A past that belongs to all
Since our early discussions about recording an album, we wanted to capture something of the spirit of traditional folk and whilst the struggles experienced by people like Alfred Williams or those documented by other folklorists like Peter Kennedy, Alan Lomax and Shirley Collins. These are important influences on our ideas, but our experience of growing up was radically different in the '60s, '70s and early '80s and apart from the influences of the music of our parents, was centred in the here and now. Even though we grew up in different places, we were both inspired by the music that came from the fusing of cultures between punk and reggae and throughout our teens through successive waves of electronic music such as with hip hop, EDM, psychedelia and so forth, helped us shape our interest in folk as something which has been influenced by many cultures. In this sense, it should be accessible to everyone. There is a place for the struggles and tales passed down through the oral traditions of the past but that is not the life we live today. There are many new forms of folk as part of this continuing and evolving tradition, and new stories to be added to the folklore of our land, and everyone is welcome to contribute.
Our history as an island is also a history of continual migration from prehistory to the present day. Every era and generation has influenced the music of these islands.
Let's not stop at songs, the same could be said for ritual practices, stories, myths, events, and any other cultural practices all passed down through the oral tradition for all of those who have decided to make the British Isles their home.
The Radio 4 show and BBC Sounds podcast, My Albion, by Zakia Sewell explores this and it was very interesting to hear about this from her own perspective as she sets on a quest to find out if being of Caribbean and British heritage, whether English folk song and English folklore can really belong to her.
This quest probed some deep unanswered questions about belonging and about the meaning of English folk, and how this tradition belongs not only to her but to all of us. We have a collective responsibility hold on to it, and interpret it and shape it to keep it alive and make it inclusive.