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GEI16: Brian Eno & Jarvis Cocker keynote report

Music legends Brian Eno and Jarvis Cocker united for a special keynote session to close yesterday’s Green Events and Innovations conference (GEI16).

The hour-long discussion at London’s Royal Lancaster Hotel was chaired by Cathy Runciman of EarthPercent — a charity dedicated to linking the music industry to some of the most impactful organisations addressing the climate emergency.

Renowned producer and EarthPercent founder Eno previously headlined the event, which is organised by A Greener Future in partnership with ILMC, alongside Norwegian popstar Aurora and Grammy Award-winning artist and multi-instrumentalist Jacob Collier.

Eno shared the stage with Pulp frontman Cocker to sound off on the importance of a healthy planet, with the latter gracing the audience with a visual exploration of his “Biophobia”. Here is a selection of highlights from the conversation…

Balancing activism with artistry…
Brian Eno: “I didn’t suddenly want to give up being an artist to solely become a climate campaigner. But I thought, ‘Why don’t I just carry on being an artist, make the money I can make, and give it to the people who are doing the work?’ I’m good at making things and I get paid well for it. They want to make something important too… in this case, they want to save the planet. So, why don’t I just support them?

“There’s a lovely Venn diagram about the Japanese word ‘ikagai’, and it’s how you decide what you’re going to do in your life. The diagram has four circles that intersect and they are: what I love doing, what I can get paid for, what the world needs, and what I’m good at. The intersection of these four things, if you can do it, is your sweet spot. That’s what you ought to be doing.”

“You cannot help being a hypocrite in a system in which you’re entangled”

The fear of hypocrisy…
BE: “Hug your hypocrisy [laughs]. You cannot help being a hypocrite in a system in which you’re entangled. You could say, ‘I’m a real purist, I’m not going anywhere or doing anything because it will involve taking a bus or a train or in some way wearing clothes that have been made somewhere that have been transported via a system that we’re trying to change.’ To some extent, we’re going to be compromised by it, and will hopefully be less compromised as we change. I gave up flying many years ago, and I’ve successfully not flown except twice over the last eight years. It was really hard to do, but it was possible because I don’t tour and because I don’t have any relatives [laughs]!

“However, I understand that it’s not a choice everybody can make. What I recommend is to just do it a little bit better, but don’t do it too often. If you have to go to America, for example, put together as many meetings as possible to avoid repeat flights. It’s such a Daily Mail thing to target someone and make a big story about them after they’ve been photographed with bags of shopping and getting into a car after they’ve complained about fossil fuels. It’s not an important criticism.”

The “difficulty” of making the climate justice movement more inclusive…
BE: “In America, there are over 450,000 different environmental groups. Some may belong to two or three of them, but it’s unlikely that one person will belong to a thousand of them. So there are billions of people just in North America who are somehow grappling with this, and they either may be small groups trying to save a local lake, or a larger group like Friends of the Earth. But the facts are that there are millions, if not billions, of people who are in some way engaged with trying to tackle this important issue. Why don’t we ever hear back from each other?

“In terms of numbers, we significantly outnumber the likes of those climate change deniers over at 55 Tufton Street. Trouble is, we don’t know about each other. There’s a book by a Russian historian by Alexei Yerchek called Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More, which is about the collapse of the Soviet Union and the amazingness of being in a system that seemed to be absolutely fixed, set, unchangeable, which suddenly disappeared overnight. And I think this could happen here. I think we could reach a tipping point where everybody realises, ‘Hey, we’re part of this movement!’

“In Yerchek’s book, he says revolutions happen in two phases: the first is when everybody realises that things aren’t working right, and the second is where everybody realises that everybody else realises it. And that’s a critical point, where there’s a sudden coalescence. Everybody is fighting the same fight, so we have to get into that frame of mind. We are the majority, and we have the power. We just have to come together and make use of it.”

“More people were becoming scared of nature, and many of them seemed to believe that nature was turning against mankind”

Being a “biophilic”…
Jarvis Cocker: “I suffer from biophobia, which means I’m frightened of nature. I was probably born in this condition. But having been born in Sheffield, I didn’t become aware of it until later in my life.

