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08 Feb 2024

IZ Recommends | EARTHLING by Louis VI

IZ Recommends | EARTHLING by Louis VI

This month, the team recommends EARTHLING by musician, rapper, and Innovation Zero 2024 speaker Louis VI. We had the opportunity to hear from Louis himself about how the climate crisis informed and inspired this album. So take a look, and a listen…

‘EARTHLING’ is a truly statement-making album, across 14 tracks that showcase Louis VI’s talents as a vocalist, producer and multi-instrumentalist. EARTHLING blooms and thrives every bit as much as the environment it seeks to preserve, with VI’s signature melting pot of musical influences overflowing, from hip-hop to Afrobeat, wonky pop, neo-soul, and smooth jazz. Listening to the album is not unlike traversing the contrasting ecosystems of our planet, from the stark “Vibrate,” which recalls the harshness of the desert, to the boundless underwater expanse of “Needle in the Ocean,” to the tinder-dry flammable forests of “Orange Skies.” There are some great collaborations on ‘EARTHLING’, like on the Afrobeat-influenced ‘Yonn Manman Laté’ which taps Moses Boyd, and the smooth ‘It’s OK’ with Lex Amor, and elsewhere Oscar Jerome, Bluestaeb, Alex Cosmo Blake and Mick Jenkins also feature.


Vibrate thumbnail
Vibrate by Louis VI

Hailing from North London, Louis VI – aka Louis J Butler – has been passionate about climate change since childhood, going on to study zoology at university and writing and narrating the award-winning documentary film The World Is (Y)Ours in 2019. The success and impact of this film led him to delivering a 90-minute talk at COP26 on the importance of encouraging young people of colour to vote based on environmental factors. Subsequent notable appearances as a climate champion include a keynote speech at Beyond the Music festival in Manchester, and at BBC’s annual Climate Creatives event where he spoke and presented his new upcoming film “NATURE AIN’T A LUXURY”. However most recently it is the message in his music that has been getting attention - with his new album earning massive press and radio support including a 5* review in The Guardian.

Speaking to Zero In, Louis said, “Music connects where words fail, we've had the data and the science for years but that has failed to compel people enough to take action. There is a story of feeling to be told around climate change and when done right, art deals specifically in feelings. I made this album as a tool to help reconnect us, especially us diaspora, back to the planet, through a new means. This album is both a love letter to the planet, a journey through the worlds ecosystems, full of field recordings from nature told from a black, brown & indigenous perspective; and a contemporary conversation about colonialism through a London born and raised lens and my own relatives coming over in the Windrush Era. This is hopefully more than music, this is about creating something authentic and relatable to the global majority, to the people related to the people on the front line of climate crisis, to the working class that have been alienated from nature at home.

“I'm trying to inspire the young black and brown people through uncovering the science & wonder the wildness of this planet & helping them fall in love with nature as much as me, whilst bringing in the story of the historical colonial legacy of climate change and why we need to be the bridge as diaspora between where we live in the global north (that's historically responsible) to where we're from in the global south (that's on the front lines of climate change).

The reason it's called EARTHLING is that every living thing on this planet is an Earthling, not just us. We share this space, that's why there's a Zebra on the front cover, not me, not a human. This album is a cross-pollination of music and nature - that hopefully is a new, more authentic way of speaking about climate change that speaks to "us" in the aim to create a world where nature is not a luxury but a necessity.”

Louis VI
    Louis VI

When we asked Louis why he made the album, he told us, “To put it plainly - those that are the least responsible for climate change are on the front line, suffering the most. The places that we’re proud to be from as people of colour in the west, the flags that we rep so proudly at Carnival, are being sacrificed for the gains of politicians and companies right here in the UK. They are suffering at the same colonial hand that took our ancestors & enslaved them; it’s the same hand that’s attacking indigenous communities and nature, destroying the planet for greed. We need to step up and understand that this is our planet to take care of… we need to remember how to be better earthlings again.”

You can see Louis on both days of Innovation Zero 2024, participating in the Main Stage panel discussion “The Art of Communicating Climate Challenges and Solutions” on Day One, and delivering a solo presentation in our Communication Forum on Day Two.


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