Tag Archives: protest music

Pushing against hateful narrative with art: an interview with Bristol musician Krantz

Take discovering acid jazz at the age of 12, then studying classical music and throw some beatboxing into the mix, and you’ll have some of the pieces visible that make up Bristol musician and activist, Krantz.

After discovering his music on X (formerly known as Twitter) I contacted Krantz to learn more about his work. It was clear that the man uses all his talents very specifically, and directly, to tackle certain political issues that belong to his proximate surroundings as well as around the globe. One of his latest tracks is a piece of emotional, moving electronica, that is created around a speech from US Senator Nina Turner, which Krantz sampled and puzzled in with the music – as if the powerful words were performed to the music.

During recent Covid lockdowns, Krantz used all of his musical talents, every Sunday, to entertain his fellow neighbors by performing music from his garden patio. Later on, other neighbors and musicians started participating, sending tones across rooftops and lifting people’s spirits.

Krantz took a moment to answer a few questions to further explain his background, music, and future projects. Read his message to the world below and check out his webpage and socials to follow his music.

Halldór Kristínarson: Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions! First of all, who is Krantz and how did you first get into making music?

Krantz: I’m a pianist, producer, composer, songwriter and beatboxer from Bristol who has a passion for politics and wants to help those speaking truth to power by sampling their spoken dialogue from Youtube videos to create impactful and memorable songs. I want to help them reach as far and wide as possible to show that people are leading the fight against those who continue to want to divide us.

I’m a classically trained pianist and after discovering Acid Jazz at the age of 12 and teaching myself to play Jazz and Funk, I also found a love for emotive classical music after hearing Samuel Barber’s ‘Adagio For Strings’. When I began composing on the piano I started beatboxing to give each piece it’s character/ genre and this ability to beatbox and play piano at the same time has led to me supporting the likes of the Dub Pistols, Kosheen and performing at the world-renowned Boom Town Festival on multiple occasions.

My passion for many musical genres is displayed in my huge catalogue of tracks which include Classical, Post Classical, Orchestral Dubstep, Electronica, Hip Hop, Jazz, Beatbox, Funk, DnB, House, Trip Hop and World Fusion and I look forward to continue sharing as much music of varying genres as possible in the future.

HK: Did you decide from the beginning of your career to use your music and your voice for good? Or did politics and protest come into your craft at a later stage?

K: Politics and protest definitely came the more I emotionally matured and realised the good fortune and privilege I’ve had by having opportunities and choices. Before deciding to use the dialogue of truth teller’s dialogue in my tracks, my own lyrics were always very zeitgeist and addressed social, political and environmental issues so it was a natural progression and perhaps was destined to happen.

HK: Why do you think music is such an effective vessel for protest and activism?

K: Most people won’t spend the time watching a debate, an interview or even reading full articles and mostly make decisions on very little information e.g. ‘get Brexit done’. To be able to deliver the truth and the words of truth-tellers to the general public we have to be creative and find vessels that push against the [mainstream media] narrative that are entertaining, memorable through repetition and help induce introspection- you can take a horse to water but can’t make it drink. People need to be in a neutral space away from bias or influence to truly reflect and this is where art and specifically music can be most powerful. I’m creating alternative versions and remixes of multiple dance genres for every song so that the dialogue has a chance to reach as far and wide as possible and for the tracks to be used in DJ mixes online, in bars, festivals, radio and in clubs. The hope is people really enjoy the music, find the dialogue intriguing, want to find out who’s delivering the lyrics and then hopefully start following that person.

HK: You mentioned via our chat, on the medium formerly known as Twitter, that Facebook and Instagram had suppressed your posts after sharing a certain song. Can you tell me more about that?

K: I produced a song and lyric video featuring the dialogue of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) called “The Insurrection” and when trying to boost a post containing the video, Facebook responded by saying it was inappropriate and was not following the rules and regulations. Ever since that point my exposure has been incredibly small and is proving to be a massive obstacle in sharing content with people even within my own social circles let alone the wider public. Twitter is the only platform that really offers me the opportunity to share content to a wide audience and therefore the potential for increased awareness and followers.

Krantz working on ‘We Must Stand Up and Speak the Truth ft. Nina Turner’. Photo retrieved from the official Krantz Facebook page.

HK: How is the scenery around you, music and activism-wise? Where you live and work, do you feel artists are using their voices to create change?

K: I very much keep myself to myself in regards to music creation however I don’t feel enough people are using their privilege and platform for positive means. I’m incredibly lucky to be in a position where I can make a difference in people’s lives and I feel it’s now my duty to make this happen. Fear and hate are constantly being fed to the public and we need to fight against this with an abundance of art filled with messages of optimism, truth and unity.

HK: Who are some of the artists or people that have inspired you?

K: Herbie Hancock, Samuel Barber, Hybrid, Outside, James Brown, Tower Of Power, Pink Floyd, Jazzanova

HK: What do you hope to achieve with your music?