“I first realised that this condition was a problem for me when my now ex-wife glued together pages of Mary Motley Kalergis’ illustrated book Giving Birth because I would feel faint at the most explicit images of women giving birth. Before she gave birth to our son, I was seriously worried about passing out or throwing up, but when it actually happened, I was supportive of her and even cut the umbilical cord. I realised at that moment that perhaps biophobia was something I could lose over time if I was prepared to work for it.”

His trip to the North Pole in 2008…
JC: “I went with a small group of fellow artists to the North Pole because we had come to see small icebergs. We were passengers on a voyage around Greenland organised by Cape Farewell, an organisation that took both scientists and artists to polar regions to investigate and react to something which was called climate change. The term was new to me at that point, and it seemed like a more widespread form of biophobia to me. More people were becoming scared of nature, and many of them seemed to believe that nature was turning against mankind.

“We sailed the Arctic Ocean for two weeks, and visited various sites in Greenland. On the very last day, we sailed through a channel to get back to the port we left from a fortnight earlier. I was standing alone at the deck of the ship, and I was looking at this landscape. Suddenly, out of the blue, I started crying. And for the past 15 years, I’ve been trying to find out why that was.”

The myth of a “technological fix”…
JC: “There seems to be a worrying tendency for people to solve the problem of mankind’s effects on the environment by meddling some more. Not very logical. Let me show you this small book called Salmon: A Red Herring, written by the artist duo Cooking Sections which consists of Daniel Fernández Pascual and Alon Schwabe. This book examines the detrimental effects of salmon farming on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, and it’s a very good example of what happens when man tries to play God.

“Here’s an extract: when chemicals are ineffective, salmon are splashed with boiling water over short periods of time to remove the lice caused by intensive farming. This is an imprecise method. In 2016 over 175,000 Scottish salmon were boiled alive during a not uncommon accident. Here’s another one: under the weight of accelerated growth, spines curve, tails shorten, and jaws bend. More than 90% of farmed fish are deformed. How much faith does that give you in a technological fix for climate change?”

 


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Brian Eno and Jarvis Cocker set for GEI keynote

The Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) will welcome back Brian Eno for a third time, for a keynote conversation with Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker.

The leading conference for sustainability takes place on the 27 February at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London – the first day of the International Live Music Conference (ILMC).

Eno previously headlined the event alongside Norwegian popstar Aurora and multi-Grammy-Award-winning artist and multi-instrumentalist Jacob Collier.

This year, the EarthPercent founder will share the stage with Cocker, who will present his ‘Biophobia’. In addition, Eno will appear alongside EarthPercent’s executive director, Cathy Runciman, for the EarthPercent Hour.

“We are over the moon that Brian Eno and Jarvis Cocker will bring such a special experience to the GEI delegates this year,” says Claire O’Neill, CEO, A Greener Future. “GEI, since its inception, has been about uniting the live community and beyond to make a better world for all of us. This is why we love the work of our charity partner EarthPercent and can’t wait to experience and share what we have in store next month.”

“We love the work of our charity partner EarthPercent and can’t wait to experience and share what we have in store next month”

Eno is a renowned musician, producer, visual artist and activist who first came to international prominence in the early seventies as a founding member of British band, Roxy Music, followed by a series of solo albums and collaborations. He founded charity EarthPercent to help combat the music industry’s impact on the planet.

Cocker is a legendary musician and broadcaster who formed the band Pulp while at school in 1978, going on to become one of the most successful British groups of the 1990s. He presented the BBC6 Music programme Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday Service, as well as the ongoing, award-winning BBC Radio 4 documentary series Wireless Nights. He also has two honorary doctorates and his lyrics have been published by Faber and Jonathan Cape.

News of the keynote comes shortly after GEI unveiled speakers, sessions, exclusive research projects and case studies for the forthcoming edition. For more information on the conference, or to purchase tickets, click here.

GEI takes place as part of the ILMC week, the largest gathering of live music professionals in the world. Across GEI, ILMC, and related events on the schedule, over 2,500 professionals will take part at the Royal Lancaster between 27 Feb and 1 March.

For more information about ILMC 2024, The Arthur Awards, Futures Forum, TEL and London Calling, visit 36.ilmc.com.

GEI is organised by AGreenerFuture in partnership with ILMC. GEI’s dedicated website is here.


