David Maclean is the drummer and producer for Django Django. He grew up in Edinburgh, Fife and The Highlands
Although I would’ve voted ‘Yes’ if I still lived in Scotland – I’m now in London – I was always of the belief that the way people were galvanised to become active about politics in Scotland during the Referendum was so important and something that has to keep going. Not just in Scotland but across the rest of Britain: it’s a time for change and if Scotland can achieve that as part of Britain, that’s good.
You’d be hard pressed to find anyone voting – or supporting – ‘No’ yesterday in the music industry. From Honeyblood to Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite and Björk to Belle & Sebastian, the only person who seemed to express support for a ‘No’ was David Bowie. I suspect it has something to do with creative people being quite open-minded and having a good vision. Whether you’re a musician, writer or film-maker, you have to use your imagination to picture what you’re trying to achieve and it takes vision to see a political and social construct changing. It means the status quo alters and you take a risk. Creative people are quite good at taking risks both in their work and in their own life because they don’t always know where the pay packet is coming from. I think they’re more willing for change. Also a creative person’s psyche makes them aware of injustice and often vocal about fighting against it.
Austerity in Scotland hit people hard, particularly things like youth clubs and libraries; the sense that community was being dismantled is very difficult for a socialist country like Scotland to accept. But in a way it is fertile ground for the creation of art and music if you have something to fight against. Would people make great music if they were all funded properly and comfortable? Probably not. You need to have something to battle against.
Also musicians usually have a problem with authority and strictures will only restrict your creative output. How will the music landscape in Scotland change now the votes has come through? Maybe people will make angrier music. If you had two timelines and you looked back on a ‘yes’ and ‘no’, the music would probably be different. But thing I’m sure of is that music in Scotland will be fine. It’s embedded in our culture and our psyche and I think music is in safe hands no matter where the nations go. Music scenes will come and go regardless of politics. You won’t see Django Django making a nationalist metal or screamo record any time soon but it does influence our thinking.
There is a kinship between Scottish people in the music industry. We all draw towards each other with a sense of camaraderie and a shared bond. I’ve been following Stuart Braithwaite, Limmy and Alex Kapranos’ tweets and Steve Mason always has a good outlook on it. But it’s never “Gung ho! Freedom! Let’s run off into the sunset!” It’s much more of a skeptical hope. Everybody understands that politics and politicians can be tricky. Just by becoming independent doesn’t mean it’s all going to be roses. People are aware of jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. I didn’t begrudge David Bowie or anyone who voted ‘No’ and, actually, part of me did want the country to vote ‘No’ so we could change Britain together. There’s definitely value in that.
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