CULTDREAMS have always been aware that music isn't just noise.
Well, sure, it's noise - thrilling, inspiring, often bracing - but it's nothing without plugging into the situations and circumstances that spawned it.
In their own way the two-piece have tried to fuse societal endeavours to making music, resulting in some thrilling releases, and a sequence of engaging live shows.
As the pair would freely admit, though, they operate within a wider community, sharing bills, swapping tapes, and shouting out some of the voices also heading down that same road.
New album 'Things That Hurt' lands on August 16th, and with CULTDREAMS hitting Bristol's ArcTanGent this weekend we're granted them space to platform a few of the bands - on both sides of the Atlantic - who are fusing music with activism.
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Proper have just released one of the best records of the year for me. Erik (Vocals/Guitar) speaks out about existing as a queer person of colour in a climate where they don’t necessarily feel accepted, even in their own music scene.
When I’ve previously toured with them, each night Erik would dedicate a song to all the people of colour in the room, and often there wasn’t any.
Proper are pointing out how much more we can do to make our shows, music scene and spaces a lot more welcoming and inclusive to people of other cultures.
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Petrol Girls have been actively standing up and talking about issues outside of the punk community for years. Be that using their platform to raise money for refugees, actively going to Calais to volunteer their time and take supplies, and educate crowds every single show about consent.
More recently one of them has been facing a defamation case against another man in the music community. They are currently raising money under the campaign ‘Solidarity Not Silence’ to cover their legal fees as they don’t get legal aid for defamation cases. You can donate to them over at https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/solidaritynotsilence/
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I first met Koji when I was 17, we played a house show together in Leeds and after they took a break from music we toured together this year.
Koji is one of the most influential people I have met. They have been active in calling out racism in our music scene and wider community. This year they have been part of protests in the US calling for the removal of a Whitney Board member who supplies the police and ICE with tear gas.
They always talk about things we can do to help others, and help make our world a better place to be.
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War On Women
The first time I saw War On Women play they were collecting sanitary products at their merch to donate, as well as giving them away to people that might need them at the same time. They have always actively acknowledged world issues, and aren’t afraid to speak about politics on stage.
No topic is off guard for Shawna (vocals) and after meeting her last year we spoke a lot about shutting down bad behaviour and different ways we can approach it when we see it from the stage.
Outside of the band Shawna has written a book called ‘Making Spaces Safer’ and she goes into places and educates them and runs workshops on how to do it. You can buy it here: https://www.akpress.org/making-spaces-safer-6329.html
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Big Joanie are currently changing the face of punk. Their involvement in First Timers London and Decolonise Fest, making inclusive environments for people of colour to make and play music in. Chardine (Drummer) works on the London Stop Racism Campaign, and the band have spoken on panels and done talks and continue to give their voices and their time alongside the band.
There is a lack of black feminism in punk and Big Joanie are encouraging there to be more of it. I last caught them supporting Bikini Kill, they came on stage and said ‘We’re Big Joanie, and we’re a black feminist punk band’ and the roar that came from the crowd in response to that was incredible.
It was really powerful, and I can’t wait to see what they do next.
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La Dispute are a perfect example of a band of men that are using their stage and their stature as a band for good. Their shows are accessible, they do safe lighting, they do gender-neutral toilets, they donate profits from their merch to charities in need, and they invite organisations to stall at their shows.
When I see this happening on a large scale, through bigger booking agents and concert promoters I keep asking myself ‘Why isn’t every band out there doing this? Because it’s 100% possible.’
The real answer to that question is often cis-men don’t even think about it because these things don’t directly affect them, but La Dispute see the need for this and ask for it.
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Dream Nails are hugely committed to being in control of their shows. The thought they put into their live sets are hugely about the crowd they want to play to, and making space for women and non-binary people to exist and enjoy themselves at the front without having to worry about the people around them.
Every show they have a women and non-binary people to the front’ policy, and ask any cis-men in the crowd to move backwards and make space.
They receive a huge amount of love and respect for doing this from people that often are intimidated to move forward because of the space and lack of consideration men at punk shows display towards people around them.