Columbus resident and Ohio State student Sandeep Sehbi is raising money for refugees in France in the best way he knows — through his love of music.
Sales from his music compilation featuring a wide variety of artists will benefit London2Calais, a solidarity initiative for refugees that delivers food, clothing, medicine and other items to a refugee camp in Calais, France.
Sehbi, who has been taking classes on and off at OSU since 2003, heard about the London2Calais initiative through Periscope, a live streaming application. Having grown up in the United Kingdom, he routinely checks the activity coming from across the pond and stumbled across a live stream advocating for the organization.
According to the London2Calais website, there are about 4,000 people living in The Jungle refugee camp without adequate food, water, sanitation and shelter. Due to the lack of medical facilities and inadequate sanitation, illness is spreading through the camp and people will struggle to make it through the coming winter months.
After viewing the broadcast, Sehbi reached out via Facebook to interview two people involved with the organization and posted it to his blog. By the end of the second interview, he started to think about how he could raise money for this organization.
He was familiar with the idea of a compilation of various artists and songs, but had never put one together.
Sehbi said a friend from New York told him that compilations are done a lot on the East Coast, so people in Ohio are a little behind the times.
“I’ve been wanting to do something humanitarian for a while. This combines me wanting to volunteer with my knowledge of compilations and the competitive nature of wanting Ohio to have a comp,” he said. “All three of those things came together for this.”
This isn’t Sehbi’s first venture into the local music scene. By his calculations, Sehbi has booked more than 350 shows at various Columbus venues in the past three years. These connections helped him to get a large reaction for the compilation, with more than 90 songs submitted.
“Almost all of the people I’ve reached out to I have some sort of a personal connection to from having actually hung out with them in person at a show,” Sebhi said. “That’s why it was easy for a lot of people to say yes, because they knew me, and they understood the cause because the refugee crisis is a big current-events issue right now.”
Submissions came locally, nationally and from abroad. English music group Clement Marfo & The Frontline, who were featured in FIFA 2013, contributed its single, “Us Against the World” after Sehbi met the group at a South by Southwest festival and built a correspondence.
Somayé, a recording artist and refugee from Iran living in London, saw London2Calais’ post about the compilation, and wanted to help. She submitted her song, “Le Beirut.”
One of the bands Sebhi contacted was Soul Monsters, a Columbus band composed of OSU students. Guitarist Tatsumi Suenaga, a fourth-year in computer science and engineering, was happy to help.
“I think it’s a good cause. Sandeep has done a lot for our band so I wanted to help him out,” Suenaga said.
Soul Monsters contributed a recent single, “Since Then.”
Sandeep contributed the song “Estonia” from his own band, TIGR HORS.
The compilation is made up of some pre-existing tracks, both released and previously unreleased, as well as some new and cover songs. Sehbi said he was open to any songs that the artists wanted to contribute.
“I just wanted to get as much attention as possible. I thought, let’s open the floodgates, let’s accept everything,” Sehbi said. “It’s all about getting as much money as possible, and giving that to the refugees. I always play the ‘as much money as possible’ game no matter what I do, so because this is a charity it’s cool because I’m not being greedy. I’m being giving.”
Since London2Calais started in mid-August, it has sent two convoys of supplies and has another convoy scheduled for Oct. 3.
It has raised the equivalent of more than $12,000 — more than five times its original goal, according to the group’s Indiegogo campaign.
London2Calais took action in a short period of time, and so did Sehbi. The compilation was released via Bandcamp on Thursday, just over a week after he first saw the Periscope live stream.
As of Monday night, 90 songs are available for $10 on Bandcamp and all of the proceeds go to London2Calais.
A physical copy will be released at Kafe Kerouac on Sept. 21 at 8 p.m. with some featured artists performing.
Editor’s note: This article was updated on Sept. 15 to correct the title of the song contributed by TIGR HORS.