Dave Randall: Activist Musician | Podcast Interview Transcript
DAVE I'm Dave Randall. I'm a musician, a writer and a political activist.
RENA Dave Randall is a guitarist who has toured with Faithless, Sinead O’Connor and Dido. As an activist, he has campaigned for Love Music Hate Racism, Freedom for Palestine and the People’s Assembly Against Austerity. This year, he released the third album under his band Slovo titled Bread and Butterflies, which he finished under lockdown. In 2017, he released a book, Sound System, the Political Power of Music. We discussed his ongoing fascination with the way politics and music are intimately connected, from the anti-establishment raves of the Thatcher years in Britain to Beyonce’s engagement with the Black Lives Matter conversation.
This is Future Heist, conversations with people making change. My name is Rena Niamh Smith.
Thank you so much for sitting down with me today. My first question is about your new album. And of course, 2020 has given us a lot of things to be worried about, and, issues facing the world seem to be getting worse. And your album addresses things such as climate change, neo liberal economics, depravation, and the lockdown; but you've said of the album that "this feels like such a strange and pivotal time to be alive. We've tried to explore the issues affecting us all and to capture some of the feelings that they invoke. But above all, this is an optimistic album born of the belief that a better world is possible." So can you tell me a little bit about the need to both look at the hardships of life, but also to find the positive?
DAVE Well, I think that in order to make the world a better place, we need to confront the areas in which humankind are falling short at the moment. You know, we can't just use music and art to distract us and to make us feel better. We actually need to use music and art to confront those issues. I think it was the great Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci. If I'm wrong, then I'm sure your listeners will enjoy correcting me! But I think it was Gramsci who said "we need pessimism of the intellect, but optimism of the will". And I've always understood that to mean this sort of thing, this idea that we need to look very seriously at the problems that confront us, but we need to be optimistic about our collective ability to change them.
And I do remain optimistic. Actually, when you look at the way that most people reacted both to lockdown; contrary to the government's fears, the government was apparently planning how to deal with riots, and massive civil unrest. And actually, of course, what happened was ordinary people responded with great altruism and generosity and mutual support groups were set up immediately and WhatsApp groups to make sure that everybody had what they needed. And then, of course, the outpouring of anger at the murder of George Floyd later on into lockdown and the huge Black Lives Matter protests all around the world. So, you know, these are examples for me of the collective hunger for change that exists in the world at the moment. And I think that if that can be harnessed in an effective way, then we can arrive at a better world. So I do remain optimistic.
The question, of course, is what we do next, how we harness this new awareness, how we how we action it, how we actually make sure that things do change. That's the big question now.
RENA Yes, absolutely, which segues really nicely into my next question, actually. I wanted to quote that book that you wrote in 2017, Soundsystem: The Political Power of Music, which is a very good book. You wrote: "if we want to erode the alienation we experience in our everyday lives, we must build trust, confidence and solidarity in our communities. We must get to know our neighbours. There are few better places for that to begin than on an impromptu dance floor, in a pub, park, street or tenement block."
DAVE Yeah, it's always been a fascination for me, the ways in which music and politics converge and the ways in which music can be used both to keep us in our place and distract us, but also the ways in which music can be used by ordinary people to advance progressive politics.
RENA And so I wanted to think about this idea of individual versus collective action, because I'm thinking, for example, of the Black Lives Matter protests that we've seen recently. And there's been there's been a lot of discussion around things that can be done about racism. And one of the things that's been said is the individual approach. So looking, for example, at white privilege and white people studying their own behaviours. Why do you think it's more important to look outwards and to build change with others, and how can music help us to do that?
DAVE I think it's very important to recognise that racism, certainly in its modern form, is systemic. It is built from the logic of the capitalist system. I'm not saying it's a bad thing to take a good, long look at yourself and your own behaviour. And I would certainly urge individuals to go and read good books like Akala's book, Natives, and there are many others. But in order to really defeat not only racism, but also misogyny, homophobia, all of the things that divide us in order to defeat those things, we need to unite and actually change the way the world is organised economically.
