Grace Petrie: “the most authentic art tends to be the most powerful, in my opinion”

Grace Petrie by www.ellylucas.co.uk

You wouldn’t know it by her media coverage, but beneath all of Grace Petrie‘s fiery, political content – which covers anything from frustrations with the left wing’s in-fighting to various civil rights movements – there’s actually plenty of self-deprecation, too.

My personal favourite Petrie track is ‘Nobody Knows I’m A Fraud’. Not because I think she is, you understand, but because it’s a beautifully witty admission that those of us lined up on the side of social progress are often, nonetheless, wallowing in hypocrisy (but at least we’re trying, right)?

I’ve always a had a soft spot for activist music, and presented with wit, genuine intelligence and a fresh perspective (Petrie’s vocal recent noise on behalf of trans people in the feminist community on social media particularly stands out).

The lefty troubadour came to Dublin for the very first time only last year, and she’s back in a few days. I took the chance to catch up with her and see how life’s going, plus how she’s finding all the latest Brexit shenanigans…

This is your second stop in this particular spot in Dublin in less than a year. What did you make of it last time?

It was my first time playing in Dublin and I absolutely loved it. By some miracle I had a fantastic crowd, even though I’d never been over before, and they were brilliant, totally up for it and singing along to everything. So I’m really excited to be coming back.

At the risk of flogging a dead horse, you’re coming over right after Brexit. I think we’re all aware of how hard it could hit the music industry. Do you have any concerns? How do you view it all generally – obviously I know you’re anti-Brexit, but is it getting harder as the time approaches?

It’s funny because in the time it took me to reply to you, Brexit has been pushed back a bit and there is more doubt than ever about what’s going to happen next. Personally it’s very hard to actually believe that it’s going to happen because it’s all so illogical and Theresa May doesn’t have the ability to get a deal through anyway. Then we’ve had indicative votes that produced no solution – it’s all a farce. But I am deeply concerned about what logistically it will mean for touring musicians to isolate ourselves off like this.

Why Rubberbandits Matter…

It’s high time the comedy hip-hop stars were given credit for their insight and intelligence.

YOU MOST LIKELY KNOW Rubberbandits for something daft. It might be that ‘Horse Outside’ video, their numerous appearances on RTE’s ‘Republic of Telly’, or an episode of ‘Rubberbandits’ Guide To…’. You might even remember their channel 4 outing with the ‘Almost Impossible Gameshow’. In the latter, they had contestants complete ludicrous mini-games like ‘groin croissant’, in which the frustrated participants had a few seconds to shake free a plastic pastry attached to a certain part of the outside of their jumpsuit with velcro.

They are, in short, quite exceptionally silly. But their satire also has a tendency to shine a light on Irish society. Put aside the croissant shaking, or songs about ‘Spastic Hawks’, and some corners of their professional output is subtly but brilliantly political.

They take a satirical look at race relations on ‘Black Man’. ‘Spoiling Ivan’ documents the friendship between a grown man and a child, playing off the inbuilt societal assumption that labels such a friendship as somehow wrong. There’s even an ode to holding off on sex, and its relationship benefits.

Far beyond the music, their use of social media, and public comments on sensitive issues have stretched in scope and become ever-more assured. It’s a trend that seemed to really kick off when Blindboy Boatclub called into Joe Duffy to debate the drug references in ‘Horse Outside’. In doing so, he absolutely shredded an irate caller, confidently explaining the duo’s thinking in the process.

On Same Sex Marriage and Irish Citizenship

yes equalityI’m a straight, married man, but the same sex marriage referendum in Ireland moved me to tears. Now I’m thinking about applying for Irish citizenship…

It’s ten days since Ireland voted to legalize marriage between two men or two women, updating the constitution to read “marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two people without distinction as to their sex.”

You could be forgiven for asking why something like that would interest me all that much. Sure, I’m pretty liberal as political viewpoints go, but I’m also a straight, married man, so you could argue that it has very little impact on my life.

In practical terms, it doesn’t, though in abstract kind of way being an equal institution makes my own marriage feel stronger. On a more philosophical level, I’m blown away.

My view of Ireland as a place has changed dramatically. I see hope beyond the conservative parties that dominate Irish government, beyond the still-substantial influence of an invariably counter-progressive church, and beyond the ‘backwards Ireland’ label that’s never well sat with my own experience here.

Now I feel hope.

Fears, tears and a weekend of hope.

It was hard not to feel really involved in the marriage referendum. It’s coverage in the weeks running up to the event was all pervasive, and while the polls kept saying there were ‘undecided voters’ and around a third voting no (which was certainly expected to be much more come polling day), how anyone could fail to feel moved by the pleas of the gay population is beyond me.