THIS IS OVERCOATS

WORDS: KATE WEINER

IMAGES: ALLIE CHERNICK

The lovely Nicole Stanton first interviewed Overcoats for our online magazine two years ago when the soulful electronic folk duo Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell were packing their bags for a summer in Dublin. Since then, Overcoats has released a gorgeous album (the haunting, heavenly Young), shared their story through channels such as NPR and Nylon, and toured across the country. It's been such a joy to see the student band that lit the stage during Spring Fling of my senior year headline a national tour. I haven't yet had the opportunity to watch these songbirds live but I've loved listening to their album as I stretch out on the verdant park by my house after work, watching the sun set electric pink as "23" plays on repeat. 

As an environmental activist and educator, music is my medicine. It heals me when the days are heavy and helps me create the space to connect with others when I feel suddenly isolated in my work. "Young" has been such an important album to me this spring as I work my way through love and nourish my creative voice and commit myself to carving out a plot for my passions to take root. Give it a listen and let me know what you think!

Herewith, I talk to Hana and JJ about heart healing music and cultivating creative practices on the road. 

Listening to "Young", I experience such a powerful sense of place. It's a really atmospheric album and for me, sitting with it makes me feel like I'm in a lush, rainy field. What kinds of spaces do you like to write in? And what kind of experiences do you try to create with your music?

We love that image. That's so amazing that the music makes you connect to nature. We usually write in very intimate, trusting spaces— like home, our beds, our rooms with the doors closed. But oftentimes, songs or ideas for songs come in really public places. A lot of our songs have come to us while riding the subway in New York. I think we try to create a healing and invigorating experience with our music. Something that makes you want to dance but also heals your heart.


You're on tour right now for your debut album. What have been some of your favorite places to pass through?

We've been to some amazing places. We loved Minneapolis, Portland, Montreal, Berlin...it's also really amazing to play in places that you'd never thought you'd visit! None of us had ever been to Louisville, Kentucky and we all fell in love with it. 


What creative practices do you cultivate on the road?

We mainly try to survive! That requires getting as much sleep as we can and making sure we eat 3 meals per day. I also think that part of surviving, for both of us, is staying creatively engaged. For a lot of our touring throughout this past winter we were knitting scarves and nowadays we have switched to watercoloring. We try to also keep writing music, if we're feeling like it. We wrote a new song while in Paris on this last stretch of tour! 


One of the things I deeply believe at Loam is that music can be a powerful act of environmentalism because it inspires a sense of community and connection. How do you strive to build creative community thru your work?

Hopefully, our music helps people come together, whether it's in the space that we create together at the venue or one that people create together just listening to the record. We hope that we inspire folks to be creative, musically, and in other fields and to be vulnerable and honest with themselves and with others.


What's on the horizon for Overcoats?

We've got some more touring coming down the pipeline and we're always writing new music, so it's looking like we'll have a busy year ahead of us. 

HOLY by JAMILA WOODS

Music is a healing space for me when the world feels heavy. With our sociopolitical and ecological climate in crisis, I've come to consider art—whether making it or enjoying it— as an essential part of my everyday. Jamila Woods' gorgeous song "Holy" sees me through every morning. It helps me to affirm my love for myself and this earth AND it makes me damn happy to dance to. Check out her incredible music video, below, for your daily dose of powerful vibes. 

CORNELIUS on BRONX ZOO

At Loam, we strive to share the work of musicians because music makes us fall in love with the world. And to us, it's that that love—the experience of listening to and learning from some soul-sweetening melody— that is vital to environmentalism. We can't heal our world if we aren't wildly in love with her. 

My latest infatuation has been with the atmospheric songs of Cornelius A.K.A Derrick Holman. Derrick and I went to college together and collaborated on the VIBES Music Festival. I've always been inspired by his unapologetic pursuit of creativity and am excited to share his gorgeous music & inspiring words with you all. Tune in. 

What experiences made you fall in love with music?

