Beyond The Booth 012: Sam Feldt on sustainable living, remaining eco-friendly on the road, & how the smallest changes can make the biggest difference
Beyond the Booth is a feature dedicated to the hidden side of artists that exists outside electronic music— a side rarely discussed with those outside their immediate circle. We venture “beyond the booth,” so to speak, and dive into their deepest passions that tie into their unique personalities. After some self-introspection, each participant then returns to the booth, providing an exclusive mix for the Dancing Astronaut audience.
Sustainable living has been an important practice for deep/tropical house Dutchman Sam Feldt since he was a child. Growing up as the only child of two “hippies” meant a big part of Feldt’s early life was time spent in nature, caring for the environment, and indulging in the fruits of Mother Earth’s labor in his family’s communal garden. Today more than ever though, Feldt’s seeing the direct ramifications of what remaining environmentally responsible means, and what the lack thereof can mean for the future of the planet. He is also hyper-aware of what those who have the power and reach to share their wisdom on the dilemma can do.
As one of Spinnin’ Records formidable forces, Feldt’s certainly had his fair share of success. Between a viral reworking of Robin S.’ “Show Me Love” – which charted at No. four in the UK — to his platinum-selling hit, “Summer On You,” Feldt’s grown to become a pivotal force in the tropical house sphere, largely shaping its sound throughout the years with his poolside hits.
Surely, a massive slew of chart-toppers, reworks, collaborations, and residencies alongside acts like Kygo, Bakermat, and Klingande, has seen that Feldt spends quite some time on the road. Though keeping with sustainable and eco-friendly allegiances is tough, Feldt wants to do better, and in doing so, turn the entire music industry onto their responsibility to do better, too. At the end of last year he’d shared a New Year’s Resolution detailing his hopes towards more sustainable living, as well as his plans for making this project accessible.
New Years’ Resolution:
Traveling the world as a DJ has been what I wanted to do with my life from a very young age. Bringing happiness through music on a global scale for me is one of the most fulfilling things in the world.
It comes at a cost, however. Through my travels I’ve seen what’s happening in the world and the many ways we, as humans, are destroying it.
Myself included: with more than 200 flights per year, I consider myself to be among the most polluting persons in the world. In 2018 I will make it my objective to change that, and take you on that journey with me.
Over the next couple of weeks I will let you know more about the steps I’m going to be taking to make my life more sustainable – and what you can do to help too.
We’re in this together, starting today.
For now, Sam Feldt has taken his first of many steps towards his goals of creating a more sustainable and eco-friendly world by offsetting his carbon emissions with a recently announced partnership with GreenSeat. Founded in 2002 as part of the Climate Neutral Group, GreenSeat focusses on offsetting as an option to travel climate smart, ensuring that the greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere do not increase when traveling by air.
As an official Ambassador for GreenSeat, Sam Feldt is taking action to address his carbon footprint as a direct result of his air travels, by making it carbon neutral through his contribution to various Gold Standard certified projects worldwide, but also, by making a lasting impression as to how artists worldwide can implement these practices, too.
In conjunction with the ambassador announcement, Feldt’s doubling down on his own Heartfeldt organization and platform as a means of forging a sustainable living connection with fans and influencers who’ll reach new audiences worldwide. Dancing Astronaut recently caught up with the admirable artist, who’s even shared a special mix in spirits of the celebration. Cheers to a better tomorrow.
What kicked off your journey into environmentalism/sustainability?
Growing up as the only child of two “hippies,” nature and the environment have always played an important role in my life. My parents raised me as a vegetarian and would take me to our communal garden to plant own fruits and vegetables on a weekly basis. After leaving home for university, my focus shifted elsewhere and sustainability – for that period in time – drifted to the background. Music came and after many years of trying I succeeded in something I had wanted to do my whole life: become a DJ. This allowed me to travel a lot and see much of what this planet has to offer. It also showed me the many ways we, as humans, are destroying it – and I realized I was a big part of the problem. And as we all know: the first part of solving a problem is acknowledging it, which I did at the start of this year with the New Year’s Resolution that I posted to social media. I promised that in 2018, I would take steps to make my life as a DJ more sustainable and take my fans on that journey with me.
Since your New Year’s Resolution, what have you adopted into your lifestyle thus far to live more sustainably?
After posting the New Year’s Resolution to social media, I quickly found out that the most polluting thing I was doing was flying. While often essential for my job, air travel is responsible for more than 2% of all global CO2 emissions is and therefore a big part of the problem. Looking at more developed countries, like the Netherlands where I live, that figure is closer to 15%. Because my fans would not be happy if I simply stopped flying, I investigated different ways to reduce pollution caused by the flights I take. One of the things I did was partner up with an organization called GreenSeat that offsets all CO2 emission caused by the flights I take, by participating and investing in sustainability projects in Africa. I also took the first steps needed to start my very own Heartfeldt Forest – where I will start planting trees on a monthly basis. More information on that will be released soon. On a more personal note, I’ve changed my artist rider to be preferably organic and plastic-free and I’ve started to carry around my own reusable water bottle on tour. It’s the little things that count the most, usually.
How do you practice sustainability and reducing your carbon footprint at home and on the road?
