20th Feb 2012
-What is the Revolution in Your Pocket?
It is revolution with a small r, one that makes things more convenient for the individual. We can now customise music to suit our individual needs. Apparently this technological advance is what is amazing about music today, not the music itself.
It makes the idea of revolution personal and inward-looking -Not "Change The World" but "Change Your World".
It makes it normal to want to change culture to suit yourself rather than making the inconvenient demand that people change themselves.
-How did the idea first dawn on you? Or, when did you first coin the phrase?
It was when the iphone first arrived in our shops. The arrival was heralded by a marketing whirlwind that kept telling us how revolutionary this new gadget was. Like all the best songs, it started with mild irritation. If a word gets used over and over, its meaning is in danger of being devalued.
-The song has been around for a while in different forms. It feels like it might be your signature song...
Yes - it nearly drove me insane.
-Which musicians and thinkers have influenced this EP?
Obviously the spirit of Gil Scott Heron hovers over it. The main idea lyrically was a reversal of The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, as in the line, "Its been televised so many times that I have memorised every line". This is not a criticism of Gil Scott Heron but an acknowledgement that we live in constant faux-rebellion. There is constant reference to it throughout culture. From Rebel without a Cause to Rage against the Machine. "You can't rebel against the system because rebellion is the system." This is from The Rebel Sell by Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter, about the marketing of rebellion in pop culture. We have been raised on rebellion from an early age. We have been instructed to rebel, which is of course ridiculous.
-There seems to be a lot of work coming out of Zang these days critiqueing pseudo-rebellion...
Well there's a lot of it about. I think it will get to a point, in fact it is already here, where people won't be able to tell the difference between a "revolutionary" aesthetic and genuine revolutionary material. This is because everything comes through the channel of corporate rock. We have forgotten everything we learned from Public Enemy, Bob Marley, the Beatles etc. We've got to learn it all again.
-Do you believe that music could ever be a revolutionary force again? How?
An individual-centred approach to music consumption has led to a highly fragmented scene. We will have to realise this if we want musical movements to come back.
-Does it bother you that many people will listen to this EP with their ipods?
I don't necessarily have a problem with ipods themselves. I'm questioning the cynical appropriation of the language of revolution as a means of selling products.