The origins of modern racism can be traced to attempts to divide and rule workforces, be it slaves being transported who were mutinying, or workers on the factory floor uniting to demand better conditions. An easy way for the owner of the factory or the huge companies that were trading in human beings, an easy way for them to break that sort of resistance is to divide people according to race. And I think that's very important to recognise that it's a systemic economic issue in origin and has to be dealt with as such.
I'm a materialist in the Marxist sense, and one of the things that I mean by that is that I believe that if we unite to try to change the world, then that experience itself will transform us, probably more effectively than reading lots of books on our own in isolation will. In other words, if there's a rent strike on an estate because they haven't fixed the lifts or they haven't made the cladding safe; if there's a rent strike and people stand shoulder to shoulder and the neighbours on this particular estate, let's say, come from all different nations and they are of all different ethnicities, I think that sort of action to change the world will break down prejudices much more effectively than introspection on your own in an atomised world. So, yes, a collective struggle is very important, not only to change the way that you understand the world, but also to change the world itself. So, yes, I'm a great believer in collective struggle, and I think that the problems that we face are fundamentally systemic.
It gives a greater context to what I argue in the book, what the role of music in communities can be, because, of course, we've been denied the opportunity to come together, at gigs and block parties and for choir practice in village church halls. We've been denied the opportunity to do those things. But luckily, people have found other ways to come together and get to know one another and celebrate each other, which is really what music is all about at a community level.
RENA I wanted to return to what you were talking about in your book, because you have this very interesting chapter, which is the effect of neo liberalism on music. And I was thinking about how you were talking about the effect of Thatcherite politics and then the growth of illegal raves and how people really wanted to sort of come together and, of course, under lockdown, as you say, we haven't been able to have gigs and things, but we've seen a return of the illegal rave. So I wondered what you thought of that.
DAVE One of the central arguments I make in the book, is that all of culture, including music, is politically contested. The rulers, throughout history and across cultures, they have understood that music has a political power and they have tried to harness it to advance their particular agenda. And ordinary people, conversely, have also used music to articulate, their wants and needs and ambitions. The story of dance music is an interesting example of this, because when, in the days of the Thatcher government here in Britain, when working class communities were absolutely being attacked, public spending being slashed, unemployment spiking, industries being closed down and all the rest of it, in those very bleak days of Britain in the mid to late 1980s, people were being told by the Prime Minister that there is no such thing as society. That was one of Thatcher's famous quotes. But I think ordinary people rejected that and built a sense of community at a time when that was very difficult to do. They built a sense of community around music. And so the illegal raves sprang up and they became the most significant cultural innovation in the late days of Thatcher's Britain. And I think that that's not a coincidence. I think it was directly a response, directly a pushback against that bleak kind of “there is no such thing as society” message.
DAVE Now, what happened next, of course, is that the music industry was relatively quick to co-opt those ideals of the free raves, the anti-capitalist ideals that would have been discussed in caravans of coaches trundling across the countryside. The ideals of the free rave were quite quickly switched into super clubs, which were hugely expensive to get into, and VIP areas behind the velvet rope and high-earning celebrity DJs and so on. So it was very quickly co-opted by the mainstream music industry. In the book, one of the things I ask is how that happened, how is it that music is co-opted and how can we make it more difficult for the mainstream music industry to co-opt music in that way and to sanitise it, politically speaking? And I discuss that in the book. One of the conclusions I come to is that music is most effective when it's directly linked to a broader political movement, which rave wasn't really. There was there was a small movement against the Criminal Justice Act in 1994. Significant, but rave was not connected to a broader political movement in the same way that the music of the civil rights movement was, for example. And that made it vulnerable to being co-opted in the ways that I've described.
I think the illegal raves now, they've probably got a similar sort of atmosphere. I haven't been to any. But I think the context is very different. I don't think we should uncritically celebrate the illegal raves now, because lockdown is something which I think we need to take seriously. I think the government isn't taking the threat of Covid 19 seriously enough, and it's doing that for ideological reasons. You know, it just wants the economy back to normal no matter what impact that has on the population. So, I think the context is very different and therefore, the way that we interpret the political and social meaning of these raves is different. The young people who go on these raves, I think their intentions are probably good, but I don't think it's something that we should uncritically support.
