Music

Interview

Introducing the Environmental Music Prize – voting now open!

Get in quick, voting closes Sunday 22 May!

What if we unleashed the power of music, to conquer hearts and minds and, in the process, inspired millions to defend the fragile ecosystems that sustain all life on earth? That’s the question that the inaugural Environmental Music Prize aims to answer.

**UPDATE: Thanks to the incredible response from fans and industry alike (including votes from 58 countries, including places like Gambia and Ukraine) the Environmental Music Prize have now extended their voting an extra week – with voting now closing this Sunday 22 May.
Winners will be announced on Wednesday 25 May.

Launched during the UN Climate Summit last year, The Environmental Music Prize is a global-first call-to-action for artists to create powerful music videos that celebrate nature and encourage us to defend it. In turn, celebrating some of the artists inspiring action on climate and conservation.

In its first year, the prize received over 200 incredible entries reflecting a diverse range of musical styles from artists across the country and highlighting just how loud the collective Australian voice is when it comes to taking action for our climate and our world.

With 24 phenomenal songs in the running to receive the inaugural award, voting is now open to the public to select their favourite song and find Australia’s next climate anthem. Voting has been extended, and now closes midnight Sunday 22 May.

From Australian icon Paul Kelly to 15-year-old songwriter Rory Phillips, from leading indie-pop heroes Jack River and Lime Cordiale, rock heroes Eskimo Joe and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, metal band In Hearts Wake and the children of Yothu Yindi, surf-rock band King Stingray – the finalists highlight the immense passion Australians of all ages have for the environment.

The inaugural winner will be awarded a $20,000 prize. But, as a non-profit, the Environmental Music Prize goes far beyond traditional awards and is centred on impact, aiming to educate and empower artists to use their voice and influence, both on and off stage, and become climate leaders.

While this year’s nominees are all from Australia, the prize looks to expand to a global stage next year.

Finalists were selected by a pool of experienced music industry experts and environmental leaders including music ambassadors Montaigne, Anna Lunoe, Heidi Lenffer (Cloud Control), music industry experts (triple j, Double J, APRA AMCOS, Nightlife Music), and environmental champions (Greenpeace, WWF, Australian Youth Climate Coalition, Ocean Impact Organisation, Green Music Australia and School Climate Strikers).

Listen to the Environmental Music Prize finalists:

There is still time to vote, and to inspire you as well as give you some more information about the Environmental Music Prize, we sat down to chat with founder Edwina Floch as well as three of the nominees – In Hearts Wake, Little Green, and William Crighton.

Edwina Floch, Founder

Founded by Edwina Floch, the Environmental Music Prize was created when she realised there wasn’t a notable climate anthem. In the following twelve months, the prize was created, received over 200 entries from Australia’s leading songwriters, and secured partnerships with music bodies and environmental groups across the globe.

Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about who you are and what you do!

My name is Edwina Floch. I’m a social entrepreneur and the Founder of the Environmental Music Prize – a new $20,000 prize that amplifies the voices of artists who inspire change for climate and conservation. The Environmental Music Prize also aims to empower artists to use their cultural influence off stage, and supports participating artists with climate leadership training, media opportunities, and opportunities to meet and discuss with environmental leaders.

What inspired you to launch The Environmental Music Prize?

Last year I was helping to organise the NEXUS Australia Summit that focused on social change, climate change, and philanthropy. I had the opportunity to interview Dr Jane Goodall, UN Messenger of Peace, and other environmental leaders. I wanted to use stunning music videos to create an immersive event experience that instantly connected participants at the event, but was surprised to discover that there were relatively few contemporary songs about the environment.

Perplexed, I reached out to Green Music Australia who analysed the last five years of triple j’s Hottest 100 (we used that as a benchmark because it’s hugely popular) and discovered that only around 1% of songs featured referenced environmental issues.That number contrasts sharply to the 75% of Australians who are concerned about climate change.

Sensing the massive potential and the pressing urgency, I decided to give it everything. I resigned from a job that I loved, created a not-for-profit, and donated $30,000 of personal savings and a year of my time to kickstart the project.

What message do you hope people take away from the Environmental Music Prize?

We need messages of hope – ones that touch us deeply, capture our imagination, and enable us to dream big.

By focusing the creative genius of many songwriters, singers, musicians, and content creators on environmental issues, and by partnering with aligned organisations and community groups, we hope to propel a few climate anthems into the mainstream and empower a diverse group of artists to activate their audiences.

