THE CULTURAL IS POLITICAL – THE REUNIFICATION OF LEFTISM AND CULTURE

by Chris Jarvis

Culture and politics are inseparable. Culture is more than mere entertainment, more than escapism. Culture is central to how we understand the world, build our value sets and perceive our fellow people. It stirs human emotion in unique ways, pulling different levers in the brain. Sometimes overtly, sometimes with subtlety, the dominant cultural practices, institutions, icons and outputs are used to reinforce the dominant political system and defend the status quo. Establishment weaponise culture as a means of influence.

But this isn’t the sole preserve of the political right.

Looking through history, many of the most important moments of popular revolt have an accompanying soundtrack. The resistance to the Vietnam War had the protest folk singers. Rage Against the Machine were agitators of the US anti-globalisation movement. Riot Grrrl acts built feminist infrastructure, led pro-choice campaigns and brought ‘the personal is political’ sentiments to the fore of a cultural phenomenon. And so on, and so on.

This isn’t coincidental.Continue Reading

“WE’RE FIGHTING A DOUBLE BATTLE IN THIS WHITE-DOMINATED WORLD” – AN INTERVIEW WITH THE TUTS

by Chris Jarvis

2016 will be the year of the Tut. After a crowdfunding campaign that achieved double its original target, The Tuts are set to release their debut album – Update Your Brain – in September. The all-woman three piece from Hayes have nurtured a loyal and growing fan base in their first few years, with tours alongside UK veterans Kate Nash, The Selecter and Sonic Boom Six helping to build a wide creoss-genre appeal.Continue Reading

THE LOUD SILENCE OF WHITE ARTISTS ON #BLACKLIVESMATTER

by Mike Vinti

This week, racial tensions in America have been reignited by the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castle and five members of the Dallas police. The response from the the majority of people of all races has been one of shock and sadness, with many black musicians and artists using their platforms to voice their solidarity with the victims and their support for the BlackLivesMatter movement.

Beyoncé and husband Jay-Z both released statements following the attacks, with Jay-Z even releasing his first new song – Spiritual – in years to support the BLM movement. UK rappers Stormzy and Novelist, two increasingly political artists in their own right, have spoken out, highlighting the issue of police violence in the UK as well as the US. RnB icon Miguel has recorded a song listing the names of black Americans killed by police with plans to update it every week. These are just some of the interventions made by high profile musicians in the last week. Continue Reading

JOOLS HOLLAND AND THE DEATH OF LIVE MUSIC

by Mike Vinti

On Wednesday, Later…With Jools Holland returned to our screens for its 47th series. Featuring Foals, Disclosure and My Morning Jacket among others, it was an entertaining, if safe, start to the show’s latest run.  Later… is the flagship programme for BBC Music and much of the British music scene generally, and has always hosted a mix of established and up and coming artists. However, recently its bookings have become predictable, their performances lacklustre and the show itself stale. Continue Reading

NEVER MIND THE SEX PISTOLS

by Mike Vinti

Earlier this week it was announced that Virgin Money will be putting out a series of credit cards bearing classic Sex Pistols iconography. The reaction to this has been pretty much universally horrified, as well it should — but really, what did everyone expect?

From the start the Sex Pistols were more about the image than integrity, they swapped Glen Matlock, the band’s only songwriter, for Sid Vicious because Matlock wasn’t punk enough; they let Malcolm McLaren run the show so long as they got paid, and last time anyone even thought about Johnny Rotten was when he did those fucking butter adverts. Virgin Records was the home of the ‘Pistols following their split from EMI and released the bands only studio album to date, the only thing shocking about the new credit cards is the fact it took them 30 years to come up with the idea.

Now this isn’t to say that the Sex Pistols are without merit. Or that you shouldn’t be disgusted by the prospect of some yuppie Richard-Branson-wannabe popping into his local branch of ‘Champagne and Fromage’ to buy some brie with his new ‘Anarchy for the UK’ credit card. But can we please let go of the idea that punk begins and ends with Johnny Rotten and co?Continue Reading

SMASH THE CHARTS – POP, POLITICS, AND PUSSY RIOT

by Mike Vinti

It often seems today that everything exists in its own sphere — music in one box, politics in another, and visual art in another still. This is self-evident when you take a look at a lot of popular culture. For example, the rise of TV shows and films, such as The Interview, that use politics as backdrop for their plot, yet fail to engage in any substantial political critique.

The same thing has been taking place in music for the past twenty years, and musicians who have attempted to rectify this have either been relegated from their illustrious chart positions, or left to the underground.

This separation has made it harder for writers and artists of all stripes to experiment with the boundaries of their medium, and there’s been a death of explicitly political works of culture which make into the mainstream because of this. Of course, challenging the dominant perception of your chosen field always creates a stir. However it seems now, more than ever, musicians aren’t even being afforded the chance to do that.

Continue Reading