text by Ryoko Kuwahara
photo by Syd Shelton

「普通の人が世界を変える」『白い暴動』ルビカ・シャー監督 x TAIGEN KAWABE(BO NINGEN)対談/Interview with Director Rubika Shah and TAIGEN KAWABE(BO NINGEN)about “White Riot”

photograph by Syd Shelton

Rubika Shah:Where are you? Where about in London are you guys?

TAIGEN:I’m in east London.

Rubika Shah:How’s it there?

TAIGEN: It’s okay. I mean panic buying stuff is not enormous. People on the street, especially around canal and Hackney Marshes is really busy , bit way too much and too relaxing for this lockdown. and I try to go out every 3rd day to buy essentials from shops but I tried to walk around the canal last weekend as I haven’t tried any exercises outside, some people were doing picnic around there. It was a bit kinda too much, it’s nothing wrong with having a nice time, but well I think some people have less tension about what it means to have lockdowns and so it’s kinda of a mixed feeling. It is a bit awkward about how people got slightly different ideas and different intention about this lockdown. I mean I’m gonna ask you the situation of the lockdown in a bit as well but what about you? Where about do you live?

Rubika Shah: I’m in South East London right now. I mean like I haven’t. I mean my local park, we just went to the local park, I usually go, we try to keep everyday but I go like probably every other day. And it alternates. It depends but, we didn’t go today actually, we got garden so it was fine because we have a lot of you know we have to search the garden so that was fine. Umm but also because I thought you know if it’s going to be busy out, I did not want to be part of that, because I’m starting to feel bad that you and I kinda want this to be over now.

TAIGEN: Exactly. Yeah it’s really mixed feeling, isn’t it? I want to go out, but I kinda wanna save it for the society as well, for the health, but also..

Rubika Shah: Exactly,

TAIGEN: So basically, I was really impressed about your film. Obviously Ryoko(editor of NeoL) recommended me to watch, but I was really really encouraged after watching it.

Rubika Shah:Oh wow, thank you. That means a lot to me actually. Thank you.

TAIGEN:Yeah, because as I mentioned, I’m a Japanese musician and I have been here for like 15 years and rest of the band mate are Japanese too. I do singing in Japanese so I feel like an alien in both good and bad way as human living in London, also survive as musician and singing in Japanese So I found really resonate with the film and also like you know my music influence after I moved to London, UK bass music, Kinda a Rabel music. those music really connected with immigrant culture and also it has a kind of antiracism and some people got political message as well.

Rubika Shah:Oh, interesting.

TAIGEN:But actually, I feel a bit embarrassed because I didn’t really know about rock against racism thing. So it was actually good history study for me and recognize what really happened in London before I came here.So I wanted to say thank you first.

Rubika Shah:Great.That’s the point of making film isn’t it? To be shining light on, it is to try bring more people to the story and to help you know to get the word out there because I didn’t know about it before, umm found out about it. I even found out about it,six years ago.

TAIGEN:How did you find out?

Rubika Shah:So I made a film about this.

TAIGEN: Oh right! Ok.

Rubika Shah:Yeah, little documentary video and so off the back of that, I was very intrigued with any kinds of stories I guess around music. I love music, I used to work at Universal Music label, so I have a music background, so I have always been interested in that and I’m also really into archive so any archive I found like moving image that really interests me I just jump on that, I watched the archive of Notting Hill Carnival just a really classic stuff. I think I saw somewhere, I watched it and I saw The Clash and they were saying white riot and they say bunch of other stuff too. I was just like oh my god, I can’t believe I didn’t know about this, because I’m quite big fan of The Clash.

TAIGEN: Ohh right.

Rubika Shah:I was brought up here, I’m very aware of you know antiracism and politics okay, but I hadn’t heard of Rock Against Racism and so I just got into it, investigating it I guess, searching for more and my producer Ed Gibbs that I worked with, who was interested in all this kind of stuff, So we just put our heads together and just how we are going to make this film.

TAIGEN: Oh, that’s interesting. Anything that triggered you when you found out? Like anything that triggered you to have a motivation to make it into the film or like make it focused on rock against racism or like name it as a White Riot?

Rubika Shah:So we always need, we always wanted to make a film about it. We did make an experimental show for White Riot in London, which was a kind of test take for the feature, but not really, because it’s quite different if you watch it, artsy and experimental, whereas the film is much more like punk and it’s quite big and loud and noisy, so we always knew from the start of wanting to finish with white riot, just felt like the right thing to do. Also, look at racism itself was bunch of white people standing out to racism, to me white riot then just felt you know their rights and they are causing the riot against racism.

TAIGEN:Yeah that’s really interesting like name isn’t it? Actually, then it made more sense than after watching your film.

Rubika Shah:Oh, good. I’m glad because it’s not really about the fashion back then but they are part of it.