Why do you believe it’s important to shine a light on artists who are using their voices for activism?

Songs are key to our identity and help us define who we are. And music brings us together, creates identity, culture and community.

Most great social movements have used memorable songs to spread their message, unite people, galvanise supporters, and remind them of what they are fighting for. Songs like ‘IMAGINE’ by John Lennon, ‘R.E.S.P.E.C.T.’ by Aretha Franklin, ‘I Am Woman’ by Helen Reddy and ‘One Love’ by Bob Marley and the Wailers defined whole generations and their battles for peace, equality and racial justice.

Now faced with a new set of challenges, we need more environmental music that speaks specifically to the new time we find ourselves in and that captures the fears, hopes and dreams of this generation.

How did you select the Music Ambassadors and Finalists for this year’s Prize?

Our Ambassadors are incredible musicians who are committed to using their platform to educate and inspire.

Montaigne was on the board of Green Music Australia and went the ARIAs with ‘Stop Adani’ and ‘People Over Profit’ written on her face and chest. Heidi Lenffer founded a solar investment fund for artists FEAT (Future Energy Artists) and Solar Slice – a ticketing surcharge that contributes to carbon offset concerts, and Anna Lunoe was a member of DJs for Climate Action and uses regularly posts about climate and sustainability to her large global audience.

The finalists where selected from over 200 entries by a shortlisting committee that included the CEO of Greenpeace and environmental leaders from WWF, Australian Youth Climate Coalition and School Climate Strikers, as well as Impact and Music Industry Partners. Now it’s up to the public to vote for the winner!

How can people get involved with/support the Environmental Music Prize?

Head to www.environmentalmusicprize.com to: Watch the incredible music videos; Vote for three that touch or inspire most; Make your own climate inspired playlist; and Share with your friends and family.

If you’re moved and believe in the power of music to bring us together, please consider supporting the continuation and growth of the prize with a tax-deductible donation.

What do you hope the Environmental Prize will grow into in future years?

Form strategic partnerships to scale up fast and make the prize global next year. The reception has been phenomenal so far. We’ve received thousands of votes so far (most from Australia, but 50+ countries are represented). Former U.N. Secretary of the Paris Climate Agreement, Christiana Figueres, applauded the idea and dedicated her ‘Earth Day’ podcast episode to the prize (which was a massive honour) so I’m confident we’ll be well supported.

Who are the activists and/or organisations you admire most?

The biggest issue in society is ‘apathy’ (not caring). I admire the millions of ‘doers’ who care enough about something to act, change, innovate or donate.

Given that most other problems will be made exponentially worse if we lose the fragile ecosystems on which we depend, I’m personally very focused on climate change and conservation and admire the work of: Climate Council, Greenpeace, WWF, Climate and Health Alliance, Ocean Impact Organisation, Australian Parents for Climate Action, and many smaller groups. 

I’d like to finish by saying “Knowledge is power!”

If you’re interested in learning more I suggest:

Films:
How to Save Our Planet
Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet
2040
Blue

Books:
The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis
Glimpses of Utopia: Real Ideas for a Fairer World

Podcasts:
Outrage + Optimism

In Hearts Wake

In Hearts Wake – Worldwide Suicide [Official Music Video]

Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about who you are!

I’m Kyle – at night I play bass guitar for In Hearts Wake and by day I’m your friendly neighbourhood carpet cleaner. In my downtime I enjoy reading fantasy/sci-fi novels. 

Tell us about the song you’ve been nominated for in the Environmental Music Prize!

We have been an environmentally charged band for the better part of a decade now, and up until this last record we have always come at the issue of climate change from a point of positivity and hope. The nomination is for our song ‘Worldwide Suicide’, and this is the most unapologetic, angry, and direct approach we have taken both with the lyrics and music.

At the time of writing/recording the song, Australia was facing the deadliest bushfires it has ever seen. We were in the USA watching this unfold at the time and we put all that helplessness and anger into this track. 

What does it mean for you to be recognised in the first ever Environmental Music Prize

It’s an honour to be considered for the award. We feel incredibly proud and lucky to have a platform to speak our mind and have people listen. It’s really validating to be a part of it with the artists and bands nominated.

Why do you believe it is important to shine a light on artists who are using their voices for activism?

I think it’s important to celebrate anyone who uses their platform for positive change because together we can reach more people, make a bigger impact, and start a movement. 

What do you hope listeners might take away from listening to you song?

‘Worldwide Suicide’ is a call to wake up and see what’s going on around us. To not sit idly by, because the time to act and turn the climate crisis around is now.

