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Music and Political Activism: The case of Radiochango


Dissertation by Pedro Gonzalez (Manchester Metropolitan University, MA in International Politics 2009). 


Taking the music website of Radiochango, as an object of study, this dissertation explores how political activism has become part of the music scene. Radiochango is a website advocating music and revolution. On the website they have connected the leaders of opinion of social movements, such as Noam Chomsky and Ignacio Ramonet, from Le Monde Diplomatique and ATTAC, to a music that embraces a collective identity. They promote Mestizo music and social conscience around the world, and have established cultural and social links in Barcelona, where its creators live. Glocal (Think Global and Act Local) is their belief. Since the Civil Rights movement there has never been a music scene so strongly linked with a social movement. The Mestizo scene, similar to the Anti-Globalization social movement it supports, is also transnational, with roots stretching from Europe to Africa and Latin America. Radiochango is being reported as the most influential website for this music scene, which was originally born in the banlieues (suburbs) of French multicultural cities, such as Paris and Toulouse, in the mid-eighties. Currently, with the international recognition of the French singer Manu Chao, this music is enjoying a new revitalizing effect, especially in Barcelona, where Radiochango is holding events and festivals to promote world awareness of social and political issues, and, also, integration in the local communities. This research focuses on Radiochango’s modus operandi through the organization of the festival Esperanzah! in Barcelona, in July 2009, and in its first event in the UK, in London, in March 2009.  On both occasions they attracted musicians, activists, and, of course, music fans, to celebrate music and political activism. The growth of the internet has proved to be an ideal medium to connect global issues and local awareness. The case of Radiochango provides a vibrant example of political engagement, within a music movement, through methods of modern communication.



 1- Introduction 

2- The Mestizo Music Scene 

            i- Multiculturalism: Post- Colonial Identity (We are here because You were there)

ii- Anti-Establishment: The Lie

iii- Ecology: Mother Earth

iv- Barrio (neighbourhood)

v- Emigration: Clandestino and life on the Border 

3- Internet: 21st Century Media 

4- Radiochango 

            i- What it is

ii- Radiochango Artists

iii-Barcelona: a port town with a dynamic political activity and a burgeoning music scene

iv- Social Konscience

5- Modus Operandi of Radiochango 

            i- adventures in cyberspace

ii- Radiochango born and residing in Barcelona

iii- Radiochango in the UK

iv- Manu Chao: the catalyst of the movement

6- Conclusion 




Because Something is happening here

But you don’t know what it is

Do you, Mister Jones”

                (Ballad of a Thin Man – Bob Dylan)


The academic world has a tendency to divide the different disciplines that the social sciences are formed from separate fields and subfields. In this sense, cultural aspects are often disenfranchised from scholarly studies in fields such as sociology and politics. Ron Eyerman and Andrew Jamison, pioneers of linking cultural studies and social sciences, have said: “It sometimes seems as if politics and culture were pursued on different planets” [Eyerman & Jamison: 8].

Culture is frequently analysed as dependent on the historical, economical, societal and political factors of the times. It is not the purpose of this dissertation to deny this claim but to complement this analysis with a radical change of perspective by looking at how culture can effect and be effected, influence and be influenced by the society in which we live and, at the same time, play a significant role. It is the active role of culture and its links with the world of politics which is the focus of this project, taking the website of Radiochango as the object of study. This website is a music platform that propagates a message of music and revolution as its slogan, to promote the music of socially conscious bands. It also has a place in the socio-political activism in the local communities of Barcelona, where the creators of this website are based. The fundamental book, Music and Social Movements, by the authors mentioned above, has been chosen as the main basis for an analytical approach to Radiochango. Eyerman and Jamison’s key assumption in their work is to “consider musical expression as a kind of cognitive praxis” [Eyerman & Jamison: 7]. This is a very modern and innovative method of study, demonstrating how music activism is treated as a form of ontology of social movements.

Since the 20th century, thanks to the development of mass media technologies, and especially after the emergence of the ‘consumer society’ in the 1950s, popular music has been a significant instrument of social and political expression, which has always been the case, but in these times its reverberations are broader. A good example of a social movement with a musical voice is the Civil Rights movement. Protest music in the folk scene of the sixties helped to form a collective identity in the defense of universal civil rights for all citizens of the United States against prejudice and racism. Along these lines, author T. V. Reed says: “Beyond particular strategic needs, music strengthened and transformed personal and collective identity for movement workers. One of the main dynamics in any social movement is the relationship between individual and collective identity. …The civil rights movement handled this delicate balance of individualism and collectivity better than most movements, and once again, music played a significant role” [Reed: 32]. To the praxis of this idea he uses the song “We Shall Overcome”, as an example to link the individual with the collective. “Music, of course, was not the only force in shaping movement identities, but it clearly was among the most powerful” [Reed: 33].

Moreover, “the songs of the civil rights movement became sources of collective identity formation not so much by being musically innovative or even commercially successful as by lending themselves to shared performance. Their melodies were simple but emotive, geared to being sung collectively. They invited participation, simple repetitive choruses and rhyming couplets, with an emotional and political content” [Eyerman & Jamison: 102]. In this sense ‘We Shall Overcome’ becomes a valid anthem for the civil rights movement as the ‘Internationale’ has been with the socialist movement, independently of the commercial exploitation of the song.

However, this is not always the case, as the commercial popularity of songs can trigger social and political expressions against the hegemonic power or, even producing the opposite effect, depolitization or diluting the political impact of strongly charged political songs through a process of mass selling techniques. “As the audience broadened, it became more diffuse and less political….As the contexts of production, performance, and consumption all changed, the gap between politics and popular culture which had been bridged in so many ways in the mid-1960s widened once again” [Eyerman & Jamison: 107].

There is no better example than the Beatles of how the exploitation and commercial success of popular music backfired and produced harming effects to the hegemonic power on which their music was produced and supported. The fab four, who were once the proud English band praised by even the Queen and backed by the establishment, who awarded them with the Order of the British Empire, were, later when they were at the pinnacle of their career, one of the most influential music bands at the front of the counterculture of the 1960s that stirred up social transformations and subsequent political expressions such as the Anti Vietnam War movement.

Another example of how music with no political consciousness triggered a political movement that eventually succeeded in toppling the communist regime of Czechoslovakia was the underground band The Plastic People of the Universe. Their arrest in 1976 for subversive activity (“(lyrics) of extreme vulgarity with an anti-socialist and anti-social impact, most of them extolling nihilism, decadence and clericalism”) was the catalyst for the formation of the Charter 77, a dissident group of social and political initiative against the oppressive socialist regime which led to the Velvet Revolution. This was the non-violent revolution that overthrew the Communist regime in 1989. [Unterberger: 190-197]

On the other hand, pop music exploitation has also served to water down music with a social or political expression, or convert some music styles to a new audience and change the nature of their expression. In this manner, blues music, once the expression of the black race’s struggle in segregationist America, was readapted by the pop music industry, in the era of the rock concerts and festivals of the late 1960s, to signify a new meaning of sexual liberation and, thus, it lost part of its social identity.

In the world of politics, governments and political parties make good use of music, from promoting music and songwriters allied to a specific government or political party, through to censoring as a political measure to silence dissidence. Before the Second World War the American Communist party made good use of popular music as described by music sociologist David Buxton. “The American Communist Party consciously used folk music as part of its political strategy in the 1930s and 1940s. Thus, following the Bolsheviks’ example, classical and contemporary popular music (the swing and jazz music favoured by the new American urban population) were declared to be ‘tools of the ruling class.” The criterion of the socialist advocates was “that proletarian art should be ‘national in form and revolutionary in content’” [Frith & Goodwin: 427]. In Chile, as General Pinochet took power, a more extreme form of silencing the music of dissidents took place. The Chilean songwriter, Victor Jara, became a symbol of the left with his songs of social and political concern against the elite of his country. On 11 September 1973 a coup d’etat installed a dictatorship ruled by a military junta who soon went on the rampage against dissidents. In 1990 with the return of democracy to Chile, the National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation (Rettig Report) found that the musician was riddled with 44 bullets from machine guns, after being tortured, and his hands  had been broken, as his executors mockingly encouraged him to play his guitar [Joan Jara].

Culture is an important tool for the use of political campaigns. The writer of this dissertation attended a Labour party event on 11 September 2009 to celebrate Manchester Pop culture. This occasion was used by the party to raise funds for the next election campaign, under the guise of celebrating the Manchester music scene. The Guest Speaker was Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, MP Ben Bradshaw. In his speech he criticised the political agenda of the Tory leader, David Cameron, for not taking account of culture in the local communities. For Eyerman and Jamison, the relationship between music and politics is complex“the music and the politics fed into one another in complex and variegated ways, providing what Marcuse at the time termed a new sensibility.” [Eyerman & Jamison: 13].

Music, as a form of artistic and cultural expression is a prevalent response to its environment, independent of the individual or collective concerns the artist-musician wishes to project. In this manner of analysing music, Jacques Attali’s work, Noise: The Political Economy of Music, proposes to study music “as a way of understanding the world”. [ Gräbner: 2]. “Music is more than an object of study: it is a way of perceiving the world” [ Attali, quoted by Gräbner: 1].  With the appearance of the radio and the phonograph as mediums to reproduce music, the artist/s can be disassociated from the music. Thus, the physical expression of performing is not an essential part of the act of listening. This evolution heightened the commodification of music as a product of the consumer society that started with the sales of music sheets.

Pop music is a worldwide phenomenon of transnational reach. It is also the product of a powerful industry that markets music and creates niches for the different styles that attract heterogeneous groups of people. This fragmentation can be based on one or more factors such as social stratum, age, race, country or cultural area of influence, language, styles of living, and so on.

Essentially, the pop music industry is a product of the Capitalist economy to satisfy a demand of young people, with spare income to spend on non-basic needs. This association to a Capitalist structure, in its profit making objective, has not evolved without difficulties. Pop music has also been the carrier of messages, in its lyrical component, against the economical structure that nurtures it. In this sense, Radiochango artists are some of the pop music actors that use music as a medium to  protest against the Neo-Liberal Capitalism that produce inequality and a social or world division  constructed on the basis of wealth (such as the identification of the First World and Third World), the destruction of the environment in pursuing a commodification of the world’s resources, and the exploitation and displacement of people driven by a materialist system. Paradoxically, alternative and, indeed, protest music, is based on the same Capitalist structure as that of complacent and mainstream music. As Barbara Lebrun asserts in her work Protest Music in France. “Opposing the power of the majors only made sense in the context of increasing mass-mediatization, and this ‘resistance’ could only be sustained economically because music production was a relatively profitable business”[Lebrun: 37].

Manu Chao is the most popular and successful artist under the umbrella of Radiochango. He is now a worldwide popular solo artist who rarely stops touring the First and Third World. His former band, Mano Negra, was a punk rock ensemble formed in Paris in the late 1980s with some, like himself, first generation French-born children from immigrants to the French capital. Their social origins were an important element in blending their musical backgrounds into their urgent and infectious rock music. What Manu originally called Patchanka music, as the title of their first album [discography], to define a mix of influences from French chançon, flamenco, North African rai, or, Latin salsa with reggae, hip hop, punk and rock music, was part of a music scene in the alternatif rock of France in the late 1980s. [Lebrun: 65-88]. Mano Negra was not only a band with an ethical approach to their followers, but also had some kind of political identity. They were part of a worldwide music scene in the second half of the 1980s, that united punk music with social and political messages, such as those who predated the grunge era with bands such as Fugazi, Bad Brains or The Dead Kennedys. Their last album, Casa Babylon [discography]  , “started with a tribute to guerrilla insurgent leader Subcomandante Marcos and his internet-and-fax-issued ‘Declaration of War’ against Mexican political lies.” The opening track, with the title VIVA ZAPATA,  “in which chants of ‘El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido’ (’the people united will never be defeated) unfurled over an escalating funk groove. It was the first recorded musical testimony to Marco’s new-school Zapatismo” [Pacini Hernandez, Fernandez L’Hoeste and Zolov, edited: Kun 332]. In an interview with the BBC in 2008, after being awarded the best album in the category of World Music (Europe), Chao declared:“I am an activist …as we all should be. Just don’t call me a leader – leaders get corrupted”[1] . His political identification with the Anti-Globalization movement is in part due to his distrust of politicians and leaders, as this movement is still identified as a heterogeneous camp of various ecological, economical, social and political claims, united under the identification of the common enemy, the Neo-Liberal economic system. He expresses the appeal to  him of the Global Justice movement for its avoidance of leadership: “Getting away from icons and personality cults is what makes the (Anti-Globalization) movement so attractive.” [2]


The links between music and society are numerous and, as has been described above, social movements are instrumental to produce new cultural forms of identity. As affirmed by authors Eyerman and Jamison. “In the creative turmoil that is unleashed within social movements, modes of cultural action are redefined and given new meaning as sources of collective identity” [Eyerman & Jamison: 6].

In this research, the author has followed an ethnographic approach to analyze the praxis of this music scene and its interrelation with the social movement with which the object of study is identified.


The term Mestizo is Spanish for mixed race and mestizaje is a word commonly used to describe the blending of races, cultures and different forms of living. This is also the word to describe a  transnational music scene that has risen in the last twenty-five years. It initially grew from the urban areas of France in the mid eighties, then spread through the Mediterranean countries of Europe and Africa in the 1990s, and then moved on to the Atlantic in the American continent (north, central and south of America).

Through the analysis of four of the most representative artists of the Mestizo scene and, indeed, Radiochango, the main features of this socio-politic-music are presented. Manu Chao, Zebda, Macaco and Lila Downs have been chosen as the main principals of this genre of protest music, not only for embodying some of the most distinctive characteristics of this scene but also for the subject matter they deal with in their work. These artists are representatives of a music scene which reflects its contemporaneous concerns with the world they live in, and these also show the social and political active role of the artist in avoidance of the more alienated artist role in pop music stardom.

