Interview: Samantha Howard
Amid the beautiful rice paddies in the holy city of Ubud on the island of the Gods in Bali, 400 hundred people from over 50 countries across the globe have come to the inaugural NewEarth Festival with one core purpose: to evolve collective consciousness and create a better world through openness, understanding and passion for creating change. We are lucky to play and party in Melbourne in a community that understands the power that we have to create social change and speak up for injustice.
We spoke with NewEarth’s music curator, David Block of The Human Experience. His project aims to cross cultural barriers through music with electronic sounds that are layered with human emotion which explore sacred sonic world. He has shared the stage with Bonobo, Emancipator, and Thievery Corporation and took a moment out of his busy weekend to speak to Autosea about the power of music as a platform for social change
Autosea: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today David. What do you hope to bring to this festival and get out of it yourself?
David: Well, I find that I go to a lot of festivals and a lot of artists are pressured to play heavier music, more intense music, or aggressive music, even from some of the artists I know who I love most of their music on their albums. I end up going to see them live and for whatever reason it’s just significantly more intense. It always bothers me because I like to produce more cinematic, sensual, and uplifting music. I wanted to curate music that really draws people into a deeper experience of themselves which is what we’re trying to create at NewEarth—a deeper sense of self but still have an epic party.
Autosea: I’d definitely recommend festivals for you in Australia then!
David: Hopefully I’ll do a nice solid tour like Earth Frequency or something.
Autosea: Have you heard the term bush doof before?
Autosea: They used to be a lot darker in their sound with mostly heavy electronic but now a lot of these doofs are moving into world music and uplifting electronic music as well so that’s bringing a very strong community vibe. More festivals are popping up because of this as people are wanting to be a part of that.
David: I think people are hungry for that! For some reason there’s this pressure to crush everybody with intensity. I think it’s a like a micro to macro bigger picture of where we are with the world and just slowing down a bit. There’s still plenty of partying to be had but within that experience it doesn’t have to be so intense all the time.
Autosea: So this festival is about bringing a community together and hopefully to try and make change. Are there any particular issues that you feel strongly aligned with which you would like to see changed?
David: I’d like to see a whole lot change but there are a few foundation principles I’d like to see change, such as addressing everything we will be talking about over the weekend. But if there is one thing I would see change it would be openness. I think openness is the key to seeing our entire world change right now—a lot of wars and arguments are the major problems that are happening with our humanity right now. One person thinks that they’re right and thinking the other is wrong. You know, my God is better than your God, and you’re gonna burn in hell for eternity and so I’m going to kill you—and millions of you. That’s kind of where we are at with humanity with this closed minded mentality.
Autosea: It’s obviously harder to make a big change as an individual so that’s why it’s important to bring a community together, and that’s why I really appreciate Melbourne because at the moment there’s a lot of music labels running charity events where ticket sales will go to a particular charity and raising consciousness of issues and making a tangible difference. So how do you think specifically in music can we change that mindset? How can we music as a platform to make change?
David: That’s my whole thing—music as a platform for social change. There’s beauty in the celebration but something that I always like to say in my sets is it’s about coming together celebrating here and now and taking that experience of togetherness into your local communities and that’s one of the major ways that music can create change. Besides using the stage as a platform and using your voice for whatever you believe in, just the immediate result of coming together and celebrating together through the universal language of music is an immediate thing that everyone can do.
If you look at the audience last night, we have over 50 countries here with only 400 people! People want change and that’s a very loaded question, you know you listen to heavy metal and people want change and they’re feeling angry. Music is often an expression of the emotional state of people so if you look at the landscape of music, often people are angry or upset, happy or sad, and all of those emotional states reflect different genres of kinds of music. Very rarely do you hear super uplifting death metal you know, people are angry! So that’s their expression—it’s a reflection of their state of humanity. That ties into why do we curate this kind of music? You know, because we want to create expansive, uplifting experiences, and music in those states we’re creating with those experiences can catalyze change.
The Human Experience and SaQi running a workshop during the festival
Autosea: So how do you think we can actually send that message across? Through sets?
Like this. We’re doing it now. There’s this weird faux pas around the world in electronic music about speaking on the microphone unless you’re screaming unintelligible words into it and then people are thinking, ‘Why is that guy talking on the microphone? I want to be dancing and partying!’ I have had every heckler in the business yelling at me, ‘Quit fucking talking!’ There’s always going to be people like that, you know, don’t let one bad apple ruin the bunch. It’s about needing to stand up and make sure that message is concise and you have an obligation. You have an opportunity and if you don’t take that, you’re hurting others. A lot of people don’t always know what their message is yet, so those people need to think about what they represent.
Autosea: It’s quite an amazing thing getting people to get together to talk about it, but then there’s another big step, which is getting people to act on that.
David: We can come together to talk about issues all day but if no one does anything, that is an issue, but the first step is still talking about them. Because a lot of people are so close-minded that they’re not even able to be open to helping any issues.
Find more about David’s project, The Human Experience on Facebook here and Soundcloud here: