The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be: Clocolan speaks on environmental collapse, and shares his ‘Tomorrow’s Primitives’ guest mix

A few months back we premiered clocolan’s “Now You Are” video, from his latest full-length, It’s Not Too Early For Each Other. Now we take a second look at the artist born Emlyn Addison, who shares his thoughts on the state of our society and natural world, along with our fourteenth guest mix.

SBC: Your latest album, It’s Not Too Early For Each Other, takes a hard look at our worldwide environmental predicament. But it’s never preachy.  What kind of statement, or aesthetic theme do you feel like the album is getting at?

Clocolan: Unlike the previous album, I was coming at this one with a fairly coherent objective. Most of my childhood was spent in South Africa, so my earliest sketches looked at the idea of people at odds with their land—specifically, black South Africans born into a country that, in the eyes of the old apartheid system, effectively defined them as undesirables. I once saw it described as “a pariah in the land of his birth”.

But it struck me that this isn’t unique to race: all around us, youth who were born into a world governed by corporatocracy, which they see wrecking the planet, are made pariahs by railing against it. Black South Africans fought to dismantle a system that robbed them of their future; environmental activists are doing the same. We’re all slaves of greed.

So, despite our achievements, humans remain selfish, near-sighted, largely insignificant creatures who are evidently too oblivious and too ideological to save themselves from a disaster of their own making. That’s a fucked up contradiction, don’t you think?

In terms of aesthetics, it needed the right vehicle—taking the used, warped sound from the endlessly recycled economy and making it more raw, or urgent, or angry. And sometimes finding beauty in unlikely places.

It’s crazy. I remember thinking of you and this album when I first heard the Amazon Rainforest was on fire. It’s incredibly sad and yet I feel pretty helpless. 

Yeah, and I think that feeling of helplessness is a symptom of several things—the powerlessness of governments, the political polarization of voters, the influence of private interests over public policy, and our habituation to unsustainable lifestyles: high levels of energy consumption, waste production, consumerism… Environmental groups have been fighting a steadily losing battle because there’s no unity of purpose among voters, and because the challenges are too big, too complex, and too controversial to be solved by governments alone.

You’re donating a portion of proceeds from your album to Extinction Rebellion. Can you tell us a little bit about this organization? Are there other things you’re involved in environmentally?

Extinction Rebellion, I think, recognizes that it can only happen with a strong mandate from voters. But that means getting voters’ attention (one way or another) to educate them about why this is an emergency and why it’s critical to act as one. Among their demands is the creation of “citizens’ assemblies” which would take the lead on environmental policy. It’s past time to get serious.

I grew up in the outdoors so I guess I’ve always had an environmental awareness. But the cracks have been widening for decades and I think most people are realizing that—to steal a line from Angel Heart—the future isn’t what it used to be.

What’s next now that the album is out? Any live performances or other traveling?

At the moment I’m still digesting where I’ve arrived with this music, working out what approaches/processes I want to develop etc. I’ve been pondering a new instrument palette and taking a fresh look at a few things. A lot of the work revolves around spoken dialog—either finding it or writing it—so that’s mostly where my head is right now.  

I haven’t performed live; not sure if I have an appetite for that (or if I’d be any good at it) but it’s cool seeing my music getting some attention. DJ Tennis opened a BBC1 Radio mix last year with ‘Redstone’, and DJ Food has played my tracks too—he’s been a cheerleader from the start.

Yes, always traveling! Just got back from hiking around northern England (the lakes district is otherworldly) and I’m headed to South Africa again next year. Recharge my batteries…

You also previously mentioned a label picking up the album for a vinyl release?

Yeah the vinyl release is exciting. All the music is being remastered and it’ll be out sometime in early 2020 on the Castles In Space label (also thanks to DJ Food). There’s going to be a pre-release/promo EP with new music too, hopefully out before the end of 2019.

Tomorrow’s Primitives tracklist:

clocolan – A Place To Die Again
clocolan – White Swallows In Dark Valleys
Scott Campbell – Pentimento
Matt Robertson – Not Joining
Yacoubian – Concrete Comfort
Chris Child & Micah Frank – Peering At Dawn
EclipticSelftet – Hopes & Fears
Indian Wells – Vignelli
Hidden Rivers – Red Sun’s Cold Disk
Wren Kitz – Dancing With The Wind
Satelliti – Transister
Full Auto Stop – Part-9
Auto Reverse – Cruisin’ The Milky Way
FARWARMTH – Hyper Feelings II
Sylvan Aztok – Fabric
Charles Barabé – Intermède
clocolan – Listen To Your Future

 

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