TAIGEN:Yeah That’ s actually one good point I found. Obviously, especially in Japan, I’m sure many people who love punk who love The Clash and that song but like that might be kind of the reason why they went to watch your film. Then, didn’t know about rock against racism and they even didn’t know about the history of the punk and racism in UK. Then, they found it out, that’s actually a really good starting point of people just love the music itself, then having the meaning behind so they can understand more of the music itself and the lyrics and the history and the time, which I didn’t know a lot so. During making the film or when you interviewed people or during the editing process, have you found anything new or changed anything in your mind or have you recognized the reality? Like, anything new?

Rubika Shah:I guess yeah, the 70s was the hard time for people, for minority. You know there was a lot of racism and was a very violent time. I knew about that but I just realized how violent that was and shocked about that.. It was just so violent, people dying and stuff. Crazy. But then, I also found it really inspirational because you know you got these young people that are basically like make something from nothing like Rock Against Racism. There was no internet, there was no twitter or anything, it was like literally people picking up their phone and calling and spreading the word in magazines and letter writing and that just blew my mind. I mean the more I learn about rock against racism, about how they operate, that made me wanna tell the story more. More determined to get it made.

TAIGEN:That’s a interesting point, like before internet era, so that was like very exciting part of how they got together, then how they contacted each other, how they made a zine. Like what we call it now, but its pretty much like a DIY newspaper right?

Rubika Shah:Exactly, yeah.

TAIGEN:That was really exciting. You know we still grow up with internet. More information. So I mean that is connected to my question about, I am curious about how people nowadays got impact after watching your film because so many issues can apply for our current situation. Maybe I should mention the lockdown for a different question, but I am very curious about how people react and how people are going to apply for getting into politics or doing actions. or Have you got any interesting feedbacks?

Rubika Shah:Yeah, umm so we actually because of coronavirus we’ve only managed to screen it at London and Berlin so far, it has all bunch of festivals, it’s screening online so it’s difficult for me to say as the festival is doing online now , but in London and Berlin, the feedback was incredible. All the screenings were sold out, in London, there was a mixture of just regular people, like regular punkstars and also people who have been to the carnival and people involved in the movement came to the cinema and that was just fantastic to hear them. They were all really positive about it, did a good job putting it together, really authentic, brought a lot of memories back especially that love. In Berlin, it was more different crowd. People were really moved, one of the award fell in actually,.


Rubika Shah:So touching because the people were just really moved by it and I think it’s because it tapped into sadly it taps into things that are happening now. Like the right wing and racism.

TAIGEN:Yeah, racism and those kind of politics problem is really depends on the country isn’t it. So it’s interesting to hear the difference between UK and Germany.

Rubika Shah:Yeah,yeah.I mean actually they are quite similar in a lot of ways. A lot of similarity within the rise of the right wing with politics and used in mainstream obviously actually feels like another life time ago now but that still alive. and in Germany, they just had, there was this recent attack on certain muslims in Germany.The Right wing is active and have happened recently, so recently it is continuing to happen. Before, we didn’t hear about them that often now. We are not sure of the feedback, we can’t wait to get it out there so it is great to hear more.

TAIGEN:Yeah, I mean I wanna get you know feedbacks from Japan as well.

Rubika Shah:Yeah, that seems very soon doesn’t it.

TAIGEN:Yeah, also it’s kinda actually quite related to Covid-19 and lockdown too, because more foreigners in Japan compared to 15 years ago, but it’s like Japanese are still closed compared to London or Berlin., it’s quite sad in Japan, the Japanese government made musician venues and nightclubs, and sex workers the scapegoat.
Everyone knows the situation in Europe and States is really chaos, but Japanese government haven’t done lock down yet and just asking people not to go out without any funds or support, and they kind of blame on musicians and venues, night and sex workers.

So it’s actually sad to see, those musicians are almost like targeting it’s kinda similar to occupation discrimination. The government’s fund and support are really slow now and they have not really announced yet. They just announced to give 2 masks for each household, which means we get 2 masks and that’s it for now(as of 7th April). I’m pretty sure they are going to prepare government fund and money support, but I mean what we got so far is 2 masks, which is a joke and waste of money. I know many musician friends in Japan, they try to go against that and do a demo, but especially in this lockdown, you can’t really do demo outside Campaigns online, actually that also kinda connects to what I was asking you about how people do demo and political actions and activities online during this lockdown. Even in this 2020, what can we do during this lockdown, also after this lockdown, do you have any ideas?

Rubika Shah:Definitely, yeah. After the lockdown, we will go through some extinsional rebellion, I think they are leading the way in terms of showing Europeans changed opinions and you can change the policy or at least get in front of the right people by doing physical demonstrations. You know, I think that is very powerful and that’s actually really like 2020 version of rock against racism and the roots of those ideas comes from rock against racism and I would not be surprised if, there were people that were in part of rock against racism back in the days, maybe some their kids are doing extinsional rebellion. So that’s a very good example. I think more of those kinds of stuff can happen. The thing with London is, even though the world is getting smaller in some ways, so much media and we are on devices so much, there could be demonstrations happening on other things, you never know about.

