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May 21

“You Can Repower The Scene At Planet SMF”

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What happens when you bring one of the best festivals in Florida and an “Electro-Eco Brigade” together to help kick off the summer in style? You get “Planet SMF.” The largest electronic music non-profit organization, the Electronic Music Alliance, has teamed up with a Florida-based student organization, IDEAS, that focuses on international solutions to global problems, to bring a green aspect to Sunset Music Festival, the likes of which have never been seen before. SMF is a Disco Donnie Presents event so you can already bet that the atmosphere is already going to be teeming with a stacked lineup and massive production to drive the beats home. Dedicating a portion of the festival site and incorporating a positive message, designed to help “Repower The Scene,” seems like the icing on the cake. However, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. The Planet SMF concept will be hosting a variety of unique eco-centric demonstrations as well as providing a platform to explore how integral an individual’s role is in helping preserve our environment. Some of the activities range from demonstrations and information sessions on how to conserve water to sunset yoga sessions, set to a solar-powered DJ set. That’s right…solar-powered jams. I was blown away when I heard that part too. I immediately had so many questions I decided to go right to the source. I asked one of the artists performing at the festival, and coincidentally, the co-founder of the EMA, The Crystal Method’s Ken Jordan, a few questions about the Planet SMF concept and what we can hope to expect in the future.

 

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Before I jump into the interview, I find myself reminded of TCM’s track “Keep Hope Alive,” from their first LP, “Vegas.” The song’s focus was to inspire members of the electronic music scene and having them, figuratively, keep the hope alive that the scene would be revitalized. It appears that we have come full circle. Global progress comes with the hope that the underlying message of change will be properly received, internalized, and perpetuated. Here’s a little contemporary information on Ken and The Crystal Method, just to illustrate how important environmental issues are to them. Ken and the EMA were involved in the first-ever “Planet Dance” on Earth Day in San Francisco this year. Ken recently celebrated his one year anniversary for choosing a vegan lifestyle. He prefers to wear eco-friendly and environmentally-conscious clothing brands as well as chooses to patronize restaurants with similar attitudes. He is an outspoken advocate for taking public transportation and choosing methods of travel that have a reduced or non-existent carbon footprint. At every event or show, where The Crystal Method is playing, they have an eco-friendly rider, requesting that all products provided for them are all organic or environmentally-sound, at least in some way. Provisions are also included for recycling containers and ways to reduce waste for the evening. The message is in the music, the attitude, and in the lifestyle. Now, without further ado…

 

What impact on the EDM community was your initial driving motivation when you decided to organize the EMA?

My wife, Janine, and our good friend, Monica, started EMA from their desire to keep the scene safe, encourage sustainability amongst the fans and within the industry, and to activate our scene to do their part in changing/ being a force for good in this world. We care about our community and wanted to see it thrive in a mindful way.

 

How integral has the involvement of Disco Donnie Presents been in moving the ideals of the EMA forward?

I’ve been working with Donnie for almost 20 years. He’s been supportive of us from the start and was one of our very first of our 100+ founding members. We are grateful to him and Disco Donnie Presents because they are the first to provide EMA the opportunity to have an activation presence at a major festival. Thank you Donnie!

 

How was the cooperative partnership with IDEAS solidified for this event?

This came through our Programs Director, Graham Penniman, who grew up in Florida and knew of IDEAS from the college he attended. Partnering with other non-profit organizations is something we do with our #PlayitFWD initiative. If it makes sense, we collaborate so we do not have to re-create the wheel. From my understanding, they were a strategic partner for some of the displays that they could bring in but also because they have a volunteer base, since they are primarily based out of Florida. Part of PLANET SMF includes the post event, what Janine and Graham are calling a “Massive Action” which will be volunteer opportunities the following weekend to clean-up Florida waterways. IDEAS is helping us coordinate that effort in different locations throughout Florida.

 

Will you be at the Massive Action?

Janine and I would be normally but we had tour dates previously scheduled. Janine and I are pretty active when it comes to doing beach/ community clean-ups. (See this link: http://ema-global.org/blogs/user301667/global/66/huntington-beach-clean-up-with-coastal-playground )

 

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What aspect of the “Planet SMF” concept are you the most excited to see experienced by the festival-goers?

I’m excited about people taking the party pledge. We’re getting “I signed” stickers made for the people that sign it. By signing the pledge, they become an Underground member of EMA and will get our newsletter which gives them access to special EMA discounts and special events. I think they will also get some sort of activation credit as well. If you build up enough credits you can earn PLANET SMF prizes. I am also interested to see the aquaponic structure, the spin art bike, and Plasquatch, the plastic bag man. I am glad to know that we will have a solar charging station in the area so that I don’t have to worry about my phone going dead. I play on Sunday but I just decided to fly out a day early so I can be at PLANET SMF all day on Saturday. I’ll be available for meet-and- greets and interviews all day. I’m also going to try and convince some of the other artists to come to the area and tweet to their fans about the party pledge.

 

Are there any elements of the Planet SMF Experience that weren’t able to be included this year that you would like to see added for the future?

We work with the opportunity that is offered by the promoter. Adding elements could be limitless. We have no lack of imagination.

 

For those that can’t make this festival, how do you recommend that they get involved?

Go to our website and reach out to us EMA-Global.org I know Janine is currently looking for community leaders to lead volunteer days in their local communities. She really wants for our dance music community to feel they are empowered to change the world.

 

Can we expect to see more of the “Planet EMA” concept in the future? EMA wants our scene safe and sustainable, and so we definitely want to continue to partner with these amazing promoters to create EMA-integrated activation areas at their festivals.

 

It’s foolhardy to isolate a problem and to expect a spontaneous positive change without first introducing and organizing a manageable solution. The motivation of these organizations, namely the EMA, IDEAS, and Disco Donnie Presents in this case, should resonate as a not-so-subtle reminder of our inherent humanity and an escalating trend towards the necessary preservation of Mother Earth. I commend Ken Jordan and The Crystal Method for utilizing their platforms, as an artist and respective performance duo, to help mobilize individuals in the electronic community. Personal awareness, by definition, begins within the individual, but the comprehensive nature of an openly-inviting social community enables ideas and their subsequent self-realizations to be spread at an exponential rate. Sometimes it just takes a little nudge. Can you think of a better environment to get that friendly nudge than a festival?