Robert Wyatt: “Pop is the folk music of the industrial age” (Q343 Preview)

In Q343, our latest issue out now, Q enjoys a rare audience with Robert Wyatt at his Lincolnshire home.

Speaking around the release of new compilation Different Every Time, the musical maverick talks to Dorian Lynskey about his career, and his views on music, politics and more.

“I was very uncomfortable with having fans who, said, ‘Your music is so much better than all that banal pop music.’” declares the man who’s version of I’m A Believer reached the Top 40 and who once tried to book Popstars winners Hear’Say to play his Meltdown festival in 2001.

“It sounds like a socialist thing to say but pop music is the music of the people. It’s the folk music of the industrial age. If you don’t respect popular culture you don’t respect people, in which case your political opinion is of no great value.”

Get Q343, out now in print and digital, for the full, extensive and candid interview.

  • Ben P Scott

    Ah yes but folk music wasn’t ever mass-produced, written by about 20 different songwriters and relentlessly marketed and exposed to people until they give in. Many people like pop music because they aren’t hearing anything else. Pop music also says nothing about the state of the world in this day and age. It’s very much the opposite to folk music. Nobody should “respect popular culture” because this current popular culture is only popular because of mass marketing.

  • Mind Head

    I totally agree with you.

  • James

    Pop music throughout the decades, from it’s very conception has always had teams of writers. Why is it suddenly not ok now?

    We’ve always been heavily marketed too and told who to listen too. Pre digital era that was what commercial radio and newspapers was for.

    I also disagree with you. With access to Spotify and iTunes we as a generation have been given more opportunity to discover different artists.

    I agree pop music can be overproduced but currently people listen to pop not because it’s shoved down our throats. They listen because pop music is easily accessible, simple and similar to things they’ve already heard and liked.

    Fair enough you don’t like the idea of popular music in this day and age but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t respect it for what it is. Pop and popular culture have always been around and will continue to be around employing the same marketing and promotion techniques they’ve used for decades.