We caught up with multi-genred Dizraeli for Earth Day, and talked about his Twenty Years Deep tour campaign, what the industry can do to change, and what keeps him driven to keep creating after two decades in music. Twenty Years Deep is more than just a tour, it’s a test to see what artists can do to tour with the world we live in in mind, and Dizraeli and his “crew of wonderful humans” are setting out to prove what can be done.
Donate to the crowdfunder HERE.
Congrats on your 20th anniversary in music! That’s quite a feat, and you’ve covered so many genres and styles in your time being an artist – what has kept you driven to keep creating and sharing your music over the years?
Good question. Probably for most of that time, my deep need for validation and to give my life a sense of purpose. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy on attracting attention to myself so I can feel loved. More recently, as it’s dawned on me how fragile that makes me (“if no one’s applauding, I’m not loved”) I’ve managed to rediscover the absolute need to make that made me do it in the very first place. I need to make music like I need to run, breathe, spend time with family. And when I make from that place, my word it’s so much nicer, and I let go of it being about me and let the whole mad parade of life march through me and onto the page, onto the record. And I love it so much. I love music, and what good lyrics do to me, and how much the music I’ve listened to has educated me and expanded my mind over the years. As long as I’m allowed, I’ll keep swimming around in that.
The spotlight that was shining on sustainability and being eco-conscious has dimmed somewhat in lieu of the global pandemic – what do you think the industry as a whole can do to get itself back on track?
Oh Jesus. Well I don’t think the music industry has ever been on track in terms of sustainability. Just like all the other industries operating in the absolute madness of our culture, we’ve had a stupidity about resources and risk running through everything we do… Thinking we can just keep growing, using the earth up and pissing it away, flying to a different city every night to play one show and fly away again, etc.
There are some humans launching lush things though, like Brian Eno’s Earth Percent which channels money from the industry to charities doing important work in climate change and climate justice; like Music Declares Emergency which is at least making the climate breakdown more visible.
One of the problems we have is that the reality of our situation eludes us. We are in the middle of a profound crisis but we look around and everyone’s still eating nachos, and talking about Will Smith and educating their children to navigate a reality which will not exist by the time they leave school. It doesn’t tally up. Surely if we’re in an unfolding disaster we should all be running around clutching our jaws and pointing to the skies in disbelief, and then mobbing Parliament until the people in charge of the structure make the structural changes that scientists very clearly lay out as necessary to our survival.
Instead we have an occasional moment of clarity, but then it disappears under a pile of nachos and football stickers. I’m talking about myself here too. I find it very hard to hold the knowledge of the climate emergency in my mind for more than a few moments.
What can Music do to change that? Well one of the things is to help grow the courage in us to look at the truth as it actually is. Music that tells the unfiltered truth about whatever it sees, I think that’s necessary. And another direct thing is for us to use our platforms, our mics and megaphones as artists to spread the news of what’s happening, to gather people and move them to action, to be the fuel for us as humans believing in change, in integrity, in common f***ing sense.
Sorry that doesn’t answer the question, but I think it’s important.
Your Twenty Years Deep tour is essentially creating a blueprint for how artists can offset their footprint and tour sustainably – what advice can you give to those who want to try this themselves?
First thing to say is that I’m not trying to offset my footprint here, as far as I understand it carbon offsetting is a massive red herring that corporations and governments use to justify carrying on as normal. What we most need at this point is to not emit the carbon in the first place, so I’m doing my best to limit the amount of carbon that this tour emits.
It’s baby steps, it’s just the beginning for me, and I’m learning a lot about what to do and what my limitations are – I think I’ll be in a much better position to offer some advice once this adventure’s done.
Oh yeah though one bit of advice I can already give is that it takes a LOT more planning than just doing things as usual – just the process of booking trains for 10 people over 6 different dates, when players are coming from different places with different needs… I didn’t leave enough time to sort everything out in advance – don’t make my mistake… Get on it as soon as the tour’s booked and you’ll have a nicer time.
What challenges do you think you might face on the road?
Ah, I’m sure there’ll be many! We’re having to use a different drumkit and guitar amps in every town because we can’t bring our own on the train, and that’ll be a challenge for our soundman especially. Luckily he’s a don.
To be honest I feel confident we’ll be able to handle what comes up. It’s such a lovely team of humans I’m travelling with; everyone has love and consideration for each other, and that’ll see us through.
Whilst it may be possible for musical giant such as Coldplay to make statements by canceling their world-tour in lieu of more environmentally friendly pursuits, what do you think smaller artists who’s sole income is on the line can do and contribute to the conversation?
It’s really hard, not least because it costs a lot more money at the moment to travel low-carbon. For example the cost of travelling by train is INSANE, disgustingly expensive compared to just getting everyone in a van… This is in spite of the fact that the government is subsidising the rail industry at a level 3x higher than before British Rail got divvied up among private companies (Link for that : https://fullfact.org/economy/how-much-does-government-subsidise-railways/). Where’s that money going? Well a third of it is spent on the HS2 rail project alone, which is an unpopular, carbon-intensive, ecocidal scheme. Imagine if that was spent on reducing rail fares across the board by 30% instead – how much more of us would be able to leave our cars and vans at home and travel by train?
That’s partly why I’m having to do a crowdfunder campaign in order to raise the funds for this tour – artists like me don’t have any profit to spend on extras.
But what can us smaller artists do then? Well I hope that this experiment of ours does show that the support is out there for people doing things differently – I’ve been overwhelmed by how much love and encouragement the Twenty Years Deep tour project has had. So, reach out to your listeners, see what you can do together. I would not be able to do this without the support of the humans who care about my music. And know that whoever you reach is essential to this conversation moving forward.
If you could change one law, what would you change?
Ohhhh wow. The electoral system I think.
Finally, we can’t wait to see your unique TYD live show – what are you most excited about trying live for the first time?
I’m most excited about playing with this new band – they are insane, gorgeous players, the music is sounding new and strange and beautiful, even the old songs I hadn’t played in years. We had our final rehearsal yesterday and I came out fizzing. It’s such a blessing to be onstage with them.
Question left by: Tebi Rex
“Which artists currently in the charts would you collab best with, and worst with?”
Haha! I’d love to collab with Little Simz. I’m not very good at knowing who’s in the charts. I’ll leave it at that I think.
4 American Dollars