The term Radical has been the attribute added to Mestizo to emphasize the social conscience and political side of this music as an alternative music scene, where activism and involvement in social causes is the proper attitude of a musician as an individual and as part of a collective (neighbourhood or society), in line of the Anarchist aesthetic theory. According to this, Anarchism demands an ethic-social role of art and, consequently, the consciousness of the dispossessed class, their social struggle and their ideals in the creation of art [Litvak, 1988: 76-77]. Manu Chao’s declaration: ‘I am an activist …as we all should be’ is probably one of the most political acts from a popular musician since John Lennon’s bed ins in Amsterdam and Montreal for non violent protests against the Vietnam war in 1969. In the late sixties, John Lennon felt the heavy burden of the popularity of the Beatles and started to distance himself from their mainstream image. He went to meet political activists such as Tariq Ali or Black Power leaders such as Stokely Carmichael. In his recent book, Street Fighting Years, Tariq Ali quotes a meeting with John Lennon in the late 1960s. At one point when the former editor of the New Left Review, Robin Blackburn, mentioned that in Fidel Castro’s Cuba radios started to play rock music with the release of the Sergeant Pepper, Lennon replied: “Well, I hope they see that Rock and Roll is not the same as Coca Cola. As we got beyond the dream this should be easier, that’s why I’m putting out more heavy statements now and trying to shake off the teeny-bopper image. I want to get through to the right people, and I want to make what I have to say very simple and direct” [Ali: 379]. Songs such as Give Peace a Chance was one of those songs. “I was …pleased when the (peace) movement in America took up Give Peace a Chance because I had written it with that in mind really. I hoped that instead of singing ‘We Shall Overcome’ from 1800 or something, they would have something contemporary. I felt an obligation even then to write a song that people would sing in the pub or on a demonstration. That is why I would like to compose songs for the revolution now …” [Ali: 368]. The Beatles themselves experienced a mestizaje beyond Anglo-American music with the adoption of Eastern instruments and melodies from their trip to India, and contact in their home country with the music from the Subcontinent’s immigrants.

Popular music has always been a product of a mix of cultures and the United States has been a clear example of the melting pot which produced the seeds of current pop music as a mixture of European and African music patterns. The mass media revolution of the twentieth century mainly favoured by the United States, has been an important factor for the worldwide impact of American cultural values.  Benefiting from this revolution, music and films have created a powerful industry, which the United States, as a pioneer country in the use of technology for mass distribution, has achieved a preponderant influence around the world, beyond any other imperial power in the history of civilizations. In the time of globalization, pop music has broken the local, regional and national barriers to foreign cultural intrusion. These days, American films and music have enormous exposure and worldwide influence that even sometimes surpasses the local production in some parts of the world. This cultural intrusion is creating a feeling of colonialism around the world, which is sometimes manifested by a fervent nationalism against the hegemonic and powerful America.

Against this musical and cultural domination the Mestizo music scene is rebelling. It is part of an urban music phenomenon. It has grown in the inner cities, or the banlieue[3], of some of the biggest cities of Europe and the United States as well as in some cities in Third World countries. As described by Mexican political activist and journalist, Tania Molina Ramirez: “They are the children of the globalization, the immigration and the technological advances. They grew listening  to rock, but in their veins there is Latin, African or Arab blood. They chose to reinvent the music. They fuse musical genres and sing in various languages. They started playing music in the streets that is why they are more street musicians than studio musicians. For most of them, art is a social weapon and, thus, their songs speak out about the without-papers-people. They looked for opening new ways of production different to the ones established by the powerful record labels and as part of their beliefs they participated in ‘neighborhood’s things’. These bands play Mestizo music”.[4] The Mestizo scene reflects the dichotomy between looking for popularity in the world of music and, at the same time, maintaining an integrity to protest against the social malaises of Capitalism.

Radical Mestizo[5] was a term used first by the reputed Spanish music critic, Diego Manrique, in 1998, when compiling a double cd of current music with a social conscience. The series of Radical Mestizo volumes comprised three double compact discs published between 1998 and 2001 [discography] by the record label Revelde discos. This was a sub-label of the major record company Fonomusic. Valentin Ladredo was the head of the Revelde label at this time. “Radical Mestizo sincerely, …, was a brilliant idea. Up to that day there had never been a compilation like this and so well presented (including photos, biographies, texts, data and graphic design …) with  many groups of half of the world that were connected, not for the genre of music, but for their attitude and willing in mixing different styles that eventually converted into a new genre and hybrid of solid quality music. It was a creation of a new form of a different kind of music, picking elements of World Music to integrate them in sounds closer to rock, ska or hip hop. At last Cuba, Jamaica or Africa were presenting themselves to the First World with an integrationist format and a forceful social attitude.” [6]

In the sleeve notes, the compilers make their declaration of intent for the spread of this music: “Radical Mestizo is an album that travels to Naples, Toulouse, Paris, Lisbon, Madrid, Barcelona, Basque country, Aragon, Galicia, Andalucia, Brazil, Mexico, Los Angeles, Argentina or Cuba…It is an album of recognition, future and hopeful findings for the public of our country. Here it becomes clear that to think ‘radical’ and dance ‘mestizo’ are two fantastic verbs and very useful to keep a good mental health”[7] [Discography :Radical Mestizo (1998) – sleeves notes by DJ Floro and Valentin Ladrero]

A remarkable aspect of this music scene is its strong connection with society and social movements. The songwriters and musicians have found inspiration in the melting pot of cultures and races from which the contemporaneous urban landscape of the western world is formed. In many cases, these artists are strongly committed to political campaigns against the globalization phenomenon, supported by the wealthy countries in the world. As a result of their political stance, their music expresses their discomfort with the marginalization of the underdogs of the socio-economic system in the new setting of a post-colonial world.

 i- Multiculturalism: post-colonial identity (We Are Here because You Were There)

 In her book Protest Music in France Dr Lebrun described the emergence of the Mestizo scene as “innovative in the French soundscape of the 1980s but, equally importantly, all the artists in this genre came from immigrant and often post-colonial backgrounds.” Barbara Lebrun, finds the roots of this music “in their parental background”, affirming that “the fact remains that this new generation of artists was intentionally borrowing the rhythms, melodies, instruments and languages prevalent in the cultures of their migrant parents.” [Lebrun: 66]

Zebda is a French group that was formed around a community project to promote social integration through the arts. It was formed in Toulouse in the mid eighties with native residents from diverse backgrounds, especially Algerian. The ethnic minority identity, even though there are also French members from the majority too, is a main feature of this band which brought together a sense of protest and collective identity to the socially exclusive groups of France. Professor Marx-Scouras asks herself, in her introduction of her book La France de Zebda: “Why a book about the France of Zebda? This book is about making the point of a rock group, whose songs …and their social activism …have profoundly changed the face of the French culture of the last twenty years” [8][Marx-Scouras: 22]. Their lyrics, music and artwork in their albums are filled with elements of identification. These features are somehow opposed French Republicanism “based on the fundamental idea that the nation is ‘one and indivisible’” [Lebrun:66], and, thus, “demanded straightforward assimilation”.[9] Jonathan Ervine in his research publication Citizenship and Belonging in Suburban France: the Music of Zebda said: it will be argued that Zebda’s music provides a vibrant and dynamic example of how concepts of identity have been challenged in contemporary French popular music.” [Ervine: 199] Ervine’s research into the identity problem in the banlieue uses, as a cognitive praxis, Zebda’s song J’y suis j’y reste (‘I’m here I’m staying here’). This song, affirmed by Ervine, “challenges traditional Republican concepts of nationhood by illustrating how Frenchness interacts with a range of local and international identities”  [Ervine: 209-210 ].

 Zebda’s singer, Mustapha Amokrane, declared in an interview for the Liberation in 1998: “Faire de la musique, c’est un acte politique” (‘to make music is a political act’) [Marx-Scouras: 24]. This declaration of interdependence, between an artist’s expression and politics, brings forward Marxist aspects in the contractual obligation that artists as individuals have, with the underdog proletarian class, to project a collective form of art and social struggle. This statement goes together with those made by Lennon and Chao as a form of collective and social engagement of the interlink between music and activism. Their activism has not been restricted to their musical output. Zebda have put their actions into their music and created, in their home town of Toulouse, a socio cultural group, Tactikollectif, “which organises events and initiatives related to themes such as social cohesion, immigration and the legacy of France’s colonial past” [Ervine: 202]. Moreover, members of the band presented themselves on an electoral list of independent candidates in the local elections in Toulouse in 2001 (Motivé-e-s).

 ii- Anti-Establishment: The Lie

Social engagement with the under privileged has made some of the artists linked to the Radical Mestizo scene undertake non-profit making tours around third world countries. Mano Negra, pioneers of the Mestizo scene, embarked on two infamous tours around Latin America. The last one, in Colombia, was on board a train playing for free in each station town. It was motivated by the strong determination of their singer, Manu Chao, to revitalize a railway network that for a long time had been disused. That train line was, in the words of Manu’s father, “so crucial to a country’s social and geographic fabric”. [Chao: 9-10]. The Train of Ice & Fire is Ramon Chao’s account of the continuous adversities of a group of French idealist rockers in the endemically conflictive Colombia. It turned out to be a frustrated adventure that provoked the disbanding of Mano Negra. Subsequently, Manu Chao, the only survivor of the band at the end of the journey to Bogota, continued to make and produce the last album under the name Mano Negra, even though by that time the band did not exist. In this album, Casa Babylon [discography], is included a speech by the leader of EZLN (Zapatista Army of National Liberation), Subcomandante Marcos, and political satirical songs against the American hegemony (Hamburger fields). In addition, it covered social issues , such as corrupt land owners or local political bosses, so common in some parts of Latin America (Señor Matanzas). This album ignited a vibrant alternative rock scene in Latin America with bands such as Maldita Vecindad and Los De Abajo in Mexico, King Chango and Desorden Publico in Venezuela, Fabulosos Cadillacs and Todos Tus Muertos in Argentina, Chico Science and Otto in Brazil. Music writer Josh Kun, recalls in his essay about Manu Chao Waiting for the Last Wave, that when interviewing a Mexican band, Plastilina Mosh, their rapper singer“couldn’t stop beaming about Chao, crediting Casa Babylon as the inspiration for …Aguamosh (their album of 1998).” Kun concludes that Casa Babylon became “a sort of unofficial template for Latin American rockeros looking for models of New World collision.” [Pacini Hernandez, Fernandez L’Hoeste and Zolov: Kun 334]. Latin American bands started to integrate their rich musical traditions into their rock music, which for some time had been abandoned in order to follow Anglo models of alternative rock.

In retrospect this was the album that opened the new formula to be followed by the French singer. The use of latin rhythms, samples of radio broadcasts and street sounds from around the world, reggae beats and the use of many languages, even in one single song, have been a signature of his music.  Dr Cornelia Grabner, Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at Lancashire University discusses the lyrics of Manu’s albums in her essay “…where there is a lot of sound …”:  Resistance, Subjectivity and the Trilanguaging of the Media of Enunciation in Manu Chao’s Clandestino [discography] and Próxima Estación …Esperanza [discography]. Dr Gräbner’s analysis of the song Mentira (‘Lie’) [discography- Clandestino] is of special interest in showing some of the topics that Radical Mestizo artists deal with in their songs. “In the song ‘Mentira’, Chao picks up and elaborates on a term that is frequently used by the EZLN. They have used it as a term of protest against the betrayals of indigenous communities and of the EZLN by those in power. The Subcomandante Marcos has also used the term ‘mentira’ to point out the appropriation of language by power and to analyse the way in which this appropriation is interfering with peoples’ possibilities to communicate with each other” [Gräbner: 20]. This song is a clear example of the political anti-establishment that artists such as Manu Chao have. He shows his disdain for Western democratic political leaders for their lying attitude (“when the lie begins, it doesn’t leave”).  This attitude “infiltrates itself into every single part of life and initiates a vicious circle until even ‘mentira la mentira/mentira la verdad’ (‘the lie is a lie/the truth is a lie’). …The song ends with a recording from a radio news broadcast about the refusal of the U.S. to sign the Kyoto protocol, inviting the listener to elaborate on the connection between the term, its consequences and the concrete example” [Grabner: 22].

The Mestizo scene and, indeed, Manu Chao, has benefited from using the new digital technologies, a pivotal medium of the globalization system. This apparent contradiction is an aspect of the Anti-Globalization Movement.“Indeed, like his anti-corporate globalization activist fans, Manu Chao reflects a seeming paradox: using the networking tools and logics of contemporary global capitalism to challenge global capitalism itself” [Juris: 2]

iii- Ecology: Mother Earth

 Using the name Macaco is a prolific musician from Barcelona, Dani Carbonell. He is another popular figure in this scene. He started as a musician on the streets of his hometown of Barcelona as a busker with an African friend. His way of attracting passers-by jumping and mimicking monkey gestures, won him his artistic name. He has been a member and collaborator in some of the most important bands that have recently arisen in this Mediterranean port town, such as Ojos de Brujo or Dusminguet. Barcelona has taken the baton from Paris in the last decade as the non-official world capital for this Mestizo musical scene. Part of this is arguably due to the arrival and settlement of Manu Chao in the Catalan town. It is not a coincidence that Barcelona is one of the most important centres of the anti Neo-Capitalist movement, as exposed by Jeffrey Juris in his work, Networking Futures. In this sense, nor is it a coincidence that Radiochango has its base there. As we will see in the next chapter, Radiochango and the Barcelona Mestizo music scene are mutually feeding each other. Macaco is another important member of this community of artists who shares the principles of Radiochango. His style is a combination of local music such as Catalan rumba[10], with other types of music from around the world such as Jamaican reggae and dub, English trip hop, Congolese soukous, Nigerian Afro beat, Cuban son, American hip hop, Brazilian music and electronic music. He defines his production as the sound of fusion of Raices y Antenas (Roots and Antennas) [discography]. Roots is the traditional and local music and Antennas are the modern and foreign forms of music. This music joins old and new, Third world and First world, adding a new revitalizing effect to the local music without losing its identity. He explains the term of música pura (pure music). “ Las cosas puras no existen …y no hay música pura (Pure things don’t exist …and there is no such a thing as pure music)” [Radiochango website, artists page: interview July 2002]. One of the distinctive features of Macaco in the lyrical component of his music is the references made to Mama Tierra (Mother Earth) [discography-Ingravitto]. His music is used with great efficiency to give a sense of urgency such as in the song S.O.S [discography-Rumbo Submarino]. Ecological issues are some of his main concerns. In the song Marea Negra (Black Tide) [discography-Entre Raices y Antenas] he echoes the public angst against the controversial handling by both the Galician regional government and the Spanish government (both belonging to the Conservative party Partido Popular) of the sinking of the Prestige[11], spilling tonnes of petrol around the north west coast of Spain. This catastrophe was blamed on the inefficient and evasive administration of the Conservative government during this ecological disaster. This gave rise to a huge social reply with the arrival of thousands of volunteers to the coast to help with the clean up and this in turn created an environmental campaign Nunca Mais (Never Again). It also brought about the largest public demonstrations in Spain since the fall of the dictatorship.