I have to admit, being sustainable on the road can be difficult. You spend most of your time at airports, in planes, and in hotel rooms and you really have to work with what’s available (which is different in every city you go to). One thing that has really helped me is using a refillable water bottle to avoid buying plastics every time you are thirsty at an airport. As I said before, I’ve also changed my artist rider so that it is plastic-free and organic wherever possible. Closer to home, I’ve become a lot more conscious about the fashion I wear and I try very hard to make sure it is produced in a sustainable manner. I’ve also installed a Nest thermostat to keep track of my energy usage and have planned a full home check-up to decrease energy usage in and around the house.
Give us some tips on the easiest things fans can do to start doing better by the environment.
If you’re not flying as much as me, usually changing small things have the biggest impact. One of the biggest contributors to the pollution of the planet is plastic, so using less plastic and reusing bottles, bags and for example, cups can help a lot. Another thing you can look at is your diet: make sure you know what’s in the foods you eat, how it is packaged and how much water and CO2 are wasted to produce it. A great way to start is by eating less meats. Fashion is one of the most polluting industries too, so make sure you make sustainable decisions when buying new clothes (do you really need that new shirt?) and try to go for brands that care about the environment. Another thing you can do at home easily is being more conscious about your water usage – for example when you take a shower or wash your car.
Have you ever considered going vegetarian, vegan, or adopting a mostly plant-based diet to help the environment?
For the first 17 years of my life, I was a vegetarian, because my parents raised me like that – so eating meat is definitely not something that I’ve always done. After moving out of my parents’ house I got introduced to eating meat for the first time and since then it is something I’ve moderately done. Eating 100% vegan or plant-based is a full-time job / near impossible if you’re touring the world and doing 200 shows per year, so I think I will continue to eat meat once in a while – but I am definitely more conscious now about how much and what kind of meats I consume.
On that note, have you also considered cutting back on touring to save your carbon footprint, or refusing to fly private if the opportunity is offered?
Because of my life as a DJ and therefore an influencer, I have a unique opportunity to speak to and influence a broad audience – both online and offline. Therefore, I think it is important I stay on the road, spreading not only good vibes through my music but also awareness and education around sustainability issues. To do this, I need my fans. I have, however, taken actions (see my partnership with Greenseat above) that ensure my air travel is 100% carbon neutral. On top of that, I am planting trees for every flight I take in the Heartfeldt Forest to become not only carbon neutral, but carbon positive.
Where are some of the most beautiful nature spots you’ve visited that you would recommend?
Every country I visit is unique, and I always try to explore as much as possible in the limited time I usually have. If I’d have to list a top three: South Africa, Australia, and Brazil.
Which cities and countries do you think have the most environmentally-friendly policies, and what makes it so in your eyes?
The Scandinavian countries are definitely at the top of the list! This has mostly to do with the way they generate and use electricity and the respect the people have for nature over there. Nature is 100% part of their lifestyle. Closer to home, my home country of The Netherlands is not doing so bad either – we are in the Top 10 of least polluting countries if you look at CO2 emissions. Another country that has greatly fascinated me is Singapore – everything’s so green out there!
How are you taking action as an artist with a large platform to ensure the environment is kept a priority in global politics? Have you thrown benefit shows, donated to Green Organizations, lobbied your politicians, etc? Do you have plans to do so?
While it is still in the early stages, my dream for 2018 is to establish a worldwide Heartfeldt Foundation that can serve as a platform for other influencers and people in the dance industry to follow in my footsteps. It would be awesome if this could become the go-to organization for any influencer that wants to show back some love to this wonderful planet and help fans live in a more healthy environment. Under this Heartfeldt Foundation umbrella, connected influencers may throw benefit events and set-up their own projects to help the foundation and its cause.
What will your Heartfeldt organization center on in terms of environmental issues? What do you feel is most important at this time?
The Heartfeldt foundation will be founded to create a platform for influencers who want to implement a more sustainable lifestyle and inspire their target audience to make conscious decisions as well. The mission will be to create awareness for the 17 United Nations sustainable goals – where we put the most amount of focus on the UN goals that directly influence climate change.
You also have a Heartfeldt fan page. Can you tell us more about that, and the importance of connecting with fans? What is your favorite part about the page?
Definitely! I launched my very own fan portal called Heartfeldt.me little over a year ago and over the last 12 months more than 20.000 fans signed up. This gives me an opportunity to directly reach these people and reward them with cool and exclusive content, cutting out the middleman like Facebook and Instagram. I was getting tired of having to sponsor posts and pay money to social media giants to reach the people that already wanted to hear from me so I decided to take back control of my fan base. Looking at the Heartfeldt foundation and my sustainability plans, this is invaluable – because I can now directly activate 20,000 or more fans to take action. The more people sign up, the more people I can inspire and motivate to do the same.
What inspires you most when it comes to writing new music?
For me, inspiration usually comes from vocals or a lyric. That’s why I like to work with singer-songwriters and vocalists in the studio a lot. A Sam Feldt production is usually very song-based and the lyrics usually dictate the general vibe and feeling that a track has.
What things are you working on musically now that you are most excited for?
My summer singles! I’ve just released a whole album so for 2018 I’ve decided to put a strong focus on a few singles that will be dropping in the next months. My latest one, “Down For Anything,” together with MÖWE and Karra has just come out and is already being played on the radio all around the world!