Tag Archives: protest song

Corruption And Betrayal In Puerto Rico: New EP From Yuca Brava (Interview)

Shouts regulars and all around hard working activists/musicians Yuca Brava are releasing a new EP today, Friday the 14th. Previously we have interviewed Felix Castro, the vocalist of the band, about their music and activism.

This time I spoke with Carlos Anglada, the producer, drummer and the other half of the band. Carlos told me about the new album and how it covers the betrayal by the Puerto Rican government of their people.

Halldór: What is going on today in your surroundings?

Carlos Anglada: On January 6 & 7 of this year (2020) Puerto Rico was struck by two earthquakes. The tremors destroyed hundreds of homes, leaving thousands of people in the Southwestern region of the Island homeless. The quakes also damaged close to 300 public schools, which have been declared as unusable.

As it turns out, a geological fault (the Punta Montalva Fault) slashes across the entire Sounthwestern part of the Island. After the fault became active, there have been close to 3,000 additional aftershocks or replicas to date. People in the region live in an unrelenting state of anxiety. Refugee camps have people living in tents, not unlike the refugee war camps we have seen elsewhere. We have begun losing people who have chosen to take their own lives, unable to find any hope in their dire situation.

Adding insult to injury, on January 18th, an independent journalist caught the authorities attempting to empty a warehouse holding a substantial number of supplies that had not been distributed since Hurricane Maria and that could have been used to serve the refugees from the earthquakes. Further investigation revealed that close to a dozen other such facilities were located all across the island, all of them holding potable water, baby formula, cots, portable showers, etc. In addition, when you see politicians holding out on emergency supplies so that they can repackage them with campaign flyers, you know you have seen the height of callousness.

In summary, we’re currently dealing with the fallout of yet another round of gross negligence and mismanagement of a natural event by our so-called “government”. In the meantime the Fiscal Oversight Board (Junta de Control Fiscal – Ley “Promesa”) is pressuring the government to agree to a plan to repay our debt which would deepen our already grave financial situation by extending stronger repay guarantees to stockholders based on inflated growth forecasts.

Halldór: What is this EP about?

Carlos: We touch on a number of issues: the hollowing out of the Island to make room for the wealthy elite (“Bitcoin Messiah”), state and social violence against women (“Cobardes & Escarlatas”), and the constant lying and deceit carried out by our “government” (“Huele a Traidores” & “Status Quo”). However, the overarching theme is the utter and complete betrayal of the people of PR by the current administration.

Halldór: What is driving you or motivating you, today, to pen down some lyrics or create some beats and riffs?

Carlos: Neoliberal and austerity policies have real victims who experience real pain and suffering. Sometimes we fall in love with our own buzzwords and jargon and language and forget that we need to make this oppression real and visible to the people who we know need convincing to see the whole picture. In that sense, we are continually trying to make our perspective understandable and relatable.

Halldór: How is this EP different from your previous projects? In regards to both the recording and the creative process?

Carlos: The Micro Sessions is kind of an experiment in remote collaboration. Felix (vocals) lives in Phoenix, AZ and I live in PR. When Felix was still living here on the Island, we would write apart and once we had good working demos worked out, we would head to the studio and work there together.

Felix had to leave the Island after Hurricane Maria, since his employer was closing up shop locally. Moving to AZ was a huge change for him, and the adjustment period was hard on him and his family. We wanted to keep making music, since it’s quite cathartic for us, but Felix had not yet found how to record, so we had chosen to use the scratch vocals straight from his cellphone in the final tracks.

Our platform is your platform. Anything else you’d like to shout from the rooftops?

Carlos: We’re still a colony. That needs fixing. Urgently.

A Protest Music Interview: Stray

Being homeless for the first time at the age of 8 is perhaps, and hopefully, not something too many people can relate with. That was the reality for Stray, a young singer songwriter who just released her first album.

The protest music piece was recorded by herself on the farm where she now lives free from abuse and where she helps others get through similar things.

Halldór: First of all, for those who are not familiar with your work, who is Stray?

Stray: First homeless at the age of 8, I once roamed the streets alone like a cat, rummaging through the bins. At 21 I bought my first guitar at a flea market and started teaching myself to play. I sing about social, environmental, and economic justice in my music.

Halldór: You describe yourself as an artist who uses her voice to talk about issues that both have personally affected you as well as other things you deem necessary talk about. Why do you think music is such a great way to get political messages across?

Stray: The personal is political, I was homeless on and off due to severe abuse, couldn’t seek shelter at any of the local churches because I’m gay, and couldn’t afford apartments by myself due to poverty. So I was often trapped and choosing between an abusive home life or a homeless life.

These are traumas that I couldn’t talk about with people, both because trauma often makes us speechless, but because it had been dangerous for me to open up to people, and I also didn’t want to upset anyone else. You partially keep your trauma secret to nurture others.

So music was the only way I could speak about what I was going through. Music tells untold truths, and protest music speaks truth to power, so they’re a perfect medium for political expression.