Who are the activists and/or organisations you admire most?

We have worked with some incredible organisations over the years including Rainforest4, Sea Shepherd, Green Music, Music Declared Emergency and Tangora Blue. 

Little Green

Little Green – The Night (OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO)

Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about yourself!

Hello! My name is Little Green. To me this name symbolises the inner child, and it is also one of my favourite Joni Mitchell songs. I love earth, and my dream as an artist is to
share a childlike appreciation of the world around me through music.

Tell us about the song you’ve been nominated for in the Environmental Music Prize!

I wrote ‘The Night’ from the perspective of a heartbroken alien observing Earth during the 2020 bushfires. I grew up in the Blue Mountains, and a lot of nature around my
childhood town was burned, which was sad. For a week or two I sat on my bedroom floor playing the chord progression on guitar over and over again as a kind of therapy, just feeling the emotions.

It took ages before I felt like singing, but I had written a poem in my journal “the night, it cries, the stars they shine, they bleed into the sky“; which gave me inspiration for the lyrics. The creation of this song was very slow, but I kept writing and eventually produced the song in my room as bushfire smoke continued to fill the air. Originally it was only one minute long, but my teacher at uni (I was studying songwriting at the time) told me I should finish it. So, I did.

What does it mean for you to be recognised in the first ever Environmental Music Prize?

To be recognised for a song that encapsulates my artistic identity so fully is a very rewarding feeling, but the biggest honour is being part of something greater than myself. I feel proud to be alongside other artists and activists with a common goal.

Why do you believe it is important to shine a light on artists who are using their voices for activism?

Throughout history, art has been a catalyst for change, and I think shining a light on environmental music is an optimistic way of shifting the collective consciousness. Music
can evoke emotions like love, joy, and gratitude, and if we can inspire people to feel these things for earth, more mindful actions will follow.

What do you hope listeners might take away from listening to your song? 

Fire symbolises rebirth, so I hope this song inspires a regeneration of human spirit.

Who are the activists and/or organisations you admire most?

I went to The Ocean Film Festival earlier this year, which showcased some pretty epic humans doing good things for the planet. My favourite was a group called Low Tech Lab who lived sustainably on a sailboat, basically just surfing waves, and surviving.

William Crighton

William Crighton – Your Country {Ft. William Barton & Julieanne Crighton} (Official Video)

Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about yourself!

I’m William Crighton, a storyteller who sings and plays a few instruments too. I grew up in the Riverina area of NSW (Wiradjuri). As early as I can remember, I had a fascination with nature and a strong passion to be out in it, a part of it, and to help keep it healthy. I also had a healthy disdain toward those who seek to profit by destroying it. 

The passion intensified in my early 20’s with the birth of my daughter Olive and subsequent kids (Abigail and Jack), and the introduction in a meaningful way to Aboriginal culture. I have released three albums, all of which tell stories from my Australian perspective.  

Tell us about the song you’ve been nominated for in the Environmental Music Prize!

I wanted to put out this song to help remind people and to join the chorus of people who are saying that “We are one here and no matter who you are, you bleed red, you need clean water, clean air, and clean food.”

‘Your Country’ is far from defeatist, it’s a call to people in Australia and all over the world that community has the power to turn this around. We have to push back against the destruction and collectively embrace the age old truth that we do not own this land, this land owns us. We belong to it and have to work with it in order to flourish. 

What does it mean for you to be recognised in the first ever Environmental Music Prize?

It’s a great honour to be recognised amongst such good company in the first ever EMP.

Why do you believe it is important to shine a light on artists who are using their voices for activism?

Music is unique in the way that it can communicate to and connect with a vast amount of people direct to their hearts and minds. It’s a necessary part of any society that helps to carry on stories and lessons. It’s a great power.

Too often artists are told to “keep it light” or “don’t get political”.  Sometimes the purpose of music is just for relaxing and feeling good, and that’s awesome. But providing space and recognition for music that challenges power structures and encourages unity and positive change is, in my opinion, a very worthwhile step forward.  

What do you hope listeners might take away from listening to your song? 

I hope they’ll feel fired up to make change.  

Who are the activists and/or organisations you admire most? 

The people and organisations that get up when they’re knocked down, who don’t sell out, who remain strong and kind in the face of greed and danger.

Voting for the inaugural Environmental Music Prize is now open, and will close on Sunday 15 May. To find out more about the Prize and this year’s nominees, and to cast your vote, head to their website.