Harry and the Potters Explore Power and Surveillance with “The Trace”
In April, MuggleNet reported that wizard rock band Harry and the Potters were set to release Lumos, their first full-length album in 13 years. While there is still over a month until Lumos drops, we have our first glimpse into the album’s sound with the first single, “The Trace.”
As the title suggests, the new single puts a spotlight on the Trace, a charm used to detect magic used by underage witches and wizards. But for wrockers and fan activists Harry and the Potters, the charm isn’t just about keeping the order in the wizarding world but an example of a culture of surveillance by authorities.
Speaking to BrooklynVegan, the band discussed the idea that a culture of surveillance can become further entrenched and misused by those in power.
In times of peace this might be deflected as a not-particularly-threatening overreach of power, but as we attempt to say in the song, this culture of surveillance opens the door to misuse and abuse when a ruling class is set on restricting the power of others. We see this when Voldemort seizes power and his regime institutes a more aggressive police state through new surveillance tools like the Taboo, which tracks the use of specific words and can lead to the arrest and detainment of their speaker.
For Harry and the Potters, “The Trace” has been written with the current political climate in mind.
In particular, the band has spoken about the parallels between the Trace and“the way communities of color and immigrants are surveilled and policed” as well as the monitoring of Web activity “as a means of influencing our thoughts and behaviors.”
This new single is a snippet of what fans can expect from the new album. The band hopes Lumos, described as “an album for this political moment,” will encourage discussion around the issues society is facing today.
It’s an opportunity to connect the dots: the systems facilitating oppression in the wizard[ing] world – state-run media, children being separated from their mixed-blood parents, surveillance systems, and pure[-]blood supremacy – strongly echo the daily reality of creeping neo-fascism [sic].
And the political discourse doesn’t stop there.
According to Harry and the Potters, this new album will offer something different to each generation of Potter fans. For those who grew up with the boy wizard, there is a reminder of hope and a call to action.
For the generation of Harry Potter fans [who have] grown up into a world where cartoonish villains occupy the halls of power, it’s a reminder that there is a pathway forward. Now is the time for Dumbledore’s Army, for the Order of the Phoenix. We are being called upon to become the heroes that this moment necessitates.
For those younger fans just discovering the series, Paul DeGeorge told Rolling Stone that he hopes topics covered in the songs will lead to discussions about those issues.
We’re hoping that parents and their young kids might see us play at the library, hear a song explicitly critiquing pure[-]blood supremacy and then later have a real discussion about white supremacy and how it manifests in their own lives.
With lyrics such as “I know what they’re looking for, I know why they’re listening. Breeding fear and mistrust is part of their thing” in the new single, it’s clear that Harry and the Potters are ready to start a political conversation!
Check out the full music video for the “The Trace” below, and head to the Harry and the Potters website to catch the band on tour this summer.