As part of Music Declares Emergency’s Turn up the Volume campaign, highlighting the incredible sustainability work taking place across UK music, JB’s Chiara Badaili talked to Novo Amor, the Welsh producer, multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter about environmentalism and music. You can find a snippet below and watch the full interview here.
Julie’s Bicycle and Ali John Meredith-Lacey – AKA Novo Amor – have collaborated in recent years and in their talk, they touched on the steps Ali has taken to reduce his environmental impact. “I guess the first step is just considering your options and recognising where there’s room for change”, Novo Amor explained.
He reflected on how JB has helped him to take creative climate action in his career, starting with making his touring rider much greener. Ali began requesting that venues cleaned backstage areas with eco-friendly products and that plastic water bottles were replaced with refillable ones on tour, calculating that before the switch, his band and crew could be using around 1600 plastic bottles when touring for 40 days. He also asked for plastic packing and disposable cutlery to be removed from catering supplies.
Ali and Chiara discussed the need for the music industry, particularly within touring, to become much greener and reduce its emissions. Chiara explained that, “We want to imagine what the music industry could be like. The dream is that you’d have your venues powered by renewable energy, we would have public transport systems that work. We might be shifting the way we put on shows, working with local audiences, travelling less far, touring slower as well.”
Ali talked about how switching to sustainable merchandise was both environmentally impactful and creatively rewarding. “Using recycling has become artistic,” he explained, describing the process of how his records are made from recycled vinyl pellets using offcuts that get remelted down and pressed. “Each vinyl is completely unique, it’s a really cool idea and I think the fans really like that.”
Where did Novo Amor’s sustainability journey start?
Novo Amor has built a narrative around issues like ocean plastic and pollution within his music. “You’re linking the story you’re telling with how you’re running your career,” Chiara suggests. But where did it all start?
“I was raised generally very mindful of the environment, thanks to my parents,” Ali explained. But starting out in the music industry, when you don’t have any money, meant he was choosing cheaper, less sustainable merchandising options.
That all changed when director, Sil van der Woerd, pitched Ali the idea for his ‘Birthplace‘ music video (below). Featuring a life-size humpback whale suspended in the sea and made of recycled bamboo and plastic waste, which eats the film’s protagonist, it raises awareness of the plastic pollution emergency in the oceans and aims to inspire others to become a part of changing the tide.
Filming of Novo Amor’s ‘Birthplace’
The Birthplace video was screened during Julie’s Bicycle’s Creative Green Awards in 2019 at Curzon Bloomsbury cinema, London, with an exclusive behind-the-scenes introduction from Director Sil van Der Woerd, made for the Creative Green community, which you can see in full below.
“To see them doing something so artistic and poignant was incredible and it was like, why am I not doing more like this myself…. The video was too good not to say yes to and I loved the message of it. I’ve always thought that once you remove yourself from the music and the videos there’s less room for ego and more room to create a narrative, or a story, and I think it just works so well.”– Novo Amor, in conversation with JB’s Chiara Badiali
From that point onwards, Ali wanted to make everything he did in music sustainable. Check out Novo Amor’s new album in full: ‘Cannot Be, Whatsoever‘ which was released in 2020.
– Header image: still from Novo Amor’s music video, Birthplace. Credit: cinematographer Nihal Friedel