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MOBO EXCLUSIVE: The Green Children's Audio Enchantment

MOBO EXCLUSIVE: The Green Children's Audio Enchantment

“One word is too often profaned for me to profane it; one feeling too falsely disdained for thee to disdain it...” Yes, I am reciting Shelley and that means one of two things- I am either in love or am digging something that equates to Shelley’s romanticism. ‘Tis the latter…

After spending time observing the microfinance sector through my Track II work, it was uncanny that as I pondered over Grameen coming to Glasgow, at that exact time I received an email from a close friend in PR about a fantastic band that not only creates ‘Cinematic Fantasy Pop’ music but ardently encourages social responsibility primarily through supporting microfinance schemes. The band got my undivided attention and as I explored further hearing their material, I was whisked away from Glasgow to Gwent, leaving microfinance for Merlin and found myself completely enchanted.

Milla Sunde and Marlow Bevan are The Green Children. Norwegian Milla and Brit Marlow met whilst studying at Sir Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA). Their mutual love of music and philanthropy saw the pair set up The Green Children Foundation in 2005 and Sunde and Bevan explored microfinance in the developing world inspired by Grameen Bank founder and father of micro finance, Professor Muhammad Yunus. The Green Children have been supporters ever since and have assisted the Nobel Peace Prize winner with his initiatives including releasing a commemorative CD/DVD, the proceeds of which established the Grameen Green Children Eye Hospital in Bangladesh in 2008.

This week see the release of The Green Children’s debut album- ‘Encounter’. The emerald duo’s debut is an audio fairytale that confiscates all grips on reality and leaves one hopelessly daydreaming. Stunning Milla’s ethereal voice casts an enchanting spell that conjures up a cerebral fantasy that is as much CS Lewis as it is Jean Michel Jarre and Enya. From the uplifting track ‘Dragons’ to edgy ‘We’re the Future’, The Green Children masterfully sprinkle sincere soul and magic into a music scene that requires some much needed fantasy and romanticism.

Milla and Marlow spoke to me from Norway about their epic journey thus far….


 

MOBO: How did The Green Children come into existence?

Milla: Together we've been on a long journey having several bands together but we decided that when school finished, we would maybe go to LA and New York and London by ourselves and that's when we kind of started The Green Children. The name came about when we were wandering around in a forest in Norway and we were like figuring out names and The Green Children popped into our heads. We're fond of nature and we're always hanging out in the woods so we were like, that's kinda cute and represents what we're like. Then we did some research to see if anybody had that name and this legend of The Green Children popped up. It's the story of a girl and a boy that were found in the medieval times in England and we thought wow, what a coincidence you know? A boy and a girl and there were lots of pictures of them and the boy had dark curly hair and the girl, a little bit older had blonde hair and that's me and Marlow!

MOBO: Could you tell us about your debut album?

Marlow: Well, it's kind of been a long time coming for us because we've been through quite a rollercoaster ever since we left school. Most recently we had a deal with a major label in the US and it didn't really work out for us. It was quite restricting creatively and the business side is very different so we were stuck there for a little while and managed to get out. Recently, we got this new deal through Jackson Browne's label and whilst we were at our former label we were working as hard as we could to finish the record and it's the first thing that we're truly happy with that we've done because we really took charge of every aspect. We produced almost the whole record, played everything on it and it kind of represents us in the best possible way. We feel it's a really true reflection of who we are and we've always loved music that takes people to another place on a journey and we hope we've kind of created that with music. 'Encounter' is coming out in the US and the UK on October 12th.

MOBO: Your style of music is described as ‘Cinematic Fantasy Pop’. Where do you and Milla draw inspiration from?

Milla: Well nature first of all, history; both of us grew up in charming, very historical towns. Marlow lives around the castle in Warwick in England and I lived in the west coast (Norway) by mountains and nature and then you know I think between the two of us we've seen a thousand Fantasy and Sci-Fi movies from a young age, these have inspired us a lot. So all that mix of who we are and where we've grown up and the kind of films we've been watching and music we've been listening to like Enya, Michael Jackson, Bjork and Fantasy artists all mixed in there.

