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The Great Escape announces keynote speakers for 2024

The Great Escape has confirmed Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker as one of the keynote speakers of the newly revamped conference.

The UK music industry event returns to Brighton from Wednesday 15 May to Saturday 18 May, with the Council of Music Makers (CMM), The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), BBC Introducing and Youth Music each set to curate a day of the programme.

On the Saturday of the conference, Cocker will present Biophobia, a special climate-themed talk about getting to grips with nature. The session will be presented by EarthPercent, the charity founded by Brian Eno to help the music industry support the most impactful organisations addressing the climate emergency.

Giving the conference’s opening keynote conversation on Wednesday 15 May, Darcus Beese OBE will reflect on his career as the UK’s first black record company CEO and one of the greatest A&Rs of his generation, having signed and nurtured artists like Amy Winehouse, U2 and Florence and the Machine. This conversation will come soon after the publication of his upcoming memoir ‘Rebel With A Cause’.

“Without a doubt, this is set to be an unmissable event for the UK industry”

On Thursday, Tom Gray (chair of the Ivors Academy and Labour Party PPC for Brighton Pavilion) and YolanDa Brown (OBE DL, musician, broadcaster and chair of the BPI) will deliver another keynote speech, discussing what the industry needs to do to protect music copyright and culture on a legislative level.

They join two previously announced keynote speakers: Lauren Mayberry (lead singer of CHVRCHES) and Sacha Lord (chair of the NTIA, co-creator of Parklife Festival and the Warehouse Project and Night Time Economy Adviser for Greater Manchester).

Also announced today, the Association of Independent Music joins as the conference’s newest industry collaborator, hosting three sessions centred on the independent music sector on the beach on Wednesday 15th May.

Rory Bett, CEO, MAMA Festivals, says: “From cultural icons to industry legends, our revamped conference has truly been supercharged with the calibre of these keynote speakers. Without a doubt, this is set to be an unmissable event for the UK industry.”


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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 American anthropologist Alexei Yurchak 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 Yurchak’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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