As a kid, I spent a lot of time in the car with my dad driving from place to place. He'd drive me to school, to doctors appointments, to visit family, and to go on short vacations. The most memorable ones though were long trips from our home in New York to visit family in places like Baltimore, Atlanta, and Florida. On those trips he'd play his favorite albums — mostly pop and R&B or jazz —over and over until the words and rhythms were ingrained in all of us by the end of the trip. I grew to love the music from listening and then studying and appreciating it more and more. Then when I started making my own music, it was a natural way for me to express myself when I had no one to talk to. I think that's why I have a tendency to write these conversational lyrics. It was my escape from loneliness.

Your album "Bronx Zoo" is a really rich, layered, atmospheric voyage. What inspired you to create this work? What do you want a listener to take away from your songs?

It was inspired by my need to tell a story about myself. I spent most of my life telling stories— writing novels, plays, poems—and had never told much about myself to people in my own words and with my own voice. The album is a collection of ideas and memories both about myself and about the people around me. Its layers come from the experiences I've had in and around this city that I love, one that is very layered in itself. I think that applies to social class, economic opportunity, and race— all of which I try to touch on or explain as best as I can so far. The album is an introduction to my life.

How do you merge creativity and environmental sustainability in your life?

I could be better and I'm still learning a lot every day. My goal is to bring about a change in the way people think about and perceive discussions about the environment and sustainability. Sustainability is making its way into mainstream conversations, albeit slowly, and being an advocate as someone who is admittedly still in the process of figuring it out I think will help people who are also unsure of what they can do or where to start. It's good to be able to admit you're unaware at times, and even better to be able to say you're willing to learn. Music also draws people in so I know one of my roles is to keep making music that inspires people to think differently about the world around us.

Tell us a little bit about VIBES. How do you hope to grow in the coming year?

Well, first, we're taking it from a loose organization and will be registering as a legally recognized entity so we can start making a real change in our communities. We want people to truly embrace the concept of social entrepreneurship and we've realized that sometimes the best way to teach or influence people is to lead by example. We have plans to get into festival production—which we've experimented with in the past—and urban farming—which we're learning more about now. I'm also excited to get into more film and media production. I'm filming for a web series with a major TV network that I'll be able to talk about more once it comes out; and, as far as VIBES, we're interested in producing our own content for shows and concerts that we produce. Eventually, I think we'll be able to tie all of these projects together in more direct ways. For now, it's just a matter of doing the best work we can and making use of every minute we're given to better the world around us. As much as we want to heal the world, we also want to fill it with great music and positive vibes.

THE SENSUOUS ENVIRONMENTALIST

WORDS: KATE WEINER

IMAGE: ELIJAH STEVENS

My environmentalism is grounded in sensuous experience. The way a branch of elderberry echoes the shape of a lung. How it feels to walk through a wave of grey fog. The taste of fresh figs. The sound of water coursing over moss-latticed rocks. The smell of the air after a thunderstorm. I love to be in this world—to hike and eat and spend time with those I love—and it's that deep appreciation for the simple gift of each day that sustains me. You only need to hold a clump of soil in your palm, writhing with worms and weathered rocks, to realize that everything in this world is interconnected. 

I do feel the grief and overwhelm. If business continues as usual, fall in New England in just fifty years will no longer be the flood of golden green and burnt orange I know it to be. And I can't imagine what it would mean to lose the season I cherish most. I am frightened by the limits to what I as an individual can control. I am anxious about ocean acidification and species extinction. 

But if I live in fear—if I am so terrified about losing what I love that I can't enjoy what is—I'm not empowered to build the better world I want to live in. Fear doesn't motivate me to fight for the revolution we so urgently need to mitigate climate catastrophe. Fear doesn't feed my soul. What does is my desperate desire to sustain the sensuous. I want everyone to know the joy of walking through a field of wildflowers or tasting a carrot fresh from the loamy earth. 

