We managed to have a few words with modern day protest song writer, Beldon Haigh, whose latest track ‘Land of Hope’ addresses the current refugee crisis. Make sure to check out the new video below too!
Beldon, why write a song about refugees?
People seeking asylum, fleeing the dangers of war, having suffered the terrifying effects of war – deserve our support and compassion. I have been disturbed to see how refugees have been treated over the last 18 months. Their story is not told frequently enough with compassion, they are treated as political footballs and they have been ruthlessly misrepresented and exploited by right wing political groups in order to further an isolationist political agenda. And sadly that strategy has been effective. The level of fake news about refugees is off the charts and as a society we don’t seem to be too concerned about that. What we are seeing today is a humanitarian crisis of biblical proportions but the response of many is to frame these very desperate people as modern day pariahs and lepers. It’s a total disgrace. More artists need to sing about this kind of thing, it is far more important than for example, singing about getting wasted.
Why do you think bands and artists stay away from protest songs?
Within the main music industry, the act is often completely controlled by their label and management. In practical terms that means they sing what they get told to sing or they are told what they can sing about. Quite often they aren’t even allowed to write the songs or all of the songs themselves. Also the system of talent scouting using A&R has been to a large extent replaced by song/popularity contests and public votes. So its not a commercial environment which is going to back anything that could be too controversial. You can’t really blame the industry. Like any industry, they are in it to make money, they are in it to get TV ratings, they never claimed any social purpose or agenda. Doing political or controversial things is polarising, it splits the audience, it prevents an artist from being a brand (like soap powder) that everyone can buy. So automatically that means politics is a risk – and industry of any type hates risk. In my humble opinion the music industry tries to create the perception that it is cool and edgy and it enjoys risk. But selling songs using sex and swearing is actually commercially a very safe thing to do. They know what they will get a return on. They invest in stuff they know will sell and avoid the stuff that they think is risky. Its always been that way really. That’s why EMI sacked the sex pistols shortly after signing them. Too risky. But what that means for the music consumer is that today there is in fact less choice because the more investment there is behind an act, the less likely they will do anything that is genuinely different, risky, controversial – there is a lot of control in place from label and management and the bigger they are, the more points of risk to consider.
Talk some more about Land of Hope – who are indiGO and what is their involvement.
I’ve known Ben and Holly at IndiGO for a few years now. They are truly inspirational and selfless people who are incredibly committed to indiGO’s mission and truly embody everything you’d love to believe the leaders of a charity embody. They are very hands on and involved in providing support to refugees in places like Lesbos and Thessaloniki. They don’t just prove support and help, they have been appointed by Help Refugees (another amazing charity) to coordinate the work of aid agencies on the ground in Greece. When I wrote and recorded the song I sent it to Ben and Holly and asked them if they’d be ok with indigo Volunteers being the beneficiary of the proceeds and they were very happy about that. indiGO has a really interesting approach because they don’t just raise funds and provide support, they also organise volunteering – so for people really interested in helping and can spare the time – IndiGO Volunteers is a great place to go.
What sort of reaction have you had to Land of Hope so far.
It’s early days but so far very very supportive. People like the song, they love the video, they get the message and they see it as important to keep this issue front of mind. Of course there are detractors too, those who like to believe the fake news, but that’s life. One day soon hopefully there will be a realisation that we are all in this together.
What is next for Beldon Haigh
Something very different is coming in eight weeks…please watch this space. In the meantime please enjoy Land of Hope, buy the single, share the song and video, like our Facebook page and connect on Twitter!