The Birth of the Protest Singer
I wrote my first protest song on 24th June 2016. It was called I’m Sorry We Left EU. I will be the first to admit it wasn’t very good, but it came from the heart, including such expertly crafted lyrics as;
“We didn’t mean to cause division,
We still want to sing in the Eurovision.”
Which, after my Dad told me sounded too cheesey, I then changed to;
“We didn’t mean to cause division,
We want to help in the global mission,
To end hatred, poverty and war,
We want to go back to how things were before.”
But Cheese Works…
I later reverted to performing the original lyrics after I realised that the “cheese” had an endearing quality and usually got a few laughs or consensual cheers at protest rallies. This was the first of many lessons that humour and gimmicky cultural references often make a more engaging political campaign than sincere and heart-felt argument. It also shows that participating in the Eurovision Song Contest is unquestionably more important than ending global poverty and hate crime or bringing peace to our planet.
A few days after writing my first protest song and recording a dodgy version on my i-pad in the bathroom, I turned up at a rally outside Sheffield Town Hall and somehow convinced the Lib-Dem councillors to let me perform it. The protest and my song were afterwards covered by the local newspaper the Sheffield Star. I can only thank them for this opportunity to express my emotional reaction to the Referendum result. Their continued support allowed me to perform at Lib Dem Newbie social events including the Christmas Drinks with Nick Clegg, who heartily joined in with We Wish EU A Merry Christmas, wearing his fetching, blue Christmas jumper which was purchased in a local charity shop and he repeatedly assured us only came out once a year.
Over the last 15 months I have been writing, recording and performing a steadily improving catalogue of protest songs at marches, rallies and gigs up and down the country from London to Newcastle. I have released several singles on iTunes including the Brexit Hokey Cokey and Strong and Stable My Arse, as a solo artist, which have received some newspaper coverage. My songs have been included in the Sixteen Million Rising Radio Show and played at protests organised by the No.10 Vigil. I have more recently teamed up with the hugely talented Peter Cook to produce an album of Brexit protest songs called Rage Against the Brexit Machine.
The idea behind the album came after I met Peter Cook the No 10 Vigil protests outside Downing Street. I have been involved with the Vigil from its start in February 2017. They are an incredibly dedicated team of campaigners who have been protesting 3 times a week as well as organising events such as the “Summer Boat Party” and my “Brexit Wonderland” birthday party on 29th March, the day Theresa May triggered Article 50 (Brexit is one birthday present I hope not to receive in 2019!). Living in Sheffield, I can’t make it down to the vigil on a regular basis but I attend whenever I am staying in London, or make special trips down for big events such as the anniversary of the EU referendum on 23rd June 2017 where we launched the Letters2Europe project.
Peter Cook had assumed the role of Musical Director for the Vigil and his musical ability and creative talent were quite evident from the start. Live music provides a fantastic and invigorating experience and sense of social cohesion that can never be replicated by a recorded track played through speakers. Sadly, the time, hard work and effort that goes into providing this entertainment is often underestimated, and when not properly supported is usually unsustainable. I know only too well the strains of trying to survive as a creative without the financial and emotional support and networks necessary to promote and support your work. I had written quite a catalogue of songs after a year of campaigning and had multiple requests from people wanting to buy an album of them on a CD. Sadly, the costs of recording and producing an album are staggering and not something that was financially feasible.
This was when I decided to approach Peter, I knew he had connections in the music industry, having worked for Richard Branson and could see quite plainly he was a talented musician and passionate about Remain. I mentioned the idea of collaborating on an album, wondering if we could crowdfund such a project between our joint networks, and he must have been thinking the same thing because he has absolutely ran with the idea. He has managed to secure a record deal with NUB records for an album of songs under the Rage Against the Brexit Machine banner. We have already recorded and released 3 tracks: Pants to Brexit, an electro-pop dance anthem; No, Jeremy Corbyn an full on rock-out protest against Labour’s stance on Brexit and Jacob Rees-Moog a hilarious synthesised selection of sound bites to an epilepsy inducing backing groove. Bruce Springsteen’s band, the E-street Band, have also written a song for the album, ‘Way To Know’. We are planning to keep releasing songs to fight the rising tide of Brexshit including a big anti-Brexit Christmas hit, which we hope to get into the UKTop40 charts.
Fighting Populism with Pop Music
The intention of the project is to fight populism with pop music. We have seen time and time again that rational argument, facts and reason don’t work with the Brexiteers and the average member of the public who have followed this clap-trap brigade of bawling scoundrels like a herd of suicidal sheep heading for the Brexit cliff edge. Theresa May demanding a transitional deal with the EU is like adding a little jetty to the cliff edge, it won’t stop the fluffy little sheep smashing their skulls open on the rocks below, it will just delay the time before they tumble to their eventual doom. “The People” aren’t interested in seeing evidence that shows the disastrous consequences of the idealistic Brexit they voted for in good faith. Nor are they interested in listening to “expert” advice that shows a reality contrary to the Brexiteers wild and “imaginative” vision for the Brexit Wonderland, which “the People” have whole-heartedly and naively bought into. When you put these arguments to them, they are usually ignored, denied or responded to with abuse and aggression… How DARE we defy “democracy” by objecting to an illegitimately won advisory referendum, based on misunderstanding, misinformation and outright lies. How DARE we be so unpatriotic as to want what is in the best interests of our country and the European Citizens who have made their homes here, contributing to our society and economy. It’s a pointless argument with those who refuse to listen, so here lies the question: How do we get their attention, make our views heard and start to change minds?
Arts to Challenge Lies
We do it with art, music, passion, creativity and fun. We need to create something that will knock the socks off every Wetherspoons customer in the country. We must stop their mindless parroting of Boris Johnson’s lies about the £350m and we make them shut up and pay attention. Then we show them what they are missing out on: a wonderful, welcoming, multicultural, kind and caring community. We want them to see our pride in our European identity and we have to make them want it.
BBC Sunday Politics Appearance
Publicity is key in spreading our message to the public. However, in a market that is controlled by music industry moguls, it is near impossible to be heard unless you have big money to put into marketing. However, I recently had the opportunity to promote one of tracks, ‘Jacob Rees-Moog’ in a BBC Sunday Politics broadcast in which I was being pitched against a “MOGGMENTUM” disciple who was so devoted he had the word tattooed on his chest. I was amazed the BBC broadcast such a long section of the music video, which features my illustrations including a Harry Potter JRM, a S&M JRM and a zombie Theresa May. All of the BBC staff were very complimentary of the “creativity” shown in the video, nonetheless it was an excellent opportunity to shine a spotlight on the Rage Against the Brexit Machine project.
Watch the BBC clip from 1:00:38 on the iPlayer.
Brexit Xmas No.1 Hit
Our next initiative is to crash the Xmas charts with an anti-Brexit Xmas hit. Which you can support on crowdfunder and buy the track when it’s released!
But We Need Your Support!
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