Stuart Murdoch On The Power Of Songwriting Surrounded By Political Chaos

Stuart Murdoch is a Scottish musician, writer and filmmaker, and the lead singer and songwriter for the indie pop band Belle and Sebastian.

As the state of the world becomes more perilous and the political landscape becomes more toxic, lots of artists are wrestling with this means for their work. What is my art really doing? Am I helping anything? Those seem like healthy questions to ask.

Absolutely. You have to respond, not only to what is happening in the world, but also just to what’s happening to you, what’s happening to your family. Most people have a desire to respond to problems in a positive and inquisitive way, and why shouldn’t that include artists? So I know there’s a lot of shit going down, but I think it’s a good thing to still make art. We’ve had these discussions in the group as well about being useful. It has inspired us.

I think our general feeling, my general feeling, is a little bit akin to if the problems of the world just now in society and in politics are like a war, then we’re kind of like the non-combatants, you know? I feel like I would be a war chaplain. I’d be the fellow running about the trenches just handing out cigarettes with a pocket bible and saying prayers for the soldiers. I think there’s a limit to how much you can actually do in terms of anger and fighting, and fighting what’s going on, and maybe the artist’s job is to be more conciliatory. I don’t know, different people have different attitudes.