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Under the Radar Examines Music and Politics with the 2016 Protest Issue

Special Issue Takes On Sexism and Feminism in the Music Industry, Tackles the Election, and Features Amanda Palmer on the Cover

Sep 09, 2016 Lower Dens Photography by Ray Lego Bookmark and Share

Under the Radar is excited to announce the full details of our 2016 Protest Issue (out September, October, and into November), which is out now both digitally and on newsstands. We’ve done a Protest Issue every U.S. Presidential election year since 2004 and as before this issue features articles examining the intersection of music and politics and photo shoots with musicians holding protest signs of their own making. Then in mid-October we will be launching our charity Protest Auction, in which we auction off all the protest signs in the issue, with all profits going to the American Cancer Society.

Amanda Palmer graces the cover holding a protest sign that ties into one of the main articles in the issue, one that tackles sexism, feminism, and misogyny in the music industry. That article also features Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino, CHVRCHES’ Lauren Mayberry, Lush’s Miki Berenyi, Natalie Prass, Perfect Pussy’s Meredith Graves, Tegan and Sara’s Sara Quin, and others. Other political articles examine the divisive 2016 U.S. Presidential election, progressive musicians who are based in red states, and whether cancelling shows and boycotting performing in specific states and countries is an effective means of protest.

The following artists, among others, did protest sign photo shoots for the issue: Tegan and Sara, Amanda Palmer, Best Coast, Sharon Jones, Thurston Moore, Banks & Steelz, Moby, Mew, Perfect Pussy, OK Go, Okkervil River, Metronomy, Wild Beasts, Car Seat Headrest, Wye Oak, Everything Everything, School of Seven Bells, Super Furry Animals, Deerhoof, Kristin Kontrol, Billy Bragg, Andrew W.K., Yeasayer, Lush, Natalie Prass, Superchunk, The Julie Ruin, Local Natives, Frankie Cosmos, Kevin Morby, LUH, Tacocat, Xiu Xiu, Julien Baker, Slow Club, and several others.

The issue also features non-politically themed interviews with Angel Olsen, Bat For Lashes, Local Natives, Glass Animals, Wild Beasts, Metronomy, Cass McCombs, Wye Oak, Slow Club, The Veils, Preoccupations, Trentemøller, of Montreal, Whitney, and more.


Feminist Firewall: How Women in the Music Industry Are Using Social Media to Confront Sexism and Misogyny

As much the music industry has grown to be a more progressive environment for gender equality, elements of sexism and misogyny still play an unhealthy role in the lives of female artists. In addition to navigating the clichéd criticism of just being a pretty faces in front of more skilled, puppeteer professionals, female artists of the millennial generation must now contend with alarming new professional and personal challenges, from the vitriolic harassment of male trolls on social media, to feeling unsafe in the very music community that is meant to nurture and protect them (as evident by the recent events surrounding publicist Heathcliff Berru). Female artists are confronted with a level of harassment (even outright assault) that no male counterpart would find themselves the victim of. Understanding what it feels like to be at the frontlines of this harassment is an important dialogue that needs to be shared, from multiple perspectives and personal experiences. What is it really like to be confronted by such challenges? In the past 20 or 30 years, what really has changed for women? What hasn’t? And where, good or bad, are things going?

This in-depth article examines sexism, feminism, and misogyny in the music industry; the specific challenges female musicians face; and how social media is helping keep a dialogue on these issues going. The article incorporates interviews with Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino, CHVRCHES’ Lauren Mayberry, Lower Dens’ Jana Hunter, Lush’s Miki Berenyi, music publicist Beth Martinez, Amanda Palmer, Natalie Prass, Perfect Pussy’s Meredith Graves, Tegan and Sara’s Sara Quin, and Chelsea Wolfe.

Ray Lego photographed Amanda Palmer for the cover exclusively for Under the Radar in New York and Mike Hilleary wrote the article.

“If I was a male artist would he have just assumed I was a total ding-dong and didn’t know how to record myself? I feel like I’ve taught my friends’ five-year-olds to record. Is it that hard at this point?” - Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara

“You shouldn’t be afraid to say something about somebody being a creep when we all work in this industry together.” - Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast

“Often, with social media, people just see an image. They don’t think about the person behind that image, the complexity, life, and knowledge the person inside that image holds.” - Chelsea Wolfe

“People have to find time and security to have these little conversations with people that they care about to understand that misogyny isn’t something we’ve figured out yet. It’s still plaguing us.” - Jana Hunter of Lower Dens

“If you can find it in yourself to radically empathize with another human being, huge gates will open up to you in terms of the richness of your life experience.” - Amanda Palmer

“I’m seeing a lot of women stepping forward and talking with their fanbases and the people that follow them and really demanding that they either change their opinions, or be empathetic, or fuck off.” - Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara

A Season for Cynics: Musicians Contemplate a Lesser-of-Two-Evils Election

The 2016 Presidential election has been like no other and in this in-depth article writer Matt Fink examines how musicians have fit into this and what their feelings on the election and candidates are. The majority of indie musicians had been supporting Bernie Sanders, who is now out of the race. We talk to Sanders supporters about why they supported him, what they feel like his campaign has achieved even though he didn’t get the nomination, and how fully they are supporting Hillary Clinton now that she faces up against Donald Trump.