RENA As you talk about in the book, culture is often created in very democratic ways I'm thinking about the way you talk about the history of Carnival and how that began as an anti slavery experience, but then big business moves in to co-opt it.
DAVE I think the mainstream music industry is becoming more narrow. I think it would be more difficult for four working class lads from Liverpool to have the sort of success that the Beatles enjoyed in the 60s. I think that would be harder now, because pop stars are disproportionately from wealthy backgrounds and big hit songs are, on average, written by, I think, four and a half people. In other words, you've kind of got pop songs by committee now in these big record companies. And, of course, you've got the impact of all the sorts of competitions that we've seen proliferate over the past 10 years, the Pop Idol, the Voice and so on. All of these things, I think, are problematic.
But in the end, what matters are the mass movements of the streets. There's a limit to which the mainstream music industry can control things. And therefore, if a mass movement like the Black Lives Matter movement reaches a critical mass, if it reaches a tipping point whereby, it's being talked about by ordinary people in workplaces, on estates and all the rest of it, if these questions have been forced into the mainstream narrative, then pop stars will very often choose to respond. Well, they won’t have to, but they will very often choose to respond.
And of course, Beyoncé is a good example of one of the world's biggest pop stars responding to the Black Lives Matter movement, which very much began with political activists and the families of those affected by police brutality in the US taking to the streets. So that's the most important thing, in my opinion. It's that these political movements that can actually change the conversation that's going on in society. And if we can help to foment that sort of bottom-up change, that change from below, if we as political activists can help to foment that, then even the mainstream music industry will respond in some way, shape or form. And very often, I think when pop stars do reflect movements back at people that can help. You know, I actually think that Beyoncé's intervention, both in 2016 and just now, has been useful. You know, it helps to keep the conversation going with the greatest number of people. And that's got to be good for building the movement.
RENA You wrote for Counterfire and back in 2016 about the fact that Beyoncé was using symbols of black power at her Super Bowl performance, and yet the concluding line for her, the last line in Formation is "always stay gracious, the best revenge is your paper". And you wrote "Beat the Bastards by Getting Rich” as a convenient conclusion for one of the world's highest earning artists. By her logic, the wealthier she as an African-American woman becomes, the more she is part of the solution. Attempts to paper over class divisions by wealthy black capitalists such as Beyoncé, may also help to divide and dissipate the movement." So for you, is it enough that she raises the consciousness of the movement? Or is it corrosive that there's energy being siphoned off like that?
DAVE Yeah, I don't think the energy is being siphoned off. I think that Beyoncé referencing symbols of black liberation in the way that she did back in that performance of Formation is a good thing because partly because it gives people to have a discussion then about strategy and tactics. And you're right, I disagree with Beyoncé, about strategy and tactics. I don't think that the solution is to look to a black Bill Gates or the development of black capitalism and so on. These are these are old arguments about how to fight against racism.
I am much more with people like Killer Mike who believe in socialism from below, essentially; Killer Mike, the rapper from Run the Jewels, who was very actively campaigning for Bernie Sanders. At the same time, that Beyoncé dropped Formation in 2016, and was again recently up until Bernie Sanders dropping out. So I'm much more with people like Killer Mike and indeed Cornel West. Cornel West has been very good recently.
To quote Cornell West, "it's not enough to have black faces in high places". We must remember that Black Lives Matter had to be created when Barack Obama was in the White House. So it's not enough to have an incredibly rich pop stars like Beyoncé and Jay-Z, or indeed a black president. I think it's good that there are African-American people with cultural weight in America, I don't think it's a bad thing, but it's not the solution. The solution to racism and police brutality and so on, I believe, is tackling the system, which creates racism in the first place. So I think it's about changing the economic system. And in order to do that, I think we need a mass movement from below. But you see, we can have that discussion with a broader audience when people like Beyoncé reflect the Black Lives Matter movement back at people. So I think on the whole, it's a good thing that she's done that. But you do need to then challenge the conclusions that she comes to.