Macaco defends peaceful activism in his songs about looking after Mother Earth. No se trata de romper ventanas,ni farolas ni de caras, mejor romper conciencias equivocadas” (“It is not about breaking windows, nor lamposts, not hitting faces (…) better to change the mind of the non-conscientious          ”)[12]. [discography- Ingravitto: Mama Tierra]

 iv- Barrio (neighbourhood)

 In April 2002 the first forum to discuss and celebrate the music of the Mestizo scene was held in Mexico city. Musicians, music critics, sociologists, activists, press and audience joined in a two day festival of music and discussion of political issues. The artistic director of this forum was Jose Luis Paredes, member of Mexican band Maldita Vecindad. He is a fervent defender of the term Mestizo for this new music of protest content. “The Mestizo name is more appropriate than the (anglo) term of World music … that is because this alludes to a phenomenon, maybe lacking in popularity in market terms but is very powerful in its cultural aspect”[13]. During this forum, Tania Molina established the link between the music of the Mestizo scene and the local communities. “Music of the streets. Music of the ‘barrios’. Most of these bands were formed playing in local celebrations in their neighbourhoods and then went to recording studios”.[14] The Spanish music critic, Diego Manrique, has remarked that the live albums are the most extraordinary of the whole output of this scene, due to the strong and close social link between the musicians and their audience. American sociologist and ethnomusicologist, Josh Kuhn emphasizes this connection: “It is important not to lose the local view to become global; so as not to loose your feet the ground you need to remember where you come from” [15][]. During a BBC interview, Manu himself described his politics as based on a local level. “You’ve got to act on a neighbourhood level” [Cartwright, BBC website, radio 3 world music awards 2002].

Glocal is a term which has been used by some of the groups of the Anti-Globalization movement (think globally and act locally) to remark on the significance of the local issues for a more human global world. “Glocalization entails a shift in the international system, from a framework based on a balance of power between nation states, to a balance of cultural interests and local needs with global opportunities, always taking into account the importance of local actors as agents of change”[16]. This refers to a radical change in the socio-economic balance of power: Globalization from below (conducted by social movements) against globalization from the top (conducted by big corporations and the most powerful countries of the world). Diversity against homogenization is a derivative concept under the Glocalization movement. Manu Chao who himself grew up in the suburb (banlieeu) of Le Sevres in Paris, a neighbourhood of immigrants from different parts of the world, is a keen advocate of the neigbourhood concept. “The only revolution I believe in is the revolution in the neighbourhood. It is the only place where we can change things. At the level of the state we can demonstrate as much as we like, but unless it is really massive we cannot change anything. But in the neighbourhoods we can change minds and bring different cultures together. I believe in that”. [Interview by Joe Carolan, Feb. 2002. Taken from: Indymedia][17] . Radiochango, since its creation in 2002, has always championed the local concept of activism and the horizontal social integration in the neighbourhood. The barrio (neighbourhood) is a microcosm of the world, where the integration is an act of tolerance and diversity against other forms of order imposed by the materialist concept of the capital.

 v- Emigration: Clandestino and life on the border

 Mestizo race is attributed to the people of Latin America where the mingling of white European, Black African and Native Americans took place. Lila Downs is the perfect example of this term. She herself is of Mestiza blood from a Native Amerindian Mexican mother and a Scottish North American father. Downs grew up between Mexico and the United States. Her mixed background has provided her with an unusual insight into the lives of the displaced people of south of the Rio Grande arriving in the United States [discography-Una Sangre/One Blood]. Her songs reflect the living between the two worlds similar to the borderline between the United States and Mexico. She sings in three languages: Spanish, English and Mixteca, the native language of her mother. In her album Border she has revitalized and adapted Woody Guthrie songs such as Pastures of Plenty or This land is your land to a migrant sensibility [discography-Border/Linea].

When did you come to America?

I came to help you grow, to harvest your crops.

Came to build your roads, your cities

and your thoughts.

Say you don’t  need me,

but you know what you’ve got”

(“Land” written by Lila Downs & Paul Cohen) [discography-Border/Linea]

One of the songs of the Mestizo scene that has communicated more succintly the sentiment of emigration is the Manu Chao’ song Clandestino (Clandestine[18]) [discography-Clandestino]. This is a distraught auto-narration of an immigrant travelling to a Western country. The equation of non ID possession (Sans-Papier, Without papers) to ‘illegal’ and ‘clandestine’ gives a sense of the state of the world in the modern times, where a large part of the mobile population of the world is considered to be outlaw because they do not belong to a Western country. Lila Downs, who has recorded many songs about the migrant workers to the United States [‘Bracero Fracasado’-discography], has denounced the borderline that politically, but not demographically or geographically, divides Mexico and the United States. Manu Chao, more emphatically, opposes any borderlines.

“Alone I go with my sorrow

Alone goes my curse

To run away is my destiny

to fool the law

Lost in the heart

of the mighty Babylon

They call me clandestine (alien)

For not havin’ an ID card

To a north city

I went to work

I left my life between Ceuta and Gibraltar

I’m a castaway

A ghost in the city

My life is illegal

So says the law[19]

[Discography, Manu Chao, Clandestino: Clandestino]


The internet has produced an extraordinary development in the communication and media world. This new form of communication has also altered the way in which information is distributed. It is a tool of the globalized world of the new century. Not only has it has allowed greater flexibility in the labour market, as the location of the workforce is not an essential feature of the new times, it has also made possible new forms of social interactions by way of remote access from computer users around the world to share information and socialise. This is, of course, palpable in the organization of protest movements with instant access to a potentially large audience. It is also a very economical form of communication with quick access to distant parts of the world. The Seattle protests in November 1999 were the prelude to the new century forms of organization and sharing of information in social and political rallies. The Anti-Globalization movement (or as the more accepted terms these days: the Anti-Corporate movement or Global Justice movement) used this new tool to their advantage. They surprised the American government and had a great impact around the world, as the protesters brought the Seattle meeting of the World Trade Organization to a standstill. Elaine Bernard wrote in the Washington Post on 5 December 1999:

“The protesters in Seattle were creating that space. True global citizens in the making, they demand accountability, democracy, and the right of individuals to have a voice in setting the increasingly important rules of international trade and commerce. The WTO meeting was merely the place where these people burst onto the American public’s radar. Social movements around the world had already linked into grass-roots networks, made possible by the astonishing speed at which they can communicate in the Internet era. Quick and relatively inexpensive international travel enables direct contact between even very small and poor organizations. Immigration brings workers from the poorest corners of the world to every major U.S. city. So Americans whose chief contact with the problems of developing countries might once have been writing a charitable check now have a more personal basis for activism: It is no longer charity, but true solidarity”.[20]

Network solidarity with remote and larger causes, but with a serious influence in our cities and countries, has resulted in a new way of protesting, that only ten years before would have been unthinkable. The Global Village becoming smaller, due to the forces of globalization, has also provoked new forms of resistance to the Neo-Liberal economic transnationalization from the top. This resistance movement saw in the internet a new media with greater potential and an option of communication away from the corporate media known at the time.

 “One month before the Seattle events, a group of alternative media organizations, independent journalists, and activists conceived the idea of a space where they could edit and disseminate their own coverage of the protests. The main impetus came from another network, in this case of independent media groups like Free Radio Berkeley, Deep Dish TV, Paper Tiger Television, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, Media Island International, Radio for Peace International, and Free Speech TV. They combined existing media of print, photo, video, and audio with the Internet savvy to create and interactive Web site ( that allow users not only to read, watch, or listen to stories, but also to post their own works of media as well. According to the Web monitors, during the week of the Seattle protests the site received over 1 million hits, more than CNN during the same five days” [Reed: 274].

It has been claimed that the digital age of political activism started with Seattle in November 1999. This was the beginning of the new century’s forms of political resistance. Political activist and anthropologist Jeffrey S. Juris recounts how the Seattle protests changed “how grassroots movement organize, and were inspiring new utopian imaginaries involving directly democratic models of social, economic, and political organization coordinated at local, regional and global scales” [Juris: 3]. In fact, the digital age of political activism started earlier in 1994 with the Zapatistas (The Zapatista Army of National Liberation), which was the first uprising to use the internet in order to obtain global solidarity for its cause. This was also the first post-cold war revolt and probably the genesis of a new movement of resistance which moved from a Third World solidarity to a Global movement [Olesen, 2005]. Labour internationalist expert, Peter Waterman, has named the “boom in communication on internationalism…” as one of the most important developments in the solidarity and international labour movements [Waterman, 2001: vii] and, indeed, a vital feature “of a transnational network of movements against corporate globalization” [Juris: 3]. This has strong repercussions in the principles of organization of this new global movement. Juris, in his book on Barcelona-based activists against corporate globalization, Networking Futures, has compared the defeated anarchist postulates of decentralization from below after the Bolshevik revolution against the victorious Leninist model of centralist organization as two oppositional forms to organize the political struggle. The anarchist postulate, Juris states, has “its resonance with the contemporary discourse of activist networking.” He affirms that “the past few decades have witnessed a resurgence of decentralized, networked organization and utopian visions of autonomy and grassroots counterpower…These emerging network forms and imaginaries have been greatly facilitated by the rise of new digital technologies” [Juris: 10].

Radiochango is an excellent example of a network platform in the ‘Digital Age’ that is playing an important role in the social and political resistance in its home-based city of Barcelona and also worldwide, with the promotion of a music scene with a social conscience. This is a web site written in six languages (French, Catalan, Castilian-Spanish, Italian, English and Japanese) which has existed since 2001 with the mission to promote the Mestizo music, “a mixture of rhythms that knows no borders and protest against injustice” [Radiochango: What is Radio Chango?[21]]. Radiochango voices information of local and global news on political, social and economical issues, especially about injustices around the world, and promotes fair trade and anti corporate economical practices in its Social Konscience pages. “As far as we are concerned, at RadioChango, we prefer not to listen those sad news from giant news corporations. We’d rather listen those who do not belong to the establishment. We prefer to follow the unexplored tracks. We prefer to listen to this little voice, deep inside, whispering that everything’s possible and that we can change the world if we really want. All we have to do is becoming a consum’actor, buying ecological and fair trade products, or simply recycling. Gathering all together and creating a community of people willing to change the world is a good start. That’s exactly what we are doing at RadioChango.” [Radiochango web, Editorial January 2008: Choose your track].


i- What it is

Radiochango is not only a portal of music and social conscience in the cyberspace network of the internet but it is also a social project socially committed to its home residence, Barcelona. In the  personal interviews the author conducted during the Festival Esperanzah! with the makers of  the Radiochango project, Vincenzo Megale (Vinx) stated that Radiochango was born as a medium to promote the music that the three original creators (Laurent Jayr, Santiago Montero and Vinx) like and to voice social conscience issues not aired in the corporate media. “Radiochango was born as a portal of internet nine years ago. We were three friends: Santi in Paris, Laurent in Barcelona and me (Vinx) in Madrid. Laurent was the contact between Santi and me. Prior to Radiochango I was running a non-official web page of Manu Chao, Salga la Luna. Through this web, people contacted me. Among them was Laurent. He proposed that I could do a website and extend it to the kind of bands similar to Manu’s style and, also, to expose messages of social conscience sent by people. Thus, Radiochango was born without any pretension to, basically, include information of the bands we like and to give coverage of news and messages that there were not giving voice in the main news media” [Festival Esperanzah interviews, 26-June]. Since then the website and its influence in the internet have been gradually growing along with its integration in its local landscape, Barcelona. The other two creators of Radiochango joined Laurent in Barcelona where they started to establish connections with local networks of social projects. Grups Associats pel Treball Sociocultural, GATS (Associated Groups for Sociocultural Work),[22] is currently one of the closest associates to Radiochango. It is a non-profit making association whose objective is to create and develop areas of integration and inclusion, especially with the most vulnerable groups of social exclusion or those at risk.[23] Together, Radiochango and GATS, coorganized the Festival Esperanzah! in Barcelona in June 2009. Interestingly, the first socio-musical co-organization  between Radiochango and GATS started with a Manu Chao concert three years before in 2006. For Oscar Rando, director of GATS, “culture is the best social consciousness agitator”. This view is shared by the people of Radiochango. On the home page of Radiochango they tell of their social pledge “to transmit fiesta through music and to be at the same time a catalyst for rebellion (but not for violence) and the struggle for a better world”.[24] When responding to the question of what is the criterion to include bands on their website, Vinx, the person in charge of the web maintenance, moderator of the forums and responsible together with Laurent for the content of the website, replied: “Basically for the attitude of the bands who become members of our family, for their lyrics and social compromise. We try to give public space to all the acts in relation to this (Mestizo) music and, at the same time, to demand a better world”[25].

 The project started in December 2000, when the three creators decided to use their spare time to promote the music they enjoyed. Its name, as explained in the interview given by Vinx to the Mexican magazine, Tiempo Naranja[26], came from: “Radio as a channel to disseminate music and ‘Chango’ for the Orisha God of rebellion and festivity”. In their declaration intent Radiochango decided to be ‘la Onda Zapatista’ (The Zapatista Wave) as they felt ideologically related to this movement. The digital emission of the radio channel was not originally planned until the web designer, Vinx, found, by chance, a code that by the means of a music file shows on screen the title and author of the song. In addition, after every five songs there are jingles about social issues, greetings from Radiochango artists, and music news and event announcements.[27]

Radiochango’s home page includes five main sections: Chango presents (including news, information on records, tour dates, artists, radio, video, TV, catalogue, shopping page in Zona k), Social Konscience (articles on political and social issues), Editorial (occupying the central and larger position on the page and which expresses the views of its creators and collaborators), What’s Radio Chango? (a brief summary of its history, services and how to collaborate and offer donations), Los Changitos (the people who become members of Radiochango to join the different forums, either for bands or social conscience debates, and, also, to make contact with other members, changuitos). In the first section, there is the new service of Radiochango-TV which recently started to broadcast on November, 3rd 2009.

Radiochango is claimed, by their creators, to be a project for the people.“This project, that was the initiative of three people, is not meant to stay in our hands. It has always been, and will be, an open project for everybody”.[28] This collective identity is the basis for the new plans of expansion for the website. In this new project the Radiochango users will have a more participatory and interactive role, in accordance with the current revolution of communication technologies produced through the internet. This has especially become more apparent in the last five years with the downfall of the dotcom websites. The new revolution on the web has been termed Web 2.0 by Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly Media, which publishes books on Technology and Computing innovations. Tim O’Reilly, himself, has explained this concept in the article ‘What Is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software’:

Windows was a brilliant solution to the problems of the early PC era. It leveled the playing field for application developers, solving a host of problems that had previously bedeviled the industry. But a single monolithic approach, controlled by a single vendor, is no longer a solution, it’s a problem. Communications-oriented systems, as the internet as platform most certainly is, require interoperability. Unless a vendor can control both ends of every interaction, the possibilities of user lock-in via software APIs are limited.” [29]

 Web 2.0 opens new worldwide communications stopping the control of just one entity and, at the same time, opening new spaces for debate and interactive communications.

