Captain Moonlight Interview: "I just couldn't take skirting around the issues any more."
arts and media |
Sunday May 20, 2007 15:38 by d'other
The meaningful stare shot
As the wank of the Primetime party leader's debate recedes behind us and the main parties continue to slit each others throats each and every day in a pantomime scramble to the centre, these days it seems, finding even a morsel of inspiration in mainstream Irish politics is as hopeless as expecting coherence from Trevor Sergeant. Thankfully there is one man desperate to avoid the Primetime approach to politics. Ladies and gentlemen, enter Kilkenny's Captain Moonlight...
In this interview the Captain discusses voting, musical influences, Shannon, Shell to Sea and the relationship of Hurling to the anti-capitalist movement. He's also responding to comments and discussing the article.
MP3 download 'Keep to the left there lads...'
Previous story on the Captain. |
Alec Empire Feature |
Captain Moonlight events on Indymedia |
Indymedia Election Stories |
Moonlight's guttural rhyming patterns strike like a lyrical hot poker into the heart of Celtic Tiger Ireland to expose alcohol crippled lives, sharp cultural clashes of class and a deep seated alienation from politics as done, that "same auld, same auld shite." For a flash last year Moonlight received a glare of attention for a track called "Dirty Cunts." The track scratched the face of our gombeen elite with hip hop beats and a visceral abuse tempered with some precision angered comments on developers and corporate Ireland. Keen as usual to avoid a critical discussion about politics, most media obsessed about his dirty, dirty cursing and treated him as a once off hip hop oddity instead.
Moonlight is a very capable musical voice for a slowly growing Irish social movement, a transmission point for social woes that rarely get adequate treatment in the mainstream media, and that is hip hop at its most traditional. Here an Indymedia contributer catches up with the good Captain about politics, that track, voting and the demon delight of booze.
"Party People" is very much about that moment every four years when paristical politicians come knocking on our doors again promising us all sorts of things - "opening wounds just to cut a ribbon" - as you put it in one track, so with the election around the corner, how is Captain Moonlight coping with the circus and will you be voting yourself?
Well to cut to the point, I won't be voting. The simple fact is there is no reason for me to do so. This is not a cynical claim where I don't want to be involved in anyway other than that of a critical bystander. It's that there is no prospect of any real tangible change within the political system. You might get an individual who has his/her heart in the right place but is following the route to the same conclusion. If you get elected what if any significant changes can you instigate? We have parties canvassing for election who are led by people who not only have the motivation of power for its own sake, but they are the mouth pieces for business and wealth.
For instance, locally here in Kilkenny you just have to look at the main electoral prospects. The current TDs are themselves (in the majority) businessmen who have a higher quota of property and wealth than the average Joe they claim to represent. How are they going to initiate change to the benefit of most when they themselves are the ones who would most likely lose out? And when you live in a mediated society there is little or no prospect for the relatively impoverished to get elected as the money isn't there to fight any sort of a campaign. Again there are exceptions but these are a rarity to say the least. This is the problem with what we call a democracy. It can't be truly democratic if by its very make up it is there to benefit the "haves" in a much more significant way than the "have nots."
Also, how can we claim to be a democracy when the majority itself has been undermined by its own elected officials. Take the American Airforce use of Shannon, it's clear that the majority in this country are against its use yet the Irish government under some sort of covert/overt (take your pick) pressure have simply ignored the will of the Irish people by letting a state who are prosecuting a murderous war use our facilities to do so. To me Bertie and his cohorts should be locked up in the Joy. It might teach him two lessons. That he's not above the law and that the state of the prison system is a crime itself.
"Dirty Cunts" is pretty blunt in putting across the "true state" of the Irish political elite but it caused some controversy, a lot of this focussed more on the use of the word "cunt" than the political sentiment within it - how did this make you feel at the time?
To be honest I wasn't surprised as there seems to be the double standard of Irish society raising its ugly head again. The word is quite commonly used in the every day vernacular. Yet I just put it in song and it seems to split people (many of whom agree with the sentiment) over its use. It doesn't bother me as I think in time it won't make much of a difference. I said it as I just couldn't take skirting around the issues any more. It's just not worth taking the Primetime or Questions and Answers approach. For me, dialogue is in itself a farce at this stage. Everyone's talking, but no one is doing a fucking thing about it. That's the motivation for "Dirty cunts."
Its as much an assault on the Irish public for their indifference to making change happen themselves while at the same time remaining indignant to the way these gangsters are running the cunt-ry. Why is the health service fucked? Why are the Shell to Sea campaigners still struggling? Why are those natural resources in the hands of multinational corporations and not the people of Ireland? Why is Shannon being used as a stopover for warmongers? Why do so many struggle to get a mortgage while so few are buying up all the land? The answer to these problems lie at the doorstep of the public and their unwillingness to act.
When did you start making hip hop and was it always politically tinged? Do you think music makes a good vehicle for your politics?
