Scientists have explored nearly every possibility to address the impact of global warming; the numbers and academic terms can't be replaced. However, through art—perhaps—these facts can gain more significance. The voice as a universal instrument: singing bears testimony to a vanishing present.
Resisting the passage of days with eyes closed has never been an option. In the common home, embracing and transforming reality is essential. "I’m someone who thinks a lot about climate change, the extinction of species, and the impact of our lives on the natural world," the words are from London singer-songwriter Sofia Grant on the occasion of her debut EP Extinction, in which she explores the consequences of climate collapse, shedding light on the ideas and curiosities that occupy her mind. "I love gardening; I have a vegetable patch, and I’m obsessed with my garden, so the natural world is a crucial part of my life."
In 2020, Sofia released Storm, a song in which she would make clear her mastery of musical arrangements and foreshadow the direction of her future compositions. "Part of the reason why that song spoke to me so much is because of the lyrics that were very much about the sense of wonder and the natural world, the part that says In the storm, don't know where to run. The creative process was a natural progression, and suddenly, the entire record revolved around it. The concept wasn't intentional, but that's what I was thinking about when I was writing."
The recording works as a palette to visualize the crisis from many perspectives: each song approaches this challenge differently."Walk On Water is about the planetary boundaries and why humans can be so reckless to cross those lines every moment. It's an interrogation of our role in the climate crisis, my habits, and how human ambition pushes us to be bigger, bolder, and create things that harm the planet." Aware of the limits that exist to keep life afloat, Sofia questions our fear and cynicism in the face of a world that is burning.
The symbiosis between Grant and her band is evident. The arrangements and lyrics of Extinction beckon us to jump while the music progresses. "The idea behind this tune is that natural life as we know it, like the vibrancy and the diversity, ceases to exist for future generations. The species that my parents knew, I haven't encountered, and it will be the same for my children. The richness of life as we know it would be extinct, so it's exploring that reality and trying to wrap your head around the chaos of that. It's hard to imagine that something that exists now will not exist in the future."
"Circular Motion is about the natural cycles of both planetary and emotional life, emphasizing the importance of seasons and the redemption found in rebirth. It's about how we can align ourselves more with these natural cycles of living."
Within this climate crisis, Sofia leaves the door open for her sonic journey to find the spirituality and evolution needed to continue and grow.
"Ochre, like the pigment, is a celebratory song. It's about the color that comes from a natural process and serves as a metaphor for accepting the gift of the earth without exploiting it. It's a vision of harmony with the natural world."
I’m interested in the full scope of what the voice is capable of; I want to push my voice to its limit. I want to show more sides of the voice as an instrument.
The producer and arranger's message transcends the lyrics and compositions; it delves into the very essence of how her music resonates with the world. "Spending all of this time thinking about climate change may reflect on my contribution to the climate crisis as a musician. Pressing vinyl is extremely emission-intensive, so with Jazz re:freshed, my label, we dedicate some time thinking about what we can do to mitigate the environmental impact of pressing the record to vinyl."
"We found the Eco-mix vinyl, which reuses re-ground offcuts from previous vinyl runs that cannot otherwise be used. This means they take cuts from previous vinyl, melt them down, and then re-press them into my vinyl. Each vinyl is of a different color; every single one is unique and looks super cool. I’m very proud of that element because I think if you are writing your record about climate change, you need to take the time to think about your contribution to the problem."
Sofia's compositions are an emotional response to the turbulent times we live in. Her voice draws the way to find the questions we need to ask ourselves to mitigate the fire: a light that illuminates the species that we insist on ignoring.