Welcome to HiNote: A Series by Alyssa Newman

Welcome to HiNote, a series of interviews from artists to back of house vendors about their environmental efforts.

Alyssa Newman

October 8, 2020

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PXII is about to make waves in the regenerative world - and this leaves room for some sound waves too. My career has taken place in the production trailers, nightclubs and backstage at music festivals. That is until COVID hit, halting the $22 billion dollar industry that is music and nightlife.  Clubs and festivals are a hub for more than music, but conversations and human connection.  Nightlife is a crucial part of culture and connection. With the music industry on pause, and likely as one of the last industries to come back, this has me thinking about the future of the industry.

I have been fortunate enough to be part of the music industry, throwing festivals along the west coast, but the aftermath haunts me. For a typical festival with 90,000 attendees about 700 tons of waste is generated over the weekend, at an average of 15 lbs per person. Yikes. With only 9% of plastic waste being recycled, no matter what commitment an organizer has to sorting, it’s sadly not enough.  After every show I work, the CRUNCH beneath my feet when I walk on the festival grounds is an all too familiar sound. Plastic bottles, single use utensil, and discarded plastic stream across the grounds. I look around at the single-use sea of plastic cups and bottles on the ground. This is an all too familiar scene at events

Getting lost in the music is one thing, losing our grip on the planet is another. With COVID keeping our business grounded, now is the perfect time to think about future systems to keep our vibes high when the party comes back.  

This is why we created HiNote. I want to talk to music industry vets - everyone from artists to back of house vendors - to learn about new ways to do the damn thing.  Which artists are making environmental requests of their record labels? Do solar powered festivals exist?  What about alternatives for single use plastics?  As I've been researching people and products for this column, I feel truly hopeful for the world we can build on the other side.  While the very events that cause so much plastic waste are on hold, it’s my goal to highlight the wins in music that are keeping regenerative values both in the studio and on the stage when we return to our beloved dancefloors.

So why do I care about the environment? I spent my earliest years on Kauai and could swim before I could walk.  The next obvious step was surfing - thanks pops!  After watching the South Shore of Kauai become overdeveloped, I headed to UCSB as an Environmental Studies major and fell in love with sustainable development. My obsession with discovering new music blossomed just as my passion for the built environment and resource conservation grew as well.

As a surfer,  the ocean has always been a second home, a place of serenity, beauty and vastness. It can also be chaotic, powerful and humbling.  I find all these emotions on a packed dance floor - so here you see my passions collide.

“Dance Yourself Clean” by LCD Soundsystem is my anthem and if I could dance the planet clean I would, and maybe we all will. But it is going to take all of us listening to more than music to get there.  I promise to make this column a home for dynamic conversations and exciting solutions.

Stay tuned for the next HiNote, where we’ll drop playlists to suit every mood and conversation with some musical minds solving big problems. Cheers to that.

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