Eddy Says

Eddy Says: An alternative Christmas Carol (a good old fashioned, yuletide rant)

By | Published on Tuesday 21 December 2010

Cage Against The Machine

So, the Christmas chart race is over, and I’m looking back on this past two weeks with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I can’t lie, I’m really disappointed with a chart position of 21. But I’m not surprised. In much the same way that I’m gutted that between four and five times as many men commit suicide following depression than women, but not surprised, because I know how awful we men are at communicating.

In many ways, a chart position of just 21 reflects the degree of apathy the public, as a whole, feels about the causes our campaign was supporting, in particular tackling the issues of tinnitus and depression. On the up side, we did, of course, raise a little money for all our chosen charities, but not enough really. To put it in context, my friend just raised four times the amount we’ll have generated for the British Tinnitus Association, or for the Campaign Against Living Miserably. And she did that on her own, just by sending an email round to all her mates. She’s now building a school in Pakistan.

But just as 21 is gutting, it shouldn’t overshadow what we achieved, which was significant. We did something amazing, something powerful and something important. Looking deeper, we won a great victory. For art. For music. And most of all, for awareness. We came in at number two in the independent singles chart and, truth be told, we came in at number two in terms of awareness. The press reported this as a two horse race – us and ‘The X-Factor’. And we were everywhere. Silence has never caused so much noise.

From New York to LA, Rome to Amsterdam, everyone was talking about our project. We were featured in every newspaper you would care to mention, from the Telegraph to The Sport, on blogs and websites, TV programmes, even ‘Have I Got News For You’! Rage Against The Machine tweeted about us and The Prodigy made a statement in support. Xfm got behind the whole thing in an amazing way, and radio stations all over the country were talking about it. Well, with one notable exception. It’s a shame that was the biggest one.

I’m not surprised that Radio 1 gave so much coverage to ‘The X-Factor’, while giving us none. We know that particular talent show is incredibly popular amongst Radio 1’s young listeners (well daytime listeners, anyway) and the station is right to reflect that. But the BBC does have a duty to be impartial, and while I appreciate this wasn’t a General Election or anything, as the home of the UK music charts, you’d have thought Radio 1 might have shown a little impartiality on this one too.

And, more importantly than that, the BBC has a duty to educate and inform. Surely it’s Radio 1’s young, music hungry listeners who are most at risk of screwing up their hearing and suffering from tinnitus for the rest of their lives. And, I’m very sad to say, it’s Radio 1’s young demographic who are statistically most at risk from the horrors of suicidal depression. Surely this was a great opportunity to give these issues – of direct concern to their audience – a little airtime? It seems not. And I mean not at all. Which just seems a little unprofessional, embarrassing, and really, really mean-spirited.

We were at number eighteen in the midweek chart rundown, which is now aired on Radio 1 on a Wednesday afternoon, but when DJ Greg James went through the top 20 he completely blanked us. No mention of what it was, no mention of the fact it was for charity, nothing about who the charities were, nothing.

Then Sunday came along. Surely the official voice of the Top 40 would make amends. Would be factual. Would be informative? Would be impartial – yes? Yes???? YES!!????


Reggie Yates. You should be ashamed of yourself. One in ten of your listeners will get tinnitus, one in ten will already have it. You denied them a phone line that can be open 24 hours a day to help.

Reggie’s producer. You should also be ashamed of yourself. Everyday, three or four of your listeners who suffer from depression will kill themselves. Three of them will be boys. You could have helped, but you didn’t. Why is that?

There is no way on Earth that Reggie or his producer could have avoided Cage Against The Machine last week. We were the number one story on the BBC website. Pretty much every newspaper in the English speaking world reported it. We were on the news bulletins of every TV station and pretty much every radio station and music website in the western world last week. There are, as yet, undiscovered tribes in the Amazon rainforest who knew about this single via the BBC World Service.

But when the chart rolled out on Sunday, Reggie blanked us the same way as Greg James had so ungraciously on Wednesday.

There was no mention of the fact it was for charity. That so many great artists had given their time for free to make it happen. Nothing. It may as well have been Kunt And The Gang at 21 with their Christmas number one contender ‘Use My Arsehole As A Cunt’ (which is actually at 66). In fact, I’d be so bold as to say that if Wayne (that is his real name, his parents didn’t really christen him Kunt) had got his single into the Top 40, Reggie would have given it more attention that he did ‘4’33″‘. He just gave the title, said it was by John Cage, made a joke about the fact that it was written in 1952, and then spoke about the British Legion’s ‘Two Minute Silence’ single – that was really newsworthy a whole month ago and has already been and gone in the charts – and played a few seconds of our recording and then moved on.

