MANCHESTER, NH — Behold, the unofficial soundtrack for the unofficial “punk president,” Bernie Sanders.
“Rock For Bernie: The Future’s So Bright It Berns” is a 36-track project released last week on BandCamp by Jersey impresario Raymond Chalme, described as a mix of original songs and covers, including “Gotta Have Peace” by Curtis Mayfield, “Bang Bang,” by Cher, and “Starman” by David Bowie.
And here’s something: Among the bands contributing tunes to the effort are several with New Hampshire ties, including Sorority Noise, Pleasure Gap, The Grebes, and Milo (Rapsmith) one of 10 new artists you need to know in 2016, according to Rolling Stone.
According to Chalme, 100 percent of the proceeds from this project are going to help get Sanders elected.
Listen below, or click here to donate to the cause.
Read on for the gritty details.
⇔Q: How did “Rock for Bernie” come about?
: The project was something I just thought up and posted to Facebook on a whim as a Google doc. I had known about Bernie’s involvement with the arts space in Burlington, 242 Main. His involvement during a significant period of youth/DIY culture has kind of given him a presence as “the punk president.” Which is silly, but there’s a factual basis behind it! I’ve been to benefit shows that passionate people have thrown with the intention of supporting the campaign, so it just kind of made sense to put a compilation together. The people who came forward to contribute to the compilation helped spread the submission link around, and helped build a palpable excitement. These responses helped stir this little idea into something tangible, and perhaps more importantly, something that didn’t exist yet but needed to.
⇔Q. So – 36-tracks — that’s a lot! All for $1. Are you expecting people to “name their price” for the cause? You’re also letting people listen for free… this might be a good time to talk about how young musicians like yourselves make money from doing what you love in a digital age.
: Yes! After all, more is more, right?
The ease of distribution through bandcamp’s platform (instead of, say, a CD or cassette or vinyl release, where you’d have to deal with production costs and physical limitations) kind of makes sense to pack the release full of as many different artists as possible! Especially given the amount of people who wanted to be involved in the cause, it seemed obvious.
The idea of free streaming is to draw people’s attention in the first place. I know personally that I’m way more likely to spend money on music that I’ve already heard and know I enjoy. The hope is that folks are able to form a sort of connection with the artists, and the more they feel a connection, the more likely they are to contribute. When you see a bandcamp link, you know more often than not it’s the artist themselves on the other side of the transaction. There are links on the side to find out more, where they’re playing next. I’ve found many bands I love just from digging around, and I’ll go out of my way to help them out because I know they are real people trying to strive towards the same artistic goals that many of us are.
⇔Q. Cam Boucher and Charlie Singer of Sorority Noise are Central High grads, and Milo (Rapsmith) attended Central for his freshman year before moving to Chicago. Pleasure Gap and the Grebes also have NH roots. You’re from Jersey. How did you all find each other and what is the common bond you have as artists?
: I served as the programming coordinator at my college, SUNY Purchase (class of 2014 Arts Management), for two years. The students pooled together money for a modest budget, and I was in charge of using it to books bands and comedians and film screenings and stuff like that. Naturally, when you are a DIY musician and you hear about a school with a bunch of kids that are into music and can guarantee you a few dollars, you begin to see a network develop. Cam and Rory (Milo) are just a few of the artists that have come through to play here, and I’ve been fortunate to develop lasting relationships with many of them!
⇔Q: So, why Bernie?
: Bernie’s the right choice. This is a man who, since the beginning of his political aspirations in the 1960s, has constantly and consistently been on the right side of history. Sanders is a champion of the people, a man who cannot be bought, and a skilled politician who fights injustice with tenacity. It’s exciting to come of age in a time where, in a sea of candidates who’ve made a career of smiling in all the right photos or saying the most outlandish things to cull airtime, Senator Sanders continues to stick to the issues that are important to his personal ideology, and to the future of the American people.
⇔Q: Was the music written explicitly for this compilation and is there a cohesive theme to the songs, or is it just a rousing mix of solid tunes?
: I tried to make the selection as enticing as possible, to give people an incentive to donate. Aside from a few tracks, these are all unreleased demos and covers that can only be found here! Many of the tracks were chosen because of thematic significance to the campaign, and a few were written with direct quotes from speeches Bernie has delivered in the past.
⇔Q. Does Bernie know about this yet?
: Not yet, though I’m going to contact his campaign team with a handful of download codes! Something tells me he’s the kind of guy to get a kick out of the compilation!
⇔Q. Tell me a bit more about you – I note you’re a college graduate, and you worked for a FOX affiliate right out of college. Is music a full-time endeavor right now?
: I grew up in an orthodox sect of Judaism on the Jersey Shore, so coming of age and being able to find a countercultural outlet in music and DIY art was super important to me; it’s what keeps me happy and creative since graduating from school, as I pay off my loans back at home. I’m active in the New Jersey music scene with my indie rock band Secret Mountain. I make ambient music under the name Warm Tape, too. Music is something I’d love to be able to devote myself to as a career, because I have the sinking feeling that I can only truly be good at a job that I don’t dread working every day *sheepish grin.*
⇔Q. Who are your musical influences?
: I listen to stuff all over the musical spectrum! From childhood with ’70s one-hit-wonders in constant rotation to blink-182 making me beg my parents to buy me a cheapo guitar. Recently in terms of songwriters, I’ve been on a big Mountain Goats and Destroyer kick, and I’ve been spinning a ton of ambient stuff as well – artists like Stars of the Lid and Natural Snow Buildings are able to express feeling through extended soundscapes, and that’s always been magical to me. I’ll listen to anything and everything you throw at me.
⇔Q. Have you ever been politically activated in the past? Did you campaign for Obama?
: Not to the extent that I am now. I’m 23, so this is only the second presidential primary I’ll be eligible to vote in. Besides working my news job, I also worked a delivery graveyard shift (6 p.m.-4 a.m.), and I’d constantly be listening to BBC and NPR radio to pass the time. I found myself hearing people discussing articles they had seen on Facebook, and being able to actually provide insight and information felt empowering!
I think many of my peers “woke up” when Bernie came around and realized that his appearance was like that of a comet – you understand that there is something extraordinary before your eyes. It’s kind of upsetting that folks like Bernie and Elizabeth Warren seem so few and far between, when their brand of politics are really what is needed in order to provide fair representation to all American people.
⇔Q: Last question: Why is this election so important to you?
: Every election should be considered important! The decisions we make will impact the course of history, and I personally like the future that Mr. Sanders hopes to achieve through his policies – an intersectional society where those dealt an unfair hand can be lifted up.
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