Independently, musicians are proving capable of banding together and exchanging networks, artist to artist. For the second time in a year, the Syrphe platform is hosting a rapid-response compilation call to action – this time for Myanmar.
Last summer, C-drík Kirdec and their Africa/Asia/beyond-focused platform Syrphe was one of the first to host a musical answer to the crisis in Beirut. In under 24 hours, 94 artists across 40+ countries submitted hours and hours of music.
This time, the catalyst was the recent crisis in Myanmar, and the network was equally fast in mounting a widespread response. This is not any particularly superficial activism, but what may be read as a heartfelt exchange between friends and contacts across borders – an expression of feeling in music. It’s artists making a gesture of care. There’s no particular profit for the artists, and nothing other than humble aims. But at the same time, it shows that people don’t have to be silent, or stuck in loops of despair and doomscrolling. And there is material benefit on the ground – organizing some VPN subscriptions to allow people to stay in touch.
This was fast – as in, I’m the one slow in writing it up, but it certainly remains relevant. As with the compilation for Beirut, there is a four-part digital release. And it’s all great music, the reflection of that network of people who care and connect through underground channels and shared interests in undiscovered musics from the margins. Even just listening may be an important gesture. (It’s also, again, oddly coherent in all its diversity – maybe more so than more contrived releases.)
Civil disobedience – လူထုမနာခံမှု
Following the events in Myanmar in 2021, and after several email exchanges with friends (activists and artists) there, I decided to set up another compilation project on order to collect money to offer VPN subscriptions to journalists, activists, artists (…) based in Myanmar to allow them to easily bypass censorship and communicate with the outside world. The benefits will also be transferred to a friend in Yangon who well wisely use the money to help and support demonstrators and activists who fight for freedom as well as social, ethnic, sexual, philosophical (…) equality and respect.
Artists from 42 countries have kindly provided their tracks within a week.
89 artists from Tanzania, the UK, Singapore, Belgium, France, the USA, Uganda, Spain, Italy, Slovenia, India, Germany, Canada, Togo, Switzerland, Colombia, Greece, Malaysia, Indonesia, Argentina, Peru, Poland, Czechia, South Africa, Japan, Sri Lanka, Iran, Turkey, Vietnam, Norway, India, Nigeria, Mexico, Chile, the Netherlands, Spain, Belarus, Ukraine, Singapore, Hong Kong, Myanmar, Slovenia, Serbia, have kindly contributed to this compilation, many responded within a few hours, it is heartwarming to see such dedication and unity, especially during the long and sometimes harsh crisis the world has to go through for more than a year by the time I write those lines.
Such as what I previously did with the compilation to support people in Beirut, I will now and then post some updates on social networks, here and my newsletter regarding the benefits : how much and what for.
Myanmar is a special place for me or at least the little I know of it. I got the opportunity to play twice there in February 2014, solo and collaborations with local and international musicians. I attended some talks, met several activists (pro-LGBT, pro-democracy, artists, feminists, etc.), some were optimistic about the changes that seemed positive, most political prisoners had been freed, there was less censorship, but others were raising some doubts and today’s situation has unfortunately proved them right.
I will never forget people’s kindness, not only those activists, organisers and artists but also the people I’d meet in the street or cafés, the street sellers who would teach me the numbers and the name of the vegetables and fruits I’d buy, the children dancing during our noisy concerts…
Of course the situation is way more complex than those memories that I tell here, Myanmar is a fragmented country and these conflicts are the world’s longest ongoing civil war that spanned more than 70 years. But I want to keep the beautiful memories I have in mind, not the dark sides of the story.
That’s just a start; there’s plenty of additional background and tons of worthwhile links on the Bandcamp page.
Nice to see some familiar names on there, too.
And the aforementioned previous compilation (which I managed to squeeze a track into, something I failed to do this time – but will instead devote some time to listening!):