Music artists find greener ways to tour to help fight climate change | Music News | Detroit

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  • James Marcus Haney
  • Coldplay’s 46-date world stadium tour will include “kinetic floors” that harness the energy of fans jumping on them and the planting of a tree for every ticket sold.

In the current climate of political and corporate greenwashing, it is difficult to assess the sincerity, let alone the feasibility, of the Music Climate Pact.

Recently announced with great fanfare, the MCP is a statement of intent by the three major labels (Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group) to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Of course, a lot may happen – or may not happen – by then, so it remains to be seen whether the recording industry will deliver on that commitment.

Meanwhile, a number of artists have already started taking steps to reduce the carbon footprint of touring themselves. The best known of these is Coldplay, who said in 2019 that they would not return until “the concerts were good for the environment”.

Last October, the mega-platinum pop act ended their moratorium, announcing a 2022 tour designed to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% compared to their 2016-2017 tour.

The 46-date world stadium tour will include “kinetic floors” that harness the energy of fans jumping on them, planting a tree for every ticket sold, and building stages out of recycled metal and bamboo.

Fellow Brits Massive Attack, meanwhile, are planning their own 2022 tour, this one applying the principles of a 2019 University of Manchester study the trip-hop pioneers commissioned to explore ways for bands – and the music industry as a whole – to reduce their negative impact on the environment. The challenge, said the group’s co-founder Robert Del Naja, is to take concrete action rather than “greenwashing promises, promises and headlines”.

We will see. Meanwhile, more and more musicians around the world have sounded the environmental alarm through their songs, a practice that dates back to the 1927 Mississippi flood that left more than half a million homeless. and was commemorated by “Backwater” by Bessie Smith. Blues” and “Rising High Water Blues” by Blind Lemon Jefferson.

Five decades later, Gil Scott-Heron will record “We Almost Lost Detroit”, about the collapse of a nuclear power plant 30 miles from the city. Randy Newman’s “Burn On”, Spirit’s “Nature’s Way” and REM’s “Cuyahoga” were all inspired by the polluted Cleveland River that caught fire in 1969. And then there’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall by Bob Dylan. “New World Water” by Def, “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” by Marvin Gaye, “Monkey Gone to Heaven” by the Pixies, and just about anything by Pete Seeger.

Cut to present-day New Orleans, where Alynda Mariposa Segarra – the self-proclaimed “nature punk” who records and performs as Hurray for the Riff Raff – is set to release life on earthwhich has already been praised by Uncut magazine as the first big album of 2022.

life on earth finds Segarra drawing inspiration from a variety of typically eclectic sources, including The Clash, Bad Bunny, Beverly Glenn-Copeland, and author Adrienne Maree Brown Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds.

“All I have is gone, I don’t know what it will take to carry on,” she sings on the album’s first single “Rhododendron,” which wouldn’t seem out of place on a mixtape between Courtney Barnett and Lou Reed.

“We get hit by hurricanes every year,” Segarra told the Guardian, “and yet the plant life is thriving. It was very heartwarming to look at these living things and think, ‘I don’t know how to survive this. .you fucking survive this?'”

In France, death metal band Gojira took a less pastoral approach on “Amazonia”, a single from last year’s album Fortitude. “Godly Amazonia / Bloody Amazonia / Mighty Amazonia / Killing Amazonia,” vocalist Joe Duplantier growls over an arrangement that blends native instruments with pounding drums and punishing guitar riffs.

The Gojiras are also environmental activists who have raised money for causes ranging from the Indigenous Peoples Coalition of Brazil to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to “securing justice for the sea.” The latter organization, which has made a name for itself with its direct actions against whalers, expressed its gratitude to the gang by renaming one of its biodiesel vessels the MV Gojira.

Canada, meanwhile, is home to The Weather Station, aka Tamara Lindeman, a former child actress whose 2021 album, Ignoring, combines the introspection of chamber music, metronomic rhythms and environmental grief. Lindeman began writing the songs for the album after reading an essay by environmentalist Bill McKibben, which was published at the height of the California wildfires in 2018. “Thinking I should get rid of all this” , Lindeman sings on one track. “I really should know better than to read the headlines.”

In Colombia, the electronic cumbia duo Bomba Estéreo continued with their single “Déjame Respirar”, which translates to “Let Me Breathe”, with Already, a 13-track concept album about the environment divided into four sections: water, air, earth and fire. Released last September, the album was recorded in a coastal home studio, with the sound of nearby monkeys, birds and waves appearing throughout. Guest singers on Already include Afro-Cuban duo Okan, Mexican songwriter Leonel Garcia, Nigerian singer Yemi Alade and Santa Marta shaman Manuel Nieves, who reminds us that “On this Earth, our obligation is to maintain Mother Nature”.

And then there’s Lorde, the New Zealand singer-songwriter who is about to embark on a 43-date tour to promote his third album Solar energywhich she described in an online post as “a celebration of the natural world, an attempt to immortalize the deep and transcendent feelings I experience when I am outdoors.”

Lorde recorded Solar energy after a five-day trip through Antarctica. But despite its title and origins, she insists the album isn’t her big climate change record, a promise borne out by singles like “Stoned at the Nail Salon” and a title track that celebrates the selfies on the beach and be like a prettier Jesus.

“I’m not a climate activist, I’m a pop star,” Lorde told an interviewer. “I stoked the fire of a giant machine, spitting out broadcasts as I went. There’s a lot of things I don’t know.”

Which brings us, finally, to Australia’s Midnight Oil, which took the stage at the closing ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympics and, in front of a stadium of 115,000 people and a global TV audience of billions of others, embarked on “Beds Are Burning”. an incredibly catchy and strident political anthem about returning proper land to Australia’s indigenous population.

For the next two decades, the group was relatively quiet, largely due to leader Peter Garrett’s responsibilities as a Member of the House of Representatives and then Minister of the Environment, Heritage and the Arts. But three months ago, Midnight Oil released the video for a new song, “Rising Seas”, which opens with images of oil rigs, forest fires and a youth march to the climate. “Every kid puts their toys down and goes back to sleep,” Garrett sings. “We have to look you in the eye and say we sold you at a low price.” It’s easy to be cynical about the power of music on society.

John Lennon’s ‘Give Peace a Chance’ Wasn’t Responsible for Ending the Vietnam War, ’70s No Nukes Concerts Didn’t Shut Down Nuclear Power Plants, Billie Holiday’s ‘Strange Fruit’ Didn’t ended Southern racism. But it is always possible that an artist’s work can, over time, shape people’s attitudes and beliefs. And if not, at least they tried.

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William N. Fernandez