Apart from being an essential element in education, expression, and influence- environmentalism has been an integral part of music since antiquity. From ancient Greek artists who held nature as their muse to modern hip-hop groups such as Caucus and Grind for the Green, music continues to promote increased advocacy for environmental issues in our modern-day world.
Ditty, an urban ecologist and one of the most promising independent musicians from the era is known to surround her music around themes of environmentalism and sustainability. Her latest record, “Rain is coming” was released on March 22nd on account of World Water Day and aims to draw attention to the global water crisis.
The album is the love child of an artist collective called Faraway Friends, co-founded by Austrian drummer and producer David Raddish, German rapper Keno, and Ditty herself. Faraway Friends was born in the lap of the river Ganges in Varanasi during a project trip with Viva con Agua, an All-profit organization working for worldwide access to clean drinking water.
Similar to Ditty’s debut album, ‘Poetry Ceylon’, which was an ode to the time she spent on an island in Sri Lanka- Rain is Coming recites the trio’s trip to India amidst the country’s water conservation movements. The samples that were recorded during this time outline the very backbone of the album. Traces of water encircle stories, songs, and soundscapes as the harmony introduces you to creeks, crowds, and the chants of activists.
The part documentary, part fiction record switches lanes between spoken word, songwriting, and rap as it traverses through English, Hindi, and German. Talking about the challenges behind merging not only several languages but also multiple genres, rapper Keno says that the experience was actually very inspiring.
“We all crossed several boundaries working with each other. Ditty wrote in Hindi– something she wouldn’t have done if we didn’t ask her and I wrote rap in English. A conversation between the languages means a conversation between the perspectives and the different cultures. Languages were just one side of it. It made us try several new things and we weren’t thinking of whether the outcome would be acceptable.”
Apart from the soulful amalgamation of the three artists, ‘Rain Is Coming’ enunciates the thoughts of local activists and the Jal Saheli’s (Women Water Warriors). In fact, the first single released by the collaborative on November 13th, 2020 was also titled, ‘Jal Saheli‘. Since then, Faraway friends have released three new singles including the title soundtrack ‘Rain Is Coming’. What’s more is that the proceeds from this environmentally responsible, 100% recycled record will go back to the VCA to support their water conservation projects in India and Africa.
“It was clear to us that we have to be an environmentally responsible art project and it was a task to find a manufacturer who does recycled vinyls, but we did!” says Ditty.
As regards the inspiration behind this wonderfully composed album, Ditty remarks, “We found inspiration in our conversations. We are all artists who feel passionately about writing on society. We spoke about things we had just witnessed on the trip– inequality, poverty, hunger, community empowerment, and the climate crisis. We wanted to find ways of including the voices of people on the record. On some tracks, David built the music around actual interviews that were recorded during the trip. These are the parts of the record that have a documentary dimension. In other cases, real persons inspired fictional stories as in ‘The Legend of Drops’.”
The overall idea behind the record is to emphasize the limitless potential of water in our everyday life. ‘Rain is Coming’ bears witness to the notion that the living environment used as a source of inspiration in music can sensitize the world and motivate the masses to adopt appropriate behaviors and actions that would pave the way for sustainable development.
“A Drop is just a drop…” but joining others it becomes a force of nature. Consequently, this ecological movement possesses the potential to lead a circular environmental feedback model; which like water- would cross boundaries and cut through walls to achieve change from artists, through their works to the listeners.