Nick Cave Advises Artist Undecided On Great Escape Boycott: “Play”

He responds to a query...

Nick Cave has advised an artist torn by the Great Escape boycott to play the festival.

Held in Brighton, the Great Escape is Europe’s biggest new music showcase with virtually every venue in the city becoming a hotbed of fresh talent. This year, however, the decision to accept sponsorship from Barclays has sparked a wave of protests.

The bank is a target of the BDS movement, due to its connections with Israeli arms manufacturers. Bands such as Lambrini Girls, The Psychotic Monks, and The Tubs have pulled out of the Great Escape, alongside labels such as Future Bubblers Soundsystem and ESEA Music, while a joint showcase run by labels Big Scary Monsters and Alcopop! Records has been pulled.

In all, around 50 acts have pulled out of The Great Escape, while many more signed a letter citing their concerns at the Barclays partnership. To follow the Bands Boycott Barclays campaign visit their Instagram.

A concerned artist torn over their decision wrote to Nick Cave, submitting a request to his ongoing Red Hand Files. Using the name The Artist Is Present, the musician wrote:

Integrity is all we have, so how are we expected to navigate through this world when all commercialism and corporate sponsorship comes from darkness? Latitude, Isle of White, Reading & Leeds are all sponsored by Barclays – it’s a huge expectation on struggling musicians who will be replaced by one of a thousand other hungry musicians if they decide to boycott. What would you do?

In turn, Nick Cave wrote simply:

Dear The Artist is Present,


Love, Nick

Elsewhere, Nick Cave confirmed he won’t be watching Eurovision this year, but wouldn’t support the exclusion of Israel from the competition. He won’t be having a pint with Roger Waters any time soon, either.

This is far from the first time Nick Cave has spoken about topics in relation to – or adjacent to – the BDS movement. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds played Israel in 2017, hosting a press conference to explain his decision.

During the press conference, he said: “It suddenly became very important to me to make a stand against those people that are trying to shut down musicians, to bully musicians, to censor musicians and to silence musicians. At the end of the say there’s maybe two reasons why I’m here, one is that I love Israel and I love Israeli people and two is to make a principled stand against anyone who tries to censor and silence musicians. So really you could say in a way that the BDS made me play Israel.”

English musician Brian Eno has long reached out to Nick Cave in dialogue surrounding Israel, Palestine, and the BDS movement. Reflecting on this in 2018, the Australian songwriter posted a response on the Red Hand Files, at one point reiterating: “I do not support the current government in Israel yet do not accept that my decision to play in the country is any kind of tacit support for that government’s policies.”

CLASH is currently set to host a stage at this year’s Great Escape.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds will release new album ‘Wild God’ on August 30th.


In turn, DIY punk band The Menstrual Cramps have penned an open letter commenting on Nick Cave’s stance. In the interest of full transparency we present the letter below:

Photo Credit: Megan Cullen

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