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Artists donate royalties to Earth

Brian Eno’s climate change charity EarthPercent has launched a scheme where artists can make the environment the beneficiary of their royalties.

The Earth as Your Co-Writer scheme enables artists to list the Earth as a songwriter and legal beneficiary of royalties, with the money going directly to environmental organisations.

EarthPercent is inviting acts to donate 1% of one new composition – or more should they wish – with funds raised going to the charity’s grant-giving fund.

More than 23 artists including Aurora, Anna Calvi, Jacob Collier, Dave and Stormzy producer Fraser T Smith, Mount Kimbie and Eno himself have signed up for the cause.

Some, including Big Thief, have pledged to donate 1% of touring revenue to the charity to help offset their own environmental impact.

Big Thief have pledged to donate 1% of touring revenue to the charity to help offset their own environmental impact

“The Earth as Your Co-writer is a beautiful idea in which we harness the poetic construct of The Earth as a co-writer of music and direct some of the income from our compositions towards tackling the climate emergency,” says Eno who came up with the concept, and has listed the Earth as a songwriter on new track A Thought.

“EarthPercent provides an easy way for the music industry to make a difference by asking artists to commit a small percentage of their songwriting revenue. All musicians are inspired by the precious planet we live on, so it’s fitting that we are now able to name The Earth as our co-writer.”

The initiative has been created over an 18-month period by a cross-industry advisory group working with EarthPercent.

One of the advisors, Grammy Award-winning record producer Kevin Bacon, reached an agreement with Unison, an accredited rights management entity, who will be collecting the income for the Earth.

During the pilot phase, the charity will be working with the UK Music Publishing Association on how to build the scheme so it can be rolled out on a bigger scale in the future.

 


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Brian Eno, Jacob Collier lined up for GEI keynote

The 15th edition of the Green Events and Innovations Conference will welcome back Brian Eno for a keynote conversation with Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jacob Collier.

Titled Music as a Social Synchroniser, the conversation will see the artists explore the social function of music and how it changes us, how it offers us a local counterpoint to the big things happening in the world and why it is so important in a community.

The keynote will also address “the whole question of where music comes from, and how it arises not just from the minds of individuals, but from whole societies, traditions and living ecosystems, is a way to also connect it to the big question of the climate crisis and music’s response to it”.

Eno is a renowned musician, producer, visual artist and activist who first came to international prominence in the early seventies as a founding member of British band, Roxy Music, followed by a series of solo albums and collaborations. He interviewed Norwegian popstar Aurora for GEI’s 2022 keynote.

The keynote will also address “the whole question of where music comes from”

Collier, meanwhile, is a five-time Grammy-award-winning artist that has been featured on songs by UK music icons like Coldplay and Stormzy, and American R&B superstars such as SZA, Kehlani, and Alicia Keys.

In his own projects, Collier has worked with a diverse cast of artistic powerhouses, from Malian singer Oumou Sangaré to John Mayer, T-Pain, Ty Dolla $ign, Daniel Caesar, Tori Kelly and Mahalia.

He has also helped Oscar-winner Hans Zimmer score the recent Boss Baby films and has written for a forthcoming West End musical on the life of opera singer Luciano Pavarotti.

Eno and Collier join a first round of speakers for GEI 15 that includes Dale Vince (Ecotricity), Rosanna Machado, Mark Stevenson (CUR8), Zed Anwar and Andy Cato (Wildfarmed, Groove Armada).

GEI is A Greener Festival’s flagship event and is organised in partnership with the ILMC, which takes place at the Royal Lancaster Hotel between 28 February and 3 March.

The leading gathering for sustainability at live events will take place on 28 February 2023. For more information on the conference, or to purchase tickets, click here.

 


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GEI 14: Brian Eno preaches climate ‘opportunity’

A keynote interview with Brian Eno and Aurora was one of the highlights of the 14th Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI), the leading gathering for sustainability at live events.

The duo sat down with host Love Ssega to discuss ‘Directing the energy of music for the benefit of the planet’ to close this year’s GEI at the Royal Garden Hotel, London last Friday (29 April).

A renowned musician, producer, visual artist and activist, Eno praised Coldplay’s efforts to cut their carbon footprint on their current groundbreaking eco-friendly stadium tour.

