Set in the idyllic and tranquil setting of Bali, April sees the launch of the much anticipated Ancient Futures: NewEarth Festival – celebrating art, creativity and consciousness.
As one of the pioneers within the newly established ‘micro-festivals’ market, with an estimated 1,000 people attending, Ancient Futures : NewEarth Festival provides a community space for co-creation, collaboration and transformation. From 5-9th April 2017, Ancient Futures: NewEarth Festival will see a number of innovators and influencers within the field of sustainability and wellbeing including Michael Tellinger, Founder of New Earth Nation Sacha Stone, Dr David Luke and Dan Winter facilitate talks and workshops. The level and topics presented has deemed the festival as being ‘Ted Talks meets Burning Man’. The evenings will also provide a perfect opportunity for dancing and creative expression courtesy of their global music line up curated by David Block.
Here, Sacha and David discuss the approach to their respective roles with Ancient Futures : NewEarth Festival. Tickets are available but being snapped up by global travellers for this amazing festival which is already earmarked one of the must attend highlights of 2017.
“I think music is the catalyst to come together and we’re in a really volatile time.”
The NewEarth Festival is part of a wider NewEarth Project. Can you explain more about the wider project and where the festival specifically fits into this vision?
Sacha Stone: Fortunately for me this loaded question I have about twelve websites where I can point people! But the simple answer is the NewEarth Nation issues out of the NewEarth Project which is a dynamic movement for change in our times. It is an evolving metric informed by thousands of people around the world: inviting us to step into sovereignty and out of indentureship to governments and fictions, and to usurious banking into a zero-point economy. It elevates art, beauty and consciousness over time money and fear: and it requires that each of us stop asking permission – and instead engage our dynamic consciousness-in-action. Which means standing in honour and no longer participating in a blood-economy and all the nasty stuff which our so-called civilizational model requires of us as good ‘citizens’. You get the idea….? The NewEarth Festival is our first really big immersive experience intending to exemplify and showcase this ABC.
In reading through your vision, ethos and approach, I am curious about the foundational aspects of your philosophy. Obviously, there is much to be taken away from Eastern thought, but I am wondering if there is a particular set of references by which you have based NewEarth Project upon?
Sacha Stone: Ha! No!…that would disqualify it from being new-paradigmatic. The thing which underpins the NewEarth ‘approach’ is that it insists on being a collectively unfolding quanta…which is self-determining, self-realizing and answerable ultimately to self (moving beyond divides). Meaning to say we take individual responsibility for the whole (insofar as humanly possible) and we do not play the blame-game: blaming parents, society, government, the church or Zog the Almighty. We don’t blame them because we realize that we are inherently responsible for making all determinations which have led us to this ‘now’ and this ‘now’ is the perfect start-point for creating the new……manifesting a higher outcome.
How are you able to democratize the experiences at NewEarth Festival. Meaning, I would assume that in a multi activity event such as this, no one particular aspect takes precedent over another in focus and attention. How do you manage to maintain an equal focus on, say, music and symposium?
Sacha Stone: We don’t. At least not in the accepted sense. There is no need to democratize human preferences and human expression. Responding to the flow is more appropriate. More people enjoy ecstatic dance and chocolate ceremony than enjoy sun-gazing and floatation-chambers.…to illustrate the point!
Community is another significant aspect of NewEarth Project, but with a limit of 1,000 attendees at this “micro festival” how do you plan to build and expand this community for subsequent editions? What does the term “community” mean to you? How would you define it? Something physical, mental, hypothetical, theoretical…?
Sacha Stone: Community is all of those things – and more. It is the playground of fellowship which, in its truest expression leads ultimately to unification of purpose and integration of destiny. We do not plan to build per se…..we plan to inspire. With inspiration (the feminine counterpoint to manipulation) comes an organic growth factor and with that factor comes something real and lasting. Where we get things right they will ignite the field and create legacy…..where we get it wrong they will not.
David Block: I think community is going to be one of the most important parts of this, it involves connecting a group of people with shared morals ethics and values. So part of building a community is diversity and really celebrating that diversity. You can have different members of a community, you may have members with a focus in perma-culture, agriculture or a focus in creativity, music, art or business. What is unique about the kind of community that we’re building is that there is a foundation in connecting us to the earth, a foundation that connects our humanity and respects the ecosystems that we are living within. And that’s what makes this community special.