RENA: [With this question about Beyoncé I'm thinking about something you say in Sound System, which is the political role of musicians. And you say, "we have no truck with those who argue that music and politics don't mix. At best, their definition of politics is too narrow. Most likely, they simply aren't courageous enough to admit, even to themselves, that they have no desire to change the world." And I wanted to think about another example that you've written about in the past - Radiohead. When they played a gig in Israel, you wrote an article for The Guardian criticising that decision, because, of course of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. You were quoting lead singer Thom Yorke, in his interview in The Rolling Stone, where he said "protests were an extraordinary waste of energy". And so he is an artist who clearly doesn't want his work to be politicised, he didn't want that decision to be drawn into politics, and yet, of course, it was. Can things be apolitical?
DAVE: It's okay for musicians to write songs about unrequited love or Paris in the spring and so on, so in one sense, I don't believe all art has to be overtly political, but there's no question that all art takes place in a social and economic and therefore political context. Now, some contexts are more politically charged than others.
Going and playing and performing in Israel at the moment is very politically charged. And let's be clear about why that is. It's not because people like me disagree with what the Israeli government is doing. It's not that. The reason why it's politically charged is because Palestinian civil society, not one or two of them, over 170 civil society organisations, women's groups, trade unions and neighbourhood groups and so on, have voted for that non-violent tactic in order to apply pressure on the Israeli government.
And I raise this because people will often say, "oh, Dave, you know, if you're boycotting Israel, then why not boycott America, or why not boycott China? All of these places are responsible for atrocities against people within their populations.” But they're missing the point. The point here is not the boycott is some sort of a universal principle to be applied to every objectionable state. No, it's a political tactic. Usually it's the wrong tactic. Usually, for one reason or another, it won't be effective. But on a few occasions - I mentioned South Africa, that's one example when there was a mass movement against apartheid in the 1980s. The black population, the leadership voted for the boycott is a political tactic that has happened again. In 2006, the Palestinians voted for a boycott, divestment and sanctions, including a cultural boycott.
And therefore, yeah, I think that people like Radiohead have to either acknowledge that they don't care about the way in which Palestinians are being treated by the Israeli government, or they have to be honest about the fact that they think they know better than the Palestinians themselves about how best to change the situation out there.
And I do feel strongly about this issue, because the other thing that people say, on the question of playing in Israel, is the bands going there promote goodwill, they promote peace and so on and so forth. Well, I'll tell you what, I've performed in Israel, I’ve performed with Faithless twice before the cultural boycott was voted for. And I can tell you that it has no progressive impact for the Palestinians whatsoever, us going there and creating a good night out, hopefully, for the ticket holders, a lot of money for the promoters and all the rest of it. I think actually, bands going there lends legitimacy, it gives an impression of business-as-usual in a situation where that shouldn't be the case, where we shouldn't have business-as-usual, where we should be demanding change. So, yes, I think that Thom Yorke is at best naive when it comes to that question. And speaking as a Radiohead fan, I was very disappointed that they took the decision that they did.
RENA You were saying in your book that the Free Nelson Mandela song was something that politicised you early on. And you talk about how you come from a household that wasn't terribly political. But you've got involved in some huge campaigns, you've worked with Stop the War, with the SWP, with Love Music Hate Racism, with the People's Assembly, Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Jeremy Corbyn's successful bid for [Labour] leadership. I wanted to ask you about what drew you into activism and to talk about your political journey. What are some of the things that really motivated you to become to use your voice as a musician for political change?
DAVE As a kid, I remember seeing the Falklands War and then hearing about riots all across the country in the early 80s and so on. And yes, the music, seeing the Specials, Ghost Town and that coinciding with with riots all across the country. By the way, I was very young, I would have been seven or eight at the time. But nonetheless, the questions keep coming, no matter what your what your family are like.
And you're right, in the book, I pinpoint a moment when I was about 14 and the song Free Nelson Mandela came on. I was at a festival and that song came on. And I like to tell the anecdote that that I had no idea who Nelson Mandela was, but by the end of the first chorus, I knew I wanted him to be free. I found that song very compelling at the time. And it wasn't just a song, it was also the experience of hearing it at a festival. So I was surrounded by thousands of people hollering the hook of the song Free Nelson Mandela. So that was a catalyst for me wanting to learn more about global politics.
