Gypsy Punk: Towards a New Immigrant Music

Ashton-Smith, Alan (2013) Gypsy Punk: Towards a New Immigrant Music. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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Abstract

The musical genre of Gypsy Punk, in which the most significant contributions have been made by the multi-­‐ethnic band Gogol Bordello, may appear to be simply a composite of the two elements that make up its name – ‘gypsy’ and ‘punk’. But a closer investigation reveals that Gogol Bordello are in fact engaging with a broader cultural palette, and challenged established perceptions. The figure of the ‘gypsy’ is important to the genre, but it is essential that the implications of this word are understood in order to fully grasp its significance. In addition to influences from punk and cabaret, the Balkans, and the ways in which this region has been perceived from outside, also have a bearing on Gypsy Punk. Yet none of the musicians who make up Gogol Bordello can be described as either ‘gypsy’ or Balkan, and therefore the outward presentation of the band does not reveal the significance of Gypsy Punk. This can be better understood through an examination of Gogol Bordello’s use of myth – a Gypsy Punk mythology is created not only through their music, but also through iconography, performance, and the band’s manifesto. In addition, extant myths, such as those that surround the Roma and the Balkans, are subverted in their work. However, it is the mythology of immigration that is in many ways most important to Gypsy Punk. The immigrant experiences of Gogol Bordello’s members, and the immigrant figures that appear in their work are particularly relevant in that they reflect contemporary global society. Gypsy Punk transcends the established idea of ‘gypsy’ music and functions as what I describe as an immigrant music. The mythologies that Gogol Bordello engage with serve as windows through which immigrant music can be seen and comprehended as a music with particular relevance today.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
School/Department: London Consortium
Depositing User: ORBIT Editor
Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2013 09:49
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2016 12:46
URI: http://bbktheses.da.ulcc.ac.uk/id/eprint/29

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