Money, money, money. ABBA said it must be funny in a rich man’s world, but a lot has changed since the 70s. A whole lot. We still listen to ABBA and aren’t using the Euro yet, but 2017 differs to 1976 in one key aspect – the prevalence and influence of social media. I don’t really care if you despise Zuckerberg or if you think those Snapchat filters are just “so damn cute!”, the point is these platforms give way for opinions. Lots of people with lots of free time and lots and lots of opinions. Lots.
A band who are reasonably well known for spouting their lots of opinions, unwanted or otherwise, is Fat White Family. You know, those loveable scumbags who openly do too many drugs and go fucking mental on a regular basis? They’re currently attempting to traverse a very wobbly tightrope between balancing their anti-establishment identity and their successful, industry-aligned current situation where they hang out with millionaires. The struggle eh? Must be pretty tough. Fat Whites did certainly struggle to maintain industry and fan interest in the three-year interval between their 2013 debut album Champagne Holocaust and 2016’s Songs For Our Mothers, and when that gained less than fruitful reviews, what was left for the Brixton boys but becoming official trolls of the music industry.
This week presented Fat White Family’s first Facebook gripe of the year concerning former tour mates Slaves and that magic word again, “money”. Basically, Slaves got given some money and Fat Whites weren’t happy about it. Here’s their Facebook post if you haven’t seen it yet.
Last week, the BPI – British Phonographic Industry – announced funding grants to a selection of UK independent labels and management companies to help further particular artists’ careers around the world. These grants are helpfully named with another acronym MEGS – Music Exports Growth Scheme. It was designed for “UK indie music labels & companies to support 21 acts in their overseas promotional touring and marketing”.
Already, Fat Whites have mislead their sheep in describing this “explicitly designed” grant as one to help acts “break through on independent labels”. When in reality its purpose was to help artists with “overseas promotional touring and marketing”. I’d like to immediately point out how important this is as it almost totally invalidates the rest of their short but succinct rant. Why are they trying to rile everyone up in a frenzy about something so inaccurate? To put the spotlight on independent artists that are so often fucked over by the corporate machine and help out the little guy? Perhaps. Or was it simply to deflect the unjustness of this cruel, cruel industry that’s done their careers and bank accounts so well onto Slaves so that no-one will notice? Seems more likely to me.
It’s very easy to get up in arms about Slaves taking money away from indie acts after reading Fat White Family’s propaganda, but significantly more difficult when you realised that’s simply not the case. There was a cash pot of almost a quarter of a million pounds (£249,385) split between 21 artists who received the grant. Find the full list and more info here. I mean sure, some acts likely received more than others, but that’s an average of almost £12,000. A momentous amount of money. Especially for an emerging act like Tigercub, Mt. Wolf or Jamie Isaac. All independent and all desperate to keep their careers on the move. Luckily for them, they did receive a chunk of the funding. Oh yeah, Fat Whites forgot to mention that didn’t they. Silly billies! Many independent artists who “NEED it” will in fact receive funding from the MEGS also. 20 others in fact. It’s very clear when reading this list that the majority are upcoming independent acts who require the money. Who’d a thunk it… It’s as though they skipped over that entirely!
Now, I am very much attempting to make the point here that Fat White Family are either idiots, liars or very smart when it comes to influencing the public’s perception of them. Possibly all three. This is entirely in reference to the above Facebook post which is straight up bullshit. Slating “the man” or the “faceless suits” or whatever you want to call it makes them look cool to their fans. That’s basically the end of it.
However, there are elements of this scheme that appear slightly unjust. BPI spokesperson Gennaro Castaldo confirmed that Slaves’ management company Seven 7 Artist Management “are fully eligible to apply as a small music company”. This may be true, but surely the mere fact the band are already a huge international act on a major label would make some kind of impact on the decision? Fat White Family weren’t lying for once in the fact that Slaves most likely do receive 10-20K per festival slot, and they fundamentally do not require additional funds to get across the pond, even for SXSW. There is no disputing their management company’s right to apply for this money, only the BPI’s questionable decisions in awarding it to them.
It’s very clear by reading the BPI’s official statement on their website, which artists and companies this money is life-changing for, and which it’s seemingly no more than petty cash. For example, TIGERCUB & Alcopop! Records quote below:
And then another band granted cash who are hardly living on the streets…
I mean bloody hell our image border is almost bigger than the quote itself. Although to be fair to White Lies, Slaves didn’t even bother commenting.
This is all beside the point. I’m not here to have a go at the BPI because it’s their money and they can do what they want with it. I’m here to try and establish that Fat White Family are a straight up dead meme and we should treat them as such. Their fictitious statements and exaggerations are nothing but distractions from the real issues at hand. Plenty of other financial grants are available and advertised to upcoming UK artists from institutions like the Arts Council, PRS For Music Foundation and others in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The focus here should be shifted to the positive impact these grants have on new artists and assisting the promotion of their careers, rather than the distain of those already in the big leagues. To reiterate this, here is the full list of successful applicants I would recommend perusing and I have also selected 5 of those you should definitely check out at the end of this article.
Crack Magazine said in their review of Fat White Family’s latest LP that the band “might like to think they represent our supposedly doomed generation, [but] their brand of vain nihilism is probably the one thing that’s holding the rest of us back”. I think this pretty much sums up everything I feel about Fat White Family. Although they may think they’re exposing and building on the right topics of controversy, really, they’re simply making discussions that beg to be transparent, more opaque than ever.
Tell Elli that Fat White Family are the real punk rock on Twitter @cometobrazzill.
TIGERCUB (Alcopop! Records) – Brighton “grungy” rock trio James, Jamie & Jimi came together in 2010, heavily influenced by Nirvana, Sonic Youth and other 90s rock acts.
Boxed In (Moshi Moshi Music) – British singer, songwriter & producer Oli Bayston leads English Electro Dance-Pop 4-piece. With two album releases to date – Boxed In (2015) and Melt (2016).
Jamie Isaac (Marathon Artists) – BRIT School classically trained vocalist & pianist from Croydon, whose work spans jazz, R&B, soul, hip hop & electronica. His acclaimed debut LP Couch Baby was released in July 2016.
GUNSHIP (Horsie in the Hedge) – British synthwave band formed by Dan Haigh, Alex Westaway & Alex Gingell, “influenced by the soundtracks of 80s film, TV shows, video games & cartoons”.
Clock Opera (Venn Productions) – London-based British indie rock act fronted by founder Guy Connelly. The 4-piece have a debut LP Ways to Forget to their name, with plans to release a second album Venn in 2017.