems the music industry – especially in terms of hip-hop – is very divided and against each other,” said Ghafur. “My life experiences are that unity is better than separation. Unity gives you strength in numbers... We want everyone to think this is a place they can come to be inspired and that there might be someone here who offer them something creative.”

1 comment:

Blue UnderGround said...

Another piece of good press...Keep things going strong Jay and send out some emails to Metro, Globe, Improper Bostonian, Boston Pheonix, The Dig.
Just send them emails with a link to the article and a title that will catch their eye enough for them to open it.

 
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