At the start of lockdown, when interactions with friends had become confined to digital methods, I was having a general catch up over the phone with my good friends Jesse Francis (who features on the single). George Floyd's death and the aftermath of that tragic event hadn't come into fruition yet but was mentioned as a passing comment at some point during our discussion. The gravity of the situation didn't occur to me until after the call, as my social media feed filled with statements condoning the actions of the Minneapolis Police Department. It therefore wasn't until the following day when the seriousness of this event hit me after watching the horrific video of George Floyd's arrest; this was an act of true evil but unfortunately so many people did not see it this way. This emotion is in itself an example of white privilege. What happened to George Floyd happens all the time to black people. It is not a new emotion for them and they are tired. On the other hand, this event sparked a new level of unrest amongst white people. It was a real wake up call for us that we need to make a change and that we should’ve been doing more all along. This wake up call inspired the creation of this single and website.
Change Is Your Responsibility focuses on the many emotions that I felt following this event. Everything was written with a live performance in mind with each section of the work representing a poignant emotion. The first section represents rapport, something that was extremely powerful in the Black Lives Matter protest I attended in Manchester in June. I asked close friends to record, in isolation, the individual string parts; I layered spoken work written and recorded by Jesse Francs with this string texture. The second section represents contemplation, electronically treating the string section, using them as a sort of 'human oscillator' to create fluctuations in the sound, while mixing it with a powerful speech by the American activist Tamika Mallory. The sound of the strings moves back and forth in time while the other voices become very still and peaceful. The last section represents vexation, using a more aggressive tempo and feel to express not only mine but also Jesse’s feelings towards the unlawful death of George Floyd and so many others, as we had both spoken in great detail since about how their deaths have affected us.
Through creating this track I have come to terms with my thoughts and actions on racial injustice. I hope that this track will bring people together collectively and inspires much-needed discussion and change.
I would like to thank everyone who was involved in the project but especially Jesse who has taught me so much over the years and I’m extremely grateful to him for his contribution. I would also like to thank my sister for helping source and edit the content on the website.
©Patrick Renehan 2020. All rights reserved.