Tag Archives: mother earth

A Protest Music Interview: Steven Sedalia (Plus New Single)

“Is community now a form of protest?
Is expression a symbol of sovereignty?
Can a drum solo bring us closer to peace on Earth?”

Young Steven Sedalia is digging deep into important questions with his new single that drops today, September 12th. In the song, Children of the Land, Steven explores the lifestyle of “shamelessly expressing compassion and love to everyone and everything”.

Steven moved from sunny North Carolina to even sunnier Hawaii because he felt called to the island. In order to explore deeper ways to express himself through his music he needed to explore alternative lifestyles as well.

From the farm where Steven lives on the island of Kaua’i he answered some questions of mine about the new single, the nature and people of Hawaii and the current protests taking place at Mauna Kea.

“She gives us shelter, we give her songs.”

What motivated you to move to Hawaii?

I moved to Hawaii because like many people, I felt called here, well what is it that called me? I’ve come to know it as the aloha spirit, a guiding intuition that moves through everything. I came to Hawaii because I wanted to cultivate my musical expression in a deeper and more thorough manner, so in order to do that I needed to move further into an alternative lifestyle.

So by that I mean I wanted to stop the cycle of paying rent and bills, and relocate to an organic farm where I could invest my energy into the music and into the land as an exchange for a roof over my head, and I could learn how to grow my own food.

Has your music always had a specific, earthly message?

Yes, my first love and fascination was nature, I was always outside as a child exploring and just being in the woods and the wonder, ya know. So as I got older my fascination admittedly expanded to include romantic love, and this emotional exploration was the initial guide of my writing, primarily through poetry.

Through change and heartbreak, universal love began to guide my expression and on these new horizons is where I discovered my songwriting. So my songs have always naturally combined organic imagery of the earth, the beauty of a lover, and the love that lives in all of us and guides us.

It seems to me that a lot of music out of Hawaii features stories and lyrics about the earth and natural powers. Why do you think the island brings out that energy?

Oh wow yes well these islands are extremely full of creative power, in Hawaii, we call that mana. I mean it is literal and figurative, the Big Island of Hawaii continues to create new land, and there is a new island in the process of being formed under the ocean surface right now! So this creativity resonates strongly through all of the islands, and that translates into the creation of song and dance through the humans!

Another factor is this land is so young relative to other land on earth, even the oldest island is still far younger than most of Earth’s land. So you have comparatively youthful ‘aina (land) and an ecosystem that is constantly in motion and change, and the tropical climate gives a dense feeling of fullness and life.

On another level, these islands are small outcroppings of land surrounded in all directions by the ocean. From all directions, the ocean is moving toward the center, with everything that it carries, it is bound to bring all sorts of mana that inspires art. So much so that I feel that these islands truthfully love music. They love to be sung to, they pull music from people. I have seen so many people who were never “musicians” learn insanely fast to express in this way.

My expression too has deepened in ways that I know come directly as a result of wanting to give love to this land. People are inspired by shear beauty, we love the feeling of awe, it creates elation and a desire to praise. These islands are alive and though we cannot understand it, they have an expression that is analogous to our emotions, desires, and feelings. She gives us shelter, we give her songs.

“This is the meaning of kapu aloha, to act only from love, similar to the proclamation made by Gandhi, of non-violence. Historically and contemporarily, many musicians in Hawaii use the power of song to express social consciousness…”

Music seems to have been a strong force at the Mauna Kea protests, how is that situation affecting you and the people of your island? Do you feel there are many musicians on Hawaii that use their voice in protest or for good?

Music is the universal uniter, so anywhere people come together to honor the sacred, songs are an integral factor in the community. Mauna Kea is a perfect example of how important music is to hold the human spirit in faith of the good.

What is going on is deep, and really painful for so many of us that love Hawaii. It is another example of the way that colonialism continues to cut and steal and desecrate traditional indigenous land.

I live on Kaua’i, and each of the islands hold several heiau (temples), and certain heiau are connected through the aloha spirit to Mauna Kea, so ceremony and prayer are held at these special places to move mana across the islands to the mountain.

Additionally, there are ocean protests where people paddle out on surf boards in huge groups in support of the Mauna. These kia’i (protectors/guardians) all over the islands gather and simply by gathering and sharing and holding space, the voice of the Mauna is expressed.

This is the meaning of kapu aloha, to act only from love, similar to the proclamation made by Gandhi, of non-violence. Historically and contemporarily, many musicians in Hawaii use the power of song to express social consciousness, for example, the late Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, better known as IZ, many may know for his song “Over the Rainbow,” but not as many know about his advocacy and activism for Hawaiian sovereignty and independence. IZ is a legend throughout Hawai’i, so the activism is woven deeply into the musical culture here.

What do people protest against on the island besides a telescope on a sacred mountain (for the outsider, Hawaii might seem like a blissful and peaceful place)?

It is blissful, and it can also be extremely turbulent. Most people around the world only think of Hawaii as peaceful, gentle, unreal, and as a heavenly paradise. And it can be all of those things! But anyone who lives here will know there is a deep tension that results from hundreds of years of colonialism and oppression.

