WORDS: OTTO BALFOUR
Protest music has always been a significant catalyst in bringing awareness to crises and atrocities on global stage. The Temptations on the Vietnam War. Sex Pistols on the class divide. Rage Against The Machine on racial discrimination. Green Day on the idiocracy. Grandson is the voice of the modern counter-culture. In conversation with Discovered, Grandson reveals how he found his voice as an artist.
Over the past few years, Jordan Benjamin has been building a platform upon which he can call out the injustices being played out on a global stage. Primarily pertaining to the Western World, he addresses the opioid crisis, gun control, police brutality and equality, the deception of certain political parties and issues of mental health. The trio of volumes in his series ‘A Modern Tragedy’ have specifically targeted different socio-politcial issues and was to some extent unintentional in the early stages, but has grown and expanded as he kept “creating and discovering” what Grandson was all about.
“It was more of a gradual process, but I definitely think one of the most important things for me was discovering my voice and warrant… It wasn’t always the goal, but the more I connected with people, the more that felt important… I wanted to believe in what I was doing, because if I didn’t believe in it, then why would anyone else give me their time?” The plight of the modern artist is cutting through the noise and Jordan has succeeded due to sheer voraciousness, passion and an unstoppable drive to make himself and his message heard. “I didn’t have the answers when this started, but they began to reveal themselves through asking those questions; I wanted to advocate for what I believed in. There was nobody in music reflecting the angry, yet optimistic perspective that we need change, and we need it now!”
“we need change, and we need it now!”
The mainstream media is partially to blame for the apathetic, hopeless perspective most millennials hold of our world, but the fire is only fueled by the people in power. Jordan elaborates, “you look at news headlines, and the undertones of xenophobia in the UK and US, and the people that had the voice have been very fucking loud and dominanting the discussion. Then after we started playing shows, I found that there were people on the other side of this, that there really is a voiceless generation in the more conservative parts of the Western World and beyond who need this resistance. It really drove home to me that this means something to somebody and it matters!”
To those who say Rock and Roll is dead, Jordan disagrees. “Rock and Roll is in an exciting place.” No one wants to hear the same thing done again and again. With innovations in the industry like streaming services, music has never been so accessible. Whenever someone breaks the mould, it may be met with resistance and criticism, but those are the voices of a new generation.“I love surrounding myself with passionate people.” With the help of friends such as Allison Hagendorf (Global Head of Rock at Spotify) who is a pioneer in the modern music industry, Jordan has been able to bring a resistance to the masses. “Ally is so passionate about the Rock and Roll, and the future of the genre. Rock doesn’t always need to have this element of nostalgia to it. Her early adoption of artists like me, Greta Van Fleet and Yungblud have given us all the opportunity to put ourselves out there. I am lucky enough to call her a co-worker and a friend. If the world had more people doing what they were passionate about, the way that Ally loves Rock music, and breaking through the ceilings that she had to, the world would be a better place. I’m trying to help people connect with that!”
“This means something to somebody, and it matters.”
The XX Resistance began as a way for Jordan to connect with fans in a meet-and-greet scenario before shows. The focus has always been on “talking about progressive social issues, and talking about mental health… I set out to reach more of an audience than I otherwise would have. I wanted to get our messages off of the headphones and into the streets. If I can make a difference in someone’s life then to me that is worth it, and that takes many forms. It doesn’t necessarily mean running against Boris for Prime Minister, but take it down to the roots. If in your high school, or in your workplace, or in your neighbourhood… giving a shit and standing up for somebody else and find your voice. That’s what’s important. That’s the legacy of Grandson and what I want to leave behind.”
Connecting with fans is a memorable experience for both parties, and Jordan has no intention of tainting that with ill will or a sour message. As one of the most progressive artists of this generation, he is using his platform to promote a cause greater than himself. With a selfless attitude, he continues “One thing I underestimated was how therapeutic it would be for me. In the modern music industry, everything has become so digitised and quantifiable. It’s all numbers. The number of listens on this track, the charting position of that song, the number of likes on your instagram feed. All that, ironically, disconnects people from the human element of that.” And taking back control of this digitised world is at the forefront of his agenda. “If I can help one person, one human being, then it is worth more than anything else to me.
Progress is never easy, especially when you are fighting against a criminal elite, but change is coming.