It wasn’t too long ago that Australian pop duo President Street, fronted by the gorgeous Ruby, released their topical political anthem, “TIME IS UP”. We sat down with the pair to find out more about activism and their plans for the coming months…
Hey President Street! How are you doing? What’s the lockdown situation like in Australia at the moment?
Hey! We’re doing really well thanks guys! Thankfully we’ve been pretty lucky on the lockdown front for the past 6 months. We’re mostly open now with no cases in our state (Victoria) for the past month which is fantastic so most restrictions have been lifted. We’re definitely feeling very grateful! We’re also really pleased to see that the UK is planning the end of its lockdown which is also fantastic!
What originally inspired you to write your latest track, ‘Time Is Up’?
Originally the seed was first planted around the marriage equality movement in Australia and then the Me Too movement around the world. It was driven by feeling so fed up with such poor, hateful and oppressive behaviour, especially by those in positions of power. Rather than giving into the feeling of powerlessness ourselves (as it can feel overwhelming seeing the negative news on TV from around the world), there were also the heart-warming messages that David is up against Goliath and that finally, this time, David seemed to have far greater support. So really, the most overwhelming feeling and inspiration for “Time Is Up” was one of hope when we saw so many people of all ages, ethnicities and sexuality all rallying around these causes that hit us.
We actually sat on the song for a while after that as we really wanted to get it right and find the right balance between sending a strong message of the issues at hand yet still lyrically and musically having a feeling of hope and unity. It was the Black Lives Matter movement that compelled the song into its completion. We wanted it lyrically to both literally and metaphorically be translated into an empowering anthem for any issue and any minority or oppressed group as well as all the people in the world who want to make a difference for humanity. We wanted people to listen to it and feel energised to never give up fighting for equal rights and equitable, humane treatment for all. Struggle in the end can absolutely make us stronger, so “Time Is Up” is about sticking together and using our voices and power as the people to move society forward in a positive light.
What are the ways in which you’ve been getting involved in activism since the release of your single?
Lockdown has definitely limited everyone’s ability to physically get out and protest in groups, however, wherever we can try to lend our voice in the online space it’s important to do that. The power of social media and the internet connecting the world at large has been amazing in driving the narratives and voices of minorities to the forefront. It’s been great to see the larger community of people around the world coming together and feeling the power in numbers to speak up and continue spreading messages of respect and acceptance. For us personally during lockdown, initiating conversations with friends and family rather than shying away from previously contentious or politically tense issues has been very powerful in opening up the narrative to each other’s experiences and also where our biases and blind spots lie. It’s powerful to bring up these conversations and have real discussions to hold each other accountable and to be an ally to others so more people can walk this earth feeling seen, heard, respected, accepted, and safe.
How would you suggest people around the world can do their bit to help out with the cause/s that we face?
First and foremost, initiate conversations with friends and family and if/when anyone expresses oppressive, racist and/or discriminatory attitudes and behaviour – as hard as it is – listen in a way to still hold space for them and just hear them out first because everyone’s natural desire is to feel seen and heard. To work from a point of lowering their defences first can have a meaningful effect on opening up dialogue and them being more receptive to what you have to offer in an effort to shift their attitudes and behaviours. But, at the end of the day we can’t allow damaging behaviour, so where discussions aren’t progressive, being someone who can sternly express the unacceptability of certain attitudes and behaviour towards others is important. Apart from that ground work and as much as it starts there, it’s incredibly impactful to attend peaceful marches and protests to push the agenda into mainstream media for others to see and for politicians to address. Being part of political change has a massive real-life effect on the lives of all of us, especially those in minorities who need representation the most – signing petitions, writing letters or using pre-written templates and sending them to members of parliament to push for the agenda to be addressed. Ultimately, using our voices where ever we can and financially supporting causes where possible.
What practical changes are you fighting for in particular at the moment?
Between us, we’ve volunteered our time with organisations involved in child protection and also animal welfare. These causes continue to remain close to our hearts in addition to so many others! Practical changes we would love to see happen at the moment are definitely for the UK’s Policing Bill to continue to allow the right to peacefully protest. So many important changes have been instigated in Parliaments all over the world because of people pushing for needed change. Changes in laws and policing discriminatory behaviour, hate crimes, and human trafficking are the most practical changes to be made in order to make the world a safer place for all. We would also love to see more education in schools, workplaces and prisons about human difference and how there is no one size fits all to being and living… education about psychology, emotions and how cognition works and how it can fail us counterproductively. Such understanding, kindness and consciousness towards ourselves allows less anger, fear, ego and entitlement within us to be negatively projected onto others and into the world.
Finally, what’s next for President Street, in terms of activism and music?
In terms of music, we’re planning on getting over to the UK and Europe towards the end of 2021 and it looks like we’ll be back again in the summer of 2022. We’re super excited about that and we’ve got some new tracks to release also. In terms of activism, we’ll continue lending our voice in the online space, at marches and signing petitions along with making music that will always be from the heart with the desire to uplift and spread love.
Thank you so much President Street! Until next time…
Keep connected with President Street