Step aside black, green is the new techno
The team behind Rainforest Pavilion talks sustainability and electronic music
The lungs of the earth are being crippled, disabled and weakened to the point that it seems like there is little we can do. Our greatest resources for wildlife, nutrition and this basic element made of two molecules called oxygen, are being sacrificed by what can only be said are inexcusable causes for profit by major corporations. Now, we are not a political or environmental publication, but by no means is the topic in front of based on either agenda. You’re about to immerse yourself in a story about music lovers who are campaigning for a greater cause — that being enough air to breathe for a longer life of dancing.
Several music professionals have recently taken on eco-activism as an integral part of their careers, creating awareness through their shows by both simple and great means, like for example, reducing their carbon footprint through air-travel. There are DJs and producers like Blond:ish, who have recently heavily campaigned for zero-tolerance policies on single-plastic use at her shows, and organised beach clean-ups. She was triggered after playing a wildly memorable show on Brazil’s coastline at Warung Beach Club where she finished her set past sunrise to vistas of garbage and plastic that surfaced as punters ended their night and left.
There are other eco-warriors who have a different vision for their campaign, which is a fight for a much more rooted and fundamental issue — the safety, protection and reinforcement of our rainforests. And there is a particular group of visionaries based in Asia that have been campaigning awareness through music.
United as a collective of like-minded, free-spirited and musically-connected individuals, the Bali-based Rainforest Pavilion collective has been striving to bring awareness and real change to the most essential and crucial aspect of our global needs – the rainforest. It should not be news to you that our planet's fundamental system is going through the worst crisis of endangerment and compromise that mankind has ever witnessed.
The concept behind Rainforest Pavilion was to initially have a physical forum which brought NGOs together in a celebratory way. "It meant to break down the divides that too often exists between NGOs, even ones working in the same space," said Alex Joy, one of the RC's original founders. "But it's morphed away from that now and is open to everyone. We celebrate each other and the planet, and we gauge our success by how many meters of rainforest we save."
The power of their collective mind set struck my curiosity about how they came together and what sparked their mission. Alex explains further about his “desire to create a new system of value” and it all started when he first visited Wonderfruit where he experienced the festival's ethos firsthand. He went home feeling like he needed something to contribute himself.
Raising awareness through event-based concepts has a very personal impact, and not just because curious minds are gathered in a unified space, but mainly because the team behind Rainforest Pavilion goes the extra mile to make their personal presence felt. The team consists of Alex Joy, Jen Li, Taro Joy, Agustina Ardie and Halim Ardie, who all play both individual and communal roles, and are extremely well-versed in environmental knowledge. When taking on such a selfless endeavor, it can be beyond frustrating to have physical limitations as a barrier to mindful actions, but not with this team. There is abundance of Joy, particularly between brothers Alex and Taro Joy who initially started the Joy Collective, and from where Alex eventually co-founded Rainforest Pavilion with Halim Ardie who operates as one of their DJs as well as taking on the role of regional manager of Asia. It takes god-like levels of patience to keep the organisation constantly striving to share their valuable beliefs.
The core family expand beyond the five beautiful souls we’ve mentioned, to over eight countries around the world, a lot of whom are music professionals as well. Which brings us to a very unique factor that identifies Rainforest Pavilion – music. There are seen resident DJs in the RP collective, which expands to probably hundreds around the world who have joined the positive movement. The seven residents include Alex and Taro Joy, Halim Ardie and Latex from Bali, Ray Soo from Malaysia, Jen Li who has her roots in Hong Kong, and the Sunset People Project from Jakarta. Their guest DJs can be found all over the globe, and they come in all ages too — now ten-year old Little Ale from Bali performed on the Rainforest Pavilion stage in 2017 and was also the youngest DJ to perform at Wonderfruit in Thailand. Have a listen to her mix by hitting play below:
Alex has been a DJ since the tender age of 14, and grew up on Vancouver Island, from where his early memories recall the “war of the woods”, which he describes as being “the biggest show of civil disobedience in Canadian history where thousands were arrested and the band Midnight Oil played a concert on the front lines.” This early and impactful impression of political and environmental issues clearly dawned on the young DJ, and it was only further influenced by his father who was and still is very involved in forest conservation work. “It played a big role in my life," he added. "Everyone has this image of Canada being so forward on environment, but really we don’t deserve the rep. Canada is still logging its old growth forests at an alarming rate, less than 15% of the original forests protected, the rest is on the chopping block.”
This takes us back to the application of the green topic. One of the creative and powerful tools they use to convey their message at events that uniquely welds their core values of music and rainforest preservation is design — their stage presence at events is simply magical. In the mission of featuring nature in their designs, RP has worked closely with Ricardo Ferreira and Matteo Messervy, and in the case of their favourite festival in Thailand, they also engage closely with Wonderfuits own talented build team. The ultimate goal here is to give an experience of being in nature. Alex further points out that “too many people in this world are completely detached from nature. It's proven that just being in nature promotes brain activity that is otherwise un activated. We always try to deliver an experience of being in nature at our stage.”
Their stage presence is always electrifying and earth-grounding at the same time, making recyclable use of bamboo, wild colours and using soundscapes to accentuate the experience. They’ve also admittedly thrown parties in forests and quickly realised the dire and immediate impact, quoting: “we prefer to protect it. We may do some more but most likely adjacent than in the wilderness. Large groups of people do have adverse effects on ecosystems."
So what has a collective conscience that loves electronic music and believes in the greater good of the planet achieved? It's nothing short of pure motivation and encouragement. To date, their contributions via donations over the last four years have resulted in the protection of over 400 hectares of land, through a Rainforest Trust. That accomplishment being phenomenal already isn't enough, and the team's desire for a greater achievement is their next mission where they plan to go direct and purchase land themselves. Until now, they've only been awarded land through NGOs. But success in this modern diasporal world for propelling such a movement requires financial backing, and they point to Omnia Bali as a prime example of a wonderful partnership. "When a big brand like this gives some support, its easy to make money. This is what we want to encourage. If we as a small group of independent artists with very limited resources can use our work to have an impact, imagine the possibilities if big brands started writing this into their business model. We could have a massive impact!"
You can experience the energy, awareness and open-family vibe of Rainforest Pavilion in just a few days at Wonderfruit, where they are showcasing their magical stage presence with over 30 DJs performing during the five-day event alongside talks, forums, and a chance to grab some of their kimonos and other merchandise provided by like-minded brands.
Find out more about Rainforest Pavilion here and check out their line up at Wonderfruit below.
[Images via Wonderfruit, Rainforest Pavilion and Scorpios Mykonos]