Alex O’Connor is in his third year of a BA (Hons) Music Business degree at BIMM Brighton. Here he discusses the inspiration behind his debut single ‘Greta Thunberg’ as well as the importance of protest art. Check out his teaser video for the release, here.
From William Blake to Childish Gambino, art has been key to societal change throughout history. Whether the artist inspired revolution or simply made people discuss the topics covered by their work, art has always played an integral part in our society’s willingness to dissect controversial topics.
Following Summer 2019, we saw the Amazon fires burn. Into the Autumn, many cities around the world protested. I decided to name my slice of protest art “Greta Thunberg”.
This original track was written out of frustration, as I realised many of us who are passionate about the environment are faced with the unfortunate truth that the urgency of our world’s situation is tough to communicate to those unwilling to hear.
A line from the track, “Close your eyes it seems, there’s nothing left to see” sticks with me, as it comments on how easy it is to ignore issues that don’t match with our pre-conceived world view. Confirmation bias is present within all of us and is the root of much of our society’s issues.
The song walks on a precarious line, as much of the environmentalist movement is viewed as overly aggressive. To an extent, rightly so. When I heard the Extinction Rebellion protesters were blocking tube stations (an environmentally responsible form of transport) my eyes rolled. Those who don’t understand the importance of our Climate Emergency will not be enlightened through rage.
Well thought-out protests are incredibly important, but I wholeheartedly believe that the more attention artists can bring to an issue, the more people will turn their heads. Art is non-confrontational in that an argument can be cloaked within melody or satire (Tim Minchin is a brilliant example of both), allowing a sceptic to muse on the issues rather than feeling ‘attacked’ to the same extent that they might within a debate.
This release is my debut as a solo artist, stepping forward as a producer and vocalist with alternative rock sensibilities. It is the first of three releases that will expand well into next year, each covering different issues present in the world at the moment.