Cooperate, Don’t Control: Web 2.0 applications are built of a network of cooperating data services. Therefore: Offer web services interfaces and content syndication, and re-use the data services of others. Support lightweight programming models that allow for loosely-coupled systems.”[30]

 Is this the beginning of a new collective democracy modelled on the Anarchist philosophy of the 19th century?. Is the new technology a base for a more free and democratic society?. Juris stated that Networking logics offers a “new way of doing politics”. This is described as “a mode of organizing (and) involving horizontal coordination among autonomous groups, grassroots participation, consensus decision making, and the free and open exchange of information,..” [Juris:14]. This broader topic, regarding new media technology, could form a separate study outside the scope of this dissertation. Radiochango, by playing a part in this new era of technology, is helping to open new spaces for protest and sharing information.

 ii -Radiochango Artists

By November 2009, the artist page included the biography and discography of 413 bands together with their separate forums. Most of the groups satisfy the required features of the Mestizo scene: with fusion and festive/upbeat music and a collective identity on social issues. Predominantly the bands are based in Spain, however, most of the bands are formed by people of different nationalities such as Ojos de Brujo, 08001, Soma Raza, Che Sudaka, Calima or the bands of Macaco, Wagner Pa and Manu Chao. Nevertheless, Mestizo is a transnational music scene that has broader perspectives in their music roots and international music connections than in the average local or national rock music scene. Radiochango has reflected this in the diversity of the bands’ origins. Among them, there are bands from Mexico (Cafe Tacuba, Los De Abajo, Maldita Vecindad), Argentina (Alcohol Fino, Todos Tus Muertos, Fabulosos Cadillacs), Colombia, Brazil (Seu Jorge), Venezuela (Desorden Publico, King Chango), United States (Lila Downs, Ozomatli), Canada (Chango Family), Italy (Almanegretta, 99 Posse, Banda Ionica, Mau Mau), France (Les Negresses Vertes, Mano Negra, Manu Chao, Sergent Garcia, Gnawa Diffussion, Zebda), Algeria (Akli D), Great Britain (Mad Professor, Peyoti for President), The Netherlands (Mala Vita), Mali (Amadou & Mariam), Ivory Coast (Tiken Jah Fakoli), Cuban residents in Europe (Orishas), Dominican Republic (Arianna Puello), Japan (Akai Giwaku). Within the Spanish State there are bands who distance themselves from the Spanish identity and prefer being associated with their place of origin, such as Negu Gorriak and Fermin Muguruza in the Basque Country, and Dusminguet, Andreu & Els Rumberos and Cheb Balowski in Catalonia. The bands of the Mestizo music scene share more common ground among themselves than with any other musical scene from their own countries. This is arguably the first transnational music scene where the epicentre of the scene is more diverse, interactive and polycentric than any other pop music scene dominated by the anglophone world. At the same time, it is not a part of a mainstream and international popular music scene; it is still part of an alternative scene, even with some of the artists becoming huge pop stars, such as Manu Chao. In any case, the Mestizo music is still identified and filed within the vague term of World music.

The fusion of music is seen as a natural process. In Barcelona, for example, inner city areas such as the Raval, and the working class industrial satellite towns in its urban belt, have been places of ethnic conflict but, also, of friendly and artistic encounter between races and cultures. Cultural centres and Ateneos Populares (community centres) offer programs of integration and cultural production which have resulted in multicultural gatherings of artists. Ojos de Brujo and Zebda are examples of Radiochango groups who arose out of community and communal artistic centres.

This was the origin of La Fábrica de Colores, an association of multimedia artists and musicians who fuse together music, dance, theatre, literature, cinema, animation, video, photography, sound, drawing, and performances. Ojos de Brujo is the name given to the musical part of the project, a name inspired by the drawing of the wizard which can be seen on the group’s webpage” [31]

The first artist mentioned in this section is the extraordinary band 08001, named after Barcelona’s postcode of the Raval district where they reside. The Raval is an area in downtown Barcelona known for its immigrant population. The band’s biography says: “This project, conceived as a workshop or work in progress, is defined as a collective of musicians in constant change and evolution. It is opened to all artists from different parts of the World, who cross paths in the Raval, the most ethnically diverse district of Barcelona.”[32] They are a collective band of 23 members of more than 10 nationalities (from Spain, Morocco, France, US, UK, India, Argentina, Bulgaria, Senegal and Italy) that has been praised in the music press for its fusion and eclectic sounds. The American magazine Time in its European issue of March 8 2004, included a feature about 08001, under the headline ‘Spain Rocks’: “The narrow, winding lanes of Raval were once Barcelona’s red-light barrio. In recent years, as the district has been colonized by migrants from as far afield as South America and Southeast Asia, the urban music that reverberates from this neighborhood has evolved to reflect the diversity of the population. This syncretic sound — called mestizaje, a mix of music and ethnicities — is now producing some of the country’s hottest new acts. And they don’t come any hotter than Barcelona’s 08001.”[33]

In recent years there has been a significant increase in the study of the sociology of music. The study of identity and place by John Connell and Chris Gibson in their essential book ‘Sound Tracks: Popular Music Identity and Place’ has made an important claim about migration and cultures: “Migrants, refugees and their children all experience, to varying degrees senses of displacement and dislocation, mediating memories of the people and places of home with the realities of their new surrounding. Music is one element of this experience. It provides a mechanism by which the cultural baggage of home can be transported through time and space, and transplanted into a new environment assisting in the maintenance of culture and identity” [Connell and Gibson:161].

Moreover, the new location of the immigrants constitutes a new cultural landscape with its own forms. “Despite globalisation, internal migration and the commercial underpinning of music, each musical scene in every place, required at least some local identification, and had its own internal musical structures” [Connell and Gibson, 2003:191].

iii-Barcelona: A port town with a dynamic political activity and a burgeoning music scene

In recent years, especially since 2001, Spain has seen levels of immigration on an unprecedented scale.  Thus, Barcelona as its second biggest city, has been one of the main receivers of this influx of people. Since the XIX century, Barcelona has traditionally been one of the main destinations of internal Spanish migration from the non-industrial and poorer regions of the country, mainly Andalusia, Murcia and Extremadura. At the onset of democracy in the 1970s, Barcelona and its Metropolitan Area had one of the largest concentrations of a working-class population in Europe, but the demographics became stagnated. “The Barcelona and Catalan social structure has undergone a profound transformation since the 1970s. The early 1970s saw the end of a twenty-year economic boom during which time, through mass immigration and high birth rates, the Catalan population had rapidly grown in size. Hencefoward, a new demographic phase was initiated, characterized by a dramatic fall in the birth rate and the end of mass migration (replaced, in Barcelona itself, by a decrease in the size of the population), along with the population’s progressive ageing.” [Smith (edited by): 223-224][34]

 At the end of the 1980s Barcelona started one of the most ambitious processes of regeneration of the urban landscape to be experienced by a European city since the end of the Second World War. This was initiated in order to accommodate the Olympic games in 1992 but it has continued through the years, with its innovative urban plans to adapt its rich past heritage to the new post-modernist fin de siècle architectural styles. This development has gone together with a switch from the industrial sector to an increasing tertiary sector. Tourism is one of the victors of this new economical process, as Barcelona has become one of the most visited cities of Europe.

Since the start of the new century Spain, and Barcelona in particular, has experienced a new influx of people. The effects of these new migration groups, mainly from overseas, has produced a  considerable influence on the new fabrics of Barcelona’s society. The main immigrant groups in the city are from Ecuador, Morocco, Colombia , Peru , Pakistan  and the Dominican Republic.[35]

 “In 1999, in the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona (MAB) there were some 89,744 foreign inhabitants (2.09% of population) increasing to 531,040 such inhabitants (11.13% of population) in 2005. Clearly, this assumes a very strong change in the social composition in the metropolis generating new social dynamics unknown until today.” [Cladera and Fullaondo Elordui-Zapaterietxe: 1].

In this aspect, it is remarakable to notice that the creators of Radiochango, foreigners themselves (Laurent Jayr and Santiago Montero are French nationals and Vincenzo Megale from Italy), were inspired by Barcelona’s social dynamics and its creativity. Vincenzo recognized that one of the main reasons to move to Barcelona was “for the burgeoning music scene in Barcelona, a great melting pot and catalyst of this fusion of musics”. Barcelona has a reputation for solidarity, anarchism and political activism which could have been one of the facets that attracted the makers of the web to this city. Even though this was not the reason to be based Barcelona, the cultural and political legacy of this Catalan port town has surely been a great advantage for Radiochango, in the establishment of relations and links with community social projects. Jeffrey Juris refers to this by saying “networking logics in Catalonia have been profoundly shaped by the region’s unique political culture and history, including a tradition of ‘unitary’ mobilization forged through decades of nationalist and anti-Franco struggle and its anarchist legacy” [Juris: 63]. The origins of this legacy can be traced back to the Barcelona of the 19th century with the arrival of Giussepe Fanelli in 1869. Fanelli was the person who introduced the Bakuninist influence to the labour movements in Spain. This influence was critical during the first congress of the Spanish section of the First International, held in Barcelona in June 1870 [Leval: 18-19] [Marti: 75-111]. The CNT (National Confederation of Labour), the most important anarchist association, was created in 1910 in Barcelona as successor to the Spanish section of the First International Workers Association. By 1936 it had over a million affiliates, especially in Catalonia where it was the main labour movement. At this time Barcelona was the stronghold of the anarchist movement in Spain. [Richards: 45-46]. Another important contribution in the anarchist Catalan tradition was the creation of the Modern School (Escuela Moderna) by the Catalan pioneering educator of the libertarian movement, Francisco Ferrer i Guardia. He was executed in 1909, after the Barcelona anarchist uprising against the mobilization of troops to Morocco during the events known as the Tragic Week. [Jull: 237]. “La Escuela Moderna, with its new methods, its evening classes, its program of permanent education, multiply rapidly its activity and its structure parallel to the social struggle. The formula of dialogue and controversia, questions and answers, are leading to the speaker, and the reader too, to his/her own ideological conclussions through the means of a coherent method defined by the discourse link.”[36]. For Francisco Ferrer “a book has more (anti-establishment) value than a pistol” [Litvak, 2001:26-27]. During the first two decades of the 20th century there was an impressive number of anarchist publications printed in Barcelona, such as Solidariad Obrera, La Revista Blanca, El Progreso, Tierra y Libertad and Tiempos Nuevos. In a largely illiterate (society)”, Sam Dolgoff noted, “tremendous quantities of literature on social revolution were disseminated and read many times over.” [Dolgoff: 27]. During the Spanish Civil war the anarchists were at odds with their principles, when CNT-FAI (Iberian Anarchist Federation) agreed to be part of the socialist and the nationalist liberal bourgeois government in Spain, and Catalonia, respectively in order to help the Republic against the fascists. During the Francoist years, and afterwards, in the transition to a democratic country, the Ateneos Populares in Barcelona suburbs were cultural centres of working class resistance and anarchist influence of political activism [Rebollo, 2003] [Zambrana, 2000].

Recently there have been a number of studies of the artistic sense and its role in the Spanish Anarchist movement. In this field the work of Professor Lily Litvak is notable. She has uncovered the collective role in the huge artistic production of workers and intellectuals between 1880 and 1913. “It is not the technical realization what should take priority, but …its power to touch the people, not only delight them or entertain them, but, also, to wake them up in the most profound of their consciousness, their faith in the eternal human values: justice, dignity, hope” [Litvak, 2001: 354][37]. The collective identity claimed by the anarchists, of the role of arts, is shared by many of the Radiochango artists.

When Laurent Jayr was asked if Radiochango had any connections with the Anarchist movement, he reaffirmed that Radiochango is not an anarchist website but neither apolitical. “We believe in democracy”, assured Laurent, “and the ability of men to change the world for better. We are, clearly, positioned on the left ,if we require a label”. He also declares: “we are not members of any political party or follow any doctrine. We like debating and action. We support many ‘political’ initiatives, especially the ones that are from the grassroots and can act like a lobby for the things to change more quickly”. Within the Mestizo scene the links with the anarchist movement or ideology have been shown in the case of self-management cooperative enterprises such as La Fabrica de Colores. Javi Zarco, one of the main promoters and creators of the Mestizo scene in Barcelona is currently managing the band Ojos de Brujo. Zarco, the proud grandson of an anarchist who fought in the legendary Durruti Column during the Spanish civil war, has redefined his role as manager on an equal basis with the artist. He sees himself as one more member, not working under the assumed commission of some percentage of the artist fee, but having his earnings based on an equal wage as  with any other member of the band. He has also described the decision process of La Fabrica de Colores as the product of an assembly under a participatory democracy principle.[38]

The nationalist movement against the centralization of the Spanish State has also been a permanent feature of the Catalan resistance movement against the Spanish central government since the second half of the 19th century. It is also a cultural movement of vindication of the Catalan idiosyncrasy; a movement which has attracted Catalan intellectuals throughout the years, such as Antonio Gaudi, Pau Casals, Joan Miro, Josep Pla and, even, Salvador Dali at certain times of his life. Pi i Margall, a former President of the Spanish First Republic in 1873, was another Catalan intellectual who advocated a federal state and his political philosophy blended ideas of Catalan nationalism with the anarchist ideology of Proudhon. The Radiochango creators are aware of the nationalist identity in Catalonia and have included Catalan as one of the six languages on the home page. They also promote the activities of Tercera Via, a project similar to Radiochango which promotes Catalan music. Radiochango has been very critical about Barcelona’s city council and have echoed the discontent of the people in Barcelona. In the first instance they were against the Forum 2004, organized by the municipality of Barcelona, for neglecting the local artists in promoting Barcelona as the cultural capital of Europe and offering an “aseptic” and fabricated vision of the city for the tourists [editorial May 2004: Menos Mass Media, Mas Mass Lucha]. Secondly, they supported Barcelona Postiza, a campaign conducted by different associations of neighbourhoods and citizens of Barcelona and coordinated by Radiochango, to claim the streets of Barcelona for the people, and not to be used as a mean for profit making corporations and commercial chains.

 iv- Social Konscience

This aspect of the RadioChango website occupies an instrumental part of the information covered in the site. Social Konscience has been deliberately missspelt; the (c) was replaced by (k). The K has a strong meaning in the Spanish social movements such as the Okupas (squatters) camp and the objectors to military service at the time when it was compulsory, Objetores de Konciencia (Consciencious Objectors). Laurent has denied his connection but he wanted to use the k to have a less serious tone than the correct spelling of the word has. “Social Consciensce”, Laurent explains, “had sounded perhaps less humble and what we wanted is to make known initiatives and reflections, but not by lecturing.”. He recognized that maybe it was the influence of collectives and partner associations and using the k was fundamental to the spelling. ‘Action and Debate’ are claimed to be the keywords of Radiochango’s objective for its Social Konscience page. Its pages deal with various topics of local and global, social and political issues. The classification of themes appears in a menu on the left hand side of the Social Konscience pages. The articles deal with one or more of the topics included in the list.

