Rachel Margolin

Nov 3, 2020

3 min read

Politically-Charged Brooklyn Artists Call to Action through Music

With Tuesday, November 3rd being the 2020 presidential election, a number of Brooklyn musicians are using their talents to encourage the importance of voting, especially in this election of a lifetime.

In Bushwick, pop singer/songwriter Katie Rush recently released a dance track “World Leader” to speak to the troubles in our divided political climate. The beat of the music is upbeat and palpable, but disdain and a seething anger are in her voice as she sings lines like “Never in my life have I seen a world leader who could take us to the very edge; never in my life have I seen a great pretender let me down.” Yet her ultimate message is a hopeful call to action.

“I started thinking about writing World Leader when Trump was elected President four years ago,” she shared. “As someone who cares deeply about the environment, I’ve become horrified at his indifference to both the planet and to all of us living here. His extreme narcissism, outrageous behavior and hollow beliefs pushed me to release my song in an effort to both express myself and to spur on voting.”

But Katie isn’t the only one writing music that exposes the current state of our politics and nation.

“Sight Unseen,” is the new politically charged cyber punk album by Rinsse, an experimental industrial collective made up of elusive musicians. The music video for the first single, “Kornfeld” shows a woman placing a pink sparkly American Flag into the back of a stuffed animal. Melodic guitar riffs over a quick tempo drum beat ensues as we see “Trumpy Bear” dressed in a suit and pink tie through overlapping distorted images. The song was just released to the public on November 3rd, election Day.

In October, two bands, Dead Tooth and No Surrender, joined together to release a new single, “I Hate The Precedent.” The searing anti-Trump anthem, written by Darius Van Sluytman (No Surrender) and Zachary Ellis (Dead Tooth) conveys potent feelings of anger at the example the president sets through his repulsive actions.

When asked what prompted the song Zachary Ellis said “It just felt necessary. Showing how we feel on a real level, using the word hate” (something I would never typically do) would get the point across just how fed up we and so many others are right now and remind people how important it is to vote and not being afraid to speak up.”

The duo solidifies the song’s mood early on with the immediate introduction of some ominous-sounding guitars that progressively grow more menacing in tone as the track pushes forward. The two split the vocal duties on the song with Dead Tooth singing with a post-punk baritone, while No Surrender projects more of a blues-y drawl.

In the music video, Darius and Zachary address allegations of misusing funds and sexual assault that President Trump has been accused of. It begins in an alleyway, where a man asks a figure resembling Trump for spare change, only to have him take the money. The video then interposes shots of both Dead Tooth and No Surrender with the Trump figure, as he attempts to sexually assault a woman walking past him.

“I’m one of those “politics is in everything” types,” said Ellis. Right now, what we have are our voices and our vote. Putting forth political art is sort of like lobbying for changes you wish to see in the world.”

Wealth disparity, racial injustice and social injustice, climate change and overall politics are the issues that dominate these musicians with their words and music. Most of all, they hope that their music inspires others to think, vote and, of course, enjoy their songs.