Meet the DJs Against Climate Change

Duck Sauce, Soul Clap, Sammy Bananas and more are putting their money where their mouth is.

DJs are not exactly known for their social advocacy—usually, a DJ's job is to make you forget about the world's vexing issues for a few hours. However, the rising prominence of the DJ presents an opportunity for DJs to use their standing for good. Now, for the sixth year, a group of prominent DJs is promoting a year-end campaign to tackle the deepening global climate crisis. 

Fool's Gold Records' Sammy Bananas founded DJs Against Climate Change as a way for him and his like-minded friends to purchase carbon offsets to counterbalance the amount of carbon dioxide produced by their tour travel. Air travel is the preferred mode of transport for DJs as they hop from one big city to the next, but it is more carbon-intensive than rail or automobile travel.

In previous years, DJACC has purchased carbon offsets. The "offsets" are investments in green energy technology, investments in carbon sequestration (usually through forestation projects—trees take carbon dioxide out of the air), and purchases of credits in carbon markets. But this year, the donations are going towards relief from the devastating Typhoon Haiyan in Southeast Asia.  This is consistent with DJACC's mission—as oceans warm, hurricanes and typhoons are more common and more intense.

This year, the campaign is open not just to DJs, but to everybody. If you donate, not only do you help buy needed supplies for typhoon victims, you get an EP of exclusive tunes from supporters Willy Joy, Anna Lunoe, Duck Sauce, Soul Clap, Gigamesh and Fifteenth. I spoke to Sammy, Willy, Gigamesh and Anna Lunoe about their reasons for participating. Read on to hear what they had to say, and hear my two cents about my reasons for participating once again:

You can donate to DJ's Against Climate Change at djacc.info

Sammy Bananas

THUMP: Hey Sammy. Tell us about why you started DJACC.
Sammy Bananas: I started
DJACC because I have a strong feeling of responsibility for my impact on the planet. I don't own a car, I live in one of the most energy efficient cities in the US, I eat local as much as possible so my food doesn't burn excessive fossil fuels to reach my mouth, but I fly far more than the average person. Since I can't remove flying from my life without finding another job, I came up with the idea of offsetting my carbon dioxide emissions from air travel each year with donations to climate conscious efforts. When I reached out to others in the DJ community about this, I was excited to find many who wanted to do the same! Global environmental issues have the tendency to feel overwhelming and out of our control, but connecting it to something specific like air travel brings it down to earth a bit.

This is our sixth year-end fundraiser for the project and I'm really motivated to have it grow significantly. Our goal is not only to raise money, but awareness about climate change in general. Right now DJs retain a truly high level of visibility and cultural influence which continues to grow, and we have the potential to reach millions of people, even just counting the current list of participants. As the project gains momentum I have real hopes for DJACC to broadly spread the idea of personal responsibility for climate change.


THUMP: Tell us about how you got involved with DJACC.
Gigamesh: I donated last year because I think transitioning to renewable energy should be the top goal of humanity. This year the cause is much more immediate and visible and unfortunately it means our donations have gone from proactive to reactive. What's especially tragic is the Philippines has set much higher goals on climate change than most other countries around the world, yet they are now suffering proportionately more from its effects. As a person born and raised in the USA—a country that has historically contributed the most CO2 and is extremely bad at committing to international benchmarks—I feel it's my duty to contribute to fixing this problem however I can. Carl Sagan said, "It underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."

Anna Lunoe

THUMP: Tell us about how you got involved with DJACC.
Anna Lunoe: I am a big outdoors person. I grew up on a farm and I feel environmental issues very heavily. I, like most people, feel pretty helpless when it comes to the enormity of our environmental impact. I really try to make every little step that I can, to do my bit, but always feel like I could be doing much more. My dad is an inventor/entrepreneur and an agricultural and environmental enthusiast. His company is called Hydrosun. He has developed a very simple way of harnessing solar energy, which is 38% more effective than in the past. He is also developing a way for trucks to run on hydrogen. I really hope that he succeeds in convincing the government that burning coal does not need to be the future for energy production in this country. Nothing is more important than clean air and water.

Willy Joy

THUMP: Tell us about how you got involved with DJACC.
Willy Joy: I was excited that DJACC made it so easy for me to give back. As someone who considers myself both very environmentally conscious and very lazy at the same time, this was the perfect opportunity. As frequent travelers we don't think about our impact on a day-to-day basis - at least there's one time a year where we can try to repair the damage we do. I also contribute to wildlife conservation causes mainly concerned with endangered species. Due to these same environmental/climate changes, as well as industry and poaching, there are hundreds of animal species close to being wiped off the planet in our lifetime alone.

Eli of Soul Clap

THUMP: Eli, what got you interested in DJACC?
Eli Goldstein: Us DJs have it pretty good. We get to fly around the world playing music, meeting amazing people, eating delicious food and seeing the coolest places in the world. For me it's not just enough to enjoy it—I always feel a need to give back. I got my activism from my parents who are both university professors and have devoted most of their lives to their causes. My mom's work making the world safer for kids and my dad's anti-war/anti-nuclear work have set an example for me to always do what I can to make the world a better place. Naturally, when I heard about
DJACC a couple years back I had to get involved. It's rare you are provided with a direct way to offset your personal environmental impact and DJACC is just that. Beyond DJACC, I regularly host events in my home town of Boston at which I donate 100% of the money to organizations I believe in (Mass Peace Action, HBGC, Red Thread Foundation For Women). I'm also working on a DJ Union to support artists who have given their lives to this music but never got the financial success they deserve, as well as a scholarship for kids involved in the arts in Detroit. With activism, I've found that it's all about taking little steps and not getting caught up in how daunting the world's problems can be.

DJ Apt One

I studied climate science and ecology in college, and honestly, the more you know, the more terrifying the climate crisis is. It's not a problem to run away from. What Sammy is doing is really admirable—whether you're a DJ or not, it's important to take responsibility for the impacts of your behavior, especially when you live a first-world lifestyle.   

In this day and age, it's not particularly fashionable to make bold statements of advocacy. We live in a cynical world. There's a reason that you don't see "message" music in the charts these days. Hopefully people see some of their favorite DJs expressing their commitment to this issue and look to get involved. For that matter, it doesn't start or end with climate change. Almost everything we do on a day to day basis could be done in a more sustainable manner. It's all about putting your money where your mouth is.

Michael Fichman is a DJ, producer and food enthusiast living in Philadelphia. Follow him on twitter - @djaptone