Sunday, 24 April 2016

Gruff Rhys - I Love EU

My new song genuinely came to me in a daydream whilst I was trying to tune-in my faulty DAB radio. I heard a snippet of news about this badly timed referendum on staying/leaving the EU and suddenly it hit me hard how much I’d miss it if the UK, true to it’s tradition of recreational vandalism managed inexplicably to kick itself out of this sophisticated European nightclub.
The club itself? Well it’s a very complex warren of a nightclub with many rooms playing very different songs. People rarely dance to the same tune but it’s the best night out. This song is basically just an attempt to make an emotional case for Mother Europe – this flawed, fantastic, potentially Utopian mega-club that I’ve been lucky enough to grow up in.
My initial idea was to record an undercover song that could be played to xenophobes as a regular love song. I had no inkling that I was going to be writing this particular song on that day but somehow or other that’s how things turned out so I went with it. In the end I didn’t want to sit on the fence so I called it “I Love EU”.
This song isn’t about definitive political policy detail but about the genuine friendship I’ve felt as a touring musician living in the EU – which, as a child of the 1970s, is all I’ve ever known.
In his autobiography, Tropical Truth, the Brazilian singer Caetano Veloso once wrote of his continued belief in the illusion of Brazil as a tropical beacon of inclusion even when he himself had been famously detained in solitary confinement then exiled by a military government for singing subversive psychedelic Yoruba-beat pop songs in green plastic trousers.
Equally it can be helpful despite of the real threat of an undemocratic corporate take over to continually imagine the parallel universe Europe of our wildest idealist dreams.
This very complex warren of a nightclub It’s still under construction and there’s some serious structural problems and some of the speakers have blown out but Connie Plank and Marlene Detricht are sorting it out as we speak. The bouncer is trying to keep people out but there’s a massive hall inside that could hold a lot of those people queuing. This weekend sees the Euro Classics Weekender grace it’s dance floors. Daft Punk, Kraftwerk, Giorgio Moroder and Black Box are all playing. Abba, Brigitte Fontaine and Can and are on tomorrow. Sade, Stereolab, New Order and Technotronic play Sunday afternoon whilst Andy VOTEL and Mina Minerva are preparing a season of Baltic electro for next month. Picasso is on visuals. Ibiza is the outdoor section where the smokers and vapers seem to congregate.
Nobody in their right minds want to leave, but like any paradise there are flip sides.
Current management are trying to charge people for drinking the tap water – but it’s conceivable that the membership can arrange a take over in time and share it out. It seems to be worth it in the long term as when there was a bunch of separate clubs in town there used to be a lot of fights at closing time and now we can share the costs of the door security and the beer supplier.
Listen, don’t get me wrong – I’m just a romantic club singer but I can obviously see there’s lots to change about the lack of transparency and democracy of the current elitist EU night club. There are bullshit VIP rooms where our elected representatives are not let in. I’ve a lot of time for many of the arguments about leaving the current form of the EU for this reason but my personal hunch is that in the throes of this current colossal migrant crisis the Leave campaign as it is just provides a platform of hate for those who carry the burden of nostalgia for war and Empire. Whilst there is leadership in the case against TTIP and promising organisations like dIEM25 (who are campaigning for a Democratic Europe by 2025) in place it seems to me to be worth pursuing with this ambitious post war plan to rid the continent of war and fascism.
The arrogant, reckless British Prime Minister David Cameron set the June date for this referendum in the face of protests from the first ministers of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland who are all in the middle of their own election cycles and in Wales’s case, with no thanks to the aforementioned Prime minister, facing a further catastrophic collapse of industry. When extreme governments like the current one are in power in Westminster, the EU seems like a comparative sanctuary of sanity. The largely progressive Celtic bloc have made alliances throughout Europe with other smaller nations that once were near suffocated by the monocultural outlook of the colonial era. From this perspective, which is true for me – the EU is also symbolic of liberation and co-operation.
Whilst we imagine and design the golden, democratic, ‘Welfare not Warfare’, left bank, parallel universe EU of the future, to jump from the EU club now I fear could only strengthen the worst xenophobic advocates of extreme free trade that would maintain and intensify Cameron’s Britain as the horrific cesspit for privateers, frackers, arms industry fairs and elitist monarchic oligarchs that it’s become and further undermine the welfare state, the environment and long term industry.
It will of course take a lot of work from diverse groups of journalists, activists, artists, workers and politicians from all over the continent to ensure that this isn’t enshrined as the pan-European norm. As a writer of dumb rhymes, for what it’s worth – this song is my meager contribution and with this forced referendum choice upon me today, personally I’d love my kids to continue to experience the full diversity of Europe that has helped enliven our community. The off-shore elites wont care if the majority can’t travel and work freely within Europe anymore. The problem for any golden age is to recognise itself. Time usually does the trick, unfortunately we’ve only got till June 23rd. I Love EU.
Please consider voting to stay in the EU on June 23rd and please vote out as many right wing climate change-denying nutters wherever you are in the forthcoming local and national elections on May 5th.
Maybe have a look at
Consider a postal vote if you’re overseas.
With Thanks:
After a chance, encouraging conversation with Robin Turner where upon I happened to mention I had a positive number concerning the EU written, I immediately phoned Simon Jones from the Cymru Beats synth emporium and asked if I could come over and record it. Simon produced it – that initial session took about 4 hours. We finished it the day after. Simon took it to Donal Whelan at Hafod Mastering to finish it off. In the meantime Mark James Works made the incredible lyric video in a similar fever of urgency. Thanks to all at Turnstile, Caroline, and Dean at PPL for helping me fill in the forms that need filling and sorting things out to get the music out there in a hurry. Thanks to Dark Arts, Berlin for moisturising the unfamiliar skin of Facebook and occasionally some other futuristic medias on my behalf. Thanks to Super Furry Animals for putting up with me. Come and see us on tour!

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