So, either Reggie is so astonishingly out of touch, so painfully slow, and so buttock clenchingly stupid that he didn’t know anything about Cage Against The Machine, or he did know and chose to blank us. Now why would that happen? Surely Radio 1 would not be so petty as to blank a charity single because someone at a rival radio station was one of the many people involved? I really can’t believe that Reggie’s producer would be petty enough, or mean enough, to do that. But I’m just struggling to come to terms with WHY else he blanked us?

Reggie talked enthusiastically about the Help For Heroes charity campaign on the same show. Why on Earth would you plug one charity, and snub another five? ‘4’33″‘ was a record that had the soul aim of raising money and awareness for five music-related charities, including the two catastrophically neglected organisations I’ve mentioned above and here before. So why did every Radio 1 DJ who was faced with it, treat it like a fresh turd sullying their new Nikes?

I’ve worked at Radio 1. I know how it works. These people have producers who tell them what to play and tell them what to say, and when to say it. So, why were Reggie, Greg and others seemingly told to blank this record? To be honest, given the huge awareness of our project, I can only currently think of two explanations. Either Reggie’s producer said: “It’s about depression, and that ringing in your ears thing, it’s really depressing, don’t mention it”, or it was: “There’s an Xfm presenter involved in this, don’t mention it”.

This Xfm presenter mentions the BBC on Xfm frequently. I mention their amazing website. I talk about and recommend their specialist shows, Annie N, Annie M, Alex, Kissy, Toddla, Mistajam, Fab n Groove almost weekly, I do this because we are ALL ON THE SAME SIDE. I gave huge support to BBC 6music in their hour of need. I wrote an open love letter to the BBC and asked all my fans and colleagues to fill in that BBC public consultation form and stop them from axing such an important station. That’s why I’m sick to my stomach about this.

It’s all so petty, so short sighted and so incredibly mean. Goddamit, it’s so un-Christmas-like. They haven’t even given the option to ‘listen again’ to our track on their Top 40 website. It’s the only track that’s ignored. The Mr Scruff remix would have been perfect.

I feel dismay.

All I can say to Radio 1 is this: Your warmth and generosity at this time of year is the stuff of legend. Charles Dickens’ legend, that is. I’m imagining you with a Victorian sleep hat, yelling at the nice, rosy cheeked kids playing in the snow outside your door. I hear your old, bilious voice, rasping down at them from behind your musty net curtains, the corners of your mouth white with angry spittle as you as you shake your boney fist and yell: “BAAAH… HUMBUG!”

Given Radio 1’s inability to do the right thing, allow me to show them how it’s done. The BBC, elsewhere, supported this project with open arms and big hearts. BBC Entertainment News, 6music, local radio (especially BBC Hereford & Worcester, BBC Radio Manchester and BBC Scotland) and bbc.co.uk covered us, and wrote and talked about the project and our charities. I’ll even go as far as to say that the most intelligent and thoughtful coverage of all (aside from CMU, which all the CATM organisers said was by far the best researched and reported coverage of all) was this great piece of multimedia work by someone in the BBC’s web team which captures the spirit of what we did beautifully: www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-12021661

But enough. Because despite a little disappointment and a lot of dismay (but only in Radio 1’s direction!), as I said, we achieved a lot in a short time and a lot of people should be thanked for their support. All the media mentioned above who did cover our work and big up our causes, all the artists and crew who gave so much time and effort to make this happen, to the guys at Wall Of Sound and Dean Street Studios, and the original Cage Against The Machine team who let us join their party, and, most importantly, everyone who bought the record.

And don’t forget, it’s not over yet. Hopefully you’ve already bought our main ‘4’33″‘ recording, but don’t forget the remixes. Artistically speaking, these are particularly pleasing and great to experience, in addition to them further contributing to the BTA, CALM and the other CATM causes. As I’ve mentioned before, these are pocket call type recordings documenting the sounds that surround some of our favourite producers, like Mr Scruff, Fake Blood, Aeroplane and Alex Metric. Track them down on iTunes or wherever, donate, download and enjoy!

It’s been a manic month for me, and I can’t wait for the Christmas break. But I wouldn’t dare do that without first hosting one last party. And that’s the Club Remix ‘Christmash’ Party at the Proud Gallery in Camden on Thursday night (23 Dec). Krafty Kuts is doing a special party set for us, and it’s his only show in London for months. So join us for that, then have a peaceful but communicative Christmas before joining me for a special eight hour Remix on Xfm on New Years Day. Eddy Says will return in mid-January.

X eddy