Music and plastic waste: catching up with BLOND:ISH

Known for sets packed with psychedelic house and trippy techno, Canadian DJ Vivie-Ann Bakos aka BLOND:ISH has become a key figure in electronic music over the last couple of years. Music, however, isn’t her only passion.

Alongside producing and DJing, Bakos is an avid environmental activist, having launched her own eco-initiative Bye Bye Plastic after a set she played at Warung Beach Club in Brazil. She recalls the beautiful sunset and the shocking sea of plastic leftover after the event. Since then, she has made it her goal to raise awareness, reduce plastic waste in the music industry and introduce eco-friendly alternative solutions.

Blond:ISH blondish interview bye bye plastic

We caught up with Vivie-Ann Bakos, aka BLOND:ISH, to pick her brain on plastic waste and the brand new music she has coming up.

HAPPY: You’ve said in recent interviews that the plastic aftermath after your gig in Warung inspired your zero-plastic initiative Bye Bye Plastic. Have you already seen a difference in plastic use at gigs and would you say venues and promoters are doing everything they can to getting rid of plastic?

BLOND:ISH: I’ve seen a big difference in the downscaling or complete removal of straws in major cities in Europe and USA/Canada, but still see a lot of straws in regions like Greece and south of Italy, Turkey. There has been a large shift to compostable plant-based straws, but the linchpin here is that even in places in NYC where many clubs have switched to plant-based straws, the city of NYC doesn’t have a compost program unless you specifically hire a company to industrially compost it. So it’s a huge salad right now, it’s actually called greenwashing. So, this is some key knowledge we gotta get to the masses so we can all make the right educated choices. We are working round the clock with Bye Bye Plastic to share this info with club owners, so we move in the right direction.

The intent is there with club owners for sure (but definitely not all, especially in Eastern Europe/Turkey some are just absolutely clueless) but I honestly don’t really play at these events that often. Generally there’s a wave happening, and the solutions are amazing in some countries, but lacking in others! We’re gathering with the motivated ones and building the hype that way. We as DJs and our fans and communities just need to keep coming together and telling our local club owners/promoters we don’t want single use plastic anymore; we can push it out easy! So, keep telling them! And send them to Bye Bye Plastic so we can hold their hand through the transition!

HAPPY: What are the main goals you’re trying to achieve with Bye Bye Plastic in the next couple of years?

BLOND:ISH: Bye Bye Plastic is all about making small actionable steps happen within our music industry that we all do together. If we do this, we can make a huge shift across the music industry and beyond. Step one is our #MyEcoRider campaign, where DJs sign up for a single use plastic free rider, there’s already over 2000 DJs on board, soon it will be everyone.

Step two is installing carbon offsetting directly into the booking process of flights. On the other side we’re a consultancy, so we find, research and vet solutions for plastics, to make sure we’re making the right choices, and help clubs through this process. We help accelerate the process, because we don’t have that much time, we have a climate crisis going on.

HAPPY: What is your advice on little steps everyone can do in their day-to-day life to reduce plastic waste?

BLOND:ISH: Cut single use plastics as much as you can; get a reusable water bottle and coffee cup, carry a reusable fork and knife with you when you’re traveling, lose the straw or take a metal straw for drinks. When you’re doing your food shopping, try support local fruit and veg markets and shops where the food isn’t pre-packaged in plastic, go to weigh shops for your dried foods, these are popping up more and more around the world now. Get a water filter installed at home (not a Brita, they’re shit), or glass bottle delivery, or a big water dispenser. Take an inventory of the plastic in your bathroom and check if you have a bulk shop in your city, there’s a lot where I live in Barcelona now, and I take my reusable containers there and fill up my shampoos, body wash, etc.

HAPPY: Do you think social media plays a role in achieving zero-waste? If yes, how big of an impact do you think it has?

BLOND:ISH: It’s HUGE, and we haven’t even used it yet; we’re planning the big movement together, all of us ethical influencers, it’s gonna be hugeeeeee. We’ve used it to promote our beach clean ups everywhere from Ibiza to Tulum, to share our findings at different venues and festivals, expose greenwashing companies… and we’ve got a great network of supporters that we’re calling ‘eco warriors’, who are tagging us sharing what they’ve found, giving us suggestions, taking on our suggestions, talking to clubs. It’s such a powerful tool, and all of us ethical warriors and influencers are coming together to make a huge impact, so if you’re like us and want to get involved, get in touch with us through the website.

HAPPY: In terms of music, what are you currently working on?

BLOND:ISH: I’ve just dropped my edit of Foreigner’s I Wanna Know What Love Is for free over on Bandcamp, SC, Hypeddit etc. I always try to make a special sunrise edit for Burning Man every year, and that was last year’s. That special moment, with everyone so present and joyful, there is just nothing that compares. I’d been hoping to release it properly, but so far, no luck so… if anyone knows a Warner A&R who could help us out… The next release is my remix of Fela Kuti on my label ABRACADABRA on October 11th. The track is the longest word I ever saw, Mr Grammarticalogylisationalism Is the Boss.

HAPPY: With summer being the busiest season now for a DJ, how do you maintain a healthy lifestyle to keep up with your busy schedule?

BLOND:ISH: Feeding your soul and your body, whether that’s through healthy food and natural supplements, to meditation. Taking a breath when you can, however small that window for yourself may be is essential, especially this summer which has been a crazy one on tour. That bit on the flight where they tell you to turn your electrics off, I always use that as a time to switch off and breathe, without any distractions. That’s time for me. All sorts of stuff happens around then, meditation and breathing exercises.

HAPPY: How do you prepare for a set?

BLOND:ISH: I like to practice qigong before a set, a short five minutes grounding time.

HAPPY: What are your top three all-time favourite songs?

BLOND:ISH: Chaim – Love Rehab

Commodores – Night Shift

A little Sade all the time.