The classification has been broken down based on geographic areas, such as: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, The Middle East, North America and Oceania; or based on the topical matters: Communities, Culture, Ecology, Economy, Fair Trade, Mass Media, Politics, Religion and Technology.

Amongst the many news articles there are also articles by the World Social Forum, Centre for Research on Globalization[39], ATTAC (Association for Taxation of Financial Transaction in order to Aid Citizens)[40], Le Monde Diplomatique (articles by the director Ignacio Ramonet and Ramón Chao) and political leaders such as Esther Vivas ( from the Anti-Capitalist Left party).

Editorials can be included in this section of Social Conscience, even though it occupies a different area of the site. The difference is that the Editorials are written by Radiochango’s people and express their own views. The creators of Radiochango use pseudonyms for their authorship of the editorials. Laurent Jayr signs under the name of Mono Lo, Vincenzo as El Mago, and Santiago Montero, before leaving the project and moving to Colombia in 2006, used to write under the name of El Indio Loko. Radiochango regular collaborators, such as Selector Matanzas, Paula Pitzalis and Ramón Chao have also contributed in this section. The editorials are in 5 languages: Spanish-Castillian, French, Italian, English and Catalan. The authors for each language are different but on some occasions the editorials had been translated into the other languages. These opinionated pages cover many topics, even in one single editorial there can be aspects of current local news intermingling with comments on international affairs and music news of the artists of Radiochango. They put forward postulations for action to improve the state of the world, starting in the local communities and neighbourhoods. This is shown in the following statement, which appeared on the November 2004 editorial signed by Manu Chao.

 “So if we want to make a change for the better, it can no longer be done from the top, but must be done at the neighborhood level. By finding ways to live together, change is possible. In a more general level, we can no longer sit and do nothing. It must be the people, a personal revolution, at the family level, a revolution at the local level. That is how we can do it. Nobody has excuses. We can’t wait for someone else to fix the problems. There are no excuses, everyone must do their part.”[41]

 This call for action is explained in the interviews conducted with Laurent Jayr and Vinx. The aim is that action is a way to improve things, to mobilize against injustice but not as an apology for violence. Interestingly, Laurent uses the words of the US president John Fitzgerald Kennedy, in his editorials: “Ask not what the world can do for you. Ask what you can do for the world.” By deliberately replacing Kennedy’s ‘country’  for ‘world’ he is looking at the wider picture of global responsibility. Laurent Jayr has a keen interest in politics. He studied Political Sciences in Toulouse and since moving to Barcelona in 1996, to work for a French semi-public company to help French small and medium businesses in settling in Spain, he became involved in Fair-Trade organizations and volunteering for ONG’s, such as Intermom Oxfam or Educación Sin Fronteras (Education Without Frontiers,

The themes covered in the editorials posted on the Radiochango website are wide ranging. These  go from local to global stories. Among local editorials, there are impressions about the General elections in Spain and encouraging people to vote against the conservative government[42], to critical editorials against Barcelona city council for hypocrisy in banning the use of streets by local artists and, at the same time, promoting the town as the cultural forum of the world in 2004[43]. Its criticism of the Forum 2004 is mainly for ignoring the local talent. In the editorial of May 2004[44], the author, Laurent, proposes measures to activate the cultural alternatives in Barcelona and pay tribute to some of the pivotal agents and actors of the Mestizo scene, for being some of the principal figures in the reactivation of the city as a vibrant melting pot of cultures. It suggests the help of music venues, record labels, community centres and diverse collectives of artists such as Club Mestizo, Hace Color, Factoria d’Arts, La Salamandra, Harlem Jazz Club, Fábrica de Colores, COPEC, Clap, PAE, Mondo Sonoro, Etnomusic and the Ateneneus of Catalonia. The editorial has also named some of the local promoters and influential artists who have helped to galvanize the Mestizo scene in Barcelona such as Javi Zarco, Jordi Turtos, Oli y David from Salamandra, Ramon Surio, Miguel Amoros, Marc Iser, Albert Puig, Xavi Garatge, Manu Chao and Luis Hidalgo. It is interesting to note that the same editorial of May 2004 celebrates Le Monde Diplomatique for its 50th anniversary and pays tribute to some of its contributors such as Noam Chonsky, Ignacio Ramonet, Noemi Klein, Bernard Cassen, Maurice Lemoine, ( the agro activist) José Bové, Ramón Chao or Jacek Wozniak (the Polish comic-strip creator of the the French weekly Le Canard Enchaine, and also designer of the Radiochango website and Manu Chao’s albums and official website). The connection established between social movements and the Mestizo scene in Barcelona is bridged through this editorial. In February 2009 the editorial section is dedicated to presenting the forthcoming festival Esperanzah![45] (Hope festival ) as a form of mobilization through cultural events: “it is about time to mobilize through culture to say no to war, famine, injustices, specuations and all those things that make this world less habitable”.[46] Finally, within the local issues aspect of the editorials, this space is also used to direct local campaigns (Barcelona Postiza) and denounce the closing of venues by the City council of Barcelona, such as the bar Mariatchi. This bar, which was temporarily closed, is a meeting place for artists and musicians, and is the place for Radiochango events (it is also the regular bar of Manu Chao in Barcelona) is in the gothic district. [47]

Among the Global concerns of the editorials there is an ubiquitous criticism of American foreign policy[48]. In the English editorial of May 2007, Michel Chossudovski, the director of the centre for Research on Globalization, supports the Perdana Initiative “to reverse the tide of war. This requires a massive campaign of networking and outreach to inform people across the land, nationally and internationally, in neighborhoods, workplaces, parishes, mosques, schools, universities, municipalities, on the dangers of a US sponsored war which contemplates the use of nuclear weapons. In this sense, it is not Iran which is a threat to global security but the United States of America and Israel”.[49] In a more positive light, in the editorial of February 2006, Radiochango celebrates the arrival of Evo Morales, as the new President of Bolivia, and his nationalization programme.[50]  In other editorials, there are praise for the World Social Forum for its support for the Tobin Tax[51], and for Jean Ziegler, Human Rights activist and ex-UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. He is paid homage in the editorial of July 2008.[52] Ziegler’s paraphrasing of Jean-Jacques Rousseau in The Social Contract: “Between the weak and the strong, it is the freedom which oppresses and law that liberates”, is used to denounce the Neo-Liberal agenda of Globalization. Another important issue raised, in the editorial section, is the control of the world news by the media corporations such as AP, Reuter, AFP, and New Corp among others. In the editorial, signed by Le Monde Diplomatique writer, Ramón Chao, the Censored 2009 Project by the Sonoma University, in the state of California, is mentioned[53]. This reports that at the top of the list of the most censored news by the media in the US is the disturbing fact that 1,200,000 people have died since the beginning of the conflict in Iraq.

The editorials are also used to advocate the principle of Think Global-Act Local in the way we consume: “All we have to do is becoming a consum’actor, buying ecological and fair trade products, or simply recycling”.[54]  Radiochango has also called for the support of a transnational NGO that helps Third World countries to obtain medicines; UNITAID[55]. At national level, the editorial of March 2008 condemns the Basque terrorist organization ETA after the killing of a Socialist ex-mayor, of a Basque town, the day before the Spanish General elections of 2008.[56]

Editorials about the music scene and the state of music are numerous. In March 2009 an editorial starts with a diatribe against the international economical and political situation and then finishes praising the music world for “its healing virtues for the soul and body and more in periods of (economic) depression”.[57] There are descriptions of the Mestizo scene, and their main figures as mentioned above, and also editorials are written to celebrate the forthcoming albums by some of the Radiochango artists, such as the album Radiolina by Manu Chao, released in September 2007. Manu Chao is described as an artist who “achieve success without losing one’s conscience”.[58]On the other hand, there is criticism against the control of music performances by transnational companies like Clear Channel. Radiochango makes an analysis of the music industry crisis which has diverted the focus from selling albums to the growth of live performances. This is due to the fact that concerts are the most profitable area in these times of free access to music on the internet, which it is currently almost impossible to stop. Clear Channel has further benefitted by taking advantage of the ownership of venues and, subsequently, has increased dramatically the price of tickets to see live music.[59]

Radiochango has declared independence from any political organization. However, during the last European elections Radiochango supported the Anti-Capitalist Left led by Esther Vivas. They have also supported international campaigns such as Esperansaharaui, which is in favour of the The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), with the release of a compilation album of Radiochango artists [discography-EsperanSaharaui][60]. In 2005, Radiochango promoted the first Busker’s Festival for street musicians in Barcelona ( 9th June 2005). This was in collaboration with the charity organization La Casa Amarilla[61]. In the beginning of the project, Laurent recalled: “Radiochango wanted to add debate and optimism in the golden age of the social movements and mobilizations such as the demonstrations in Barcelona against the EU head of states summit in March 2002 or against the assasination of Ernest Lluch[62] by ETA. The horizons (of the social movements) were fathomless, people of any age were committed and assertive to change the world”. He believes that the negative effect of the 9/11 terrorist action in the United States has gradually changed the social climate and the Anti-Globalization movement is one of its victims. He describes it as not being a sudden change but a slow and unconscious process of detachment since the zenith of mobilizations of the late nineties in Seattle or the Geneva demonstrations in June 2001. Laurent has declared that this process has increased with the recent financial crisis. Radiochango believes that music is a catalyst of energy and consciousness that can reactivate and act against this trend. “Therefore”, Laurent explains, “ music has to be in service of society or at least in permanent interconnection.” Radiochango sees the internet as an instrumental way to change perceptions of music. They attrubute their success, as other websites have failed, to the way they use the internet; not as a website to download music but to communicate ideas and contact people. Laurent emphasises the horizontality of Radiochango: “Like the Anti-Globalization movement, the fact of not having a pyramidal structure has allowed us not to depend on people but on ideas. Lastly, Radiochango was and still is a non-profit making project. This is a great difference compared with other music pages or music networks”


Radiochango operates through two different scenarios: cyberspace and the local communities in Barcelona. One is in the virtual world of the internet. The other is the physical and geographic arena. Both mediums complement each other in the glocalization of social struggles. In the first case, the internet offers greater potential possibilities to link local with global issues than any other form of communication. The second creates the necessary roots for the collective to relate to its own social ground. Both scenarios require different strategies.

In this chapter, there will be an analysis of how Radiochango has adapted and evolved these two different scenarios in pursuing its objective of being a platform of debate and reflection through music and social commitment. adventures in Cyberspace

Radiochango is the product of three passionate music fans who have constructed a website in their spare time as a medium to communicate their social and political concerns. The creators expertise in the new technologies has been of great advantage to the development of this website. Santiago Montero was a graphic designer, Vincenzo Megale is a computer programmer and Laurent Jayr is a  real estate developer and consultant. As mentioned in chapter 4, they met through a website created by Vincenzo Megale, Salga la luna. This was the non-officcial page of Manu Chao in internet created in 1999. Eventually, they all moved to live in Barcelona. This location has been a crucial aspect to the development of the Radiochango’s project. This makes an important connection of the virtual with the physical world. Barcelona is an important feature of the project, Radiochango. In the case of Radiochango, locality is as important for their existance and objectives as the website is. They do not only exist in the cyberspace they have also their feet on the ground in the place they are based. There is no separation between the spaces (virtual and real) that Radiochango occupy. Cyberspace and Barcelona are intrinsic and dependent on each other for this project to exist.

The website,, has over 400 pages and attracts around 100.000 different visitors per month. It has already surpassed one million visitors for 2009.[63] The visitors primarily come from Spain, and then France, the United States, Argentina, Mexico, Great Britain and Italy. Interestingly, Great Britain occupies second place in the number of petitions (a different technical concept than visits) to the server-net of Radiochango, with more than half a million for the present year.[64]. However, there are only a few UK bands who are included in the Radiochango network (The Trojans, The Dustaphonics, Peyoti for President and Mad Professor) and the UK counts for very few sales on-line. [65]

There is currently a new project of redesigning the site to use the web 2.0 technology to allow a greater interactivity for the Radiochango users. This requires more ambitious financing. In this respect, the main revenue of Radiochango is through the commercial services they offer on their website[66].

Advertising is offered for the bands of Mestizo music. These services include: banners, links in the dossier pages with the homepage of the artists, e-mailings to Radiochango mailing members (there are 5,650 registered, and for languages these are breaking down into Spanish-Castillian 3000, French 1200, English 750, Italian 300 and Catalan 400)[67] and promotion in the principal social networks. The total number of users registered to Radiochango is 40,896 (these users are called changitos).[68] The prices are modest; the highest rate has a price of 340 € for a package, including a banner for 1 month, links with the home page for one month, two mailings to Radiochango members in two languages, plus one quiz, for instance, to win tickets for a concert. In any case, there is no charge for the inclusion of the band in the artist page or to update the band dossier and discography. It is also free to include the band news about concerts in the tour dates page. The selection of the bands is, of course, mainly the work of the creators of Radiochango (at this moment only Laurent and Vinx). Their requirement is that the music has to meet the concept and definition of Mestizo music as festive music with a social conscience. There is an important element of subjectivity in the inclusion of the bands. The Radiochango people have to like the band or solo artist. It is in many ways a very subjective process with no clear definition of the main elements of social conscience or music to be included. On the other hand, the bands included have certain common elements and unique sound, which in many cases, as for instance with the Catalan bands or the bands residing in Barcelona, have become part of the local sound, or what the music press have defined as the Mestizo Sound of Barcelona: “it’s a smooth, effortless meld of rock, reggae, hip-hop, Latin, pop and funk, all infused with the strong rhythmic undertow of “rumba Catalana”[69]. The extraordinary characteristic of Radiochango is its role as a platform of a local scene with transnational reaches. Academic music writers John Connell and Chris Gibson, have studied the connections in the geography music and place [Connell and Gibson: 90-116][70]. They show that the music industry, in itself, is never successful in creating the association of place and scene and impose on them an authenticity. This requires the synergy of many local forces: such as infrastructure, talent, a keen audience, social and political mechanisms and, of course, commercialisation and marketing strategies. Interestingly, Radiochango has sponsored a music scene that, so far, has not contributed to establishing themselves as a successful music enterprise. Instead, Radiochango has been developed on the marginal side of the music industry as a form of social resistance and detachment from commercial adventurism. That is what ultimately has proven to be its triumph.

