Myanmar / Burma: ‘Will censorship of music end?’ asks BBC reporter in Rangoon
BBC News’ Jonah Fisher has interviewed Ye Ngwe Soe, lead-singer of the punk band No U Turn, one of the best-known acts on the Rangoon punk scene.
“For decades all forms of public expression in Burma have been tightly controlled and music is no exception. For punk rockers like No U Turn that has left them with a stark choice. Remain underground or play by the government rules.
It is hard to imagine Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols submitting his lyrics for prior approval, but that is exactly what Ye Ngwe Soe has had to do.
‘Hidden meanings’ “Music is controlled here,” the lead singer says. “If we want to make an album we have to send the lyrics to the censorship board, then only after approval can we release an album.”
So far, in part due to the restrictions, No U Turn has released just one album called We Are Behind The Time. Clear political messages are banned, but apparently innocuous lyrics have been blocked too.
“They’re always looking for hidden meanings,” says Ye Ngwe Soe. “For example they don’t like our chorus with the words ‘switch off the radio’, so we had to take it out.”
In practice the versions of songs which groups like No U Turn perform at concerts and release commercially can often be quite different.