IORA tackling homelessness with Maxine Peake

17 September, 2018

BIMM Manchester’s IORA is known for penning emotive songs that fuse story-led lyrics and atmospheric electronic samples. Now she’s turning her talents to a good cause, after collaborating on a new single with BAFTA nominee Maxine Peake and the homeless charity Lifeshare of which the actress is a patron.

The charity single, ‘Human Touch’, sees IORA (AKA Holly Phelps) addressing Manchester’s growing homelessness problem, with lyrics that focus on the isolation and loneliness that so many people face every day. Recorded at Airtight Studios in Chorlton, Manchester, the single also sees IORA working with Reform Radio’s Ph7 show, which tackles matters of equality and provides creative responses to topical issues. 

IORA – who moved to Manchester from Cirencester to study for a songwriting diploma at BIMM – said:

“Almost everyone I speak to about the homelessness problem in Manchester says they want to help but don’t know how. I even struggle with the fact that giving money or food now and then isn’t going to stop the problem. My question is this, how does it all exist so close?”

It’s hoped that the single – which will be made available as a free download to anyone who donates to Lifeshare  – will help to raise funds and awareness. IORA is also due to perform the song on Reform Radio’s Love For The Streets panel this year. A spokesperson for Lifeshare said:

“We hope to raise awareness and raise some money to tackle the homelessness issue head-on.”

The overwhelming spate of homelessness in Manchester (and other cities) has left many asking what they can do to help. As a result, leading publishers UNILAD are covering the topic in an upcoming documentary about homelessness and the psychoactive drug Spice, while many creative figures – including Maxine and Johnny Marr – are working closely with Lifeshare.

IORA’s involvement is proof that music and other creative outlets can bring about change – it’s something we’ve long encouraged at BIMM, and we’re so proud of the work being done. Meanwhile, IORA is making quite a name for herself on the new music scene, after past performances at 2000 Trees and Manchester’s Dot to Dot festival during her time at BIMM. 

Released on our annual BIMM Manchester album, her 2017 single ‘Thieves Den’ was also chosen by Norwegian pop sensation and BBC Music Sound of 2018 winner Sigrid to feature on a hand-picked playlist for BBC Introducing. IORA actually performed the track at Manchester’s legendary Band On The Wall venue earlier this year, following a string of well-received live performances at Old Granada Studios, where Reform Radio is based.

On the subject of her influences, IORA – whose music blends folk and trip-hop – said:

“I’m influenced by the rawness of the countryside and the urgency of the city. I’m fascinated with melodies and musical delivery. My roots really influence my work and help to create rich and emotive lyrics, contrasted with moments of raw drama.”

Now she is channelling that drama to help tackle homelessness, adding:

“The abuse and prejudice that homeless people face, everyone has their own story. It still amazes me that in 2018 and in a city so rich, poverty remains so prevalent.”

Human Touch will be released later this year.

For more information or to get involved with the charity, visit the Lifeshare website:

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