K: I hope to help inspire other artists to produce their own political/protest art, for people to listen to the songs and be inclined to find out more about the featured speaker and to help sow some seeds that lead to introspection. Even if someone initially only engages with the composition hopefully through repetition, the lyrical content will start to penetrate their thoughts.

HK: What is on the horizon for you?

K: I’m continuing to produce a vast amount of songs with alternative versions and remixes which I’ll be releasing over the coming months. The next release is a track featuring James O’Brien (LBC) called “Twaddle Is Still The Order Of The Day” which is about the collusion between politicians and the right-wing newspapers. I’m looking to release it before the end of the year. I’ll then be releasing 3 different versions of a narrative I’ve created using Nina Turner- the song is called “Many Hands Make For Light Work”. The genres are classical, Jazz and Dub.

HK: Thank you again for participating. Anything else you‘d like to shout from the rooftops?

K: Want to say a massive thanks to yourself for putting the time and effort into trying to help make a difference. It’s not easy, you have to have self-belief, believe that hope can materialize and the aptitude to be able to keep on pushing. Keep up the good work as it will pay off and we will help to implement change.

Myanmar anti-junta activist pens a rap song seeking justice for his murdered parents

His parents were killed in 2022 after he escaped from prison

Screenshot from YouTube video of “The Sun sets before the Sunset” / BPLA VENTURE

This article was written by Mong Palatino and originally published on the Global Voices (GV) webpage on 7th of November 2023. It is republished here under the media agreement between GV and Shouts.

Myanmar activist Sann Minn Paing released a song on YouTube a year after his parents were killed by junta forces. His Facebook post announcing the song and his demand for justice went viral, reflecting the continuing resistance and online pushback against the military government.

The military grabbed power in February 2021, which was immediately fiercely resisted by pro-democracy forces. Sann Minn Paing, a member of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions, was among those who challenged the junta and was arrested for being part of the civil disobedience movement. According to a report by The Irrawaddy, an exiled Burmese media group, he spent a year at three interrogation centers and four police stations in Yangon. Since he was only 17 at the time of his arrest, he was transferred to a juvenile facility.

Together with 13 other young prisoners, he escaped on September 23, 2022. Authorities killed his parents inside their house on September 29.

A year after the killing, Sann Minn Paing posted on his Facebook page that he has written a song to pay tribute to his parents. The Irrawaddy translated an excerpt of the post:

“I still suffer from mental trauma. But I try to keep going. I don’t know when I will die. So, I want to create a piece of art that will last and that demands justice for my parents, in case I die before the revolution succeeds. So, I created this song.”

In an interview with The Irrawaddy, he said he wanted to inspire other victims of the junta brutality to continue the fight for justice.

“I could never repay them. This is the first thing I have done for my parents. If we bow to every act of oppression, we won’t be able to stand up in this life. I hope my song will encourage families who have been affected by the fascist military to demand justice in the future.”

A report by the Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar revealed that as of October 2023, junta forces have killed 4,000 civilians, destroyed 75,000 civilian homes and infrastructures, displaced over 2 million people, and driven 15 million into food insecurity over the past two years.

The title of the song is “The Day The Sun Disappears Before The Sunset.” A music video was uploaded on YouTube which depicts the artist’s anguish and guilt over the death of his parents.

Screenshot from YouTube video of “The Sun sets before the Sunset” / BPLA VENTURE

Even after the death of his parents, he continues to be involved in the pro-democracy movement. In his song, he speculates about what might become of him due to his resistence.

Screenshot from YouTube video of “The Sun sets before the Sunset” / BPLA VENTURE

Sann Minn Paing’s rap song is an example of the creative forms of resistance used by young activists and artists who joined the ‘Spring Revolution’ against the junta dictatorship. Other forms of resistance have included subversive pro-democracy messages through clothing and “silent strikes,” where citizens closed their businesses and stayed indoors on the same day as a method of resistance. In October 2021, a group of rap artists released a music album featuring anti-junta songs.

Listen and watch the song of Sann Minn Paing on YouTube:

“The Time Has Come For Love”: New song sends all profits to Doctors Without Borders

Irish protest singer and folk musician, Andy White, just dropped a new song, giving all the proceeds to Doctors Without Borders. As we all know, things are looking pretty bleak, all around the world, and Andy felt the urge to do something and he urges all of us to do what we can.

In his case, the talent lies in creating music, raising awareness, and gathering funds for selfless doctors who risk their lives every day attending to casualties of war and other tragedies.

Andy writes:

“As you know there is a humanitarian disaster happening right now. We do what we can do. March, donate, write… Recorded it at home and I have just put it up on Bandcamp. Any proceeds will go to Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) msf.org.au.

“I couldn’t not write this song.”

Andy will be touring the UK and Ireland at the beginning of next year and release a new album in December. But as he writes, he felt he had no chance but to put this song out as soon as possible.

Read also: Andy White (Interview)

He ends his message with an empathetic plea to those in power and responsible for the state of the world: “The time has come for love.”

Cover photo retrieved from Andy’s Facebook page and credited to Callum Wayne.