On September 20, 2011, Jason Samel was wandering around Zuccotti Park when strains of music drew him in. Earlier that year he had been fired from his corporate sales job, after which he began an insurance company with his father. However, after witnessing the convergence of folk singers, rastas and the famous Occupy drum circle at Zuccotti, Samel, a musician himself, decided his new task was to document the music. He forgot about insurance, then set about producing what is now Occupy This Album!
Way back in January, we spent some time picking our jaws up off the floor when the list of participating musicians was released. Over six months, Occupy This Album! found 99 musicians—including Ani DiFranco, Anti Flag, Crosby and Nash, Debbie Harry, Girls Against Boys, Jackson Browne, Joan Baez, Steve Earle, Mogwai, The Guthrie Family, Thee Oh Sees, Yoko Ono, Willie Nelson and Yo La Tengo—who wanted to be involved. Then, on May 1, we actually ran into Samel during OWS’ pop-up occupation at Bryant Park, where he was passing out Occupy This Album! posters. Samel took a brief break to tell The L why he started working on Occupy This Album!, as well as how he hopes the album might affect listeners.
“One of my major, major things that I want to do, that I think is essential to this movement, is to get in the ear, and get in the minds, and get in the soul, again, of the baby boomers,” Samel said. “Because without the baby boomers, I don’t think that we can survive as a movement. I don’t think that all of our struggles will be answered in the right way.”
“You know, they were out there in the ’60s, they were doing it,” Samel continued. “And now they’re bankers and killing our economy, so hopefully this music can get through to them.”
Occupy This Album! will be released on May 15. Check out the full list of participating musicians here, and our interview with him below.