So initially what was going on in South Africa. But then of course, once you hear about that, you start to make links with the sorts of things that are going on elsewhere, including at home. You start to ask, "well, why is it that Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister at the time, is describing Nelson Mandela as a terrorist, and these thousands of people all around me at this festival are saying that he should be freed?". So the contradictions become more and more evident. And, yes, I became more and more politicised the more I looked into it. Music played its part, including the usual suspects, people like Billy Bragg and so on. And eventually I joined the Socialist Workers’ Party. And that was very educational, as you can well imagine. You know, I learnt a lot from those meetings and the reading that they encouraged me to do. So it was a process.
RENA You've scored some documentaries as well. There's Rebuilding Hope, which is about Sudan; Witness Bahrain, about the Arab Spring; and There is a Field about Palestine. And as a musician, did you see it as using music in a different way or did you see it as kind of a continuation of what you'd been doing before?
DAVE Well, it's certainly a different creative experience, and I absolutely love it. I love composing to picture. I'd like to do more of it. But the reason why I was offered those particular films that you listed, they're all made by - I would describe her as an activist-filmmaker, a very courageous activist and filmmaker, Jen Marlowe, who is based in Seattle and New York. And I was introduced to her because - it was the combination of having done the first Slovo album and being known to be politically engaged. She was looking for the right musicians to collaborate with on, I think, the first one was Rebuilding Hope, the one set in Sudan.
So yes, I was introduced to her and I've worked with her ever since. And you're absolutely right, we just finishing off There is a Field which is which is very interesting actually, because There is a Field is a story about the Israeli army killing a 16-year-old Palestinian. It was first written as a play, and the film that I've been scoring is the play being read by African American Black Lives Matter activists, I think in Los Angeles, somewhere on the West Coast at least. It's a very interesting attempt by Jen to make the links between state violence in Israel with state violence in America, and indeed to make links between the resistance to those things in both countries. I love working on those sorts of films. It's a very different musical process, but very much a continuation of the politics of the political activism.
RENA You've worked with a lot of different artists in your time, some of the most well-known are Dido, Faithless and Sinéad O'Connor. It's very interesting the way that you talk in the book about the alienation that that touring musicians as workers feel and the very particular and dynamics of that work. Was it more difficult to get involved in political activism as a touring musician, or was it actually easier? Because I'm thinking maybe is there more time that you have on the road to read things and to discuss things, or did it affect the way that you got involved in politics at all?
DAVE Yeah, I mean, it certainly affected the way I got into politics. I suppose I believe that if you if you're somebody who thinks the world needs to change - I would identify myself as a socialist, and indeed a revolutionary socialist, although that can be a confusing term for some people - but certainly I'm somebody who believes that we need to try to change the world. And therefore, you use whatever you can to do that, whatever is available to you. Now, when you're working with well-known artists, there are things you can do.
So, on one of the big Faithless U.K. tours, I made sure that Love Music Hate Racism banners were displayed on the big screens just before the band went on, because I think that the tour coincided with an election campaign that the BNP were involved with. The British Nationalist Party were trying to gain support in different parts of the country, so, that was one thing that I was able to do as guitarist to Faithless at the time. And of course, you speak to the artists, you try to persuade Maxi Jazz to do a video for Love Music Hate Racism; you encourage Sinéad O'Connor to wear a hoodie in solidarity with Trayvon Martin, which she did at the time I was working with her, she walked on stage in Dublin with that hoodie, at a time when that was recognised as a symbol of solidarity with Trayvon Martin. You do what you can.
But yes, it can create problems. I mean, that there's an incident I talk about in the book where Faithless's management felt that they needed to rein me in, politically. They thought that my public advocacy of the cultural boycott of Israel might be damaging for brand Faithless, might be damaging, I think, economically, because Faithless by that time had become a huge band. They were signing sponsorship deals with companies like Tesco and Fiat and Coca-Cola. I think a guitarist is banging on about the need to liberate Palestine was not part of the script so far as management were concerned. So, yes, I got my wrists slapped.
