Artists from the label have also brought this ethos to their performances, as when they partnered with the BioBusa mobile lab that brings science to the kids of New York Cityto give a solar-powered Earth Day concert in Union Square.
Perhaps the most radical ways Biophilia Records stands for the environment, however, is through its commitment to selling digital albums only. It's a tricky stand to take within the struggling music industry, where a plethora of free, streamable music makes it difficult for artists to sustain themselves. With CD and record sales one of the most reliable means for musicians to earn income and promote their work, Almazan admits that some artists are reluctant to get behind his label's no-plastics policy. And many music fans still like having a tangible product.
As for his own music, Almazan will sometimes write songs with an environmental subject in mind. His piece "H.U.G.s," whose title stands for "historically underrepresented groups," muses on the disproportionate environmental challenges faced by communities of color. Another,
"Hacia el Aire" ("Toward the Air"), took inspiration from the work of the Earth Conservation Corps, a Washington, D.C.based organization that empowers young people from low-income neighborhoods. Corps participants rehabilitate local waterways as well as bald eagle populations. "Sadly, there's so much violence in the neighborhoods these kids come from that they would name the eagles they released after friends who were shot. 'Hacia el Aire' is a symbolic gesture toward that."
In 2018, Biophilia Records will release albums from at least four new artists, and Almazan is also planning a flurry of new volunteer events. He's pleased that more listeners are starting to understand the label's mission. "Even people who are reluctant to buy Biophilia Records because we don't offer CDs or vinyl, I've seen them open up and say they realize the situation is getting to a critical point and we have to change our approach," he says.
It's that kind of engagement Almazan wants to see more of. Ultimately his dream is to host fully solar-powered concerts in places like botanical gardens and natural history museums, where the scientists on staff can directly speak to music fans. "I want to bridge the scientific and environmental communities with the artistic ones, to bring everyone together so we're all talking to each other about what we're doing."
Both the environment and the arts are struggling, he says. And both are vital to sustaining harmony on earth.
Photo credit: Vincent Soyez