In the interview taken during the festival Esperanzah! Vinx remarked that every day they receive several requests and if they could have more time to devote to the artists pages, there would be more like four thousand members instead of the current 421. The Artists pages of Radiochango are some of the most visited together with the forum of the artists. Vinx confessed that the website of Radiochango is increasingly taking an important role in the promotion of bands. This aspect is out of their control, as, for instance, is the fact that some bands are rejected from the lineup of some music festivals for not being part of Radiochango.

Other services offered are:

– Broadcasting of live events (audio, audio & video), from 200€

– Recording concert, from 200€

– Creation of videos and promotional dvd, from 1000€

– Creation and maintenance of web sites, from 400€

– Photo sessions: studio / external / live, from 150€[71]

Other commercial activities consist of the online sales of Radiochango compilations, and albums of Mestizo music, in the Zona K page.[72] These, together the sales of tickets for the organization of Radiochango events are now the most profitable activities, which help cover the costs of running the website and organising events. At the moment, there are no employees working for Radiochango. All the people collaborating in Radiochango are volunteers.

Lately, Radiochango is pursuing another way of financing. Donations are asked for on the website: “RadioChango is a project that scarcely covers the expenses originated by his activity, your free contribution will help to keep alive this space”[73].This is explained, as they see this project as a non-profit making collective venture which is based on the participation of the people. In the editorial of March 2006 it said: “This project, that was the initiative of three people, is not meant to stay in our hands. It has always been, and will be, an open project for everybody. Some people have joined us. A few. Not enough”. They define the project: “Radiochango is not just a musical media. It also is an alternative. It is the choice to listen to and read different things. Topics that are rare and not to be found in the big media. It is not just the music, in which it is, in my opinion too often confined. It is also an archive with articles, not to convince us of anything, but to offer us a different point of view” [74]

The digital radio station and the just recently launched Radiochango TV digital are some of the extra features included on the web. ‘La Voz del Chango’, a live radio programme which ran from 2007 until 2009, has been currently replaced by Radiochango TV. The former was run every Wednesday night for one and a half hours and held in places such as the bar Mariatchi or the Inusual Project, a bar in the Raval disctrict. There were interviews, quizzes and live music. It was also an interactive and spontaneous programme where people could come along and get involved in the programme.

On Radiochango TV’s first broadcast they showed interviews with some of the artists included in the website, together with associations and social actors of Barcelona, such as the platform Barcelona Postiza (postiza is Spanish for wig, suggesting an artificial tone). This campaign claims the streets as a public space, which musicians and people can use for the benefit of the public, as opposed to a tourist vision that the council has planned for the central area of Barcelona, suppressing busking and closing of bars and places of public gathering. This collective platform of Barcelona Postiza claims the same as their English counterparts, Reclaim the Streets, did in the 1990s: the streets are a public space for the benefit of the people, and they are against their privatization and their commodification for the benefit of the corporate chains. In this respect, Radiochango has used their web site to place news and launch this campaign, such as the article: ‘Barcelona Postiza – ¡Otra Cultura es posible!’ (Inauthentic Barcelona – Another Culture is possible) [75] and, even, launch a compilation album with the name of the campaign [discography-Barcelona Postiza]. The television programme also included a section called Recortes de Prensa (Press Snippets) with news from all over the world. There was a report on the FAO of the United Nations on the occasion of the World Food Day, on 16 November, about the increasing number of people suffering from famine around the world (170 millions in the last four years). This was followed by a critical view of 2009’s controversial Nobel Peace award to the President of the United States, Barak Obama. Finally, there has been a critical overview on the impact of the Spanish multinationals in South America by the Spanish branch of Greenpeace, Los Nuevos Conquistadores (The New Conquistadors).[76]

ii-Radiochango born and residing in Barcelona

Through media used on the website, both radio and television, local and global issues have been voiced. It has also promoted Barcelona as a melting pot with a vibrant and diverse urban life. In this way of linking local and global issues, other strategies are used, such as the organization of Radiochango events. This has also been an effective tactic to let themselves become well known and interrelate with Barcelona’s main players of its dynamic nightlife. Part of the success of Radiochango in Barcelona has been in connecting the world of associations and social projects such as GATS, mentioned earlier, or Fundación Más Árboles (Foundation More Trees)[77], with the bohemian world of artists, promoters and bar owners. In other words, connecting the people of Barcelona who wake up early and work in vocational jobs or are activist members of associations with the bohemian Barcelona of an artistic, and a more nocturnal, lifestyle.

These groups have organized many musical events during recent years in Barcelona. These have been held in places such as the Club Mestizo, a club run by the pioneer of the Mestizo scene, Javi Zarco, La Capsa (a venue in the Prat de Llobregat), Bar Mariatchi (the regular hang-out of Manu Chao in Barcelona), Ateneu Nou Barris (community centre in one of the most popular working class suburbs of Barcelona, Nou Barris), Mercat de Música Viva de Vic (directed for many years by Jordi Turtos, a music journalist and a prominent promoter of the Barcelona music scene). In 2009, Radiochango in collaboration with GATS ran for the first time the Festival Esperanzah! in Barcelona. As mentioned above, this festival is the idea of Belgium social worker and, now promoter, Jean-Yves Laffineur. In Belgium, this festival has been running since 2001. It is held during the first week of August in the distinguished location of the Abbey of Floreffe, near the town of Namur. Its programme includes an ecclectic lineup of bands from around the world. The festival has been described by the website Virtual Womex (the world music business directory): “ Esperanzah …is an invitation to party, dream, travel; an opportunity to bring people together in a spirit of openness and blending”.[78] The originality of this festival, in comparison to other music festivals, is its social consciousness attribute. During the three day festival, there are open debates around a topical global issue. The people of Radiochango together with GATS and Tercera Via, established a link with the Belgium organization, ‘Z les Amis d’Esperanzah!’, to bring the festival to Barcelona on the last weekend of June. Therefore, from 2009 the festival is held in two different cities and is interlinked with the social issues for debate and reflection. In Barcelona, the festival was presented to the press in a statement that declared:

Esperanzah World Music Fesival works to build a real bridge between music, arts and the compromise for the mobilization of the civil society towards a fairer and more sustainable world”[79]

The festival in Barcelona took place in the Prat de Llobregat from the 26th to the 28th of June. In contrast to the historical and tourist location of the festival in Belgium, the place chosen in Barcelona was a working class area with a considerable immigrant and gypsy population. In fact, these social groups correspond to the main collectives that the association, GATS, is working with. Oscar Rando, as a director of the Festival Esperanzah in Barcelona, made special emphasis of the location, and its relation with the festival, under the slogan ‘A participative and community ethics’: “Since its creation eight years ago, the organization of the festival goes along with the thought about the sustainable development. This is seen in the principle that makes us choose the artists, the collaborators, towards the awareness with respect to the problems that interests us all, for the invitation of the participants to suggest different performances, or for the responsible management of the environment in which the festival is developed, integrating the town of El Prat de Llobregat and its citizens to our project”.[80]. In this respect, the organization declared: “The adventure of Esperanzah! starts in its town and its citizens. We are mindful for the convenience of the citizenship of El Prat del Llobregat, and for example, the first place from where the volunteering will be promoted will be amongst its citizens and its associations. In this way, the local distributors and their local products will be privileged”. This policy was also reinforced by the pricing policy, with a special discount for the local residents and even the symbolic price of 1 € for the most vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, children, and people on low income. The organization established a code of conduct as the values to be followed in the festival. These were: Justice, promotion of Social Mobilization, Compromise, Horizontality (all men, women and associative groups participating have the same weight in the decisions about the festival), Solidarity and Coherence. The latter is considered the test for the festival conduct (“Esperanzah! believes in what they do, they do what they say, and they say what they believe in”)[81]. Radiochango intervened directly during the festival, assuming the running of the radio for the festival, Radio Esperanzah!. This live broadcasting via digital and, also, via Frequency Modulated (covering all the metropolitan area of Barcelona) was ephemeral, only for the duration of the festival. The radio sessions included debates, interviews with social agents, associations, artists, news and reports. The theme for debate during the festival was chosen to be Food Sovereignty. They discussed the right of all countries to control their own destinies, on agricultural and farm issues, against the monopolization by transnational corporations.  Amory Star, in her book Naming the Enemy, describes the demands made by associations, such as the French Confederation Paysanne or the transnational association, Via Campesina (Peasant Via) [82] are the “implementation of sustainable development” by the way of promoting  “solidarity of peasants all over the world…”. They strongly are against the “WTO, Codex Alimentaris, genetic engineering an multinational corporations’ dictates, which leave farmers with no choices and no democratic processes” [Starr: 60].

Food Sovereignty as a theme of the festival for reflection is one of the actions used to link the local with the global issues. Others were the creation of spaces at the festival for integration and sharing local and global concerns and, also, to enjoy world diversity. Among these spaces, La Plaza de Los Posibles (translated as the Square of the Possibilities) is a space around a small stage where the associations debated, and local and street artists presented shows to convey the meaning of the festival theme and a celebration of the diversity of cultures. Another space was the Zoco Planetario (Planet Bazar). This was the market area of the festival where residing artisans from Barcelona had stalls to sell their products. There was also a space to enjoy the cuisine of different immigrant groups in Barcelona with a variety of food-stalls. There were also spaces for associations to have stalls to propagate their messages for social mobilization and, finally, there was a space for children. The festival was also run parallel to The International Environmental Film Festival (FICMA, Festival Internacional de Cine del Medio Ambiente)[83] with talks and teachs-in in the festival camp around the topics of the films. In addition, the participants in the festival joined volunteers to plant trees in the park near the airport of Barcelona.

Apart from running the Radio Esperanzah!, Radiochango was responsible for the music programme and in contracting the bands. They chose from their extensive artists pages, bringing music from Ivory Coast (Tiken Jah Fakoly), Mali (Smod), Nigeria (Keziah Jones), Cuba (Mercado Negro), Peru (Sara Van), Portugal-Angola (Terrakota), and also local bands such as Muyayo Rif, Costo Rico, Calima, La Pegatina and the Flamenco artist El Cabrero.

The statistics for the festival supplied by the director of the festival, Oscar Rando were:

–   An average of over 4000 people per day. In total 13.000 for the three days.

–   150 participating associations. Amongst them, there were cultural associations, NGO’s, trade unions, neigbourhood or citizen associations, immigrant associations, political associations, housing associations, artist collectives, street artisan groups and social right defender associations.

–     For the staff during the festival, the organization tended to rely on unpaid volunteers, except in the security services. The number of volunteers was 300.

–    Financing of the festival: Local Council of El Prat (10 % of the financing), the Autonomic Government of Catalonia (La Generalitat) funded 9%, other public administrations 3%, private sector 5%, own resources 23% and, finally, they were left with a deficit of 50%.

During the festival they promoted responsible consumption and introduced a fictional currency, which was the only form of authorized payment in the festival camp. This currency was named after the name of the festival, esperanzah. The organizers relied on a committee of experts, formed by intellectuals and people of the cultural and social field, as an ad hoc consulting board for the election of financial sponsors and associations to collaborate in the festival. This board also carefully studied the products to be sold in the various tents inside the festival camp. As a result of this evaluation, they refused to sell any product associated with the brands of Coca Cola, Habana Club (rum associated with the dictatorship of Cuba), Bacardi and Danone (French multinational) among others.

Interestingly, Radiochango, one of the main organizers together with GATS, kept a very low profile. Its presence was only to be noticed through the ephemeral radio of the festival and inside the headquarters of the festival organization. This was 300 metres outside the festival camp in a state-run school, St Cosme i St Damià, located on the street Calle Riu Turia 2, with limited access only for the staff and guests of the festival. During the festival the author interviewed some of the festival goers and participants about Radiochango and their awareness of the social issues of the festival. In these interviews most of the people had heard of Radiochango but they could not explain what it was. Some of the interviewees thought that this was a collective of musicians or, even a band. Among the participants was Silvia Mafalda, from the association Asamblea Per un Habitatge Digne de L’Hospitalet de Llobregat[84] (Council for Decent Housing in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat). Silvia was aware of the Radiochango website, and knew about its events, but festival Esperanzah! was the first event she had attended. She said that the Asamblea used its space in the festival to make themselves more visible and to collect funds for the organization by selling T-shirts and badges. She commented that she saw the role of the Mestizo scene as another valid form of music and resistance, and, in addition, to act as conscience to the society about the many problems affecting it. She finally described Barcelona as a vibrant place with a buoyant alternative music scene.

iii-Radiochango in the UK

The ethnographic research for this dissertation was initiated on the 19th March 2009 with the first Radiochango event held in London. This took place in the club Cargo (83 Rivington Street) with the performance of the bands Peyoti For President (a politically conscious band from London with  a multicultural identity) and Sound of Rum (a British hip hop trio led by a female rapper). The line up also included a London based female Latin American circus contortionists group called Las Conchas Circus. The Radiochango organization was represented by Julien, aka Selector Matanzas. He was the disc jockey for the event. Between performances there were members of the political group ‘Stop The War Coalition’ on the stage talking about the demonstration at the G20, which was going to take place on April 1st 2009. They also handed out literature about the demonstration. They paraphrased Obama’s electoral campaign slogan: “Yes We Can”. Under this slogan they demanded: Get the troops out of Iraq & Afghanistan, end the siege of Gaza – free Palestine, create jobs not bombs, stop arming Israel and abolish all nukes. For the purpose of this research, two representatives of the Stop the War Coalition, Stewart and Sharon, were interviewed. They said that they were informed of this event and invited to it by the band Peyoti For President. They came with the intention of denouncing the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan and to ask the audience to “assemble at the US Embassy, Grosvenor Square at 2pm” on Wednesday 1st April. Stewart said: “It is important that when you have a lot of young people together to celebrate politics that you came along and try to encourage them to become active because celebrating political activism is only one part of it. The other part is getting on the streets and make our voices heard.”

There were also interviews with some of the members of the audience, most of whom were mainly from the Latin American community in London. Some of the audience were musicians who wanted to become part of the Radiochango network, even when their political and social activism was not a primary part of their musical project. They were more aware of the important network of Radiochango bands than the Social Conscience issues that this website was propagating. Among these interviewees were Daniel Bandera, a Cuban musician from the musical project Bajo y Tumbao, and Monte, from Madrid, a singer and musician who under the artistic name of La Xula [discography] has released an album with an independent label, with musicians from different backgrounds residing in London. Monte confessed that her inclusion in the Radiochango network could be very helpful to her musical career. She recognized her political message is not “such evident” but admits her ‘mestizaje’ is very noticeable. Her personal stance is for feminist issues, which she deals with in her lyrics.

