These Indian artists are on a mission to safeguard the environment, spreading their message through their thought-provoking music
Before the virus forced us into our shells, the human race had been on a steady spree of environmental destruction. It was the time spent indoors over the last year and a half that instilled in us the importance of preserving nature’s bounty. However, the pandemic is not the sole catalyst of this awakening.
It was also brought on by the application of systematic societal pressure by creative souls who would rather hug a tree than earn their first million.
Singers and musicians the world over have been front and center of this movement, with many Indian artists making their mark felt too. Most notable of these is Ricky Kej, Grammy-Award-winning Musician and Environmentalist, whose powerful pieces have garnered all the right attention globally. Kej can be credited with taking the Indian environmental campaign onto the world music stage, but there are others doing notable work in this field as well.
When Tritha, a Vocalist, Composer, and Music Producer based out of India and France, dreamed of the word Pachamama meaning “Mother Earth”, she took it as a divine message to work for environmental conservation. She began creating music geared to spreading that message, with her latest offering being Pachamama, a 10-song album released in July.
“Planet Earth has only ever provided for humans and living creatures, who keep taking her nutrition, nourishment, and prana, as described in ancient Indian texts. The key reflection with this new album is towards the planet. Just think about it – we’re not able to breathe freely in cities or drink pure water. It feels like Kaliyuga! Now is the time to do something about it. I felt I had to act and mobilise others as well. It’s time to give back. It’s time to love Pachamama again!” she shares emphatically.
Tritha’s creative pursuits have taken her around the world, allowing her to gain a unique perspective on environmental issues. She hopes that her album Pachamama will encourage listeners to co-exist together peacefully and respect their home.
However, Tritha is not alone in this task.
In the same league
Vasu Dixit, the lead singer of the indie band Swarathma, has used music to spread awareness on environmental causes for years. Pyaasi, the band’s hit collaboration with Shubha Mudgal in 2010, became an anthem for water conservation, with its moving depiction of severe scarcity in parts of the country. For this Bengaluru-based singer, singing about the environment is simply a reflection of who he is and what he believes in.
“I’m from Mysore which is a beautiful place surrounded by hills, rivers, and greenery everywhere. So, it was natural to include this beauty in my artistic expression.
Our song, Patte Saare was particularly about the effects of urbanization on Mysore, and how the changes in our town were causing us to lose our identity.
For me, man and environment are one and the same thing – we are all made of five elements and that’s the message that comes out in my music,”
he says with candour.
Aditi Veena or Ditty, as she is better known, believes her work in the environment sector influences her music. Her newly found experimental collective called Faraway Friends focuses on creating art dedicated to social/environmental issues.
This Goa-based singer’s most recent concept album is called Rain is Coming. Using varying sounds of water, it shares stories of inspiring community-led water conservation movements in North India to give hope to the world during this grave climate crisis.
“The Earth is under great stress because our actions are causing severe disturbances to the mountains, rivers, and oceans — resources that have evolved over millions of years. If lost, they will be lost forever.
I hope that my music will make people think.”
Some artists do not create music with the express purpose of spreading an eco-conscious message but end up promoting it as an important by-product. An example of this is Pragnya Wakhlu from Delhi, who claims her songs are based on and are in harmony with nature.
The Whale Song from her latest album Lessons in Love is ostensibly about heartbreak, but its video shares glorious nature shots of humpback whales clicked in their natural habitat in Tonga, by the renowned Photographer and Filmmaker Kareem Iliya.
“Since we were talking about the Whales being endangered through our video, people became interested and began reading on the subject. I’m not sure if we’re changing people’s mindsets and habits but we’re definitely creating a greater level of awareness,”
says Wakhlu with pride.
Apart from the nature imagery, she incorporates in her videos, Wakhlu also teaches sound healing workshops under the banner Mousai India, which relies greatly on the sounds of nature.
“These aid in relaxing a person’s body and centering the mind,” she adds.
Tritha, who also has a well-known sound healing practice, dedicated an entire album to it.
Elements D’Existence was made in collaboration with French sound healer Martin Dubois and is an amalgamation of the therapeutic elements of Indian ragas, the Hang drum and Kora, and chants. She refers to this practice as Raga Chikitsa – to heal the body through natural sound frequencies that resonate with the frequencies of the body.
Their music is the biggest reflection of their eco-conscious beliefs, but these artists practice what they preach in other ways too. They shun single-use plastic as far as possible, even carrying their own bottles while performing on stage; believe in recycling and segregating their waste, and advocate eco-conscious lifestyles. Dixit even made a popular spoof on YouTube, where he played the role of a diligent air hostess explaining the ill effects of single-use plastic through an airplane safety demonstration.
Music has long been an effective medium of spreading courage in difficult times. Through their work, these artists are doing just that.
As Ditty explains,
“I hope that in the present climate of violence, pain, and injustice towards all creatures, ourselves and the Earth; people can maybe lean onto my songs to remember where we come from and who we truly are.”
Let’s hope everyone is listening.