Photographs by Matthew Murray.
Schilt Publishing, 2013. 60 pp., 40 color illustrations,
'Jack is twenty-years-old, I found him interesting because in a time
where most young people his age are into social networking and
popular culture, Jack is totally into the Ska scene. He immerses
himself completely in this sub-culture, despite the fact that he gets
quite a bit of stick from Nazi Skinheads about the way he looks and
the fact that neither he nor the other subjects share their same racist
Since achieving a Masters Degree with distinction in Documentary
Photography, British photographer Matthew Murray has managed to
successfully combine commercial commissions with his own personal
projects. In this third Grey Matters, Schilt Publishing shows his latest
and striking personal work: Ska.
Ska, is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s, as a
precursor to Rocksteady and Reggae music. In 1960 the first Ska
record was cut and with the migration of many Jamaicans to the
United Kingdom. Ska was picked up by many of the white working
class kids when these West Indian immigrants moved into, then
predominately, white neighborhoods. By the late 1960s it became
popular and driving force with the British Mod movement.
Both Jamaican 'Rude boys' and British 'Skinheads' were young and
working class. Both blacks and whites who often worked in factories,
both shaved their heads and wore big boots as a matter of necessity;
the original skinheads were both black and white. Like the original
Rude Boys, Skinheads dressed sharp when they went out, despite
having no obvious source of income to support a clothes habit.
Whatever cultural differences young blacks and whites had, in the late
60s one thing they did share (other than style) was music: Reggae,
Rock Steady, original Ska and Soul music were all on the menu. While
political weather and media frenzy demonized skinheads, the 2Tone
and Ska movement remembered what Skinheads originally loved and
focused strictly on the music and anti- racism by example; Skinheads
who followed ska were unlikely to be racist if they were fans of
black music and integrated bands.
During this varied and influential spread of Ska music throughout
British music and culture, over the past 60 years, a section of
dedicated Ska followers stayed firmly true to its original roots. Not
only in the music tunes, but also equally as important within Ska's
striking visual style, which has become key to this special and
stylistically bloody-minded, elegant and self-believing movement.
The people photographed by Murray follow Ska music and regularly
visit Ska clubs, are not political, they just live for the music and quite
simply love to dance.