An all too familiar story, Hawaiians were literally forced by missionaries to quit practicing their spiritual traditions. Not to say that they didn’t practice in secret, they did, but that is just one example of the kinds of oppression that occurred; and the building on top of Mauna Kea is an extension of that destruction of culture.

The telescope represents something more; the protectors are not anti-science, they are anti-colonialism. The widespread activism that lives here is based in the Hawaiian sovereignty and independence movement. More specifically, here on Kaua’i, we have companies that want to divert the sacred river headwaters for profit. The wai wai (water/life) is everything, even the language tells us that water is life.

As a result of our incredible year round growing season and isolation, unfortunately Hawai’i was used as a guinea pig for genetically modified crop testing, beginning decades ago. So there is damaged and contaminated land caused by these GM companies and their pesticides. It has been a direct cause of much sickness and illness, and it continues today.

Photo by David Marsh

Do you partake in any activism outside your music on a regular basis?

Other forms of activism are more personal, so we go into the mountains off of the trails simply to plant the kalo, not to harvest, but simply to give back to the land, and return the kalo to its home. I feel that every organic garden is a statement of rebellion against the industrial agriculture system and a proclamation of self sustainability, and a direct communion with the elements, mana, and the aloha spirit that give us life!

Additionally, I practice what I call emotional and devotional activism, which I define as shamelessly expressing compassion and love to everyone and everything. The song “Children of the Land” is directly inspired by this lifestyle.

Music is a profound expression of sovereignty, a weapon of peace, a tool for togetherness and truth, and a language of sharing love. It remains to be seen if a drum solo can help bring world peace, but if you ask me, I am without a doubt that it can!

Visit stevensedaliamusic.com for more information

Cover photo by David Marsh

“Grow Food!” – Interview With Charlie Mgee of Formidable Vegetable

Charlie Mgee is not flying anywhere, anytime soon. Not because of fear of heights, the man seems not afraid of much seeing how he lives in a vegetable oil fuelled truck-house, but because of the irony as he puts it. As you’ll learn below Charlie is a man that puts his money where his mouth is.

Charlie leads the musical collective Formidable Vegetable and sings his lyrics for the band as well. After having studied permaculture he wanted to share the knowledge with more people and through music. Hence the existence of this quite unique band.

On 15th of March Formidable Vegetable drop their 3rd LP and so I figured it was time so see what Charlie had been up to since our last interview.

So, how have you been since the last time we spoke?

Flat out! Just this past few weeks I’ve been demolishing a house (free wood for the future Formidable Veg HQ!), planning water harvesting & ponds for our little patch of land, converting my house-truck to run on waste vegetable oil… oh, and getting ready to release an album!

Formidable Vegetable has a new album coming out. What sets this album apart from the first to LP’s (if anything)?

This one is a bit more “grown-up” sounding… in parts – actually, its part grow-up (songs about wanting to find a sense of home) , part childish fun (songs about composting toilets that don’t flush).

The first album was inspired by the permaculture principles – this one is inspired by the three ethics of Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share – hence the title – Earth People Fair.

You mention that the album is inspired by the permaculture ethics. For those not familiar with the subject, what is permaculture and how to you translate the concept into music and performances?

Permaculture is a way of designing things more in-line with nature in order to help us build resilience in the face of things like climate change and peak fossil-fuels. It’s pretty much a set of helpful tools that can be used to design homes, gardens or entire farms – or even less visible stuff like personal decision making or community structures.

I studied it a few years ago and thought that it was way too important not to be limited to a few people, so I wrote some songs in the hope of spreading it round a bit!

Is your music your tool for activism or do you separate the two in any way?

Music is definitely my main tool for activism. Apart from being ‘active’ and trying to do permaculture related stuff in my own back yard (ponds/gardens/house demolitions etc) I think it’s a great tool for spreading the message and hopefully inspires other people to take action, too.

This week I’m playing at the School Strike for Climate and next month I’ll join a convoy to protest the massive Adani coal mine being planned near the Great Barrier Reef, which will be a great way to integrate with other forms of activism.

Photo by Jono ‘Dropbear’ Chong

What are some other musicians, activists or even politicians that are fighting for nature and harmony that you’d like to give a shot out to and recommend to our listeners to follow?

Pete Seeger is probably my favourite musical activist of all time. He did so much for the environmental movement in the US.

Bob Brown is the former leader of The Greens party here in Australia and is the one leading the convoy to protest the coal mine. He’s a legend as well.

I saw in a recent FB post that you decided not to tour your music outside Australia for now. Can you tell our readers a bit about this decision?

I just thought it was getting a bit too ironic doing so much international travel when I sing about climate change and fossil fuels. I still have a long way to go before becoming fossil-fuel free (not just with transport, but food, business and a whole lot of things), but cutting international flights out of the picture is an important step I think.

If anyone knows of a sailboat heading to Europe, maybe I’ll try and make it back that way!

What’s on the horizon for Formidable Vegetable?

More school shows and smaller house-concerts & garden parties from the back of my veggie housetruck. I want to scale down, not just in my life, but also with my music.

