Across Europe these days people are experiencing soaring temperatures and devastatingly unusual heat. Nearby, in one of the geographically largest countries on the planet, wildfires in Russia are spreading at an alarming rate. In Iceland, a memorial plaque has been created for first glacier in the country that has fallen victim to climate change.
So The 1975‘s recent release of their new song that features the voice of Swedish activist Greta Thunberg is timely, to say the least. The track builds up beautifully and dramatically woven entirely through and around Greta’s speech which she, now famously, presented to the United Nations.
Protest music does not have to only be an unknown troubadour with a Guthrie sticker on his/her guitar. It comes in many forms and more importantly, like everything else today like journalism or activism, it must be a collective effort.
This collaboration between The 1975 and Greta Thunberg is a fantastic example of how larger artists can use their voice for good. Greta’s message will now reach countless people, young and old, which is highly important in these times of distorted narratives. The song will not change the problems we are facing, but it can change a mind or two.
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“.