For some people, the election will almost certainly come down to a lesser of two evils matchup. Will all of the Sanders supporters simply switch gears and back Clinton, even though she’s the embodiment of nearly everything that Sanders has been railing against for the past year? Will it come down to supporting Clinton out of fear of a Trump presidency (though some Sanders supporters say they’ll support Trump, simply to stick it to Clinton and the Washington establishment)? Since artists are idealists by nature, are they willing to support someone who is the definition of an establishment politician? Will they vote third party? Will they not vote at all? But we also talk to some musicians who have been Clinton supporters all along. And what about Donald Trump, is he as dangerous as his critics paint that he is?

This article incorporates interviews with Billy Bragg, Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier, Kristin Kontrol, Mew’s Jonas Bjerre, Moby, Thurston Moore, Okkervil River’s Will Sheff, Amanda Palmer, Henry Rollins, Shearwater’s Jonathan Meiburg, Superchunk’s Laura Ballance, and Andrew W.K.

“I don’t know if dark times make for great art, but they do force artists to reach deeper. Everyone is worried. Donald Trump, the Brexit-people are afraid and angry. And history shows that when people are afraid, things can get pretty dark in a hurry.” - Amanda Palmer

“It’s so irrational and disconcerting to see some of my progressive friends saying that they’d rather Donald Trump be president than Hillary Clinton. It’s just baffling to me.” - Moby

“In the United States and in the entire world, some people are worth hundreds and thousands of times more than other people. And once you start thinking about it, you start to feel frantic about how unfair it is.” - Okkervil River’s Will Sheff

“If there were other ways President Obama could get things accomplished in some instances, I think he would have. I am willing to bet all presidents go in with one idea of how it’s going to go and find out that it’s not going to be that way.” - Henry Rollins

“I think if I was still living in NYC I’d be in jail for spray painting ‘People Have the Power - The Power of Love’ on McTrump’s plane.” - Thurston Moore

“Choosing not to vote is not a protest; it’s just throwing your hands up.” - Superchunk’s Laura Ballance

“In Denmark we have a very rightwing party who is part of the government now, and they’re pretty much just racists.” - Mew’s Jonas Bjerre

“For those of us who really want to make the world a better a place, the worst kind of cynicism is our own cynicism, our own sense that nothing will change and no one gives a shit.” - Billy Bragg

“We can still party and celebrate life with one another, even when we can list a million reasons why we shouldn’t or why we think we can’t.” - Andrew W.K.

Blue in a Red State: Learning to Live in an Us vs. Them Country

Since the country is becoming increasingly polarized into red and blue America, for this article writer Matt Fink interviewed politically-active musicians who live in deeply conservative places. Does this influence their creative work to some extent, either by pushing them to work in isolated communities or by offering a constant reminder of the perspectives of those with whom they don’t agree? Is it much easier to be a politically active artist in Brooklyn than it is in the deep South, for example?

The article incorporates interviews with Cursive’s Tim Kasher, The Mynabirds’ Laura Burhenn, of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes, Okkervil River’s Will Sheff, and Shearwater’s Jonathan Meiburg.

“People in New York talk about Texas like it’s some hostile, foreign state where you’re going to get gunned down in the street, and that just wasn’t my experience living here for 13 years.” - Shearwater’s Jonathan Meiburg

“I don’t tend to raise my voice on political issues in Nebraska, as the conservative climate-outside of the arts community -can be a bit stifling.” - Cursive’s Tim Kasher

“When I moved to L.A., I remember driving across the California border and breathing this big sigh of relief that a lot of the basic rights that I was fighting for for my friends, I didn’t have to do that anymore.” - The Mynabirds’ Laura Burhenn

“I just think that it’s so much more important to say to everyone that you love them and that you’re glad that they’re there. You don’t care. You still love them, even if they’re going to vote for Donald Trump.” - Okkervil River’s Will Sheff

To Play or Not to Play: Indie Artists Debate Whether Canceling Shows is an Effective Means of Protest

Artists have cancelled shows in North Carolina to protest House Bill 2 (aka the transgender bathroom law) and refused to tour Israel due to their treatment of Palestinians. But is it more effective to actually play the show and make a statement at the show, rather than canceling and making the fans suffer? For this article Matt Fink speaks to musicians who have consciously decided not to cancel shows.

