Rather than oil up some babes and get them to dance on a beach, Let The Machines Do The Work decided that they wanted to have a setting a little different for their debut music video. And by different I mean sending a bunch of dancers to an English Defence League rally. And by dancers I mean anti-EDL lulzers, the English Disco Lovers.
I called the video's director, Eoin Glaister, to talk about being de-kettled at a protest and ruminate on what is on EDL leader Tommy Robinson's iTunes shuffle.
Soooo, how did the video come about?
I’d put together this video treatment and was reading about the English Disco Lovers in the paper. So I got in touch with them on the off chance they wanted to take part and they were really receptive. Unfortunately, I had to keep checking the actual EDL’s website all the time to see when the next rally was and in the end it all had to be pulled together really quickly. But counter productive giving them so many hits, but anyway…the English Disco Lovers were really up for it.
Were they a bit more receptive than the English Defence League?
Well, having said that we did shoot them as well. Angus who was directing 2nd unit went off shooting them and they do kind of love the camera. We got some amazing portraits. I guess they’re reliant on their media presence.
Do you think deep down they want to be, like, T4 presenters?
Ha! Well, like I said, they really, really love the camera. And I mean, you don’t really have a choice of being English or not, it’s not like you can revoke you’re Englishness. The whole concept is pretty bizarre.
Indeed. How did the shoot go anyway?
It went well…sort of. The story element was easy, that all went smoothly. But when we went to Birmingham, we were with the counter protest and everyone, again, was really receptive. We had to borrow a megaphone off some anti-fascists and rally together a backing dancer group, they were all up for it and we managed to do a few takes of the track.
People came up and thanked us for changing the atmosphere in what was, y’know, a really hostile environment. So then I thought we were all friends, but then we went to shoot some of the story elements and, obviously, our guy had been carrying a St Georges flag with him on his back and I, really stupidly in hindsight, put him in the protest. As soon as the anti-fascists clocked that they started running for us. In the end we were possibly some of the only people ever to be de-kettled
All because of the flag?
Yep. No one was allowed out apart from us for our own safety. The people that were really angry thought we were real EDL weren’t looking at the dancers at all, they were just looking at the flag.
Yeah, the English Defence League have really owned that flag.
It has such negative connotations; I tried really hard the day before to buy a pair of St. Georges boxers and they just don’t exist. The St. George’s flag is really not in vogue.
Apart from in selective shops…very selective.
Maybe they make them their selves?
I thought this! But it sounds a bit too crafty…EDL members printing their own merchandise, customising masks and boxers?
Adorable. So no amount of dancing could dispel the hostility?
Oh, it did while it was going on. But once the actors were removed from their dancing context…I mean, the atmosphere was fraught. It was stupid of me but fortunately it worked in our advantage to get out of the kettle.
Have you had any reaction from the EDL themselves?
On the day some photos got taken and that did the rounds on Facebook. One picture got 2500 likes and within that there were a few real EDL followers. I don’t know whether they’re confused or they wanted to keep tabs on what the English Disco Lovers are doing. I mean they weren’t exactly in love with it…well, they liked one the girls dancing but not what was happening.
Maybe they really like disco?
Yeah, I’m not sure if there are any fascist disco crossovers…
Disco is quite liberal I suppose…
It is quite flowery.
I wonder what Tommy Robinson listens to? Donna Summer maybe?
I can’t even imagine what’s on his shuffle. They’ve got catchy football chants, and, then they have this anthem which when you hear it live, it’s actually got some tonal differences. But I guess it’s quite difficult to harmonise when you’re charging down a road.
Yeah, I’d be interested to hear some acapella bigotry.
Ha! Well, if Tommy’s a fan that would be amazing. I’d love it if the English Defence League had a sense of humour. And they’ve got a strong fan base so we’ll take the hits.
Lulz. So what are you hoping to get out of it?
It’ll be really interesting to see what happens. The last video went out on a Polish website. So the only feedback I got I had to put through Google translate. The best comment I got was “like drinking water after eating sausages” which I can only assume means terribly refreshing.
All I’m really hoping for with this is to help the English Disco Lovers in any way, because I think what they’re doing is great.
Thanks man! I hope you get similar comments.
Follow Jo on Twitter @FUERTESKNIGHT