“The biggest carbon footprint of touring is generally getting the audience to the shows,” said Eno. “It isn’t getting the band and the equipment to the shows, it’s the audiences. If you’ve got 100,000 people coming to a show and they’re travelling an average of say 30 or 40 miles, that’s a huge huge number of vehicles.

“So Coldplay, for example, are now trying to set up systems where they set up a coach service. And in fact, it sounds a lot more fun to me to be in a coach with 30 or 40 other people going to the same show.”

“I’ve now started thinking in terms of the climate opportunity, rather than the climate emergency”

Eno recently founded Earth Percent, a charity providing a simple way for the music industry to support impactful organisations addressing the climate emergency, and spoke of his desire to tell a “second story” on the issue.

“We all know the first story: we’re on course for disaster,” he said. “The apocalypse is just around the corner and so on. But I’ve now started thinking in terms of the climate opportunity, rather than the climate emergency, because if you think about all the things we would have to do to save the planet… we have to change the way we do all sorts of things. And then when you think about that, you think that would be a much better world anyway.

“It’s not just about trying to save what we have. It’s about trying to make something new with this huge prompt that says, ‘We’ve got to change.’ And if we succeed, we’ll end up in a better place in a better place than we ever imagined.

“The invitation is not just to fight back like the resistance, against this huge force that is coming at us, but to sidestep it and say, ‘We’ll just build a new future.’ And I think this is happening already.”

“As things start to disappear from culture, people suddenly realise that they’re valuable”

Eno pinpointed the expression, “The best is the enemy of the good,” for its growing pertinence to the matter at hand.

“What I see happening a lot is people saying, ‘Well, I can’t do this thing that would be the ideal, so I won’t do anything.’ That is really not an option,” he said. “There is going to be a continuous, endless set of choices and negotiations where we try to prevent another 0.1% temperature rise. And we will do that because we will soon start to realise what happens if we don’t.

“One of the things that always happens as things start to disappear from culture, is that people suddenly realise that they’re valuable… So I’m hoping that because of the good side of mass media, we might actually be a little bit further ahead of the game this time.

“A heroic figure in this is David Attenborough – nobody has been more effective in making people fall in love with the planet than he has, and I think that’s what it takes for people to realise that this is the place to direct their love. I’m an atheist, but if I were going to pray to anything, it would be this place.”

“We have forgotten how to coexist and make room for everything else but ourselves, which is very sad”

Norwegian pop breakthrough Aurora said: “Apathy is the enemy of progress” and shared the relevance of her single The Woman I Am and LP The Gods We Can Touch, released in January.

“This whole album and song… is very in tune with what we’re here to talk about today: how humankind has changed through times and how the way we perceive each other and the earth, and the way we handle it… and how our touch and connection with nature that used to be so obvious in the past, has become less and less prominent within us,” she said.

“I was just wondering why this had happened, why we’d forgot to live organically as a coexisting thing, because we have forgotten how to coexist and make room for everything else but ourselves, which is very sad. I’m constantly moving in between, ‘Every small change matters,’ but also that, sometimes, small change isn’t enough when you know there’s so much we can do.”

The connection between wellbeing, inclusivity, diversity, equity and environmental sustainability was a recurring theme throughout GEI, which was presented by A Greener Festival (AGF) in partnership with the International Live Music Conference (ILMC).

Representatives from AEG, ASM Global, EarthPercent, Forest Green Rovers, Glastonbury, Music Declares Emergency, OVO Arena Wembley, Roskilde Festival, Royal Albert Hall, SEC, Soul Sutras, We Love Green, UWE and Yourope also appeared at the first green events industry physical get-together in over two years.

 


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Nile Rodgers, Brian Eno and more back climate charities

A number of world-renowned artists have lent their support to the industry’s leading climate change charities.

To mark last week’s Earth Day (22 April), more than 100 artists including Nile Rodgers, Coldplay and Metronomy released exclusive tracks on Bandcamp, with proceeds going to Brian Eno’s climate change charity, EarthPercent.

Both Eno and Rodgers are due to appear at this week’s International Live Music Conference (ILMC), with the former participating in a keynote conversation at the Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI) and the latter to be interviewed by former Dire Straits manager Ed Bicknell.