MOBO: Your single ‘Dragon’s' has been remixed by DJ supremo Paul Oakenfold. How did that collaboration come into fruitation?

Marlow: It was one of those real chance things that happened. We were both in LA at the same time and we literally, I think I'd finished the final song of the album in the studio and we were thinking of Dance remixes and how cool it would be to get somebody of his calibre to do a remix. Our manager managed to get in touch with his manager who lives in LA and sent him the track and we were just blown away when he basically called our manager and said how much he liked the track and how he wasn't taking on a lot of remixes these days. He thought it was exciting and something a bit different; and I think he also liked that we were European and it's a little bit of a different approach then maybe the Pop artists in America. So he was enthusiastic and agreed to do it and we're really happy with the result. We think it's great and we just met with him and he's a super nice guy and I think he's just all about music which is the nicest thing.

MOBO: In 2005 you set up The Green Children Foundation and visited microcredit projects in Bangladesh and India inspired by Grameen Bank founder Professor Muhammad Yunus. Could you talk about your philanthropic initiatives and support for Grameen?

Milla: We've always thought that music is such a powerful tool and so we've always wanted even separately to do something to use our music for a better cause and when we came together we both had that same vision. So we started looking into projects and there are so many good projects but this on really spoke to us because it's teaching people to fish rather than handing them the fish. They can continue with the good concept and we thought ok, we are going to be really involved in this and see it with our own eyes. So we went to Bangladesh to see the villages there and how the lending system was like and how the women work and we got to see and meet Professor Muhammad Yunus and we got convinced that this was a very, very good way of helping women and children out of poverty and so we decided to make a song inspired by what we had seen and raised money for two hospitals, one in Bangladesh, so we managed to do that with a CD in 2007.

MOBO: Was this after Professor Yunus won the Nobel Peace prize?

Marlow: It's a funny story in a way because what happened was that we went to Bangladesh a couple of times and we saw the work he’s doing . He's been doing it for thirty years so there were millions of women who had been helped and we were kind of shocked that he wasn't getting more attention and Press, more celebration of what he's accomplished and so we kind of went over there and made a music video in an attempt to get him some more publicity and then of course some months later he won the Nobel Peace Prize which was a huge shock to us. It was just such a fantastic thing for him and his Grameen Bank; because we’d made this music video the Norwegian stores agreed to put it in and sell it during the ceremonies and that was kind of a great chance and all the money that we got there went to this eye hospital which we opened in 2008.

MOBO: India launched its UID scheme recently which amongst other things shall make it easier for the poor to avail of microfinancial services. What are your thoughts on the scheme?

Marlow: I do not know much of the new scheme but in terms of microfinance it's been about spreading awareness because as you know in some ways it's a difficult thing to support. I support the move towards a corporate structure, this is good for the poor because it's more efficient but we've supported microfinance through Whole Planet Foundation which is the foundation of Whole Foods Market in the US who has spent millions of dollars in replicating the Grameen model in India and South America. Back to Dr Yunus, he has single-handedly revolutionised lending to the poor. He is the most remarkable man we've ever met. He’s special and he has that balance of being such a strong man but also being a very kind man which is a difficult balance when you are trying to do something so revolutionary.

MOBO: Grameen recently announced setting up a branch in Glasgow…

Marlow: I think they probably adjust the model when they bring it to developed countries. We know some people who are also implementing it in the US in New York in Queens. I think the basic principle is about giving people an opportunity and a start. We don't see it as a one-stop solution but we've travelled across the world and have seen it in Africa and in Central America and I think that the basic principle is helping to empower them to make their own choices. I think that it is a very worthy thing to support and it’s definitely very practical and we definitely believe in it and it's proven to work so it just needs to extend the reach of it and people who are doing it in the proper regulated way, Dr Yunus is definitely a shining example to us.

MOBO: Social responsibility is an integral part of The Green Children ethos. Do you aim to inspire others to follow suit?

Marlow: Yes I think one of the main reasons Milla and I set up the foundation is we really wanted to create a foundation that focused on positive solutions because there are so many great causes and so many needs out there but from our angle we wanted to kind of focus on the things that are working, instead of perhaps the things that aren't and the problems in the world.