The organizers of the event were Catalina and Callum. Callum is a Londoner who has a project called Movimientos (Movements), which has a strong connection with the Latin American community in London and is involved in different issues about this part of the world. The project programmes live music and other Latin American events, such as documentary and film screenings of independent artists with small distribution powers. Movimientos organized an event with the performance of Manu Chao at a secret gig in a pub in Brixton (Hootananay, Brixton, Saturday 19 July)[85] a few weeks after his official appearance in the 2008 Glastonbury festival. This benefit gig, for the fundraising for the Native Spirit Foundation was agreed, with the artist in the tranquility of a campfire hours after his celebrated performance in the festival. Catalina is a Colombian street performer who used to live in Barcelona, where she met the creators of Radiochango. She was the person responsible for establishing the link with Radiochango to organize the first event in London.

Peyoti for President’s leader, Pietro DiMascio was also interviewed on the night. He explained how his band was contacted by Callum from Movimientos to be part of this event. When Pietro DiMascio was asked if he belongs to an organization or if there is any political group he identifies with, he mentioned the website He said that he does not want his band to be part of a political movement but he identifies with the social conscience and music scene of Radiochango, which he thinks is the only social musical scene. Peyoti for President is a band eager to participate in Stop The War Coalition’s events. Pietro DiMascio’s curious background has been emphasized in the band press release. He was “born parentless in the UK and adopted by a British family at the age of one”, this is used to explain his music links due to the fact that “his unknown ethnic origins and consequent search to discover his parents was a blessing which enabled him to feel no specific allegiance with any one culture but an affinity with many”.[86] The band is made up of members of different nationalities. The Brazilian Ulisses Bezerra is from another extraordinary background (“the son of the great songwriter of Rio shanty towns, Bezzera da Silva[87]”). It is said that Peyoti for President is more than a band; it is a collective of musicians from the underground scene in London. Their first album ‘Rising Tide of Conformity’, was recorded with more than twenty musicians. Some of whom have also played for British-Egyptian singer Natasha Atlas, Indian musician Ravi Shankar and Israeli singer Yasmin Levy. This album includes their debut politically charged single “We the People”. [discography-Rising Tide of Conformity]

In his interview, Pietro remarked that musicians have to voice human and political feelings for a better world at the same time as having to entertain. He mentioned capitalism being in a crisis. His stance is not to be anti-capitalist as a principle but to look for alternatives for the welfare of the whole world. “Capitalism has not always existed”, he said, “and if it was good for a certain period it is true that it is not anymore”. His human approach makes him think that capitalism is not inherent to human evolution and its survival, but may be for the “destruction of the civilization and the planet as we know it

Julien, aka Selector Matanzas, was interviewed with specific questions about the Radiochango creation, its decision-making process, the artists’ network and its social conscience issues. He is also responsible for the programming of the digital radio service on the website. He lives in Belgium but keeps in close contact with the people of Radiochango in Barcelona. Julien is the official disc jockey of the Radiochango events. His style is mixing Latin and Mestizo music from all over the world with political speeches, introducing sounds so far from the mainstream music world dominated by Anglo music. He was introduced to the different aspects of the Radiochango website. He places special emphasis of the role the forums, as a medium of contact and discussion, have in the website. They not only promote Mestizo music but are also an alternative medium to stimulate debate on political and social issues. He remarked on the non-use of and non-dependance from, commercial advertising. Julien stated that this project is not a collective network, such as Indimedia. This is due to the fact that Radiochango was formed by three people who created the website to attend to their musical tastes and political and social conscience affinities. Selector Matanzas also emphasized the importance of the local community or barrio (neighbourhood).  He affirmed that the creators of Radiochango are in permanent contact with the people of the barrios in Barcelona. Julien said that the website voices the problems faced by some of the neighbourhoods in Barcelona and, also, welcomes articles, with no restrictions, and the participation in its forums.

During the event in London it was remarkable to notice the non-protagonist position of Radiochango, as it also was at the Festival Esperanzah! three months later. Apart from the flyer of the event, which included the logo of Radiochango, there was not any printed information about the project or its artist network. There was not even an introduction by the organizers on the role played by Radiochango in the promotion of music with a political conscience. This was probably due to the fact that Radiochango is a vocational project which seems to work with much more ease behind the scenes, as its creators dedication to the events is only possible in their spare time and not as full time workers for a profit making organization.

Later in Barcelona the author interviewed, Radiochango creator Vinx about this event in London. He commented that the idea had grown through the process of word of mouth: “There were persons of organizations, like Movimientos, who knew us and contacted us. We studied the proposed event project, which coincided with the kind of events we organize in Barcelona: a festive event with the performance of bands politically conscious and in line with Radiochango’s artists. Then we decided to participate with the promotion of the event through our website. We lent our logo and the dj (Selector Matanzas) to the event but the organization of it was their own. Finally, we agreed a share on the event ticket sales.” He also mentioned another event organized in Tokyo with the launch of the Japanese version of Radiochango.[88]

iv- Manu Chao: the catalyst of the Movement

One of the most interesting findings during the research was the omnipresent figure of Manu Chao in the creation and development of Radiochango as a catalyst to join people in a common project.  This has also been reflected in this work. His name has appeared in the different chapters and sections. Even though the author would have sometimes prefered to avoid his constant mentioning, it has to be noticed that his influence in the music with social conscience scene, and relevance in the work of Radiochango, cannot be ignored.  This does not mean that there is a direct connection between the French artist and Radiochango. Laurent and Vinx, have both given assurances, in the various interviews for this research, that even when he had been ‘the inspiration’, none of the creators knew Manu Chao before the website existed in December 2000. As mentioned above, they met each other through the creation of a non-official website for Manu Chao music. The website was called Salga la Luna, named after the title of one of the Mano Negra songs on the album Patchanka [discography], which defined the Mestizo Music scene, and became very popular among his fans, even though it was never granted the musician’s consent. Laurent explained that Radiochango “was born from a mutual admiration” shared by the three creators of the website. Their first contact with the artist, Laurent continued saying, was when the website “had just 2 years”. This encounter came when Manu Chao summoned up various collectives and musicians for a press release in front of two of the main newspapers in Catalonia (El Periodico and La Vanguardia). This press release was used by Manu to complain about the Local Council, for the situation in the streets of Barcelona where buskers were banned from playing in the streets and their instruments were confiscated. Later this denunciation was part of the campaign included in the Barcelona Postiza mentioned above. Since then, Laurent affirmed, the relationship between Manu and Radiochango became closer and grew, due to their common interests and concerns. Laurent recognized Manu’s help in many aspects of the website but this does not equate to a dependency on the French artist. The Festival Esperanzah! was, for some media, retitled as the festival of Manu Chao[89]. The organizers, Oscar Rando from GATS and Laurent Jayr from Radiochango, denied any direct connection between the festival and Manu Chao. Laurent confessed that the festival was born from the influence that Manu’s albums had on the creator of the original festival, Jean Yves Laffineur. Therefore, it is undeniably an implicit influence but this does not amount to Manu’s creation or ownership. Nevertheless, the Mestizo leader did not perform during the festival nor was involved in any aspect of the festival that took place in Barcelona in June 2009.

There is, however, some common ground between Manu Chao and Radiochango. Firstly, for some years Vinx was in charge of the official website (, from September 2004 to June 2007. At present this website is run by other people in Paris and Barcelona. Vinx remains responsible for Manu’s forum, which is placed on the Radiochango site, in coordination with the French and the Spanish team. This forum is the most visited page of Radiochango. Secondly, both websites (Manu oficial website and Radiochango) share the illustrations of Jacek Wozniak, a collaborator in Le Monde Diplomatique and other publications. Wozniak, together with Ramón Chao (the father of Manu) and Ignacio Ramonet, the ex-director of Le Monde Diplomatique, authored the book Abecedaire Partiel Mondialisation (The Subjective ABC of the Globalization) published in 2004 [Ramonet, Chao, Wozniak]. Wozniak graphic design has been used on several of Manu Chao’s albums, such as Sibérie m’était contéee[90][discography], La Radiolina [discography] and Baïnonarena [discography]. Finally, Ramón Chao, who was the chief editor for the Latin American service of Radio France Internationale, is a keen contributor to Radiochango’ s editorials and articles in the Social Konscience pages. Ignacio Ramonet, director of Le Monde Diplomatique from 1991 to 2008 and currently president of Media Watch Global[91], is another contributor to Radiochango.

The socio-political activism of Manu Chao has been famous. He has been present at some of the major anti-globalization demonstrations in Europe; such as in Prague against the FMI summit conference (September 2000) [92],  in Barcelona against the World Bank (June 2001) and against the Europe of Capital and War during the European Union summit of heads of State (March 2002)[93] and in Genoa against the G8 summit (July 2001) [Juris: 1]. The decision of Manu to move to Barcelona has also reinforced the Mestizo scene, which arose in the late 1990s as a result of the influence of the French music scene with bands such as Les Negresses Vertes, Mano Negra and Zebda. Manu Chao’s upbringing has a notable influence on his music and attitude. His father was a pianist and a left wing intellectual who left Franco’s Spain for Paris.

 “He says his first childhood memory was the Che Guevara poster on the living room wall. Activists from Spain, Argentina, Brazil and Chile would come to visit on weekends, ‘talking about very serious things I couldn’t understand at the time’”[94]

Manu is a well known philanthropist. With his artistic direction and production skills he has helped musicians from all over the world, such as Amadou & Mariam from Mali and Akli D from Algeria. He has also aided the benefit project La Colifata [discography]: an extraordinary radio station who broadcast from a psychiatric hospital in Buenos Aires. Manu released an album with the participation of the people of this hospital. This project has been followed in Barcelona by Radio Nikosia, an open radio station for people suffering from mental illness.[95]

Manu’s critics have accused him of being involved with a multinational, Virgin records, while denouncing big corporations and getting substantial profits in his record deals. He confessed that he used to feel guilty for earning a considerable sum of money with his music but he is not ashamed anymore, as money gives him his freedom and the financial support to embark on in his extraordinary tours. Nevertheless, he has sponsored many musical, social and political projects in order to give a voice to minorities. He was also an authorised spokesperson in Europe for the Zapatistas struggle against the Mexican government when the conflict erupted in the 1990s in the region of Chiapas. For the purpose of this project the author requested an interview with Manu Chao. Unfortunately, this was not possible due to his tour obligations and the presentation of his new live album (Baïnonarena).


 Radiochango is a music media, which constitutes a form of cognitive praxis of social movements, through its website content and the advocating for a music with social conscience. The inter-connection between music and social movements has produced some of the most creative and inspirational music scene in the history of Pop music as the work of Eyerman and Jamison show. Their concept of collective identity is a common factor, which characterizes the Radiochango artist’s scene. This becomes part of the ‘new sensibility’ that Marcuse describes as a catalyst for the new left, thus, “the music and the politics fed into one another in complex and variegated ways” [Eyerman and Jamison: 13].

 The uniqueness of Radiochango, as a project of music fans to create spaces of socio-political debate around a music website, is shown by the fact that it has stimulated an international scene and, in the process, has converted itself into valid leaders of opinion to link a social movement and a music scene. Radiochango is invoking music and revolution. In fact, this is not a revolution as it is understood in political terms by the means of pursuing a change in the power structures. The ‘revolution’ that Radiochango is promoting can be interpreted as an ethical attitude of tolerance and a humanist view against the socio-economical structures that Neo-Liberal Capitalism is producing. According to Alberto Melucci, the ‘new social movements’…since the 1960 seemed to be mobilized around symbolic and informational issues rather than the material ones, seemed less concerned about revolution than about the intrinsic benefits of participating in social movements, were integrating public political issues with private everyday life, and were expressing awareness of the global dimensions of social problems” [Starr: 30]. In his theory of the new social movements of post-material politics, Melucci has asserted that “the success of social movements is to be gauged by whether they contribute to the creation of new ‘cultures” [Starr: 31]. In this sense, the Mestizo scene is the product, and, also, the protagonist, of a new culture fashioned, in many aspects, by the Anti-Globalization movement. The leader of this music-movement, Manu Chao, has been the catalyst of a phenomenon which has linked music and socio-political claims. This artist has also been the inspiration for the creators of Radiochango to bring about their project. Interestingly, Manu Chao’s background, as the son of an intellectual Spanish exiled working in the influential left wing publication Le Monde Diplomatique, has indirectly brought an educated allure to his music. This, definitely, was not going to slip away unnoticed by the people of Radiochango. These are professionals from highly educated backgrounds attracted to the music of their idol not only in his music but, also, in his lyrical content and activist attitude. Radiochango advocates social mobilization to change the world for the better. The activism, they promote, starts in the neighbourhoods. Think Global Act Local is their principle. In this way, editorials cover local and global issues, from the streets of Barcelona denouncing the City Council for urban speculation while banning buskers, and street performers and the persecuting of immigrants towards international affairs such as the tragic situation in the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, the impact of the American Foreign policy in the world or the control of the mass media by multinational corporations. Radiochango’s website is not only used as a medium to promote Mestizo bands and announce their tour schedules, it is also a medium to disseminate news about the state of the world, authored by some of the most notable left wing political leaders of opinion, like Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Ignacio Ramonet or Jean Ziegler.

The Mestizo scene is arguably one of the most political music scenes that has arisen since the time of the Civil Rights movement. It is also, the most international and diverse alternative music scene (from the point of view of music cultures and countries involved). Its origins were in the fusion of music within multicultural France of the late 1980s. Since then, the epicentre of this scene moved, as did its leader Manu Chao, to Barcelona. Radiochango is, in part, responsible for the growth of Barcelona as the unofficial ‘capital’ of the Mestizo scene. However, this scene was in Barcelona before the creation of Radiochango and, therefore, the creators of the website have benefited from this emerging music scene, with existing promoters, bands, venues and a multicultural social landscape appropriate for this kind of fusion and zest for diversity. Barcelona also has an important network of social and political associations as part of its long history of political activism. In the analysis of local music scenes, the music writer, Sarah Cohen, has said that these “originate within, interact with, and are inevitably affected by the physical, social, political and economical factors which surround them” [Cohen: 342].

 Radiochango is a website that not only operates in the cyberspace of the internet but also plays an influential role in its geographical home. Barcelona has greatly influenced the development of Radiochango and, at the same time, this website has had an impact on the city where it resides. It acts as a catalyst of social mobilization by the means of a music scene and the celebrations of music festivals.

 Even though Radiochango is currently run by only two individuals, without making profit, it continues to grow and aims to be an open project which can be accessed by many. Therefore, it can be said that the influence of Radiochango exceeded the creators’ original expectations and it has achieved a pre-eminent position in the music scene and as a platform for social movements.


