Some musicians make a song or two, consciously in protest, and the rest of their catalog is often something else. Others perhaps get into using their voice responsibly at some point during their career. As soon as young Jamie Holmes was in primary school, he learned about Dylan’s “Blowin’ In The Wind” which inspired him to dive further into protest music. Later his learning path led to other legendary protest musicians such as Pete Seeger and Joan Baez. The latter he was fortunate enough to meet when he was in high school.
“…in high school, my guitar teacher was Jim Kirkpatrick. He managed to go on tour around America I think with Thea Gilmore, who was supporting Baez! Well, Jim knew how much I adored Joan Baez – I’d listen to her music for hours – so he contacted her manager and asked if I could go backstage! The show was great. Her voice is incredible, and it is the same today (if not better) than when she was still in her 20s. When I went backstage I was super nervous and star-struck, but we had a chat about my own music and what I wanted to do – it was great, and she inspired my guitar playing to become more finger-picked rather than with a plectrum – something you can hear on ‘Green Revolution'”.
The self-declared “proud socialist” told me he wants to make a difference in the world. His debut album focuses on the future, climate change, the Black Lives Matter movement, police brutality, and the strange year of 2020. The first single off the album has already gotten airplay on BBC radio and it will drop on all streaming services on the 22nd of January. The music video, which features a time-lapse recording of Jamie himself painting, can be viewed exclusively below.
EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE Green Revolution by Jamie Holmes
Check out Jamie’s webpage for all updates on the upcoming debut album and his social media for more info: Instagram – YouTube
If you recall statues of a naked Donald Trump popping up across cities in the US then you might have heard of the anonymous protest art collective Indecline. For the past few years the group has been collecting footage that now has turned into a 45 minute long documentary.
One unnamed representative for the group told Rolling Stone that “What was once set up to be a deep dive into the history of resistance art, soon became a ‘call to action.’”. Via Rolling Stone’s large platform the documentary can now exclusively be streamed in full.
Throughout the film we get a reminder of the stunningly creative, elaborate and always illegal protest art that Indecline has made like renting a room at Trump tower only to create a prison inside that room filled with rats and a Trump impersonator. Lending their voices to share their thoughts on protest art are some protest musicians such as Tom Morello, Moby, Fat Mike and Nadya Tolokonnikova among many more.
Damien Echols, who was wrongfully sent to death row as one of the West Memphis Three, speaks of how protest art literally helped save him from a state ordered execution.
Art and humour have long lived together as well. The film clearly shows how humour is necessary to get a message across. After all, humour is closely related to positivity – and kindness. One of the representatives of Indecline, when interviewed, has a cop in the background who is tied up on a chair. The Indecline representative quickly asks the cop if he is ok before continuing to answer the questions.
The film is directed by Colin Day who directed Saving Banksy. Banksy is another artist who’s work is documented in the film for his creative graffiti that has caught the attention (and inspired resistance) around the whole world.
Hailing originally from Alaska, young rapper Tak Havoc is now based a bit further south in the state of Oregon. After discovering his latest album and collaboration with DJ Allegiance I chatted with him online and asked him a bit about his new album, titled Kill The Klan.
Scrolling through song titles such as Uncle Sam Is A Dikkk, Qualified Immunity and the title song Kill The Klan it is clear that although it is the year 2020 artists such as Tak find the need to play their part in tearing down old, ignorant and hateful structures.
Even if Tak told me that his music has not always been made in protest it seems to me that some activist creativity was dwelling inside him when you look at some of his musical inspirations – Pink Floyd, Dead Kennedys, Nina Simone, George Carlin – this young man has a voice and he was perhaps always meant to use it.
Halldór Kristínarson: You recently released your latest effort, a full length album called Kill The Klan. Can you tell me a bit about the process behind creating and recording this album and how it makes you feel to have to talk about the Klan in 2020?
Tak Havoc: The fact that it’s 2020 and we’re still trying to figure out how to completely eliminate hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan is disheartening, but not surprising. Passiveness is a HUGE problem here in America. Lots of people on both sides seem to have an issue with this, but when it comes to conservatives…it almost feels like they have a personal vendetta against decency.
So, when Ian (DJ Allegiance) and I were talking in July, I asked what kind of record he wanted to do.
He told me we needed to get political.
He sent me a good handful of gorgeous beats to choose from and we ended up crafting “Kill The Klan” over the last month and a half.
HK: What do you feel about the intersection between music and activism? Do the two go hand in hand or should they be separated?
TH: The revolution is always gonna need a soundtrack. I don’t think you could ever separate the two. I think they go hand in hand. The dopest protests I’ve seen have been in Portland where they have the drumline and the homie playing the trumpet and people chanting. That energy is infectious and it continues even after the gas and “nonlethal” rounds are being fired on these peaceful protestors. The music is like the pulse of the movement.
HK: Has your music always been political or driven by social justice and activism?
TH: Not even close, honestly. I like to make happier, more abstract music most of the time cuz that’s usually where my head’s at. But when Breonna Taylor (a respected EMT) was murdered by police officers in her own home while she was sleeping, I was disgusted and enraged.
They created a law in this woman’s name (Breonna’s Law) and yet they have yet to charge a single officer for her murder. That, to me, is one of the THOUSANDS of confident displays of racism being enforced by law enforcement today.
I couldn’t keep silent. I make music 24/7 and it reflects wherever I’m at in life, at that moment. And this is where I’m at now, caught in a war for justice and basic human dignity.
HK: Who are some of your inspiriations, musicially or otherwise?
TH: Pink Floyd, MF Doom, Aesop Rock, Del The Funky Homosapien, King Gizzard, Dead Kennedys, Dead Prez, Slum Village, Freddie Gibbs, Nina Simone, Crystal Method, The Pharcyde, George Carlin, Dave Chappelle, Bill Hicks
HK: How is the protest music scene in your home area? Do you feel musicians are generally using their voices for good today or do you feel they can do better?
TH: Alaska has a lot of dope emcees shedding light on important issues. I think overall, Alaskan music artists have come a LONG way.
I think there’s still a lot more work to do in terms of originality with a good chunk of Alaskan emcees, but there’s a lot of standout acts like DJ Allegiance, Darius Dossman, Starbuks, Sean Van Camp, Shamazz James, Trinity Beats, Madd Angler, Keanepok, Johnny Kohler and Lee Jones who blow my mind. They’re the ones to pay attention to in my book. They know what time it is.
HK: How is the music scene in Oregon compared to your native Alaska? What made you move places?
TH: It’s weird comparing the two. Alaska’s music scene as of right now is pretty involved. Lots of cliques, lots of competition, but it stays friendly for the most part. Everybody just wants to have fun, get on stage and make the crowd move. Not NEARLY enough venues though.
Oregon has impressed me with its music scene. It’s one of the reasons my fiancee and I moved out here. I’m a bit of a hermit by nature and yet the scene has been very welcoming. You get a real sense of community nearly instantly.
HK: What is on the horizon for you?
TH: Three new projects in the works! So needless to say, I have my hands full!
HK: Thank you very much for participating. Is there anything else you’d like to shout from the rooftops?
TH: Arrest Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove for the murder of Breonna Taylor!
End qualified immunity for law enforcement, nationwide!