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The Root Sellers get Beijing’ed

Politics will not be a factor at upcoming Beijing Olympic performances, said Whitehorse musicians Daniel and Galen Ashley.

Politics will not be a factor at upcoming Beijing Olympic performances, said Whitehorse musicians Daniel and Galen Ashley.

Together the pair form electronica / hip hop group The Root Sellers. 

In early August, the two will fly to China for a series of performances at the BC-Canada pavilion, a 1,890-square-metre showcase of Canadian culture and investment opportunities.

The pavilion promises itself as an “immersive experience where visitors will feel as though they have crossed the ocean and landed in Canada.”

“My advice is that they should be animated on stage, since half the crowd won’t know English … they should also keep their political views to themselves,” said DJ kILL, a Dawson City disc jockey who recently returned to the Yukon from a five-year stint in Shanghai, China.

With controversies surrounding China’s involvement with Tibet, Darfur and domestic human rights, the upcoming Olympics have become a prime focal point for criticism of the Chinese government.

The BC Canada pavilion is located close to Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, site of a 1989 government massacre of hundreds of student protesters.

The Root Sellers believe politics shouldn’t get in the way of positive cultural communication.

Raised by “hippie parents,” Daniel and Galen experienced firsthand the remnants of a ‘60s countercultural movement that looked to withdraw from regular society.

In doing so, the hippie movement failed to enact change upon the society it criticized, said Galen.

“The big bad world is still just as big and bad as when (that happened),” he said.

“I don’t think that the Olympics should be de-politicized, I think that the world’s biggest, best party is the place to talk about global issues,” said Galen.

“So yes, it’s a very commercial event and there’s a lot of lines tied up there, but that makes it doubly important to be there with a message of hope and unity.”

“Whether the spirit of the Olympics is alive or not, it’s important for us to be there with a positive outlook.”

The Beijing Olympics are the first stop on Dig the Planet, a global Root Sellers tour bringing the brothers to four continents across 11 countries.

Dubbed a “cultural expedition,” the pair see the tour as an opportunity to find “new sonic possibilities and new musical collaborators” worldwide.

Visual documentation of their Olympic experience, as well as audio captures of Beijing street noise are an important goal of the trip, said Galen.

Large sporting events are nothing new for The Root Sellers. At the opening ceremonies for the 2007 Canada Games they performed for a 5,000-person audience that included Prime Minister Stephen Harper.