What the Fuck!? podcast new episode: Punk poet Penny Rimbaud

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”115655″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]In this episode, Index’s associate editor Mark Frary talks to musician, poet and activist Penny Rimbaud, who founded anarchistic punk band Crass in the 1970s.

He talks about why the battle isn’t against Donald Trump but against all US presidencies and why the British are the most repressed in the world. He says the Sex Pistols and the Clash were only playing at being angry.

He also. says everyone should change their name, as he did, and why his poetic namesake is the inspiration behind his new album, Arthur Rimbaud in Verdun, now out on One Little Independent Records.

The high-concept album is based on a fiction constructed by Penny which places the French poet Arthur Rimbaud (who died in 1891) at the historic and tragic battle of Verdun in 1916. It is influenced by the sounds of John Coltrane and the visuals of Jackson Pollock.

Index on Censorship’s What the Fuck!? podcast invites politicians, activists, journalists and celebrities to talk about the worst things going on in the world, why you should care and why you should swear.

Listen to the launch episode with British artist Alison Jackson, famous for her fake photos of politicians and the royal family as she talks about the phenomenon of Donald Trump. The second episode features Harry Potter actor Natalia Tena, who talks about how she became aware of female genital cutting, a practice that affects more than 200 million girls and women around the world.


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Underground music around the world playlist

Acrassicauda concert at The Roxy in Hollywood, 10 June 2010. Credit: Flickr / Bruce Martin

Underground music scenes have begun sprouting up in many countries around the world in the last few years, where previously no such thing existed. These movements have managed, in many cases, to continue despite a continuing trend of censorship in the arts and government repression. Whether it be punks in Indonesia rebelling against Sharia law or hip-hop artists in Mumbai rapping about independence from Britain, people all over the world are fighting for their right to artistic freedom. Here are a few cities around the world where musicians refused to be silenced.

Karachi, Pakistan

Even after social activist and creator of The Second Floor, a cafe that promotes discussion, performance and art, Sabeen Mahmud was murdered by armed motorcyclists in Karachi in April 2015, the experimental and electronic music culture has continued to grow. Refusing to be intimidated into silence, artists like Sheryal Hyatt, who records as Dalt Wisney and founded Pakistan’s first DIY netlabel, Mooshy Moo, and the producing pair of Bilal Nasir Khan and Haamid Rahim, who created the electronic label and collective Forever South, are challenging conventional ideas about the music culture in Karachi.

Aceh, Indonesia

Punk music is one of the ultimate forms of expressing disdain for a system of oppression, so it comes as no surprise that so many youths in Indonesia have embraced the genre with a passion. The punk scene, which grew exponentially following the 2004 tsunami when a great many lost family members and help from the government was less than forthcoming. The hostility and discrimination against the punk subculture came to a head in 2012 when police rounded up 64 youths at a concert, arrested them and took them to a nearby detention centre to have their mohawk hairstyles forcibly shaved. Despite this, bands like Cryptical Death continue to promote their scene and pen songs about resisting repressive government figures.

Yangon, Burma

The vitality of punk music is also present in Burma, where musicians have been advocating for human rights through fast-paced music since around 2007. No U Turn and the Rebel Riot are popular punk groups that routinely rail against a government that they feel is repressive and unjust. No U Turn sounds like a resurrection of Bad Religion-meets-Naked Raygun with a blend of biting lyrics and punishing speed.

Mumbai, India

Indian hip-hop pioneers have been appearing more and more in the last 10 years, with Abhishek Dhusia, aka ACE, forming Mumbai’s Finest, the city’s first rap crew, and Swadesi, another local group whose work they think represents feelings and ideals of many young people in the city. Swadesi, in particular, advocates for social justice within their band’s mission, with working for NGOs and organising events being an important element of their group.

Baghdad, Iraq

Musicians in Iraq have faced a variety of oppressive control, ranging from young people being stoned to death by Shi’ite militants for wearing western-style “emo” clothes and haircuts to Acrassicauda, a popular heavy-metal band from Baghdad, receiving death threats from Islamic militants. Acrassicauda had to flee the country a few years after the USA invaded Iraq, going first to Syria and then to the USA, where they were given refugee status and from where they now continue to make music. They have hopes of touring the Middle East soon but have no idea when they will be able to return to Iraq.

Index on Censorship has teamed up with the producers of an award-winning documentary about Mali’s musicians, They Will Have To Kill Us First,  to create the Music in Exile Fund to support musicians facing censorship globally. You can donate here, or give £10 by texting “BAND61 £10” to 70070.

Russian punk collective Pussy Riot speaks exclusively to Index

A Moscow court has confirmed that three women accused of being members of  Pussy Riot can be held in prison until trial.

Maria Alekhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Ekaterina Semutsevich had appealed against an earlier decision to keep them in detention until 24 June — when they face charges of hooliganism for allegedly staging an anti-Putin performance in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral. If convicted they face up to seven years in prison

Demotix | Anna Volkova All three women claim that they were not among the masked performers at the Cathedral. Two of the three women have very young children who they believe are suffering without their mothers.

The women’s arrests triggered an emotional public discussion about the Orthodox church’s relationship with Russian authorities and society. Radical nationalist movement members have been preventing activists from protesting against the Pussy Riot arrests. The Church, led by patriarch Kirill, who publically supports Vladimir Putin, performed a public prayer in April “against blasphemers”. Kirill’s support of the Pussy Riot prosecution has concerned many religious Russians, who have petitioned for the release of the women.

Members of Pussy Riot who have not yet been arrested are now in hiding. They gave this exclusive email interview to Index on Censorship.

– Did you expect these consequences — arrests, criminal proceedings, your supporters being beaten and insulted by radical nationalists — when you planned your cathedral performance? Would you repeat the performance if you knew how this would end?

– We didn’t expect the arrest. We are a women’s group which is forced to consume the ideas of patriarchal conservative society. We experience each process that happens in this society. Besides, we are a punk band, which can perform in any public place, especially one which is maintained through our taxes. That’s why we would definitely repeat our prayer. It was worth it: look at the awakened pluralism — political and religious!

– The state remains intolerant towards much artistic expression. What about broader Russian society?

– We are trying to educate society and will definitely take the importance of this process into account in our further actions. We expect people to at least look through Wikipedia after watching us on YouTube.

–  What must you do now to avoid arrests?

– After Putin’s inauguration, just wearing a white ribbon on your clothes — a symbol of protest — has become a reason for arrest in Moscow. So we don’t wear them now.

– Will you continue performing? You said that anonymity helps you replace the band members in case they get arrested. Have many people offered to join you? 

– Many people have expressed their wish to participate in our perfomances and we are planning them right now. We don’t consider the patriarch[y]’s ignorant opinion and are not going to perform any protest songs against him personally.

– The Russian Orthodox church, according to notable human rights activists, has lost its right to establish moral standards after having severely condemned you, as did some intellectuals who preferred not to notice your persecution. Who, in your perspective, is likely to take their place?

– We think that one can learn moral values through literature, music and art, but definitely not in church. And as far as people are concerned, any human being who advocates humanistic ideas should support any prisoner who has lost her freedom because the authorities are afraid to give up their power.