Timothy London, manager for Young Fathers, took the time to respond to my ramblings on what I hesitantly referred to as the revamping of the group’s image. Thought his comments deserved greater shine as they were thoughtful and balanced and because they provide additional perspective on the consumer-creator predicament prevalent in today’s market. Long story short, there are people who take the position that authenticity is irrelevant, or at least not the driving force behind the end value of a work, and then there are others that argue it is authenticity itself that primarily contributes to an informed and meaningful product, and without it we are being bamboozled. In between we have varying arguments on the validity of being able to discern authenticity in the first place. The gap in discourse that I consistently observe relates to the causes of consumerist skepticism, which I would argue is a natural reactive outgrowth of the overwhelming coercion that individuals are subjected to by sophisticated, complex organizations. Goodness, it hurts to discuss music in a business framework, but unfortunately this is how many of us get to experience music. Music is typically supplied to us through a business model or with a business model embedded within, like a parasite. And I’m not judging! I’m just saying, ya know? In the Fortunes interlude a man shouts “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you!” And so it is with consumerist angst and ruminations on alienation. But whatever our predicament may currently be, it hasn’t prevented my family and I from enjoying the ep. Special dap to Tim for sharing his views.

Hey Christopher (I’m presuming).

Sounds like you need some help here. Young Fathers began young – very young, 14 when they got together and their journey has been documented along the way. Unfortunately they didn’t arrive fully formed and, fortunately, they still aren’t fully formed, still got some growing and changing to get through.

Pulling vid’s from the internet is very difficult – believe me, we’ve tried. So just about everything they’ve done is still up there, somewhere. But it’s such a fucking distraction. Mainly because they don’t tell the story, they just illustrate certain aspects of it.

I guess it’s one reason why so many in hip hop pull a sour face for every pic, loaded with blunts and gang signs and all the tired paraphernalia of ‘keeping it real’. It means they can never be accused of being something they’re not in reality. There’s no proof, only hearsay (‘didn’t you grow up in a middle class neighbourhood?’)

The need for authenticity is a story-killer. The truly interesting shit doesn’t come out because of the need to come on hard. Scotland’s got it’s own version of the ‘hard man’ myth. Miserable and mean minded. struggling out of the gutter by any means necessary. Translated into music it’s no more authentic than Serge Gainsbourg singing about Bonny & Clyde.

So YFs don’t sing allegorical songs of hardship and struggle, even though their backgrounds are probably tougher than most. They just struck out into the ocean on a hand made raft and let the musical currents take them where they will.

Recently, the seas have been dark and stormy. That’s all.

The stories you don’t get to see are the ones to do with a group not in charge of their own destiny, being misrepresented. You just see the end product, which can sometimes be mystifyingly weird.

When I picked up management earlier this year I began working hard with the group to make sure the stories reflect them and not some PR company’s chinese whisper.

So relax – the wool’s well away from your eyeballs, the smoke’s nowhere near your arse – what you see in the fog and mystery of where north Atlantic currents collide with those from the south, is just what it looks like – blink – now it looks like something else. Merman or Ateleopodidae, it doesn’t matter, the song is still beautiful.

cheers

Tim London



  1. It‘s not that serious. Or is it?