As David Byrne correctly points out, some newspapers and media like to believe that there is no protest music anymore. But the truth is that if anyone bothers to look beyond the popular surface they can see that there is always someone singing, that the world is still a pretty bad place for a lot of people, animals and nature and there is always someone fighting to change that.
Check out Byrne’s curated playlist below and get into the resistance mood for the upcoming holidays.
Cover image: screenshot from Jawan Safadi’s fundraising video
Some musicians sing in protest for those that live under oppression and raise awareness about various injustices happening around the world. Others live in that injustice and make music about their very personal experiences. Jowan Safadi belongs to the latter group.
For over 20 years Jowan has been singing about the human existence he knows as life in Palestinian territories. After having been threatened, arrested and oppressed by both Israeli and Jordan authorities for singing his songs he is far from giving up and now has 2 new albums that he is raising funds for.
Stay Away From The East and Sing For it (إبعد عن الشرق وغنيله) will feature 10 songs in Jowan’s traditional protest manner and inspired by “the frustrating political reality, our struggle for justice, freedom of speech and the escape to the west”. Jowan stresses that it is also important for him to sing about love and other human features for although his home land requires of him to use his voice politically he also believes that “in the beauty of personal art, and our need to sing about everything else that inspire us to think and feel; to make art for being all too human. Between songs of the heart and those of the mind, I try to find the balance to create authentic and honest music.” These songs will fill the second album, 7obsessions (حُبسشنز).
I spoke with Jowan via Facebook and asked him if there were others like him, in his close surroundings, critically singing about unjust governments to which he replied that there was not enough: “A thriving Palestinian rap scene can often be political. Unfortunately critique of religious oppression and brain wash is still an untouched taboo in local music. I would say what I do is more critical of the whole system, than just this government…”
Jowan will be touring in support of his new albums and recommends anyone interested to follow tour updates through his Facebook page. International concerts will be limited because as Jowan told me: “…it’s hard to reach my audience outside the internet, as it’s not really safe for me to perform everywhere.”
Lastly, as with everyone we interview at Shouts, I asked Jowan if there was anything he wanted to shout from the rooftops: “No preaching intended, but seriously don’t fear loneliness. Get the best out of it. Get to know yourself and be creative in finding ways to entertain and enrich yourself. when singles come together.. they make the best albums. my next album “Stay Away from the East and Sing for it” includes 10 Arabic post punk anthems in the face of our reality. You can help me finish working on it by contributing to the production on my Indiegogo page. Much appreciated“.