Do you think it’s a physical community, hypothetical or mental? What’s your view on that
David Block: It’s going to be a combination of all of these. We’re living in a digital age where we are also finding the necessity to go back to physical communities. We are partly physical beings but we are also more than that. What I really see is the possibility to create more inspiring smaller physical communities around the world. But the way we can do that is…let’s say we have 1,000 people at the festival, now they’re going to have… as my friend say an ‘all caps experience’ you’ll have the lowercase e “experience” , the upper case E “Experience and the all caps “EXPERIENCE”. All caps experience is going to be physically present with this community. But the big opportunity we are going to have is creating media from this experience, this media can be shared around the world to impact tens of millions of people. You know they are they going to have that all uppercase experience to feel what it feels like to be in community, even if they are not necessarily there physically. But they are going to have that opportunity to share that knowledge and wisdom after the fact. That’s what I think we are really going to focus on, it’s not just the experience there, but sharing how people have grown after the fact through new kinds of media whether that’s through 360 video or VR or just talks and podcasts. I think it will be building a digital community as well ideally outside of Facebook and existing platforms, but making sure that the people who have these transformational experiences can figure out how to collaborate and build with each other after the fact.
Obviously with the rise with all the conscious gathering events, like Ancient Futures, where do you think this shift in like consciousness and reaching out for more of a community event, where do you think this is coming from and why do you think music is such a big catalyst for this?
David Block: First of all music is a big catalyst because music is an international language. Everyone likes music, everyone, if you don’t you’re a liar. Music is a universal language, we all love music and dance. Babies dance, babies like music it’s an innate part of our humanity. We are vibrational beings, music is an auditory vibration. So that’s something that gathers us together. Humans have been gathering together since the beginning of time. It’s something we like to do. I believe that we do like to do it because community helps validate the experience that we’re having in life, it’s like you put a human by itself and it freaks, literally it’s a form of torture to put humans in solitary confinement it is really important for us to be together and share our experience. I think music is the catalyst to come together and we’re in a really volatile time. We have pressing issues like clean energy, global sustainability, these are hot topic words right now and so this is not a new thing that people are coming together and celebrating that as I said has been happening around fires with people banging on animal skins since the beginning of time. Now we’re just combining those things with what are these hot topics and the music provides that aspect of celebration that shared sense that we can all speak. And we have a need to address some of these topics right now and we are doing it together so we can collaborate and find real ideas that really work. Actionable steps to do things so we can go out and leave these events more inspired than when we came there. So you know if I go to NewEarth Festival maybe I dance and party and have a great time but I leave with a lot more food for thought than if I go to another event where there’s just celebration because the reality, the harsh reality, is that we are living in a really volatile time and we have major issues to address. So it can’t just be all party. We have to talk about what we’re doing and how we can do it better together and we can do it better together in community.
How has NewEarth Festival been received by the local community in Bali? Also, why did you choose Bali as the proper destination for such an event? Perhaps for those who are unfamiliar, can you paint a mental picture of Bali?
Sacha Stone: So far we are very blessed to have enjoyed a fusion of international visitors as well as growing support from the local community. Bali is, and has been, HQ to the inception of NewEarth so it made sense to have an inaugural party in our own backyard. The Haven in Bali is our flagship NewEarth Haven….so there are a number of reasons. Bali is all about sanctified experience and life affirmation and beauty. These are central tenets of mindfulness which is the definitive source-code of the NewEarth metric.
What was your first personal experience with Bali? Can you take us back to that initial reaction?
Sacha Stone: I met the former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur) in 2004 in Portugal. He was quite a formidable man, but I managed to get him singing Janis Joplin’s ‘Bobby McGee’ by the end of our meeting in Lisbon. It was he who insisted that I come to Bali, which I did a few weeks later. I woke up in the morning at the Oberoi in Legian and fell in love with the sky.
David Block: So I have lived all over the world including Central America, India and I first came to Bali to perform at the Bali Spirit Festival a couple years ago. My first reaction was I’m moving here! And I’ve thought about why I had that experience many times! Bali first of all has one of the happiest cultures, literally statistically in the world. Measurably happier than lots of other cultures. A friend of mine is actually conducting that study! They also have one of the largest creative communities, almost everyone is an artist, whether that’s traditional Hindu/Buddhist art or modern art. Balinese people have a deep reverence for life and nature and our connection to nature and our connection to spirit. It is a place that is very inviting to other cultures, as it’s part of Hinduism, it does not exclude other religions or faiths. Hinduism embraces all other religions and recognizes that we are all just saying the same thing but calling it a different name. So I think my experience with Bali was that I could be here, I could be myself, I could express my own form of spirituality, with the Balinese people themselves and then of course you have the whole neo spiritual community that’s blossomed around that openness and acceptance. The big thing about Bali is you feel open when you’re there.
Describe how NewEarth Festival will interact with its environmental surroundings? With a focus on sustainability and eco-awareness, how will the festival make good on these promises?