I started writing in 1988 (a long time ago now) I was into groups like Public Enemy, BDP, Eric b and Rakim, Ice T, and Paris. This had a huge bearing on my ideas as it influenced and excited me much more than the more bragging oriented style of other artists. I also developed a great interest in punk groups such as Crass, Conflict and SLF in the nineties so this was bound to have an impact on what angle I would come from. Music does make a good vehicle for what I do as hip hop has in its make up the perfect format for saying something that maybe other forms don't reach. For instance you can say something in the way you mean it much easier. Punk achieved that also. It based its music much more on the message and delivery and achieved a unique approach of its own in that way.
Do you think initiatives like Rock The Vote do anything to tackle people's cynicism towards the mainstream of Irish politics or are they completely missing the root of the problem?
It's like I said before. The vote might count as to who gets hold of the reigns, but at the end of the day its a choice you are given from options that are pre-selected for you. Why don't these groups encourage young people to protest,to take action? If ye want to make your voice count then don't wait for elections. There are plenty of ways to initiate change, and they don't have to be in accordance with standard procedure. Whether through civil disobedience, strike actions or more creative means, there are far more effective ways to bring about a better Ireland.
Outside of politics you go on about boozing a lot and being "scuttered, fucked all night," - do you think we have a problem with booze, that "demon delight" as you have it in Ireland and where does it come from?
The "Demon Delight" is a double edged sword. It seems like a glorification of drinking but in fact highlights the many different aspects and effects of it. I think as to whether we have a problem with booze is something that needs to be measured on individual merits. On a personal level, the drink culture is crazy, but i am not in a position to be pointing fingers, unless I've about 6 pints in me, then I'll point at whoever I want, and none of ye fuckers can stop me. Ha ha...
For many you might seem like a political bolt out of the in the Irish music scene, many might even be surprised there's an Irish hip hop scene - never mind one with a political conscious - is there anyone else out there in Ireland making music with a focus like yours and is the scene strong and what do you owe to groups like Scary Eire?
To be honest,there are others who are doing as much to challenge the way we think in this country, take Jinx Lennon and a number of underground punk/hip hop groups. I just had a moment with one song that created more of reaction because of the manner in which it was delivered. There is an underground that has far more energy than the likes of Snow Patrol or the Thrills or any of that muck out there. Scary Eire are the original Irish hip hop group. They perfected more so than influenced how I would write. I had already started to develop my style when I heard them first, but they were far more advanced in every way. There were other groups back then, like Ghost and Jay who were influential. It certainly has had a good impact on a number of modern Irish acts. I suppose the ones I most associate with this tradition are Collie, Urban Intelligence,and a few others are now starting to emerge.
Some of your lyrics describe people as "cogs in the wheel instead of spanners in the works" and go on about how "while the tiger consumes its prey we barely let out a roar," this is all fairly pessimistic stuff. The track "Great Depression", targets the left accusing it of "talking such shite in the snugs and boozers, having a drink to their delicate nestings, living on the rep of revolution" - are you frustrated with the prospects for radical movements or fight backs in Ireland now that we've gone through this Celtic Tiger or just pissed off with the political organizations that claim to voice the discontent thats there?
A little bit of both. There are people out there who do an awful lot to highlight and provoke change, in fact they are doing more than they should need to, as if this society was more inclined to activism then individuals would not find their time all consumed with a greater workload to stand up to the lies and deceit that exists in our little fiefdom. However, some groups start off as protest movements where many of their self appointed spokesmen will be the electioneers in the decades to come. I have seen people using events for there own ends and trying to hi-jack incidents for self publicity. They are the future gombeens of the bananaskin republic.
You're a big fan of the hurling, as its an amateur association, a game where they "play for no cash, we've nothing to lose if the stock market crash" - but the track that celebrates the sport "now we're hurling" is more about encouraging people to get up and fight back than anything else isn't it?
"Now We're Hurlin' is at its heart an anti-capitalist song. The approach is taken from a sideline rant perspective as I am a bit of a hurler on the ditch meself. I suppose it is a bit of an attempt to inject energy in the psyche of people that is missing from this society, but again I'm not naive or arrogant enough to think that a song is what changes peoples minds or will in itself infuse a deep seated radicalization of the population. It is as much a reflection of how some people (myself included) feel about the situation we find ourselves in. I'm a writer and I don't see anyone in the general publics eye saying anything that I find inspiring so I try to manufacture my own little piece.
Is it just yourself that makes the tunes or are their other people with you and what will Captain Moonlight be up to in the near future?
I'm actually not the producer of any songs on Agroculture pt1. There are three people who were the creation behind the music.I had a guiding hand in much of it but it was they who really made it work. J Slyde from a band called Blue Ghost produced "Marble City" and "All I Know" and Danz produced "Dirty Cunts" and "Super Horrors." The rest were made and the album mixed and engineered by Mick Jones. As for the future, I'm currently finishing off Agroculture pt2 which should be out in June. Am producing a couple of songs on this meself with contributions from Danz and Mick,but the bulk of the album is being produced by Dave Holland. It will have a much different sound but the edge is much the same.