The future is uncertain. That can be scary as hell but it can also be liberating. It gives us permission to fiercely embody hope and fight fearlessly for our earth and for ourselves. It's true that the planet we are growing toward won't look like our planet now—we will lose whole worlds even as we nurture new ways of being. But there are certain things—the ability to give and receive love, to find joy in each morning, to feel gratitude for the exquisite rawness of life—that are climate change proof. 

And this to me is what it means to be a sensuous environmentalist: to truly tend to those things that are climate change proof. To celebrate the sweetness of everything that you can touch, taste, see, hear, and smell. To create a present that is rich in possibility. To conserve wildlife and cultivate resilient ecosystems. To fight from a place of profound love. To experience our bodies in this world in relationship to other bodies, celestial and otherwise. 

Because if you want to create a better world, your only task is to stay forever in love with this world. 

 

For more on sensuous environmentalism, give "The Sensuous Environmentalist" a listen. Lily Myers, Loam's spirituality columnist, and I recorded this podcast for our holistic feminism site, The Shapes We Make. It was such a joy to dig into this conversation and we hope you like it as much as we loved creating it!

 

 

WATER THAT SOUND: A CONVERSATION WITH ANDREA SANDERS

Loam loves to listen! In this podcast, we talk to Andrea Sanders of Be Zero about living in a circular economy, inhabiting contradictions, and carving out the space for more experience—and less stuff—in our lives. Andrea's compassionate approach to activism will inspire you to make small tweaks in your own life, trusting that every step has resonances we can't always predict. As Andrea reminds us, radical change happens in a thousand and one different ways. 

WATER THAT SOUND: A CONVERSATION WITH LYNN TROTTA

What would love do? It's the most gentle and compassionate question that I can ask myself. 

LYNN TROTTA

In our second podcast for Water That Sound (Mariana sadly couldn't make it—that girl is scaling mountains!) I speak to Lynn Trotta, a nature-based life coach, naturalist, and the co-creator of the Sagefire Institute, on everything from embodying hope to honoring our elders. Lynn has been a mentor of mine for many years and she is one of the most inspiring, empowering, and passionate women I know. She likely doesn't realize how much she has changed me for the better because I was kind of a butt when I studied at her wilderness school during high school, but in many ways, what I learned from Lynn—about fostering a love for the natural world, about truly tending to what surrounds us—sowed the seeds for Loam.

Feeling eco-anxiety? Eager to grow your passion project? Want to find the mothering archetype that exists within each of us? Consider our conversation with Lynn your healing medicine. Hope lives here.  

WATER THAT SOUND: WELCOME

In our first podcast for Water That Sound, Artist-in-Residence Mariana Rojas & Loam Creative Director Kate Weiner talk about the importance of integrating sound into the Loam experience. Listen in to learn more about carving out homes for environmental activism and stay tuned for upcoming interviews with radical changemakers & creators. The sound quality isn't great (connecting across the Colorado wilderness is rough!) but the heart is all there. 

 

P.S.: Know someone who would be a good fit for our podcast? Write to us at connect@loammagazine.com. We want to learn about whomever is bringing hope and joy and transformation to your corner of the universe!

TO STAY

WORDS: MARIANA ROJAS

The Perseids meteor shower peaked overnight. The sky a swelling carpet of fire, each star battling, making a target out of black holes and here we were, Lia and I, siting like a sage brush in the middle of a desert surrounded by salt.

 

What a bazaar place, we contemplated. The day started with a hike to Lake blanche in Big Cottonwood Canyon. The conversation on trail moved from perceptions of beauty to feeling whole and finding soul-connections. I noticed we would leave one another in bewilderment, in this odd state of being that measured each step before this one. We mentioned in passing that the moment we met, as wilderness field guides, we felt an energy and then we were left to search for one another. We did. In our own ways. And we arrived. I told Lia, “I want to take this conversation deeper, I need to share something.” And of course, she asked me to spend the night out and all of me and my tremble said, “let’s go somewhere dark!” We did. Stansbury Island, an odd curve of desert land, floating amidst salt and rock welcomed us. As we drove into this remote sultriness of a land, we only saw a combusting stretch of orange and red and yellow, as though we fell right into a bonfire. We set up camp, pulled out some beers, and it was silent for a while, but not much was needed to be said.

