All posts by Shouts

We are a media project that finds and shares protest music from around the world by artists who take their voices seriously and use their talents responsibly.

Spotlight On: Jon Davis

Our spotlight today will be on a conscious musician out of New York City. Jon Davis is a classically trained artist that beliefs in the empowering side of mainstream music.

Jon told us via email how it is his goal to “to inspire people to connect to a greater inner spirit of positivity, and inner growth, and challenge the constructs that all commercial music has to be unidimensional and focus only on indulgence rather than love and growth.”

What issues drive you or motivate you to write a song?

I’m a big advocate for spiritual health, and mental wellness. I believe that mainstream music too often focuses on negative emotions, and reactivity. Life isn’t perfect and art has a responsibility to capture all layers of the experience; however people still need art that reflects hope, even in the expression of pain. I look to modern day artists like Sia, P!NK, and Lady Gaga who have managed to bridge the gap between the mainstream media and lyrical substance. I also pull a lot of my inspiration from Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross, Michael Jackson, and Freddie Mercury.

Both the substance of the music and substance of the artist inspires the listener to think creatively about about life. That to me is the ultimate accomplishment a musician can have, commercial success while still inspiring thought and substance in your music.

I focus on love and inner power in my music. I aspire to create music that communicates honestly to the listener, while shedding light on both the romantic and undesirable side of the journey to self discovery, the thrashing pain when dreams don’t manifest in the way we were promised they would as children, and the draw to continue pursuing an ideal even after defeat and disappointment. 

Ultimately, my goal is for my music to push people to go inward and listen to the little voice inside more than the enormous and subduing voice of the collective, which is why there is a blend of commercial sounds mixed with “anthematic” and “rallying cry” inspirations. I try to always express my emotions openly while showing the inner struggle to push past the voices of doubt, shame, guilt, and feelings of unworthiness. 

Do you partake in any sort of activism outside the music?

I donate music to an organization called Songs of Love which writes custom music for terminally ill children. As a performer and writer, the most challenging thing to give away is energy and time, but it’s also the most impactful thing a person can give. Donating music for such a compassionate cause keeps me humble and pulls me out of the egocentric, and often negative reality of working in the music industry.

It reminds me that despite all the challenges, this whole profession is about touching people, even if only for 3 minutes, and that momentary disruption in the day to day can save lives. It brings us freedom from the confusion and disappointment of reality, and makes life more interesting, manageable, and ultimately conquerable. 

Check out more of Jon’s music on his webpage: https://www.officialjondavis.com/music

Thai Protest Band Apply For Asylum In France

Since the 2014 military coup took place in Thailand the protest band Faiyen have not been able to perform live. After starting to receive threats they fled into hiding in Laos until finally, a few days ago, they arrived in France where they have sought political asylum.

Thailand upholds what is known as the lese-majeste law which forbids anyone from speaking negatively about, threatening or insulting the Thai royal family. Several activists have gone missing since 2014 and Faiyen did not want to become a part of an ever growing list of disappearances.

Being able to now perform in France the band is already using their voice and talent to spread the word about their oppressive government. A few days ago they organised a protest concert outside the Thai embassy in Paris along with other activists and performed some of their songs.

You can find Faiyen’s music on Bandcamp and support the band.



Article cover photo from Faiyen’s Facebook page.

Mashrou’ Leila: Oppression, Activism And Boycott Support From International Bands

On the 13th of June, 2016, the staff at the NPR Tiny Desk concert series could not have planned the emotional show that would be recorded that day. The band, Mashrou’ Leila, had just arrived the day after the shootings at the gay nightclub Pulse, in Orlando.

With everyone still in shock, staff and invited band, Mashrou’ Leila changed their set list and performed 3 beautiful songs, including the opening one called Maghawir (Commandos) which is about a similar shooting that happened in Beirut. The following concert is raw, emotional and full of grit.

The Mashrou’ Leila Tiny Desk concert from 2016

The singer of Mashrou’ Leila, Sinno, is openly gay which is quite the task in a country like his native Lebanon. The band has therefore much experience with threats, bans, oppression and judgment from both government, religious organisations and people on the streets.

They have always carried on though but the latest in their story is bringing in support from bands from other countries in the form of concert cancellations. Dutch metal band Within Temptation just cancelled their upcoming show in Lebanon in support of Mashrou’ Leila.

The Byblos International Festival was also to feature Mashrou’ Leila but recently the band found out they had been pulled off the bill for security reasons after the festival organisers received threats and demands of doing so stating that the band is “offensive to religious and humanitarian values and Christian beliefs”.

In a statement on Facebook from the band they write: “We have been tried on the street, everyone who wishes to be a judge will make judgments, and do it against us. This is a way out of the logic of the state, a departure that hits the core of any sense of security we have and any ability to art and creativity.” (Google automatic translate).

Furthermore the clarify that they have utmost respect for any religious beliefs anyone might have and that they are not out to offend anyone. They love their home country, their fellow people and making music.

In the face of oppression of the arts, other artists, like Within Temptation in this case boycotting a show, is a much needed and powerful stand to take.

Besides these terrors Mashrou’ Leila faces regularly as a band they are a perfect fit for Shouts to shine a light on. They regularly use their voice as a tool for activism, all the while knowing full well what dangers that can cause to their physical safety.

Check out their 360° music video they made in cooperation with Greenpeace and their latest music video called Cavalry which is about the cruelty and machismo of militarized oppression:

“Best stop brandishing that sword of yours
Lest you fall right off of your throne
If I fail, if I die
I’ll come back every time
Till I’ve seen you through
Every head you cut turns into three
I burst into armies of me”

Article cover photo by Schorle