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Chief Kunstable Jason Williamson talks dirty

Following the launch of Bunch of Kunst last week, a slow-burn doc about the ferociously anti-establishment British duo Sleaford Mods, singer Jason Williamson talks to DMovies about music, cinema and politics

Last Friday saw the theatrical release of Christine Franz’s Bunch of Kunst, a doc following footsteps of the Sleaford Mods as they conduct their daily lives and prepare for their concerts. The Nottingham duo, formed by vocalist Jason Williamson and musician Andrew Fearn since 2012, convey a message of working-class disaffection and hopelessness without pandering to bigoted resentment and nationalism. Their music, which is often described as brutal and minimalistic, have a profound social and political message.

So we decided to ask Chief Kunstable Jason Williamson a few dirty questions. He talks to us about the film, how he makes music, what it means to be big, Johnny Rotten and what people should be doing on June 8th!

Victor Fraga – The documentary Bunch of Kunst has just been released. Can you please tell us a little bit where the idea to make the film came from, and how long did it take to make it?

Jason Williamson – It was the pipe dream of Christine Franz, a German woman who we met when being filmed for Arte TV. She proposed the idea and we agreed. It took about two years.

VF – In the doc, you describe the creative process for your music. It seems to be quite fluid and organic, devoid of strict formal rules. What is it that makes you different from other bands? Is there something particular during the creative process?

JW – We stand out because most bands have been genetically produced by record labels. They are young too, which these days is a big problem. They have no fight really, especially in music. There’s also the class war that’s been raging so anybody dipped in street music, anybody from the lower classes is finding it hard to break through, however, as I’ve said, most aren’t too interesting. Grime had a good vehicle, but even that’s being rung in. There’s nothing unique about our writing process, we just have a strong formula.

Jason Williamson and Shona McWilliams in Andrew Tiernan’s UK18.

VF – Also in the doc, you say that “you have no idea what it means to be big”, but now you have toured many European countries, played at the O2 arena and so on. Didn’t that feel “big” at all? How was that different from playing in smaller clubs?

JW – Big to me means, stadium bands, I guess. But it’s also a state of mind. If you think you are Elvis then you are gunna have problems. It’s a job, a good one admittedly, but a job all the same.

VF – Your lyrics are extremely socially and politically engaged, a powerful statement against consumerism, capitalism and so on. Yet we face the prospect of an increasingly right-wing government, with a strict neoliberal austerity agenda. Should people go out on June 8th and vote in a bid to prevent this from happening?

JW You have to vote for some kind of reason. Labour as shabby as they can sometimes seem are the only option. I’m not happy about party politics, but it’s no fucking good playing the defiant/anarchist card whilst people get fucked over. It’s a system that in our lifetime will not go away. Exist in it. Help where you can. Learn. Our music will carry the experience of this time for as long as we are together.

VF – You are currently perceived as one of the most ferociously anti-establishment bands in the UK right now. How do you feel about the fact that one of the supposedly most anti-establishment voices in the country Johnny Rotten has recently endorsed Trump, Farage and Brexit? Did he get it all wrong or is he fooling us all?

JW – He smokes too many ciggies and is infested with ego!

Jason Williamson in the setting of #LostDogFilm.

VF – You are a friend of the British actor and director Andrew Tiernan, and you appear in his latest film UK18, a nightmare sci-fi about extreme surveillance. Can you please tell us how this happened? Do you intend to engage in other politically and socially-engaged cinema projects?

JW – Me and Andrew Tiernan met a couple of years ago at a show and he was also partly responsible for the documentary Invisible Britain [Paul Sng/ Nathan Hannawin, 2015] which came out around the same time. I’ve always admired his acting and what he does with his characters, he’s a proper good actor with history. I’ve always been interested in acting and we got talking about it and that’s how it arose. I’ve worked on two film pieces so far: #LostDogFilm and UK18 [both by Andrew Tiernan].

VF – How can music and cinema work together as a voice against reactionary forces?

JW – They can work together by pasting actual reality onto screens.

VF – What’s your recommendation for aspiring artists in the music industry who want to make a powerful social and political statement through their art?

JW – Be themselves. Live a little. Go out of your own town. Move about. Get into trouble. And… see things!!!

By Victor Fraga - 24-04-2017

Victor Fraga is a Brazilian born and London-based journalist and filmmaker with more than 20 years of involvement in the cinema industry and beyond. He is an LGBT writer, and describes himself as a di...

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