The truth is that my relationship with the management of Faithless never really fully recovered. But, you do what you can. And if you upset a few people, I'm afraid that's just part of the gig. It's not something which I have ever set out to do. But if you upset some people, then then you upset some people. The good news is that you also meet other people who agree with you about these political questions. And, of course, they become friends and comrades who will stick around for the rest of your life. I think when you become a political activist, part of what you discover are your real comrades and your real friends, and that that's important.
RENA And for you, have there been moments where you thought, God, am I doing the right thing here? Has there been moments where you've really thought, is this worth it?
DAVE There are certain situations which if I could go back in time, I perhaps would deal with them slightly differently in terms of tone or nuances. But no, I am absolutely proud to be on record as supporting BDS, for example, which was the issue that I fell out with the management and Faithless about, over - the cultural boycott of Israel. I'm absolutely proud to be on record as being an anti-racist. In that sense, I wouldn't change a thing.
But I suppose the other thing is this, is that, yes, I have almost certainly lost out on a few opportunities because I fell out with this individual. But on the flip side, I've met people who are excited to work with me precisely because of my politics. One good example is Jen Marlowe, who I mentioned earlier. When I create music for her films, she's an activist-filmmaker, it's not big budget stuff, but I do get paid, so that's a source of work that wouldn't have come around were it not for the fact that I was being honest about what I think politically.
So, I think you have to be honest. That's true in general. You have to be honest when you're creating music, when you're creating art, and just as you walk through life, you have to try to be honest about who you are and what you think and feel. And you have to trust that that will help you to meet the right people. I would certainly encourage people who want to be more overtly political, either in their music or in their workplace, whatever that may be, I would encourage them to do that. I think it's I think it's a good road to choose.
RENA I wanted to talk about the way that the left has been quite divided in recent years. You talk about the people that you meet along the way of standing up for certain causes. And do you think it's important for the left to unite in a moment like this because we're seeing a real rise in far-right politics? I was just reading this morning about Poland's decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Treaty, which protects women's rights, the newly elected right wing government are pulling out of it. You've been known to work with lots of different organisations and make connections, which is a strategy I really admire personally. I wanted to ask you about the ways that the left can find to unite. Do you think it's important at this time?
DAVE Certainly it's important that the Revolutionary Left unite tactically, with non-revolutionaries. People with a revolutionary perspective need to be bringing those perspectives and those ideas into broader movements. I'm talking about the united front work; campaigns like the Stop the War Coalition, like the People's Assembly Against Austerity, like Stand Up to Racism. Certainly we need to unite with the broader left in that sense. And yes, where possible, I think the revolutionary left should be more united. I say where possible because, of course, members of the revolutionary left don't always agree about strategy and tactics. But I think we would probably all agree that there aren't enough of us. We do need to grow and we need to work together as effectively as possible.
We need to learn from some of the high points. In the context of music and politics, one of the highlights was, of course, Rock Against Racism, which was at its peak just over 40 years ago. What characterised Rock against Racism was exactly the sort of openness. You get the impression that the office back then was a real creative hub with all sorts of ideas feeding in and all sorts of innovative ideas being tried out. So I think we need to be open and creative. And for the time being at least, we need to put the emphasis on extra parliamentary politics, on movements of the streets, on building the trade union movement and building trade union militancy, encouraging trade union leaders to call strikes to defend key workers’ pay and conditions and so on and so forth.
Because the Labour Party aren't going to do that. The Labour Party under Keir Starmer is not fit for purpose. I don't think that that's going to effectively represent the interests of ordinary people anytime soon. And so it's down to us to build the campaigns. The more effectively we work together, the more united we can be, the better.
RENA You're about to become a dad, which is very exciting. It's no doubt going to bring some big changes to your personal life. What political music projects are you working on in the near future?
