Tag Archives: mother earth

“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.