TAIGEN: Yeah, true.

Rubika Shah:Because news is very selective of what they cover and they can be really selective. Umm doing a lot of their work, we see how it goes, just talk of like, feels it could be a police state, which kinda scary in itself.

TAIGEN: It’s like people can get fake information much easier than when Fukushima meltdown thing happened There’s so many like, not meant to be fake or anything, but so many information. I was in UK already, but like when I checked online, there were so many fake information, people really confused and got mentally really sick. You know the media, the newspapers, TV,radio are getting less power, now we got internet and even more chaos and kinda out of hand sometimes. That’s what I felt when this happened and it’s not only in Japan or not only in London, it’s everywhere in the world. Exactly at the same time. The situations in Italy is much strict and you get arrested going out without the paper and stuff.

Rubika Shah: Yeah, I know. It’s crazy I mean, seeing them, people living really urban centered, like how you can get around, I mean what are you going to do? You need to get fresh air, I guess. People need to get hands on it as if they have. I haven’t been reading the news that much because, it just seems like it’s doing the same thing everyday.

TAIGEN: Exactly yeah.I try not to as well. Try to check the news only morning and evening, I check it more but, try to restrict myself.

Rubika Shah:When I wake up that’s probably me done. It sounds a bit sassy but I’m just not into ir.. It’s quite surreal isn’t it?

TAIGEN:It’s really surreal. Ryoko told me about you and your film and I watched it 3 weeks ago I think. so it was just before the lockdown, but I could see how people started to get confusing. And like, start to get panicked in here, not Japan at that time yet, but actually it was good time to watch it. Because I can resonate and put those things connect well with what’s going on right now in 2020 but also like this lockdown and coronavirus and everything.

Rubika Shah: Yeah, like sci-fi film. I am a big fan of that. the“Children of Men” is my favorite film, have you seen it?

TAIGEN:No, I haven’t.

Rubika Shah: It’s by Alfonso Cuarón who did the “Roma” and the big space movie with George Clooney (“Gravity”)anyways he did a film I think it’s called “Children of Men”.. and I really recommend it.

TAIGEN:I’ll definitely check it out.haha

Rubika Shah: Well, you definitely have time now. haha

TAIGEN:Exactly, exactly. Now is a good time to start a new project. Obviously, like all my gigs are cancelled and yeah really struggled financially, but I’ve got time to do as a musician I can do some works and well I started to learn final cut pro because it has 90 days free because of the corona thing and I’m just making the music video by myself, often try to start new things and think about how I can do self-isolation like streaming and I did an Instagram live in my room and my friend in Japan in hospital could watch it and he was really happy about it. I thought there is a potential in doing what I can do and I am not sure what is going to happen in how long it will stay like this, but I want to evolve myself as a musician or artist or human to adjust and just think about new things, which I didn’t before corona, I don’t think I would’ve touched final cut pro or photoshop whatever but now I have time and motivated to touch something I didn’t know, how it works and everything.

Rubika Shah: Yeah, that makes sense.You remind me of my musician friends that’s just doing like little live, a DJ friend of mine was doing a live set last night, he decorated his whole room with lights in significant ways. There would be messaging coming up, so yeah it’s an opportunity to get creative, isn’t it?

TAIGEN:Yeah, definitely and it’s like also word in the film, “in the society, we may feel powerless and useless but because of rock against racism they said ordinary people can change the world.” That was really, I was touched by that sentence and I kinda started to feel maybe I don’t want to blame on being Japanese but maybe I was a bit scared to think about politics I don’t need to do like theoretical armed conflict for anything but first step to start to think and am facing the situation or political situation at least. That applies not only for the politics, for any activities or even making music, I mean trying to do something. This film kinda pushed me to start new things and start to face on something maybe I didn’t face to before.

Rubika Shah: That’s really cool.

TAIGEN:Yeah, that’s what I thought and sorry to repeat but that was a good time to watch, the best time to watch your film.

Rubika Shah: Oh good. I heard we get lots of great motivation and feedback like that because either that guy, Red Saunders, the main character he’s the most emotional person, I mean have you seen what he has done in his lives? With the many gigs he has done. It’s just outstanding and just blows your mind and the key is he just goes at it and just does it. His way is like anyone can do it, it’s not. So kinda took that spirit and tried to make a film. It wasn’t easy to make and there is no easy way to make film so. I wanted to tell his story, the story of rock against racism, which is important and you need to take your own in a sense.

TAIGEN:That was really good. But also, happening as history and what he and you wanted to represent,my attention span is really short I sometimes feel difficult to watch documentary films but your film has got so much dynamics and entertainment side as well as political messages, so many interesting footages and such a great balance, really interesting to watch.

Rubika Shah:Oh cool. That’s good I am glad.

photography Syd Shelton
text Ryoko Kuwahara


『White Riot』

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