Eno says EarthPercent’s Earth Day campaign on Bandcamp “brings artists together to offer exclusive tracks to their fans, to be sold on behalf of climate justice and environmental protection organisations. This is what unleashing the power of music in service of the planet looks like”.

The proceeds from each track will go towards EarthPercent’s five core areas of work: greening music, energy transition, climate justice, legal and policy change, and protecting nature.

“This is what unleashing the power of music in service of the planet looks like”

Alongside EarthPercent, Eno has also supported the launch of Music Declares Emergency‘s new US chapter, along with Billie Eilish, Bon Iver and Arcade Fire.

Music Declares Emergency (MDE), a group dedicated to guiding the music industry’s response to the global climate and ecological emergency, is also backed by The 1975, Major Lazer, The Pretenders, Annie Lennox, Tom Morello and Tom Odell.

Initially started in the UK in 2019, MDE is now also operational in France, Germany, Switzerland, Chile and Canada. It’s gathered over 6,000 signatures from across the music industry on a declaration that calls for an immediate governmental response to do more to combat climate change.

A statement said: “Now, more than ever is the time for the United States to loudly and proactively join the rally to curb and reverse greenhouse gas emissions.

“The climate crisis is the greatest challenge of our time, and the power of music should take its place at the forefront of this important movement to create a safer, fairer, more sustainable world. The climate crisis is about science, not politics. There is #NOMUSICONADEADPLANET.”

 


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GEI announces keynote with Brian Eno and Aurora

Brian Eno and Aurora have been confirmed for a keynote conversation at the Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI), the leading gathering for sustainability at live events.

Presented by A Greener Festival (AGF) in partnership with the International Live Music Conference (ILMC), the 14th edition of GEI will take place at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, London on Friday 29 April.

Having recently founded Earth Percent, a charity providing a simple way for the music industry to support impactful organisations addressing the climate emergency, Eno joins the conference to discuss ‘directing the energy of music for the benefit of the planet’ with Aurora.

Eno is a renowned musician, producer, visual artist and activist who first came to international prominence in the early seventies as a founding member of British band, Roxy Music, followed by a series of solo albums and collaborations. Aurora is said to be one of the greatest Norwegian pop breakthroughs of recent years.

This year’s event marks the first time ILMC delegates will be able to attend GEI sessions as part of the main conference, with key topics including:

The connection between wellbeing, inclusivity, diversity, equity and environmental sustainability will be a recurring theme throughout the programme.

Speakers for the conference include Andy Lenthall (Festival Insights), Chiara Badiali (Julie’s Bicycle), Claire O’Neill (AGF), Dale Vince OBE (Ecotricity/Forest Green Rovers), Danny Newby (Big Green Coach), Dave Ojay (Naam Festival) Dr Vincent Walsh (Herblabism/Future of Food), Erik Distler (AEG), Gina Périer (Lapee), Glenn Lyons (UWE), Gordon Masson (IQ Magazine), Holger Jan Schmidt (YOUROPE) and John Drury (OVO Arena Wembley).

Single day tickets to GEI are available.

More information and tickets can be found here. GEI 14 is kindly supported by Ecotricity, De La Maison and Ball Corporation.

 


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Brian Eno to keynote Sónar 2016 conference

Sónar+D, Sónar festival’s tech- and digital culture-focused conference programme, will this year feature over 50 speakers, 100 exhibiting companies and 4,500 delegates from across the world.

Brian Eno, described by Sónar as “one of the most important thinkers of our time, at the intersection between technology, art, science and culture”, will give the keynote lecture, and Jean-Michel Jarre, Richie Hawtin, Kode 9, Lawrence Lek, Alva Noto and Bytone will all speak on the visual influences behind their live shows.

Spotify, the BBC, Google Data Arts and Microsoft’s Kate Crawford will discuss the changing face of the music business in the digital era, while representatives from Cern and the ALMA observatory will tackle how scientific research institutions can serve as an “engine for innovation” for musicians and artists. Also speaking will be Minecraft director of operations Bu Vui and British art collective and Massive Attack collaborator United Visual Artists.

View the full Sónar+D programme at the conference’s website.

Performing at the Sónar music festival are Jean-Michel Jarre, New Order, Anohni, Skepta, John Grant, James Blake, Roots Manuva, Flume and Stormzy.