Once you get past the pure majesty of the clip for 'Birthplace' by Novo Amor, you will find a deeper connection to our planet. This single comes ahead of the UK-based artist’s album of the same name; the record draws upon his origins in a literal way, and embraces his other facets in layers, like with his passion for preserving our environment. As he mentioned to me when we connected over the phone, he doesn’t write political songs but still wants to make a difference. Read more about how he plans to do so below.

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How did you develop the idea for the “Birthplace” video? Were there other ideas you had for it?

That’s a question for the directors, Sil van der Woerd and Jorik Dozy. They pitched the full concept to me and it was too good for me not to say yes. [Eliminating] plastic pollution is something that I care about and that I’m incorporating into my touring and my merch. Funnily enough, I was talking to my dad on the phone and he’d just seen the latest Blue Planet programme. There’s a section at the end of it where David Attenborough goes on this big monologue about plastic in the oceans, and my dad said, ‘it would be great if you could do some plastic oceans sort of music video.’ I told him, ‘yeah that would be good but I’m not about to push that idea on anyone,’ and then a few weeks later [van der Woerd and Dozy] came through with the idea. We didn’t reach out to try to directly make an eco video for 'Birthplace', it just happened.

What was your take on using the whale figure?

The whale itself is built out of bamboo then covered in rubbish. A lot of the rubbish was picked by schoolchildren who then exchange it for books and pens and stuff, so we wanted them to help dress the whale. This [specifically, filming this figure underwater with a freediver] had never been done before and no one knew how it was gonna work so it was a risk. The story is meant to represent the religious story of Jonah and the Whale. I don’t know the whole story—I’m very unreligious—but something like Jonah gets swallowed by the whale and repents for his sins inside the belly. The plastic is meant to symbolize [those sins].

How did that song get linked up with that video?

Songs can be interpreted in different ways. The directors found a meaning in the title, birthplace, and made it their own. The song is really more about the birthplace of me as Novo Amor in a sense. I feel quite nostalgic about the place where I started making this music. So it’s essentially a look back at that time of my life. I’m happy to not be in that place anymore, but I think that’s why this record and that song has a bit more of a celebratory tone than a lot of my music before, which is more melancholic.

Speaking more broadly about your background, you have worn many hats: doing scores, karaoke tracks, foley work, logo sound effects. But your creativity now seems to be focused on music and messages that resonate with you. How have you felt about your career journey?

There’s a long trail of recordings, jobs, and experiences that led up to my emergence with Novo Amor around 2013. But there’s a lot going on before that like you said, with sound design work. I was working for Phillips doing their sound logo and I did one for Swiss Bank as well. The karaoke backing tracks were horrible, I never want to do that again. [laughs] I was making sound libraries for movie trailers, but there wasn’t great money in it. Loads of little things pushed me into doing the Novo Amor stuff. I’d never really written many songs before and since starting, I haven’t looked back. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future but for right now it’s all okay.

Are you looking forward to releasing the record?

Of course. I’m anticipating it a lot and once it’s done I won’t know what to do with myself. I guess I shouldn’t get my hopes too high on it, but I just want people to like the music really. And I hope that it can sustain me touring for however long and let me make another record.

That seems like a reasonable goal, to make enough just to make another record.

There are a few other projects I’m involved in where I’m not the focus which is quite nice. Over the past year I’ve kind of felt myself pulling back from being in any sort of limelight. I don’t really enjoy it that much—being onstage makes me very anxious. I’m not fucking Ed Sheeran, I can’t just whip a guitar out at a party play some songs for people. I see myself more as a music producer who started writing songs. So yeah, I turned down a lot of shows. It sounds kind of pretentious but I just want to make music for the right reasons; I’ve made music for the wrong reasons before—in 2015 I got a record deal offer from Sony and I worked with my friend Ed [Tullett], pandering to the indie pop genre. It took me a year of doing that to realize that was a bad idea. It’s not what I want at all.

Can you talk about when and why you got the idea to make your platform one for the environment?

I was raised to take the environment into consideration, so it happened naturally because it’s something myself, my manager, and my team just care about. My manager and I were talking about how to green our rider. We’re trying to use fewer plastic bottles, or none if we can, and eliminate the loads of plastic from wrapped food that’s backstage. And if you travel ten thousand miles in a van, you’re creating carbon emissions. My manager came across this company called Energy Revolution who help you offset that by donating to a charity based on your kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions, who then give the money directly to sustainable energy companies. Then the video kinda fell into place as well, and the response has been amazing. I’m super happy we did jump on board. And you know, a lot of other bands could easily make a sort of change like that, but it’s easy not to.

It’s easy to be wasteful on tour.

Yeah, we’re just trying to make it sustainable, really.

How would you say the music industry is most wasteful? Do you think improvements are possible?

In an environmental way, you mean, because they waste a lot of time and they waste a lot of money. [laughs] Aside from our sustainable rider, you hope that, for example, the plastic cups for pints get recycled, but then only nine percent of the things we throw away actually get recycled even if they are recyclable. It would be great if every tour bus was electric...maybe I’m onto something there.

Maybe someday. [laughs] Before I let you go, I wanted to broadly discuss the environmental conversation in music. Do you think musicians should be using their platforms to voice these concerns and do you think they’re doing enough?

I think it’s really up to them. Having an audience comes with a responsibility to create art as best you can. People need art to escape. But I definitely think that if you believe in something strongly you should speak out if you have the opportunity. I’ve seen a lot of artist hinting towards change but nobody wants to be the person who says ‘you should change what you do and you should feel guilty about what you’re doing.’ I’d recommend doing the carbon-offsetting because that’s helping without having to tell anyone. But I don’t think people necessarily have a moral obligation to put a message in their music. None of my music is politically charged or environmental and there’s no lyrics in there which focus on that stuff just because it’s not what I want to write about. I feel like having the music video was a good way of showing that, so I didn’t have to delve too much into being this eco-warrior.