This Will Change – Felix and the Sunsets

Telling people from outside of Scotland that you are Scottish is always a fine line to be walked. Though, mercifully, the reaction to Scottishness, or Caledonianity or whatever is usually positive worldwide, there always remains this glint in the eye of the listener, this somewhat romanticised vision that in order to divulge my national identity, one in which I had to travel through the glens, evading redcoats, playing soulful laments on my pipes, before being able to explain my clan history to some bonnie maiden etc.

The reality of modern urban Scotland is somewhat different, and therefore possibly disappointing to the international listener intent on polishing everything to a tartan sheen. For readers of Stevenson and watchers of Outlander, the prospect of waiting in incessant rain only for the X4 bus to be cancelled due to roadworks on the Clydeside Expressway maybe doesn’t have the same picturesque vision.

Walter Scott’s cultural appropriation of the then recently subjugated, evicted, linguistically suppressed and culturally gutted Highlands is part of our national myth now, no question. Despite the reprehensible nature of its conception, we are, like it or not, sharers of the international Scottish identity. Battered chocolate, clans, Christopher Lambert, Groundskeeper Wullie … maybe even John Barrowman, I’m not sure.

Not exactly the Partick Interchange

Modern Scotland, especially in the cities (with maybe the exception of the central bit of Edinburgh), doesn’t really fit the narrative, indeed there is a reason why the tourist routes do ‘Edinburgh Old/New town – Stirling Castle – Loch Ness – Skye – Ryanair’ ad nauseam. No, modern Caledonia is coming to terms with more than its perceived identity; we are starting to cast a critical eye over the past, an unsatisfied stare at the present, and an optimistic nod to the future.

In my mind, modern Scotland in microcosm happened at the BLM statue protests last year in George Square. When people ask me these days about what Scotland is like, I point them to that moment as modern Scottish society played out in TV-friendly miniature.

Loyalist statue defenders. Past.

Police trying and failing to maintain order. Present.

Left-leaning, youth-driven movement questioning an unacceptable status quo. Future.

Movements for change need a soundtrack; all great progress is driven by great art. Enter Felix and the Sunsets. A cap doffed to Bowie, Frank Zappa, The Velvet Underground, Santana even, is a strong start, especially if you want people to listen to the message. It’s catchy, 60s influenced, and carries a simple message of hope and progress. This Will Change.

A man is murdered,
police hold him down until he’s gone,

This Will Change – Felix and the Sunsets

The song is inspired by the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent worldwide mobilisation in the form of the BLM protests (and sadly subsequent counter-protests). Quite frankly the song made me think of Sheku Bayou, such is the grim proliferation of ethnic minorities’ deaths while in police custody, that any mention of murder, police, and not admitting any misdeed could be tragically transposed to almost any country. The verses are short, descriptive, visceral.

A man is murdered,
Police hold their ground,
Admit no wrong,

This Will Change – Felix and the Sunsets

The international appeal of protest music stems from the simple fact that the evils and injustices that we are protesting are truly global and in songs like ‘This Will Change’, Scotland finds its modern place, united in solidarity with the victims of repressive state violence that is simply unacceptable.

The lads o’ Leith. Photo by Angus Bradley.

Dealing with our own past, collaborating, and making community are the keys to a sustainable future, of which Scotland is part. The record is raising funds for Intercultural Youth Scotland, whose magnificent work you can check out here. We, as a society, have made mistakes many times over, but musicians like Felix and the Sunsets hint at a future in which this status quo is no longer acceptable. This is not something that we will allow. This is the time to stand up for progress.

This. Will. Change.

Photos by Sinead Ferguson

Support independent artists and get ‘This Will Change’ on Bandcamp here. Proceeds go to Intercultural Youth Scotland. The music video, featuring the photos and films of Sinead Ferguson, will be released on February the 3rd.

If you would like me to write about your tune, then please get in touch here.

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