It’s ironic, as obviously I want many people to hear the songs as possible, but doing smaller, more intimate shows – especially in the context of a permaculture farm or garden – I feel can have a greater impact on the people who come. I guess for everyone else, there’s YouTube!

Thanks for participating and for the music! Anything else you’d like to shout from the rooftops?

GROWWWWWWW FOOOOOODDDDDD!!!!

Find Formidable Vegetable’s music on Bandcamp and the group’s webpage. Cover photo by Patrick Latter.


Eco Faeries (interview)

Growing up in Iceland I am well aware of the existence of hidden people and giants but I am less familiar with faeries. In Australia there is a colorful group of faeries who use music to share their love of nature and how to take better care of mother earth. So I interviewed Faerie Cara of the Eco Faeries to learn more about these faeries and their music, nature preservation and how one can get married at their concerts.

First of all, who are the Eco Faeries?

Eco Faeries use entertainment to promote a love of nature and taking care of the environment. We specialize in performing for families with children who are in early childhood years of 2-7 years of age. One stage there are two main performers, myself Faerie Cara, and Faerie Kirstee. I’ve been working as a faerie for over 23 years, Kirsten came into the company two years ago now, but really she’s always been a faerie. We also have a team of faeries who work in schools doing educational incursions, faeries who run nature craft workshops, street artists and volunteers.

What is your background in music? Has it always been educational?

All our performers have different backgrounds. Kirstee is a classically trained flautist, multi instrumentals and vocalist trained at WAAPA. I’ve worked as a faerie my whole life, creating songs as I travel the world. We also love to collaborate with local musicians to create a certain sound. The way we work is first coming up with a message we want to deliver, then we create a song and record it in the studio. For our live children’s shows we use a karaoke track that we created in the studio so we can focus on singing live while dancing and acting. It’s important to be high energy and engaging for the age group we are performing for.

Yes it’s always been educational. We believe faeries are the guardians of nature and we represent them in a way they we’re talked about in faerie tales years before Disney cartoons we’re created. For us to represent faeries we don’t want to fluff about. We want to empower children to make a difference, to use their voices and be the change the world is waiting for.

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It seems at a first glance that you are more than just a band. Can you elaborate on the scope of the project?

We like to be seen as an entertainment company and make everything as catchy, high energy and memorable as possible. Within that framework we are educators. We have a message to deliver and through creating magical moments within the community, the families we meet continue to speak about what they learned from the faeries.

Can anyone learn to become an Eco Faerie?

We have a live performance show for events, shopping centers and schools, plus we run workshops, create art installations and just generally create a faerie buzz of activity wherever we can. We also organize our own events and create education videos in partnership with local organizations.

Are you part of any other musical projects?

Yes we are! Here in Perth, Western Australia we love to collaborate with like minded performers to create crowd stopping shows. Our main partners in crime are Junkadelic, an explosive live performance brass band with percussion instruments made from junk. Together we work with other local groups to put on themed shows at street festivals.

Is it true that one could attend a Eco Faeries concert and get married at the same time?

It’s true, it’s a sneaky twist to our faerie tale. I’m an authorized civil Marriage Celebrant in Australia. I was hoping that same sex marriage would be legalized so I studied and registered to become a celebrant. Unfortunately we are still waiting for marriage laws to change, in the mean time I’ve been able to officiate many amazing weddings from barefoot ceremonies in the forest to cabaret shows in a ballroom. It’s definitely not the focus of the main Eco Faerie company but it’s been amazing to be part of so many outstanding weddings. (Input: shortly after interviewing Faerie Cara, Australian people voted in favor of same-sex marriage!)

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What do you hope to achieve with your music?

We hope our songs are enjoyed and are continued to be sung by families. We deliberately make them catchy and fun, then the messages written into them are remembered. We’re always aiming to reach more people so we find new events to visit.

Next year we’ll be touring Australia some more, who knows, maybe once day we can do another international tour. In the mean time we just made three short educational videos that can be viewed through our website. These we’re produced through a grant from Keep Australia Beautiful WA so they all have a waste theme. They feature a short educational segment followed up by a song. That way we can share what we do with families around the world and not have to fly about too far.

How has the response been from peers within the music industry?

The response has been great so far. Eco Faeries has been running for 13 years now and is a full time gig for us. We keep our work polished and original so bands and organizers see the hard work that goes into everything we do. Every event that we do leads to more gigs so we must do something right.

Are you connected with faeries around the world?

We keep an eye on social media to see what other faeries are up to. We also love to connect with mermaids or just groups that are working hard to change the world. Everyone represents ‘faerie’ differently. We work on keeping our work original and pull from our own ideas but it’s always fun to meet faeries when we travel. Years ago I travelled through Canada and USA and met some inspiring magical creatures on the way. I love to see the evolution of their performances over the years.

What is on the horizon for the Eco Faeries?

We’re in the midst of our peak performance season but we are looking ahead to 2018 where we’ve booked some interstate events, a few Fringe shows and hopefully we can make more videos.

Thank you very much for participating and for the work you do! Anything else you would like to shout from the rooftops?

Thank you so much for connecting with us. Please check out our website, watch Eco Faerie TV where you can see us in action anywhere around the world and don’t forget that the magic of nature is in you.