Primary Sources:

–  Personal interviews at the Radiochango events in London at Club Cargo on March 19, 2009 and the Festival Esperanzah! in the Prat de Llobregat from the 26 to the 28 of June, 2009.

–  Questionnaires by email with the creators of Radiochango (Laurent Jayr and Vinx) and the director of GATS and the Festival Esperanzah, Oscar Rando.

–  Content of Radiochango website (

–  Websites in Internet in relation to the topics of this dissertation (those are detailed in the footnotes).

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Starr, Amory. Naming The Enemy: Anti-Corporate Movements Confront Globalization. Zed Books Ltd, (2000).

Unterberger, Richie. Unknown Legends of Rock ‘n’Roll: Psychedelic Unknowns, Mad Geniuses, Punk Pioneers, Lo-Fi Mavericks & More. Miller Freeman Books.1998

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[1] Cartwright, BBC website, Radio 3 World Music Awards 2008.

[2] Cartwright, BBC website, Radio 3 World Music Awards 2002.

[3] Banlieue: French for suburbs. These are areas in the big cities of France where mostly ethnic minorities reside. In November 2005 the banlieues of Paris where the places where the riots, that shocked the French society during the two weeks of social unrest, took place.  The term“is frequently used to link “urban depravation, immigration and social disorder” [Ervine, 2008: 2]

[4] Ramirez – Masiosare,

[5] The term Metis (Mestizo) was used in 1987 by French music writer Paul Moreira in his book Rock Métis en France. [Lebrun, 2009: 66]

[6] Translated text from the original. Interview by Miguel Angel Sánchez Gárate ( La Factoria del Ritmo n17, 3 June, 2004): “Hasta entonces no se había planteado recoger en un disco y en un formato tan bien presentado (me refiero a fotos, bios, textos, datos, diseño gráfico…) un montón de bandas de medio mundo que conectaban, no por el género que estaban haciendo, sino por su actitud y empeño en mezclar estilos diferentes que acababan siendo un género nuevo e híbrido pero de gran solidez musical. Se inventó una forma de hacer música distinta recogiendo elementos de la llamada ‘world music’ para integrarlos en sonidos más cercanos al rock, el ska o el hip hop. Por fin Cuba, Jamaica o Africa se presentaban al primer mundo con un formato integrador y con una actitud social contundente” []

[7] Translated text from the original by the author of this dissertation. “Radical Mestizo es un disco que viaja a Nápoles, Toulouse, París, Lisboa, Madrid, Barcelona, País Vasco, Aragón, Galicia, Andalucía, Brasil, Méjico, Los Angeles, Argentina o Cuba….Es un disco de reconocimiento, de futuro y de hallazgos esperanzadores para el público de nuestro país. Aquí se deja claro que el pensar (radical) y el bailar (mestizo) son dos verbos fantásticos y muy aconsejables para la salud mental de muchos”.

[8] Translated from the original text in French by the author of this dissertation. “Pourquoi un livre sur la France de Zebda? Il s’agit de faire le point sur un groupe rock, dont les chansons (Le Bruit et l’odeur, Tomber la chemise, Je crois que ça va pas être possible) et l’action sociale (Tactikollectif, Motivé-e-s) ont profondément modifié le visage de la culture française ces vingt dernières annèes”.

[9] Eyal, Jonathan. Europe’s Outcasts: Muslim population remains poor, isolated and segregated from host comunities. November 12,2005 The Straits Times. Europe Bureau in London

[10] Catalan rumba is a style created in the 1950s by the Andalucians and gypsies emigrating from the South to work in industrial Barcelona. This music is a combination of flamenco rhythms and the Cuban son.

[11] The Prestige oil spill in November 2002 is the largest environmental disaster in Spain’s history. The pollution brought by this disaster has produced an incalculable devastation for the ecology of the area and the fishing industry.

[12] Translated by the author of this dissertation

[13] Text translated by the author: “El nombre de música mestiza es más apropiado que el término de música mundial …ya que alude a un fenómeno que acaso es minoritario en términos de mercado, pero que culturalmente es muy potente” (Jose Luis Paredes)

[15] Text translated by the author. “ Es importante no perder lo local al volverse global; para no perder el piso tienes que saber de donde vienes”

[18] In this song ‘clandestino’ could be translated better as alien than clandestine. Alien is more suitable as it accentuates the foreigner and illegal status of the emigrants described in the song.

[19] Part of the Clandestino song translated by the author: “Solo voy con mi pena, sola va mi condena. Correr es mi destino para burlar la ley, perdido en el corazón de la grande Babylón. Me dicen el clandestino, por no llevar papel. Pa’ una ciudad del norte, Yo me fui a trabajar. Mi vida la deje, entre Ceuta y Gibraltar. Soy una raya en el mar, fantasma en la ciudad. Mi vida va prohibida, dice la autoridad”

[20] “The Battle in Seattle: What Was That All About?” by Elaine Bernard (a labor and trade expert). Washington Post, Sunday, December 5, 1999; Page B01

[22] GATS: Grups Associats pel Treball Sociocultural.

[25] Translated by the author from the original text (questionnaire replied by Vincenzo Megale): “Basicamente por la actitud de los grupos que entran a formar parte de nuestra familia, por sus letras o su compromiso. Intentamos dar visibilidad a todos los actos relacionados con esta musica y que a la vez revindiquen un mundo mejor”.

[26] Tiempo Naranja is a bimontlhy magazine about art and technology. “Space of expression and reflection over topics of life, technology, society and development which using electronic resources present ideas and proposals. These ideas pretend to be original, profound, creative, open and ethical. The topics of the magazine are Life, Technology, Development and Society” (translated from the home page by the author)

[30] Ibid

[33] Ibid.

[34] This text corresponds to chapter 12, The Working class and Labour movement since the onset of democracy,by Faustino Miguélez.

[35] Data taken from the Barcelona Field Studies Centre (

[36] Translated from the original by the author: “La escuela Moderna, con sus métodos nuevos, sus clases nocturnas, el programa de educación permanente, multiplicó rápidamente su actividad y sus dependencias paralelamente a la lucha social. Las formulas de diálogo y controversia, preguntas y respuestas, van llevando al interlocutor, y también al lector, a sus conclusiones ideológicas, a través de un método de coherencia que va definiendo la trabazón del discurso”. This is part of the book foreword (presentació) by the anarchist philosopher José Luis Garcia Rúa.

[37] Translated from the original by the author: “No es su realización técnica lo que prima, sino …su poder de conmover al pueblo, no sólo de deleitarlo o distraerlo, sino también de despertar, en lo más profundo de su conciencia, su fe en eternos valores humanos: justicia, dignidad, esperanza”

[38] Interview with Javi Zarco in the (website of the Sociedad General de Autores y Editores, the main   Society of Authors (the the main collecting society for songwriters, composers and music publishers in Spain. A  similar organization to the American ASCAP). Zarco’s original quotation:

En el caso de Ojos de Brujo, el trabajo de promoción lo hacemos un equipo que actúa de manera asamblearia. Es decir, yo no soy el manager que trabaja al veinte por ciento, soy otra persona más del equipo, que tiene su sueldo. Somos una sociedad de cinco personas, y esa sociedad asume las responsabilidades y los riesgos. Por lo que respecta a Ojos de Brujo, algunos de ellos trabajan directamente conmigo en la contratación y otros son músicos. Y las decisiones se toman de manera asamblearia, entre todos.”

[39] The Centre for Research on Globalisation is an independent research and media group of progressive writers, scholars and activists who publish on the web site news articles, commentary, background research and analysis on a broad range of issues, focusing on the interrelationship between social and economic, strategic, geopolitical and environmental processes. The director of the Centre is Michel Chossudovski, Professor of Economic Sciences at Ottawa University

[40] ATTAC is a French organization “founded in 1998 after an article by Ignacio Ramonet in Le Monde Diplomatique received a tremendous response. It is now one of the First World organizations actively making international connections against globalization; neoliberalism and structural adjustment” [Starr, 2000: 70-71]. This organization advocates the establishment of what has been named the Tobin Tax on speculative Capital. This tax was proposed by the 1981’s Nobel prize economist James Tobin. This tax has two goals. First to stop or, at least, diminish speculative transaction; and, secondly, to help developing countries with the revenue of this tax. This initiative has recently been supported by the UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

[41] Radiochango editorial: November 2004- Tienes un mensaje que dar? (Do you have a message to tell?) by Manu Chao translated by Kevin Johnston.

[42] Radiochango editorial: June 2003- Lavapies desConection; March 2004: Utopias para no morirnos (Utopias to not die)

[43] Radiochango editorial: November 2002 – ¡La Rumba Catalana!

[44] Radiochango editorial: May 2004 – Menos Mass Media, Más Mass Lucha (Less Mass Media, More Mass Struggle)

[45] Festival Esperanzah! was the idea of a Belgium social worker, Jean- Yves Laffineur. Esperanzah is Spanish for Hope (the correct spelling is without the final h, esperanza). The name of the festival come from the 2001 album by Manu Chao: “Próxima Estación: Esperanza” (Next Stop: Hope). Laffineur is a great fan of Manu Chao.

[46] Radiochango editorial: February 2008-  Next Stop, Esperanza (h)!

[47] Radiochango editorial: June 2008 – They have closed the Bar Mariatchi for 4 joints

[48] Radiochango editorial: May 2007- The Criminalization of US Foreign Policy (signed by Michel Chossudovsky of Global Research); December 2006 – Esta vez, no nos arrebatarán la ilusión (This time, they will not destroy our dreams); May 2004 – Menos Mass Media, Más Mass Lucha

[49] Radiochango editorial: May 2007- The Criminalization of US Foreign Policy

[50] Radiochango editorial: February 2006 – Evo-llution

[51] Radiochango ediotorial: February 2005: Action!

[52] Radiochango editorial: July 2008 – Homenaje a Jean Ziegler; November 2008 – Interview to Jean Ziegler

[53] Radiochango editorial: January 2009-We all are in a Cheney submarine

[54] Radiochango editorial: January 2008- Choose your track

[55] UNITAID’s mission is to contribute to scaling up access to treatment for HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, primarily for people in low-income countries, by leveraging price reductions for quality diagnostics and medicines and accelerating the pace at which these are made available.

[56] Radiochango editorial: March 2008 – Asco me da! (Sick of it!)

[57] Radiochango editorial: March 2009 -Marzo 2009: Show, business y musica. Translated from the original: “la música sí tiene virtudes curativas para el alma y el cuerpo y más en estos momentos de depresión (económica)”

[58] Radiochango editorial: September 2007 – And What now?

[59] Radiochango editorial: May 2008 – Cuando estemos todos juntos, vamos a arrasar …(The title of the editorial made mention of the name of a song by the African Reggae star, Tiken Jah Fakoi. This could be translated When we are all together we will overcome…)

[60] The SADR is a government in exile, founded by the Polisario Front on February 27, 1976.

[61]La Casa Amarilla is a non-profit making cultural organization which promotes social cohesion and cultural integration and mainly works with collectives of people from Latin America in Catalonia.

[62] Ernest Lluch was a prestigious academic who was in the first post-Franco Socialist cabinet as a Minister of Health and Consumption. He was assassinated in 2000 by ETA.

[64] Ibid. Asked about this data, Vinx explained to the author that the petitions to the server are not a very representative form of data. This was explained as every page in the web is composed of various files, the images, the page of styles, the javascript, etc. This means that to look at one page, for instance one article, this could generate about 40 petitions to the server.  It all depends on how many files the page possesses. In this respect, it is more reliable to see the statistics of pages visited by countries. By 11 November 2009 the annual figures were: Spain (90,514), France (38,435), The United States (18,931), Argentina (18,389), Great Britain (16,703), Italy (9,185), Mexico (7,760), Chile (5,219), Germany (5,181), Switzerland (1,494) and others (212,968).

[65] Data on the sales supplied by Vinx are in percentages: 50%  Spain, 30% France and the remaining 20 % among Germany, Italy, UK, Japan, US and other countries in Europe. In Latin America they have not had any sales due, probably, to the currency exchanges that make the purchase very expensive

[66] Information found in a pdf file found in the page of What is Radiochango.

[67] Ibid

[69] Quotation taken from the article published in the Washington Post about the concert in this town by Catalan artist Macaco.  New Sounds of Spain, Singers Blend Cultural Influences — but Don’t Call the Results ‘World music’ by Richard Harrington. October 26, 2007 (

[70] Sounds and Scenes (Chapter 5)

[80] Ibid

[81] Ibid

[82] Via Campesina is an organization of peasants from 37 countries of Asia, Europe, North and South America and Africa. It claims that neoliberalism is the cause of impoverishment and environmental degradation. It recognizes women’s contribution in food production and the role of racism in Third World problems. [Starr: 60]

[83] also This festival counts with the support of people of the film industry such as Ken Loach, Jeremy Irons, Goldie Hawn, Paul Laverty, Martin Sheen or the Spanish Oscar awarded film director Fernando Trueba.

[84] L’Hospitalet is the second largest city of Catalonia and one of the most densely populated areas in the European Union

[87] Denselow, Robin. Article review Ojos de Brujo/Peyoti for President. The Guardian 2 June 2009

[88] The Japanese website was an initiative of  Nohoko, a Japanese fan of Manu Chao, who met her idol in the Mariatchi bar in Barcelona. She also met the creators of Radiochango and from this meeting the idea took off. Editorial February 2009: Saludos desde Radiochango JP!! (Greetings from

[89] El Periodico published on the 15 May 2008 an article about the forthcoming festival Esperanzah! for the next year with the headline El Festival de Manu Chao.

[90] Sibérie m’était contéee was an album which came together a book with poems of Manu Chao and the graphic design of Jazek Wozniak.

[91] Media Watch Global is an international association which aims at producing and communicating information as well as to carry out all possible actions in order to guarantee the right to information of all citizens around the world.

[92] Article on Le Monde Diplomatique: Manu Chao, músico de “la otra” Globalización by Paul Moreira. June 2001

[93]The association of anti-globalization concerns and against the illegalization of emigration Derechos para tod@s (Rights for everyone) published an article by Josep Maria Antentes, one of the organizers of the Campaign of mobilization against the Europe of the Capital and the War, in which is mentioned the participation of Manu Chao with a concert on the day of the demonstration, 16 March 2002 in Barcelona. Article: Barcelona Contra la Europa del Capital: notas y apuntes de una movilización histórica (

[94] Paphides, Peter. Article: Manu Chao Takes on the World. The Times 21 September 2007


This work is owned by Pedro Gonzalez