Legendary producer and musician Brian eno is no stranger to activism. Some of his extra curricular activities include being an elected member of the Coordinating Collective along with Noam Chomsky and 10 others, president of the Stop the War Coalition and now he has started his own campaign fighting for the freedom of political prisoner and journalist Julian Assange.
“Journalism survives in an atmosphere of freedom and we’re gradually closing that down now. On December 19th, which is the day of his hearing, we want to swamp the Home Office with emails to protest his innocence. This is important not just for Assange but for the future of journalism, and the future of holding governments to account for what they do.”
For more information about the campaign that was co-founded by Ann Wright (retired United States Army colonel and retired U.S. State Department official, known for her outspoken opposition to the Iraq War) and Medea Benjamin (an American political activist, best known for co-founding Code Pink) click the image below.
In addition to fighting for the freedom of the press, on Monday the 9th of December, few days before Thursday elections in the UK, Eno released a jolly song that sarcastically criticizes the UK government and tells of the hardship poor, homeless and working people have to endure in the country.
Julian Assange founded Wikileaks in 2006 as an highly innovative journalism project that stays truer than most to the un-biased, watchdog rules of journalism ethics – no matter how much so many poser journalists disagree.
In 2010 Wikileaks published several leaks revealing the war crimes and horrible international offenses made by the United States army and government starting with the Collateral Murder video.
After these revelations the hard oppression began against Assange and Wikileaks and from 2012 and for roughly seven years Assange remained in political asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Today Julian Assange is being kept in the HM Prison Belmarsh in London. The United States government is fiercely trying to extradite him to the U.S. where he would most likely be imprisoned for the rest of his life. For his journalist work.
Veteran protest music singer David Rovics tried to visit Assange on while on tour in England recently but as he told me the Belmarsh makes that harder than other prisons in the country: “You need a visitor order to visit prisoners at Belmarsh, unlike other prisons in England, where you just need to show up during visiting hours.”
When I asked David what message he has for the UK and US governments he said: “I’m not sure what message I have for these governments, because they are not interested in anything people like me have to say.
They know what they’re doing. They’re trying to hide the truth, that these governments are run by war criminals, imperialists, bankers stealing our collective wealth and leaving most of us in poverty. It’s completely intentional.
My message is for those who might actually be listening, among the populations of the US, the UK, and elsewhere. It is up to us, the task of changing our corrupt systems. And we do have the power, if we organize collectively on a massive scale and exercise it. If we don’t, no one else will.”
For six consecutive years Wikileaks has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and won a great deal of awards for its journalist work.
It is the responsibility of the journalist to let citizens know if the people in power are misusing their powers. No one can argue against that. That, and only that, is what Julian Assange and Wikileaks have consistently done.
If Assange gets extradited to and imprisoned in the U.S. precedent will have been set and every single honest journalist on this planet will be in danger.
According to some, electronic music used to be political but now it has ‘lost its edge‘. Mat Ward is fully aware of this and now does his utmost best to make his music sit just right, dangling the feet over the edge with the headphones blasting.
His latest album is self described as ‘a chill trap album about surveillance’ and it features titles such as ‘The Value of Metadata’, ‘Undersea Cable’ and ‘Holed Up In The Ecuadorian Embassy’.
The album subtly flows on, at one moment you almost forget yourself until you realise you have been swept away by the music and it has become an echoing, cool soundtrack in your brain. A bit like surveillance. You might know it is there, but it does more than you think while you loose your mind to other things.
Mat’s new album, due out in January, is a new concept and his current 9-5 profession: the media. For Mat is a journalist by day and a trap music maker by night. We have been listening to the unreleased album and it is stellar. It opens with much more of a bang in comparison to the more chill, previous album. Which fits well, for the media screams much louder than surveillance. Both concepts are large and complicated but Mat gives them structure and builds sonic landscapes that easily sweep you away.
We contacted Mat and asked him a few questions about his concept music. In addition we have a special 3-song preview off the upcoming album which Mat made exclusively for the Shouts project. Check out the new music below as well as the interview with Mat.
Has your music always been political?
“Yes, my music was political from the start, most probably because my two obsessions are music and politics.
I felt Provocalz was such a great poet that he should reach a far wider audience. But his music was not on any of the big music platforms because he always rapped over unlicensed music, as many underground rappers do. So I started making original music for him just in the hope that he could upload it onto the big platforms – Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon and the rest – to reach the audience I felt he deserved. I made about 40 songs in his style – dark, emotional, piano-driven hip-hop – but after he’d laid down vocals on four of them, he got pissed off with the whole rap scene and gave up rapping. That was in 2016, but the four-track EP came out only this year. It’s my favourite thing I’ve done, music-wise.”
Why did you choose surveillance as the concept for ‘Five Eyes’? Why is it an issue you care about?
“Well, the funny thing about that album is it was the best of all the leftover songs that I’d done for Provocalz. I didn’t want anyone else to rap on them as I’d made them for him, so it’s just an instrumental album, but it needed a theme. I always prefer music with a message, even if it’s only in the song titles. Provocalz had actually used one of the songs for “Behind Enemy Lines” on the EP, in which he raps about Aboriginal kids being abused in jail. I really liked the intricate bassline I’d come up with on that one, so I thought it stood up as an interesting instrumental on its own, without any rapping.
On the Five Eyes album, that song became “Holed Up In The Ecuadorian Embassy“, to highlight another Australian injustice, that of Australian citizen Julian Assange being abandoned by his government and incarcerated. That’s the link between the EP and the album. I’d read a lot of books both by Assange and about Assange, a lot of which touch on surveillance, so a lot of the rest of the song titles came from the information in those books.”
Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming album and the new concept?
“Yep, I’m actually a journalist – that’s my day job. I started a music fanzine in my teens, did my school work experience on my local paper, earned a postgraduate in journalism, became a reporter and features writer on national newspapers, then became a subeditor and I’m now an online editor.
I think everyone should think critically about the job they do – especially journalists, who are supposed to be critical thinkers. Anyone who looks at journalism critically can see there’s a lot to be criticised. If you’re interested in seeking out the truth, as all journalists should be, you’ll consume the news from as many different sources as possible and you’ll quickly see there’s a huge difference in the way the news is reported by the corporate media and non-corporate media. (If any readers are not familiar with those terms, by corporate media I mean mass media or mainstream media run by corporations, and by non-corporate media I mean not-for-profit media, usually run by political activists.) All news is biased. If you’re only reading the corporate media – or only reading the non-corporate media – you’re missing half the story.
It’s for this reason that, 10 years ago, I started doing voluntary work for the non-corporate media. This kind of pro bono work is common in other professions, but unknown in journalism and even seen as heresy. For the past few years I’ve been writing a monthly political music column for the non-corporate media that always gets thousands of views and has been shared by the likes of Public Enemy’s Chuck D, Rage Against The Machine’s Tom Morello, Ministry’s Al Jourgensen and drag star Ru Paul. I think that’s how you found me. There’s a huge hunger out there for music with a message, as you’ve no doubt seen with this great blog of yours.
So, in an age when the president of the United States dismisses any news report he dislikes as “fake news”, this new album of mine, Filter Bubble, takes a look at the criticisms that can legitimately be levelled at the corporate media. Although nowhere near as sensational as Donald Trump’s tweets, these quiet truths are often just as disturbing.
Below, you can stream and download a three-track sampler of the album for free, which I put together for this blog. You can click through to Soundcloud for more details on what each song means. Stylistically, this album’s a cross between future bass and jungle – call it “future jungle” or “future drum n bass” – which I don’t think has been done before.