Welcome to Downtime: a regular series in which we ask our favourite artists for their cultural recommendations. This month, we catch up with Pelada.
Coming up through Montreal’s warehouse rave scene, Pelada inhabit a unique space in electronic music. The duo, made up of vocalist Chris Vargas and producer Tobias Rochman, fuse a patchwork of influences to create an entirely new sound. Hints of acid techno, punk, reggaeton and even Vargas’ native Colombian cumbia all fold into the mix, augmented by lyrics of political resistance, digital surveillance and capitalist corruption. It’s no wonder, then, that when asked about their reading habits, Rochman recommended a fascinating selection of political texts.
The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of PowerBy Shoshana Zuboff
This book is a masterpiece. It’s about how a new economic order (Big Data – Google, Facebook, etc.) has emerged which mines human experience for hidden commercial practices. What these big tech companies are really dealing in is behavioural modification, figuring out what makes you tick and then nudging you in certain directions, using highly advanced and personalised persuasion techniques. The scope of this book is broad (it’s also four inches thick, sorry!), but I really couldn’t put it down. In one chapter, for instance, there is a great examination of Pokémon Go and how it essentially exists to physically herd consumers into retail spaces, guided by an invisible hand. What are our basic human rights in the digital age?
Democracy May Not Exist, But We’ll Miss It When It’s GoneBy Astra Taylor
Astra Taylor is a filmmaker, author and activist who was originally part of the Occupy Wall Street movement. She also does activism work through The Debt Collective, a grassroots organisation which buys back people’s student and medical debt on a secondary market, thus erasing millions of dollars of real debt.
Taylor’s new book questions what democracy is, was, if it ever was, and what it could be. It demonstrates that freedom and equality aren’t the same thing, nor should they be pitted against each other. This collection of deep dives is wonderful, and it doesn’t take a position but rather presents a lot of information and lets you draw your own conclusions.
On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New DealBy Naomi Klein
OK, this one just arrived, so I’m still working my way through it – but I had to include it. Naomi Klein has been one of my favourite authors since I was in high school reading her takedown of corporate globalisation, sweatshops and brand culture in No Logo. She really is one of the definitive voices in climate crisis literature.
The climate crisis seems less abstract, as scientists now urge us that we have only 10 years left to become carbon neutral to avoid a complete collapse. Klein does an excellent job of connecting the dots between economic inequality, systemic racism and unregulated capitalism. She uses Green New Deal as a catalyst for action. If we need to make a huge, radical change quickly, we need everyone on board, and in order to get everyone on board we need to make sure everyone’s voices are heard. I feel like that’s the missing puzzle piece and we really need to start hammering that point home. This book does that.
Movimiento Para Cambio is out now via PAN