"Such A Love" is a gorgeous protest song about sacrifice and hope.
One of many strange things about fighting climate change is the way it involves so many contradictions.
There's love for the people and the planet that allows us to live, and hatred that every day seems to gain power. There's the fear and complexity of the work and there's the simple, eternal beauty of a walk in the woods. There's the knowledge that climate change might require sacrifice, but the alternative is even more destructive than we can imagine.
Award-winning Brooklyn-based musician beccs' gorgeous new single reminds us that at its heart, beyond everything else, fighting against climate change is about love. According to its press release, the song "bears the heartbreak of our wounded environment while dreaming up a love that is self-sacrificing enough to save what is left of it."
Written and produced while the artist was in quarantine, the song and video are inspired by the hellscape that is 2020—which began with wildfires in Australia and has since seen record hurricanes, wildfires, and of course a global pandemic and a bitter election. We spoke about what's at stake with climate change as well as the hope and possibility that remains and, in the hands of mass movements and talented musicians like beccs, grows stronger every day.
beccs - Such A Love (Official Lyric Video) youtu.be
POPDUST: How did you become aware of the climate crisis? How has the crisis personally affected you and your life?
Tell me about your fears—about if Trump is elected, about the Great Barrier Reef, and in general. What scares you about our time?
I'm scared that our earth is warming at a much faster rate than expected. Two of the last four years have reached a global average temperature of 1.2°C above the late 19th century baseline. We could reach the dreaded 1.5°C above the baseline before 2030, a decade before predicted.
If we continue on that trajectory, we will drive the climate into a "hothouse" state where the earth is self-warming uncontrollably and irreversibly past the point of no return.
Communities will be devastated, some demolished, from the climate's domino effect. Knowing the inequality in the world, the most vulnerable communities will be hit the hardest socioeconomically and environmentally. The inequity of it really scares me.
What gives you hope in spite of it all? What makes you feel love?The good I see around me. People organizing around causes. People suspending their lives to show up for Black Lives Matter. My work singing with a 93-year-old man who has dementia and bountiful joy and energy. Being alive and strong in my recovery. Writing. Being in my body. Being in love.
What inspired "Such A Love"? I'd love to hear the story behind the song.
"Such A Love" came to me without my awareness of its meaning. The lyrics trickled out like water from a broken faucet. I wrote the verses and chorus slowly and seamlessly one day. And then at another piano sitting. The bridge burst out like brown water from a rusted pipe. Resentment, anger and alarm filled the room. I didn't know what the song was about until I heard my voice sing it all the way through.
I realized the song was me speaking to a lover who I believed would sacrifice themself for my cause; to fight for the preservation of the land and the sea.
In hindsight, I think I might have been answering Janelle Kroll's "Walk With You", a love song accompanied by a stunning visual my friend Laura Wass art directed which brought awareness to Glaciers melting. It's amazing how music permeates our subconscious and can bring about a ripple effect in spreading a message.
Janelle Kroll - Walk With You (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com
How did you write and record "Such A Love" during lockdown and how did you make the video?
When COVID hit, I did a bunch of Logic tutorials on YouTube. I made sticker charts clocking the hours I spent learning. I did this because the inertia to learn production can feel intense—like learning a new language that you're convinced is not meant for you. There aren't too many role models in the music industry for womxn producers. Thankfully, that's beginning to change.
I built up the demo and arranged strings on Midi, which felt like a puzzle piece of chords, voicings and melodies. Then I collected nature samples during my walks in the woods and by the water. That's what you hear in the beat—shells crunching & branches breaking. Also woven into the song are real live owls and cicadas.
I brought the demo to co-producer/violinist Godfrey Furchtgott. It was exciting to create such a full, organic sound between the two of us. Godfrey plays violin and viola, and I play a little cello, so that made up the string part. I'd say the bridge was the trickiest part to crack.
Godfrey pushed for using my vocals as the climactic vehicle. Thematically, it felt right. All these voices competing for the listener's attention until the system breaks. And you're left with my lone voice singing, "I, I'll never know... such a love. " Alex Epton mixed it, which was a delight. I really look up to his work.
For the video, I borrowed my dad's camera, ordered a veil, and went for that water. It was pretty DIY. I didn't intend to make a video. The footage was meant for promo, but Godfrey caught all this beautiful footage and it inspired me to cut things up on iMovie.
Justin Weber did the graphic design along with Karen Weber who designed the beautiful cover art. I superimposed light refractions from artist Michelle Golden and my go to colorist Lou Daumas fixed it up.
Music and something as giant and dangerous as climate change can feel disparate, as you said. How are they connected in your mind, and how were you able to spin something as vast as climate change into a song? What did the process of creating climate-inspired art feel like?
I never intended to write a song about climate change, which I think says something. That it's a much more pervasive issue than we make it out to be. That it's surfacing in our lives and minds even if we push it to the periphery.
"Everybody out here / trying to make a name...reading bout some trees going up in flames" is a beautiful lyric. Selfish individualism seems to be such a direct contrast to the kind of community thinking we need to stop climate change.
Thank you. I think this bridge was partly me talking to myself. As an artist, I feel like I'm in constant controversy with myself, taking up space to promote my music while realizing there are much greater issues for which we could all forfeit our own agendas and rally together to overcome.
Climate change is one of them. This song is both a symbolic and blunt reminder of that. I wouldn't be surprised if the stakes of this song are one day true—if one day some do consider sacrificing their life for this cause.
What do you think we should all individually do to stop climate change?
Care. Open up to any article and find a way in to make you care. I think knowing that our attention is like currency is important. We all need healthy distraction, but the more we tend to this pinhole of vanity that is our phone, the less we are able to show up for ourselves and the issues that impact us, including the existential threat of climate change. We need to genuinely give a f** about it and recognize that it's explosively urgent.
The meat industry is a huge contributor to carbon emissions. As an individual consumer, I believe reducing meat consumption is a really great, concrete step, with the full disclaimer that each body is different and you have to do what's right and safe for you. Since March I've reduced my meat consumption to once a week, a decision influenced by this piece. I developed a hashtag used by no one but me #meatjustonceaweek. Give it a go!
What kinds of cultural and political shifts would you like to see, on an individual and a large scale level?
I want to see a movement. A sustained, massive movement so big and blaringly loud that media coverage soars and policymakers can no longer ignore. I want to see a wave of artists talking about it, creating art about it, helping the world imagine the unimaginable. Help the world grasp the un-stomachable devastation that's to come so we can organize NOW before it's too late.
If we learned anything from the recent year, let it be that adapting to a crisis once it has hit is too late. Because of the complex enormity of crises like the pandemic or climate change, a scramble to adapt will not suffice. Only if the unimaginable is addressed, will we have any chance at saving tomorrow.*
*paraphrased/inspired by "Corona and the climate: A comparison of two emergencies"