Ed. note: As long as humans have been making music, it’s been used as a form of protest. As part of KQED Arts’ 100 Days project, documenting artists’ responses to our new administration in its earliest days, I’ve asked Bay Area musicians to get in touch with songs they’ve written or recorded that serve as reactions to our current political climate. Over the next couple months, I’ll be posting the most compelling entries I receive, along with a few words from the artist about their inspirations and intentions.
Not a day has gone by for the past few weeks that the morning headlines don't bear some previously incomprehensible news about our current president. You've probably gotten used to reading, saying and hearing the name "Trump" countless times in any given day. (This is to say nothing of repeated exposure to photographs -- though there are steps you can take to ameliorate that one, should you be experiencing negative side effects.)
In the weeks leading up to Trump's inauguration, Guy Blakeslee, a Los Angeles singer-songwriter who performs as ENTRANCE, decided he didn't want to add to the chorus, so to speak. But he did want to "write a song expressing my own feelings about the election and the state of things in our country," he says. "Like many, I was in a state of mourning. I wondered, 'How can I sing about this without saying his name?'"
"Not Gonna Say Your Name," a protest song that takes on the simple, layered vocals of a church hymn, is the result. Released last week, it's available to hear online for free, of course (the "official" video, above, was made using footage sent in by protesters around the country). But if you decide to purchase it on Bandcamp, you get to pat yourself on the back (the song’s proceeds go directly to Planned Parenthood) and check out the single's sweet, clearly Sex Pistols-inspired album art while you're at it.
"I decided to use the song to benefit PP because one of the things that is so shocking about the election result is that it sends such a negative message to women and girls," explains Blakeslee. "It's the least I could do -- for all of the women in the world, in my life, and especially for my mother -- to fight back and make a clear statement that we will not accept this backwards agenda."
ENTRANCE plays the Starline Social Club in Oakland on Saturday, Feb. 4, warming up the stage for Bill Callahan. That show's sold out, but Blakeslee comes back the Bay to play the Hemlock Tavern in April, after releasing a new full-length called Book of Changes. He'll probably be happy to play the song then as well, but: April! There's truly no telling what might happen between then and now.