Halldór: Your debut album was recently released. Can you tell us about the creative and recording process of the album and the inspiration behind some of the songs?

Stray: These songs are my voice for when I had none. I wrote them during a time when I was terribly isolated. I had officially escaped from my abusive family, ending all contact with them, and was also escaping a different toxic environment.

I moved with all my savings to a broken down farm and started rebuilding myself from the ground up. This album tells that story. I believe Lost & Found, Burning Bridges, and Skeleton Key are the soul of the album. I recorded everything myself on the farm, turning a small bedroom into a little studio.

Even though the writing and recording of the album was done entirely alone, I now share my studio space with others, so that they don’t have to face the same financial obstacles I did along the way. I call it the Marginal Music Collective.

Halldór: Besides your music, which obviously is a tool for activism, what other activism do you partake in?

Stray: I believe in direct action and mutual aid. We can’t rely on hierarchical institutions to save us, many of them maintain the status quo or do more harm than good by entering communities and “saving” them by telling them they know “better”.

As a working class person myself, I grow food for the working class and homeless on my farm and share it with others for free and for donation. I volunteer with Food Not Bombs protesting environmental injustice, poverty, and imperialism, while feeding people.

When friends have been abused at home or were homeless, I’ve taken them in, knowing personally what it’s like to go hungry and go it alone, I refuse to allow that to happen to others.

Halldór: According to your Bandcamp profile you sound like a superhero, feeding people at your farm by day and recording protest music by night. Can you explain more about your farm and the life you live there with other people?

Stray: hahaha aww thank you! I founded Forest Moon Farm as a sanctuary for marginalized people and rescue animals. It’s a permaculture farm designed with environmentalist and organic principles and the garden is full of circles and spirals in accord with nature. I live here peacefully with two other people.

People come and visit to learn about organic gardening and permaculture, get free food, do yoga, and eventually when we can afford to rescue some animals, spend time with animals in nature. We even have a few acres of forest for nature walks.

“I’m Burning bridges cause I can’t afford the tolls
It lights the way for all us beaten souls
I’ve had to dive in to avoid the patrols
And just keep swimming cause underwater is all I know”

from ‘Burning Bridges’ (2020)

Halldór: What musicians inspire you? Are you following other contemporary protest musicians that you want to give a shout out to?

Stray: My musical heroes are Janelle Monae, Fiona Apple, Taylor Swift, India Arie, and Ani DeFranco. I adore Blunted Lip by Laura Kerrigan, she has a beautiful voice, heartfelt lyrics, and a hilarious twitter full of queer pride and personality. I also love SoulSpot, they have great vibes and their singer and music are unbelievably smooth.

Halldór: What is on the horizon for you?

Stray: I’m doing a series of house concerts this summer, writing my second album, and I plan on adopting some goats!

Halldór: Thank you very much for participating and for the music. Anything else you’d like to shout from the rooftops?

Stray: Food, Housing, and Health Care are Human Rights!

straymusic.bandcamp.com
facebook.com/musicstray

New Protest Music Literature: Music Is Power: Popular Songs, Social Justice, And The Will To Change (Video)

In 2020 protest musicians continue to make music and writers also continue to document that music. Fresh onto the bookshelves is Music Is Power: Popular Songs, Social Justice, And The Will To Change which for any audience of Shouts and followers of protest music might just be of interest.

A wonderful video can be found after reading the first passages of the book. The author, Brad Schreiber, insists that it is “greatest antiwar song ever created is by a group you have likely never heard about. See for yourself with the video below:

“once again we hear the word “precision”
from people who think bombs can be precise
we hear “the price of fighting terrorism”
from people who don’t have to pay that price
we see a cloud where there should be a college
we see a reservoir reduced to soil
and though they now admit that the marketplace was hit,
they didn’t hit the Ministry of Oil

what they call a military target
is sacred to all soldiers brave and loyal
you can bomb a shrine, you can bomb a power line,
but you never bomb the Ministry of Oil

once again the mayhem they call “warfare”
is followed by the melee they call “peace”
tearing through the stores and the museums
while the US Army played police
how much do you suppose that artwork sold for
as their last remaining food began to spoil
the situation’s bad, but no place in Baghdad
is safer than the Ministry of Oil

the medicine has all been confiscated
and soon there won’t be water left to boil
and one might wonder who’d think up names like “Oil for food”
when what they mean is “Ministry of Oil”

if there’s any logic in the universe
if the future isn’t just absurd
if justice is precise instead of infinite
if freedom is enjoyed and not endured
I’ll take my class out someday on a field trip
past the shells of Shell and Uniroyal
and as they’re roaming round the musty White House grounds,
I’ll say “Kids, this was the Ministry of Oil”

I’ll say “Kids, it was a peaceful revolution,
there weren’t any battles to embroil,
and I’m very glad to tell that not one person fell
it’s an aspect of our history that every child knows well
how we failed to avoid one building being destroyed,
but at least it was the Ministry of Oil.”

http://princemyshkins.com