Intersections of Music, Politics, and Digital Media: Bandista / by Ela Gezen

Intersections of Music, Politics, and Digital Media: Bandista

Ela Gezen

Bandista, a self-described music collective, was founded in Istanbul in 2006. Through framing texts provided on their website – in Turkish, English, Spanish and German – the band proposes to sing for a world without borders and classes, characterizing their performance as “situationist.” Their internationalist scope is further emphasized through the variety of genres incorporated in their music, ranging from Reggae and Ska to Dub and Afro-Beat. Their songs are politically motivated, and address universal issues of exile, deportation, and human rights violations as can be evidenced for example on their most recent album sınırsız-ulussuz-sürgünsüz (no border-no nation-no exile, 2012). The third song on this album focuses specifically on integration and discrimination of guest workers and immigrants in Germany, while at the same time opening up an international horizon. In choosing the Internet as its sole medium for distribution, Bandista proclaims itself free from capitalist marketing strategies. While the music industry tends to vilify online piracy, musicians promote uses of the Internet as a common ground of collaboration and exchange. Through their invitation to download and share their music at no cost through technology not bounded by the nation state they promote distribution on their own terms. Examining their latest album’s lyrics, musical genres, distribution mechanisms, and attendant web design and meta-commentary, this paper argues that Bandista’s emphasis on digital presentation situates their music at the nexus of politics, aesthetics and class struggle in ways which Marx might never have imagined, all while mobilizing pre-digital categories of struggle and resistance. Foregrounding lyrics alongside political language, visual iconography, and discussions of access and distribution, Bandista insist on the inextricability of the (multi)medium and the message, opening new avenues for musical protest.

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