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Striking a chord with classic film

This article is over 17 years, 4 months old
Yo Yo Mundi are an Italian folk rock group. They are coming here with a new soundtrack to the Russian revolutionary film Strike. Tom Behan caught up with the band’s lead singer, Paolo Archetti Maestri
Issue 1918

When did all this begin?

In 1994 Berlusconi’s vicious first government made moves to try and limit the right to strike. So we wrote a song, a happy song. Yet it only had one word in it—“Strike”.

As regards the film Strike, well we knew a little about the director, Sergei Eisenstein, and we’d seen bits of the film.

When we were asked to make a soundtrack to it we thought the images needed to be modernised, as it could be seen as boring. We wanted to renew it so it could still be popular.

But we also wanted to break out of the limitation of just writing songs—we wanted to break down musical boundaries and not just be singer-songwriters.

Why should you be dictated to by the format of a song?

What struck us was that the film was very relevant for today. This is because you see workers being harassed by bosses, then there’s an escalation, some provocation, ending up with a massacre.

After the anti-capitalist demos in Gothenburg and Genoa, we had seen how peaceful demos could end with the authorities provoking people and then attacking them

When we played the song “Strike” after the 2001 Genoa demonstrations it produced a massive reaction from our audiences.

Where have you come from?

We’ve always been interested in political things—for example, our first album was dedicated to anti-vivisection issues.

But when we were talking about animals escaping from the circus, it was metaphorical— we were talking about broader issues.

So from then on we’ve decided that as regards our music we want to place our political passions centre stage.

At the June Euro elections I stood as an independent candidate within the Communist Refoundation list in the Piedmont region of Italy.

We’d got involved because there was lots of pollution where we live, due to the corruption between politicians and a factory that had opened in our area.

The excuse they used was that they wanted to keep 500 workers in employment, but at the same time they were polluting an area where 100,000 people live.

What are your musical roots?

Even though we’re folk rockers, many years ago I was influenced by Red Wedge, The Clash and Billy Bragg.

What we’re about is fighting the system and at the same time singing about the feeling on the street.

We’re motivated by slogans such as “Another world is possible”. But we’re constantly looking for new “contamination”.

We don’t just want to play pop or popular music. For example we’ve also set theatre shows and fairytales to music, mixing up different music styles.

We’ve always wanted to be a kind of catapult.

What do you think of the upcoming European Social Forum in London?

We’ve got to work together collectively. We’ve often marched with Catholic groups—the important thing is that we’re all looking in the same direction.

We don’t want a unified Europe that just means people being used like a commodity.

Neo-liberal globalisation is attacking all of us, across Europe and the world.

We need to be globalised in the positive sense of the term.

Even if we have different needs, we’ve got a lot of common ground.

Pet Shop Boys are involved in a similar project and are performing a soundtrack to the Eisenstein film Battleship Potemkin.

This takes place this Sunday, 12 September, 8.30pm, Trafalgar Square, London. It’s free!

Yo Yo Mundi are performing on Monday 20 September, 7pm, Spitz , 109 Commercial Street, London E1, and Wednesday 22 September, 11am, Other Cinema, 11 Rupert Street, London W10. Go to

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