Off the Grid: Music Sounds better from the Sun
On the longest day of the year in the Southern Hemisphere ‘Off the Grid’ hosts one of the most noble and wholesome parties in Melbourne to celebrate the Summer Solstice. A solar-powered, zero-waste party ‘dedicated to the cities we live in’. There’s a large breadth of examples of music events which talk at great length about their dedication to the environment, their spiritual connection to the land and their promises to leave their field better than they found it - so much so that it’s borderline approaching becoming a topic of meme culture. But rarely will you find an event actually back up its mindful, environmental talk in a tangible way, Off the Grid is one of these rare examples.
Refreshingly, instead of removing people from the industrial, metropolitan cities which by and large are focal points for the lions share of the environmental issues plaguing the modern world, Off the Grid tackles them head on, acknowledging the society we live in today and endeavours to solve the problem at the source - through renewable energy. With an issue so complex and fiercely debated, an advance to resolving renewable energy issues demands creativity and out of of the box thinking and Off the Grid certainly strives to approach power problems in unexpected ways, something which is reflected in their business model. A bunch of solar panels and a battery bank are setup to power the days sound-system and electricity requirements, then excess power produced is sold back to the grid and the money made is reinvested into more solar-powered, zero-waste parties. When engaging an issue of such magnitude a suitably ambitious goal is required, for Off the Grid, their objective is to keep running parties until the city is entirely power sustainable on renewables. And just in case you weren’t already sure that the good folk behind Off the Grid might not already be the best fellas in Australia, when the goal is reached, the infrastructure is given back to the people of Melbourne.
A day of talks and lectures from leading minds in fields of renewable energy and metropolitan planning is paired with a music program which inspires great confidence and anticipation having been curated by local Melbourne label Crown Ruler who are responsible for, amongst other things, playing a role in bringing the Rush Hour 20th Anniversary celebrations and assembling the NYE/D Freedom Time events in Australia. Not only is Off the Grid one of the worlds most admirable music endeavours, but it has a music schedule to match.
Headlining the day is Detroit born Jay Daniel, a name on an irrevocable rise with comparisons to Kyle Hall and Theo Parrish and a sound which tempers between soul and house. An artist where the title composer seems to fit better than ‘electronic artist’ the end result of his music is as sophisticated as it sounds, lathered in textures and layers Daniel’s music produces a sound you might be excused for thinking is a little random and organised but evidently considered, meditated and thoroughly enjoyable.
Another import for the day is Japan’s Chee Shimzu. A selector, label co-owner (Japanism), author (Obscure Sound) and e-record shop proprietor (Organic Music), Shimzu is one of the most important figures in preserving and producing Japanese vinyl. With a dedication to the avant-garde, Shimzu has collected a collection around the 5000 mark and as of March this year, his collection has been for sale on Organic Music. His book and label are an exercise in discovering and championing the ambiguous, meditative, ethereal and unclassifiable productions from Japan to the wilder world, and with such revered musical wisdom, Shimzu comes as an admired underground selector a fascinating man with equally unexpected and fascinating selections little other than the unpredictable can be predicted for his sets.
The local ensemble for the day includes the always-fantastic Ben Fester, Dianas, Jaala vs. Man, Krakatau, Kaiit, Toni Yotzi and Two Steps on the Water. On the 22nd of the December the sun will be shining longer than any other day, and the schedule for the day certainly reflects it with an abundance of warm weather rhythms.
All this and not a single bit of waste goes to landfill.