Milla: When it comes to inspiring other people, I’m hoping the future will be so that the more the capitalistic and the social and the philanthropy side can come together so that the people that think of the business sense and the people that think not just about maximum profit but of you know, helping other people, at the same time and using for instance music and art to put forth important issues in the world which we are planning to do I mean there are people already doing it but I think that there are too few people that use their power for a greater good; and also businesses, you know more businesses in the future will think more towards creating sustainable businesses.

MOBO: How important do you think music is as a medium for bringing about social and political change?

Milla: I think it is very important you know particularly for the youth because the youth are the future generation and however their minds are developed through media and what they are shown is going to develop their minds and their thoughts processes for creating the next world and the next generation; so I definitely think that the media and music and art plays a very important role in educating and creating the future world so it’s important to send out good messages. I feel in the last ten years, there's been a lack of that. I'm hoping that trend will come back.

Marlow: I think it’s important to educate and to entertain and I think it’s also important as an artist or band to not always have your cause on your sleeve but to try and really entertain in the best way you can and give people the option to do events where you talk about you cause. Everyone has different issues and problems in their lives and I think it’s good to do it a little more subtle when you're an artist because people who are interested tend to find out about these things but I think it's good to kind of have a balance you know and definitely get people captivated.

MOBO: As musicians what are your ultimate musical aims?

Marlow: Well I mean the first thing that is definitely more important is to create the art that we love and the art we want to see in the world and that’s what’s been different with a major label. We are the kind of artists that are not happy with our music that is out there then we'd not do it at all. So that's one thing for me.

Milla: I mean being an artist is very difficult, it itself is the journey. I mean, being able to wake up and be able to create everyday and a making a living off it and survive; but of course we all should be able to stand on huge stages and reach a lot of people with out art and you know and I guess fame and fortune goes a little bit in hand with the dream of being able to reach out to many people. It's all interlinked and at the end of the day being able to create and survive by that is you know the ultimate.

MOBO: Are there any UK tour dates planned in the near future?

Marlow: We are right now booking for the US. That starts in January. We're not totally sure on all the dates, we are definitely going to be full on shows and festivals and of course we're on Jackson Brown's label so we're going to do a few future events with him. We're really actually excited to get out and do a lot of shows because that is what being a musician is all about. We've been in the studio a lot but you'll have to keep a check on our website!

MOBO: If you had the power to create THE musical artist, which artists from the past and present would you use as building blocks and why?

Milla: Like we said before, we really love artists that have a vivid imagination and mix that whole visual aspect with the music to bring you into a fantasy world; so I would take Enya and Michael Jackson and put a little bit of The Beatles in there. It could be an interesting combination. That was a good question actually!

Marlow: I think we are huge fans of artists that write their own music and with Enya and Michael Jackson and The Beatles, we love artists that tell a story and singing their own words and we are not normally fans of artists who don't write anything because it seems to lack a bit of substance for us.

MOBO: What does music mean to you?

Milla: There are so many things; therapy ha-ha. Both Marlow and I are sensitive people and are vivid and we soak up our surroundings whether bad or positive so to be able to have the tools to express that, playing an instrument or being able to sing- personally is very, very important to keep sane really...

Marlow: Yeah, to me music is kind of like what feelings sound like. For us when we're writing music, or are in the studio or wherever, we really, it's kind of like therapy really. Whenever we write our best stuff we are rarely thinking about it or formulating anything. It just channels through you and I think music for us is still one of the most beautiful things in the world and that’s why we're continuing to follow our dreams.

MOBO: What does the future hold for The Green Children?

Marlow: Who knows? We definitely have big dreams, we're dreamers, have been since we were kids so we have a book, a movie, a script, everything in our minds for the project. We've got a remix album coming out in November.

Milla: Also we would like to combine the foundation work and music and create an empire that can share beautiful music and help people. Take what we have now and make it even greater.


The Green Children are more than a band. They are a philosophy.


 

‘Encounter’ is out now.

For more details on The Green Children please visit: www.thegreenchildren.com


Reema Kumari Jadeja ©
 

 

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Reema Kumari Jadeja