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Fay Milton bangs the drum: Music Declares Emergency

Image credit: 'Fay Milton' photographed by Tristane Mesquita.

Fay Milton is a drummer, DJ, composer, and filmmaker from South East London. She makes music as drummer of Savages and as drummer and producer of her and Ayse Hassan - also of Savages - new project 180db. When she’s not generating precision-drilled raging energy on stage or in a studio, she’s throwing her focus behind projects that create the change she wants to see in the world.
Right now, Fay is at the heart of Music Declares Emergency, pulling together a community of artists and music businesses to declare a climate and ecological emergency, calling on government for more ambitious policy on the climate and ecological crisis, and joining forces as an industry to take action.
Chiara Badiali: What is Music Declares Emergency about?

Fay Milton: Music Declares Emergency is about the music industry coming together to face up to the climate and ecological emergency. Music is a fundamental part of human communication and one of the UKs largest exports, but music industry practices are not currently fit for purpose for a future that can sustain life on our planet. So many of us feel the anxiety of knowing things need to change, but not seeing a way; the first step is to get together and admit there’s a problem.

Chiara: If you could get the whole music industry in a room tomorrow, what would you tell them?

Fay: I think it’s important for individuals in the industry not to feel guilt, we’re all part of a system and guilt can be paralysing. No blame, just change. There are so many actions we can take immediately, the ‘Actions’ section of the Music Declares Emergency website is a great place to start. We’ll also be at the Independent Label Market on Saturday 13th July to talk about ways to get involved. Once I was done talking about Music Declares Emergency, I’d probably plug my new project ‘180dB’ ;)

Chiara: In 2017, you filmed Very Important Things, a series of conversations with different climate change experts you met while on tour. What was the biggest ‘Oh, wow!’ moment you had in those conversations?

Fay: When I spoke to Chris McKay at NASA, I was bowled over by his confidence that the ever increasing speed of worldwide communications would create a human ‘hive mind’ capable of creating solutions... we just have to keep communicating about the issues. Also, 15yr old activist Aji Piper reminded me that everything is going to change no matter what we do, so we just have to decide what kind of changes we want.

Chiara: What, in relation to climate change, do you struggle with most on a personal level?

Fay: Before I was part of Extinction Rebellion and Music Declares Emergency, I was so intensely frustrated about how little people seemed to care that EVERYTHING IS DYING!! Now I feel so much more positive to be part of amazing progressive groups who handle everything thoughtfully, even down to stuff like making sure everyone is looking after themselves and has their voices heard. They are both really loving communities.


Chiara: Working on climate activism - or any field related to climate change - can be very emotionally draining, because you’re dealing with the end of everything as we know it on a daily basis. How do you keep going?


Fay: I try to think of it as being like a computer game where you desperately want to get to the next level but when you put the controller down, you can walk away. Trying to create healthy emotional boundaries / low-level disassociation.

Chiara: Do you feel like this climate activism work linked to your work as an artist?

Fay: Hmmm, interesting. I’m making an album at the moment, but I can’t make an album about climate change, firstly I’m an instrumentalist not a lyricist, but secondly I just have a block there. Musically, my passion is the artistic expression of the feminine or ‘yin’ side of humanity. The ‘180dB’ album I’m working on is a huge collaboration with other females and allies of all types.


Chiara: It’s become a bit of a truism that it’s difficult or impossible to write a good song about climate change. What do you think about that, and are there any you’d recommend?


Fay: Writing a song about climate change is SO hard, which is why ‘4 Degrees’ by Anohni is such a great work of art. Other amazing tracks that have nailed this include ‘Idioteque’ by Radiohead, ‘In Degrees’ by Foals and there’s a great reference in ‘I Can’t Get Behind That’ by William Shatner and Henry Rollins.

Chiara: What’s the one thing you’d like everyone who reads this to go away and do?

Fay: Get out on the street and make a noise about the climate emergency. We need to act now people! Everything is dying, but we have the power to stop it and create something new and beautiful. Let's go! Also, change your home energy provider to a renewable service like Good Energy, Bulb or Ecotricity. All you need to do is choose a provider and they do the rest.  It takes a few minutes and makes a huge change.

Twitter: @faymilton | Instagram: @faymilton

Website: musicdeclares.net | Twitter: @musicdeclares

Fay Milton will be with Music Declares Emergency at:
Independent Label Market
Saturday 13 July

Coal Drops Yard
Stable Street, Kings Cross
London N1C 4DQ

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