DAVE I'm very excited about that change. But what am I my doing musically, you asked? Well, there's always quite a lot going on. I might take Slovo live, I might take this album live next year when when we're able to do that, when lockdown is finally lifted. I'd certainly like to do that. And I know that the singer Barbarella is keen to do that too. It looks likely that I'll be working with with a young South African singer doing some production and writing work, which I'm excited about. I've started another book which I'm excited about.
And yes, you're absolutely right, the most important job coming up for me is trying to raise a human being. And that's going to probably be the toughest gig of all! But I'm gonna give it my best shot and try and raise them with them with as little of the muck of ages as possible - that's what Karl Marx referred to, the old-fashioned prejudices as the muck of ages - so, yes, I'm going to try and be a good dad and to raise a progressive kid, so wish me luck!
RENA Do you think a little bit the way you are going to be a dad? Are you going to be a political dad? Are you going to have the conversations when they come up or are you going to be taking them on demos and things like that?
DAVE Oh, look, I'll be myself. You know, I think that's the only person I can be. I'll continue to be me. I'll try to listen carefully to them and to learn from them. I've always imagined that one of the best things about being a parent would be the opportunity to learn from them rather than always the other way around. I'll try to do that diligently and with a lot of care and time and compassion and all the rest of it. But yes, I'll continue to be me. So, I expect they'll grow up around a lot of music and a lot of politics.
RENA That's a very beautiful way of looking at it. How can people support you and what you do?
DAVE Well, that's nice of you to ask that. If people are interested in any of the things that I've said, try the book Sound System: the Political Power of Music that's out on Pluto Press and available in all the usual places. If you want to hear the album that we've been talking about, again, it's available in all of the usual places, all of the streaming platforms, and if you go to Slovo.BandCamp.com, then you can buy a digital or indeed a physical copy directly from me, so that's always a nice thing for me, to receive an order via Bandcamp. So, yeah, thanks for asking, trying the book, try the music!
RENA In the book you cite lots of different, very interesting and people to check out. But I wanted to ask you – it can be a film, a piece of music, or a book - is there anything that comes to mind that's really stayed with you and motivated you to effect change?
DAVE Yes, that's actually quite an easy question to answer, because I have a song on the new album all about one such thing. I've got a song called “Woman on the Edge of Time”, and the song takes its name from the Marge Piercey novel, “Woman on the Edge of Time”, which was written in, I think 1976 or 1978. It's a brilliant work of feminist science fiction. One of the things that really stays with me is her vision of a deeply democratic world where people live much more freely and indeed in harmony with nature. There's also a dystopia which is worryingly familiar to those of us living in in 2020. But it's that vision of a better possible world that has really stayed with me.
RENA [01:23:00] It's really interesting you say that, because actually another one of my guests, Tansy Hoskins, the author, I think she might have cited the same book. So it's very interesting that it's such the inspiration for both of you. My final question then is really thinking about if people haven't really got involved in in politics before, they've got as far as listening to this podcast. How can people get involved in some of the campaigns that you've talked about and some of the some of the issues which and which are most important?
DAVE Sign up, get involved. I mean, that can feel like a big step, but, you know, go for it. Do it. I mean, whatever's taking place locally, turn up and speak to people, be it Black Lives Matter protests, go and speak to the people who seem to be organising it. Find out if there's a way that you can get involved. If you're in the workplace, join the trade union, join a political organisation. I'm not going to say which one you should join. But I think it's good to get organised, it's good to be part of an organisation. It's not particularly fashionable at the moment to be in a trade union or to be in a political party. But I think it's really the only way that we're going to be able to change the world is if we get organised in a serious way. And I think also, speak to people about politics, speak to your neighbours, speak to your work colleagues and see what they say. Don't be too quick to judge them or to disagree with them. Listen carefully to where they're coming from and think carefully about where you're coming from yourself. We do have to clearly communicate what we believe about the world, but we also need to keep examining that. We need to keep learning from each. So go for it! Join organisations, join campaigns. Find out whether you've got a local branch and send them an email. You know, do it. You won't regret it.
RENA Brilliant, that's a that's a really fantastic piece of advice and a great place to end. I just want to say thank you so much for your time today, Dave. It's been so fascinating!
DAVE It's been a pleasure. Thank you.