We interviewed Michael Edwards at Sound Matters to get an understanding of what they're trying to achieve through the art of sound.
First and foremost, what is Sound Matters? And what does it aim to do?
Sound Matters combines the concerns and passions of an environmentalist with the musical skills and technological expertise of a sound engineer. It is an educational project that uses sound and music to positively connect listeners to the processes that are shaping the environment in the 21st Century. Sound Matters is a pragmatic, yet hopeful, response to the environmental crises we face.
And how does Sound Matters achieve such a vision?
Using sound and music, we connect people to the environmental crises that, whilst appearing intractable, are nothing more than a manifestation of the disconnect that exists between humans and the nonhuman world. We use a wide range of techniques, and approaches, to take audiences, and clients, on an experiential journey that demonstrates the power of sound and music to reconnect people to Earth – our only home!
What made you pursue such an interesting approach to environmental issues?
Mike had been working on environmental issues, specifically climate change, for many years before co-creating Sound Matters. It was whilst he was in Australia, doing a PhD on the links between climate change and security, that he became fascinated with the worldviews of the Aboriginal people of Australia.It was through their music and art, that Mike became interested in different ways of connecting to what Aboriginal people call 'country' - landforms, the sea, the sky, water, air, plants, animals, stories and special places.Mike began playing the yidaki (didgeridoo) and it was through the sound of the yidaki that he started to realise that sound provided new ways for him to engage with the environment and, importantly, different ways for him to help reconnect people to the nonhuman world.Over the last 17 years, Mike has been sharing with people his love of the yidaki and the powerful message encapsulated in the sound of the instrument.
Harry had been in the music industry for over 15 years before co-creating Sound Matters.After completing his degree at the Academy of Contemporary Music, he began creating music from both sides of the mixing desk, as a session musician and film composer, and as a highly sought after sound engineer, producer, and remixer - working with clients such as Jamiroquai, Roy Ayers, Shannon Saunders, Little Mix and Disclosure.In addition to his musical endeavours, Harry became passionate about the environment and started to explore ways of using sound to engage people with environmental issues.
A chance meeting in a DJ shop in the West End, London led Mike and Harry, with DJ/producer Darien J. Hodson, to create the successful dance band 'Didjitalis'.It was whilst Mike and Harry were working together producing music for Didjitalis that they started discussing how they could use sound and music to change the world.These discussions resulted in the formation of Sound Matters!
Have you had a positive response to the work you’ve done to date? What are people saying?
I think these testimonials say it all:
'The Sound Matters collaboration between musician and activist academic can move you emotionally and intellectually. A new environmental movement must be spearheaded by this kind of inspiring symbiosis…Be prepared to experience a physical response to the work of Sound Matters. The orchestration of environmental issues and sounds from the planet take you on a symphonic journey through dissonance to harmony.'
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR TEACHING AND LEARNING Syracuse University, London
'Telling stories about sustainability through sound offers a fresh perspective that can be inclusive and non-didactic...Sound, like other art forms, thus presents opportunities to engage with the affects of sustainability in novel ways that reduce the usual focus on endless streams of information flow and (often) bad news. The stories combined with the sounds is different from anything I had previously experienced.... An entertaining, but serious; enervating, but sobering; and comedic, yet tragic presentation. Sound Matters will challenge those who already think they know what the real challenges of sustainability are all about as well as open up fresh perspectives for those still trying to grapple with the meanings and values implicated in concerns about the environment.'
LECTURER IN HUMAN GEOGRAPHY University College London
What projects are you really excited about in 2016?
We will shortly be leaving for Morocco to complete a new EP with some amazing musicians in Marrakech.
We will also be cycling to Morocco at the end of the summer to take our unique message to the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). As we pedal, we will be making music and busking along the way.Our aim is use sound, and music, to help people engage with the issue of climate change.
In March, we head to a little island in Scotland to undertake a soundscape project.
We are very excited about the launch of our 'Sound Business' initiative which has been developed to provide innovative, refreshing, and exciting ways to mainstream sustainability frameworks across organisations.
In the next six weeks we launch our 'Sound Retreats.' These retreats are for people who are tired of the limits set by the concept of sustainability and want a more expansive vision of what a flourishing world could look (and sound) like and how it could be achieved.