The article incorporates interviews with Death Cab for Cutie’s Nick Harmer, Rogue Wave’s Zach Rogue, Tacocat’s Emily Nokes, and The Thermals’ Hutch Harris.

“We knew that playing in North Carolina with HB2 being what it is was going to be a real conflict for us internally.” - Death Cab for Cutie’s Nick Harmer

“If we were a massive band and were playing in an arena, then, yeah, absolutely I would [cancel a show in protest], because it would make so much more of a political statement.” - Rogue Wave’s Zach Rogue

“I think it would be unfortunate if we perpetuated a vacuum, like all these liberal bands play in liberal places for liberal people.” - Tacocat’s Emily Nokes

“Every major country is guilty of human rights abuses. If you’re going to boycott countries, start with the United States. Have you seen how our police force treats Black Americans? It’s despicable.” - The Thermals’ Hutch Harris

Sharon Jones: Keeping Soul and Hope Alive

The Protest Issue section also includes an interview with Sharon Jones by Joshua M. Miller in which she discusses her fight with cancer and the need for greater government funding into cancer research.

“Stop getting fat off the people who need the medication. To me that’s robbery.” - Sharon Jones

Protest Sign Photo Shoots

For our signature Protest Issue protest sign photo-shoots we provided musicians poster-board and paint and asked them to make their own protest signs. Then we photographed them holding the signs. The artists were free to write whatever message they liked, it was an exercise in free speech. Then we will be auctioning off all the autographed signs on eBay starting October 18, with all profits being donated to the American Cancer Society. We also encourage our readers to take their own protest sign photos and post them to social media using the hashtag #ProtestIssue. Here is a complete list of artists who did protest sign photo shoots for us:

Amber Arcades
Julien Baker
Banks and Steelz
Best Coast
Billy Bragg
Hayley Bonar
Car Seat Headrest
Everything Everything
Fear of Men
Frankie Cosmos
The Julie Ruin
Kristin Kontrol
Local Natives
Lower Dens
Mass Gothic
Thurston Moore
Kevin Morby
The Mynabirds
Okkervil River
Cullen Omori
Perfect Pussy
Petite Noir
Britta Phillips
Pillar Point
Natalie Prass
Rogue Wave
School of Seven Bells
Slow Club
Still Corners
Super Furry Animals
Tegan and Sara
Wild Beasts
Andrew W.K.
Wye Oak
Xiu Xiu


The front-of-book Detection section features interviews with: Bat For Lashes, Glass Animals, Local Natives, Cass McCombs, Metronomy, Angel Olsen, Preoccupations, Slow Club, Trentemøller, The Veils, Wild Beasts, Wye Oak, and Keegan-Michael Key and Mike Birbiglia on their acclaimed film Don’t Think Twice.

“I had such a strong vision of what the album was to sound like, and I couldn’t describe it to anyone, especially people who are used to doing more pop kind of music.” - Natasha Khan of Bat For Lashes

“I spent two years writing this script, and I would tell people it’s about improv. And then they would go, ‘Oh, so the whole thing is improvised?’” - Mike Birbiglia on his movie Don’t Think Twice

“[ZABA is] safe, and quite tame at parts. It’s nice and ambient, smooth, but with this record we knew a bit more about what we were doing.” - Dave Bayley of Glass Animals

“I think it’s a scary time and there’s a lot of pessimism but there’s also a reason to be optimistic.” - Taylor Rice of Local Natives

“When it comes to injustice and loose political concepts [the rock community’s] eerily silent. Silence is compliance, generally speaking.” - Cass McCombs

“[The album is] about trying to get back to a certain place, and not being able to.” - Joseph Mount of Metronomy

Burn Your Fire is like when I was 17 and first read Dostoyevsky. This album is when I actually experienced loss in my life.” - Angel Olsen

“Goofy Buddies was definitely on the table a lot of different times. It was like, ‘Fuck it! Let’s call the band Goofy Buddies.” - Scott “Monty” Munro of Preoccupations

“Sometimes it hurts, sometimes it’s so funny I cry laughing, sometimes it makes me sick, sometimes I have so much love for the band that I get overwhelmed.” - Rebecca Taylor of Slow Club

“[The Cure’s] Disintegration showed up as a big inspiration for me on Fixion.” - Anders Trentemøller

“[My dad has] always been supportive, but I think the dark tone and energy of this new album shocked him.” - Finn Andrews of The Veils

“Over five albums, I’ve reached the realization that I can’t run anymore. It became a cleansing experience to let the shadows become me.” - Hayden Thorpe of Wild Beasts

“When you make music your job, you dedicate your life to it in such a distinct way. There’s still so much joy in it for us but it’s a different relationship than when we were young and did it just because we loved it.” - Jenn Wasner of Wye Oak


Our Pleased to Meet You new bands section highlights these exciting new artists: The Lemon Twigs, Savoy Motel, Terry, and Whitney.

