A Mutiny To Unity: This Musical Intersectionality 'Deep Blue She' Is Fighting For Women, Gay Rights With Progressive Lyrics

'We decide the frame, the angle, the dress, the dance. We tell our tales ourselves.'

A Mutiny To Unity: This Musical Intersectionality 'Deep Blue She' Is Fighting For Women, Gay Rights With Progressive Lyrics
A Mutiny To Unity: This Musical Intersectionality 'Deep Blue She' Is Fighting For Women, Gay Rights With Progressive Lyrics

World overboard!
Better love your daughters more!
World overboard!
Better love your daughters (love your daughters!)

Raise your sons to lay down swords!
Steer this city back on course!
Raise your sons to lay down swords!
Steer this city back on course!

These are the opening lyrics to Deep Blue She, a track from the album Bombay Spleen, which accompanied author/musician Tanuja Desai Hidier’s 2014 novel Bombay Blues. This particular track was catalysed by the Nirbhaya gangrape case in New Delhi in 2012 and also addressed issues like the continuing criminalisation of homosexuality in India and the legality of marital rape.

While that track may be nearly three years distant, it has now been remixed and released as a video that riffs on these themes, though the context may be more American now. As Desai Hidier said in an interview from Wilbraham, the town in Massachusetts where she grew up, “The day of the US election result (November 9 last year) catalysed the video project, and doing the remix. After a morning spent ramblingly assuring my stunned daughters that things were going to be okay, that a positive force always rises up to push back, transform the negative…and then the tears I cried at the kitchen table by myself after dropping them off to school…I felt I had to do something. Do the very thing I told them in order to comfort them and hold the hope: Make a little piece of positive force.”

That something, she expected would take a month, but as events unfolded, they demanded inclusion, like the protests following Donald Trump’s election as the 45th President of the United States, the women’s marches that followed his swearing-in, to the #MeToo campaign recently after a spate of sexual harassment claims against major personalities in Hollywood, American media and even politics, emerged.

Credit: AliCali Photo

She lived in London at that time and “these US events felt like part of the same abominable continuum (and maybe that’s why lyrics I wrote a few years ago seemed to fit events happening now), spreading from the same toxic soil - right up through now, and the resurgence of #MeToo. The roots of the issues are intertwined. The fight for women’s/LGBTQ/human rights and racial equality/gender equity is one that must be fought together. And I wanted the video to reflect that, to be as inclusive and diverse as possible from my world — in terms of race, religion, gender, sexuality, also ableism and age, hence in utero footage up through the elderly,” she said, adding, “And the project is also a celebration of our communities. Many participants are survivors. All are fighters of the good fight. The video also incorporates original art, some made for the project, and news footage and events, mostly filmed by participants (such as the Women’s March in NY, DC, and Standing Rock). In a way, this video is a literal record of the last year — and a kind of womanifesto to keep on keeping on, our mutiny towards unity, into the future. To nevertheless persist, resist, insist.”

This remixed version took nearly a year, actually 364 days, to complete, and features over a 100 participants, mainly artists and activists, with the majority with roots in the subcontinent. Among them is Anoushka Shankar, with a sitar part incorporated into the video. Edited by Atom Fellows, the remix was produced by Dave Sharma, and the “idea was/is to come together in an act of musical intersectionality—a Mutiny to Unity—to raise awareness of the song’s issues/themes (putting an end to violence against women, homophobia, racism, rape culture, ‘Othering’) and direct people towards help and ways to support,” according to the statement accompanying its release.

Still from the DeepBlueShe video

The participants in the project dubbed The We, who got involved DIY style. “The video was filmed mostly on cellphones, by The We, all over the world, the idea being that ‘we decide the frame, the angle, the dress, the dance. We tell our tales ourselves.’ The message to The We for filming was to ‘wear what they liked, dance however they felt — ‘dance’ being whatever felt right. ‘Be who you are, bring yourself freely to the project. And thank you for being you. And all you do for the We’,” Desai Hidier said.

The track that emerged from the project, fully titled DEEP BLUE SHE #Mutiny2Unity #MeToo WeMix, is available for streaming/download and proceeds will be donated rotating charities beginning with the Mahendra Singh Foundation  which helps “victims of physical and sexual abuse, acid attacks, rape and domestic violence in rebuilding their confidence and strength on their journey to becoming survivor.”

This track is of the We Are The World variety though with a desi edge to define the times to The We, and everyone else, lives in. 

(For more on the project: www.thisistanuja.com/DeepBlueShe)

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