Sacha Stone: The Festival is a gift. It is not in the business of making promises, rather it is seeking to raise the bar in the immersive festival experience. It is up to people to engage with the dynamic offerings and live out the expectation.
Can both of you describe a bit about your approach in curating your respective festival elements? How did the curation of the music program & symposium relate to/with each other?
Sacha Stone: I stick to the talking heads and the psycho-intellectual dynamics of the Festival….not the music. I leave that element to the maestros. But in terms of the geometry of the Festival it has been created in synch with vedic logic….moving between the natural elements and aligning each day to a new pattern of unfoldment.
David Block: A few of them are. And I think you know a lot of artists have something to say and they just haven’t figured out how to say it yet so they speak through their art, through their music. So I think the bigger vision is how can we be a platform for these artist to really crystallize what they want to say and how they want to say it. And how can we also be a platform and an opportunity for an artist, let’s say like (Tora), who may have never done a workshop. Maybe they’ve never done a talk, I’m sure they have something to say.
Its also one of the special parts of community – that we can uplift each other. Not all of us have the same super powers, some of us are more refined in different arenas so I think that’s why this event will be something that’s different. I think that it’s going to be an opportunity for a lot of other artist to come together and if they haven’t had a voice yet they will after this.
When did the seed for NewEarth get planted? How long in-the-making is this project?
Sacha Stone: Twenty years ago – August 1st 1997. I began to have a series of peculiarly awe-full and somewhat mystical insights and experiences which I subsequently learnt are indicative of ‘the’ generic Shamanic journey into the underworld (so to speak). Not pleasant, but deeply life-changing. Those insights led to me to stepping out of rock n’ roll. I began an earnest journey which incrementally aligned to the journey of many other like-minded and like-spirited men and women…in pursuit of absolute freedom from false-light (illusion). And here we are……still trying and still aiming as high as we can.
What do you think are the three main things that drive you and your passion for it?
David Block: I’d say musically the three main things…well not musically it’s beyond that, the three main things that are driving me right now I’d say is creating ..celebrating diversity in music so creating a lot of different kinds and genres in music. My vision is unifying humanity by crossing cultural barriers with art and music that’s my thing. So how can I take countries like Pakistan and India, countries that may be at war with one another and take music from each of those cultures and integrate them together in new forms. I’m most excited about that, I’m a collaborator so I’m most excited about the new collaborations I’ve had and am just trying and creating new things.
What inspires you do you think when you are creating new music and how do you get into that flow state when you are producing?
David Block: There are two aspects of our creative process that are really important to take into consideration. There’s the mind and the no mind. The mind is all the time I’ve spent studying my instrument, sound design, the programs I use all those things. And then the no mind is where I create from. The no mind is where, getting out of your own way, the no mind is recognizing that your creativity comes through you, not from you. And it can be really challenging to get into that space. For me I have a few different ways: it’s through meditation, through spending time in nature, hiking or taking a walk. Sometimes by exploring other disciplines, I’m also a photographer, so if I don’t feel like making music in that moment or there’s an aspect of the music that I’m wanting to work on I’ll go out and take photos or edit photos, or dance, but I think the first part is that recognition that there are the very distinct parts the very valuable having your 10,000 hours having sharp tools. If I want to cut something and my knife is dull it doesn’t cut well, does that make sense?
Because ultimately when I’m writing music, I don’t go and be like ‘I’m gonna make a deep house song today’ because I think deep house is popular, that’s just not where I create from. I create from where I want to make music that’s inspiring that moves me deeply because music is medicine. And music is my medicine, for me it feels healing for me to create music – which is why I feel it can feel healing for others.
Finally, what aspects of this inaugural NewEarth Festival are you most excited about?
Sacha Stone: Getting my home back on the last day!! No seriously, I look forward to seeing where and how we take art, beauty and consciousness to the next level in collective mode.
David Block: I’m most excited about the intersection of all the things together. I think that’s what we really need to be focusing on, how we are kind of cross pollinating, there are many different sectors that have been functioning on their own individual silo of creativity. We think we are constricted by what we do e.g. I am a musician so I do music, I’m a visual artist so I do visual art ….. NO it’s about how can we teach one of our disciplines to inform the other…that’s what I’m most excited about that we are coming together in an environment which is not a music festival, it’s not an arts festival, it’s not just a symposium it’s all of those things and that I think, this is the way that all events need to be. I mean it’s nice to go to a music festival that’s just focused on music – but why? I don’t understand the reasoning behind.. why? Shouldn’t every artist get off the stage and have something to share with the people, they all have something more to say than just the music.
Thank you for the questions and the interest expressed.