Music Festival : "Applying for visas, paying taxes…" Coming to play in France is no longer so easy for British artists

In the studio rented for the evening in north London, the five friends who form the group Desert Ships are rehearsing the concert they are going to play in Lyon for the Fête de la Musique on Tuesday June 21. Mikey, a long, slender silhouette and rocker’s hair, sings and strums his guitar. When he is not playing with his group, formed ten years ago, he is a sound engineer.

Mikey, singer and guitarist of the British group Desert ships, June 20, 2022. (RICHARD PLACE / RADIO FRANCE)

Paperwork isn’t his thing. For this trip, he just skimmed over the question of Brexit and according to him, it passes. “It’s just a date so there shouldn’t be any problems. But if we wanted to do a tour, we would have to ask for visas, books for the material. Even to take merchandise to sell on the spot, you’d have to pay taxes and then get them refunded, fill out a ton of paperwork.”

“It’s much more expensive now for a British band to tour Europe.”

Mikey, singer and guitarist of the British band Desert ships

at franceinfo

Nothing to declare either for the cachet of Tuesday evening, laughs Claude, the drummer. “We’ve been paid in beers for years.” This professional carpenter likes to write songs and play them in concert. A pleasure that he does not want to spoil with customs hassles. So for this trip to France, the Desert ships didn’t bother with their keyboard, bass, guitar, etc. “We have very good friends in Lyon. They will lend us their instruments. Fortunately, that way, no need to take care of it.”

“I’ll just bring chopsticks because that’s a more personal choice.”

Claude, drummer of Desert ships

at franceinfo

Tuesday evening, they return to the Smoking dog, the Lyon pub where they have performed at every music festival for 15 years. It hasn’t happened for three years. A forced absence, because of the pandemic. They took the opportunity to write new songs. Brexit and viruses will not prevent reunions with their French fans.

The group Desert ships in rehearsal in London for the Fête de la Musique in Lyon – Report by Richard Place.

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