“It’s strange to me that I just turned 30 and Jay [Reatard] never lived to be that old. I miss him a lot, and he did so much for me.” - Jeffery Novak of Savoy Motel

“Leaving a partner for months at a time to tour is one of the hardest things about the international rock regime.” - Zephyr Pavey of Terry

“Max had gone through a break-up a year before we had started writing. So he was pretty close to those feelings. And I was in the middle of the nastiest, craziest breakup ever.” - Julien Ehrlich of Whitney


For our regular last page feature, The End, we ask a different artist the same set of questions about endings and death. Kevin Barnes from of Montreal is this issue’s participant.

“[My version of hell would be] forcing me to watch a production of Cats while periodically making the sound of an overhead compartment in an airplane being closed really close to my ears.” - Kevin Barnes from of Montreal


Over 55 CDs, films, and comic books are reviewed in the issue, including reviews of releases by:

The Avalanches
Devendra Banhart
Banks & Steelz
Bat For Lashes
Beach Slang
Blood Orange
Billy Bragg and Joe Henry
Brendan Canning
Clams Casino
Crystal Castles
Cymbals Eat Guitars
Morgan Delt
Dinosaur Jr.
The Divine Comedy
Factory Floor
Flock of Dimes
Ezra Furman
Glass Animals
Katy Goodman and Greta Morgan
The Invisible
The Julie Ruin
Local Natives
Cass McCombs
of Montreal
Okkervil River
Angel Olsen
The Parrots
Psychic Twin
Russian Circles
Slow Club
Regina Spektor
Teenage Fanclub
Tegan and Sara
Thee Oh Sees
The Veils
Ryley Walker
Wild Beasts
Wye Oak


Each issue comes with a digital sampler that is a free download and includes up to 33 MP3s. This issue’s digital sampler includes 32 tracks by, among others:

Bat For Lashes
Beyond the Wizards Sleeve
Boxed In
Cub Sport
Cymbals Eat Guitars
Morgan Delt
Dinosaur Jr.
Flock of Dimes
Ezra Furman
The Invisible
Cass McCombs
of Montreal
Okkervil River
Amanda Palmer
Psychic Twin
Savoy Motel
Slow Club
The Veils
Virgin Suicide
Ryley Walker
Weird Dreams
Wild Beasts


The digital version of the issue (available via iTunes, Android, Amazon, Zinio, Readly, Readbug, and Kindle and for all devices) also features extra interviews not found in the print magazine with: Amanda Palmer, of Montreal, Okkervil River, and Virgin Suicide.

“My dad and I were not close growing up. My parents split when I was year old and my dad moved far away. So this album was hugely symbolic for me.” - Amanda Palmer

“As much as we might like to think and as much as things have evolved and gotten better, there is still pretty deep misogyny that exists and some deep phallic-centric energy in the world.” - Kevin Barnes from of Montreal

“I’ve read reviews, lots of them, and I think the stuff that hurts you the most is the positive stuff. The negative stuff can hurt really sharply, but the positive stuff can give you the wrong idea of who you are, and then you start to go, ‘Well, people say they like this. This is what I should do.’ And then you’re doing an impression of yourself.” - Will Sheff of Okkervil River

“I feel very inspired by a lot of graphic parts of sci-fi movies.” - Martin Grønne of Virgin Suicide

The digital magazine also includes 31 bonus reviews not included in the print magazine, including albums by:

The Avett Brothers
Band of Horses
Beyond the Wizards Sleeve
James Blake
Will Butler
DJ Shadow
Floating Points
Gap Dream
Ed Harcourt
Mick Harvey
Kate Jackson
Let’s Eat Grandma
Manic Street Preachers
No Joy
Plants and Animals
Puro Instinct
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Alexis Taylor

Click here to buy the print version of the issue.

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Click here to subscribe to the magazine for iOS devices.

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September 11th 2016

I love Amanda Palmer! We need to start respecting and loving each other in the music industry. There’s way too much confusion… We all want to love one other after all, we just need to get back to our fundamental human roots.

Richard Belly
September 12th 2016

You’ve switched my perspective genuinely. Thank you very much clarifying a whole lot of tasks. Very much ideal to students.

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