 

I have met someone who interprets my silence, my quietude, and my inarticulate sound as a language. Lia and I spent the night finishing each other’s sentences, looming over each other’s tone as though only person was there, under those stars. As the conversation began to take a more serious tone (and we were both waiting for it) we bathed in love stories of the season—the lovers that walked away fearing our depth, the lovers that sauntered into confusion with our language, the lovers that kissed each layer of our being and still decided to walk away. People walk away from us all the time. The walking away part is messy, unexpected sometimes. People like Lia and I are notorious for finding solitude vital. We are used to people walking away as though we are a sinking ship in the middle of some ocean left behind by the wind that took all our sails. But the question still exists, among all the contemplation and reasoning for the walkers—“why can’t people stay?”

 

Dear Lia, I do not have an answer and I wish I did under this bazaar sky doing what it does, when it needs to, because it is what it is. It is hard to accept the walking away after the most stubborn and wistful kiss another body can offer—a kiss that sacrifices the flesh to see the earthquake veiling in the skin. After another body has nurtured your opening. Know that they asked for our opening because they can. It is hard to accept that walking away is not about you and me, Lia. People are afraid of depth, fearful of enigmatic connection. We must not fault their walking away. I like to believe that balances exist. And that with the strength that something or someone walked away is also the same strength that lives within them to stay. But look at us, still in all our beauty and joy, sitting under a sky for us right now. Know, Lia that those we [love]d are showering under the Perseids magic. Whether they are thinking about us or not, it is not important. We must focus our ceremonious love towards the fact we do love. Some cannot face that they too love. Some are not there with us, but they are somewhere they need to be. What is special about our love, Lia is that it is never ending. Those who we have loved can and may return, the same way those who we will love will arrive. This is because our love is never-ending. We are a forever kind of love. And some people are not looking for forever. But we live a different forever, Lia. We know things and people have a boundary, a cliff somewhere that only takes a jump to finish. But this kind of forever does not escape our flow, our influx of love. This is how we live and comprehend the present, Lia. And it is okay. The present, too, also deserves our attention. Which is where staying may come from. To want someone or something to stay is see our divergence converge. This is scary, but worth it. It is how the land and sea meet (the shoreline moving everyday is the convergence of two domains). It is how the moon never touches the sea, but the tides still move and disturb nothing it does not mean to. It is when two different people meet and feel the flare, they see a light in each other moving so fast that one is bound to fall and mistake it for leaving. It is not a leaving, it is the other telling them, the fall is okay and I am still here.

 

This is what a soul-connection begs for—the freeing from our own constraints. The walking away means you are not done with something else. This walking away returns somewhere. We are walkers, Lia who do not leave a body behind and some connections are still learning how to hold people close, how to indulge in the messages, how to reach out for that hug when their body craves it. We are scary, Lia. And that is okay. We do not change for anyone—we change with—we change towards—we change because—and the ones who claim we do not have something they want will find out later that we have it all right here. Right in this flirtatious present, playing under the meteor shower of the year, we still imagine staying. The staying is not asking anyone to stay. It is not expecting someone to [whole]ly understand you. The staying is confronting that walking away as though everything in this moment surrenders to you. The staying is the clearing of the person we thought we would be forever—is sending that person to continue walking elsewhere while they, too, stay right here. The staying is a communion of distinct paths encountering and unveiling the affair they have with risk. There is hurting because we believe everyone we meet wants to stay, but this may not be true. And if there is something I’ve learned from being that one person who walked away once and again and again, is that I must live now with remembering each stayer in my life as someone with strength. I still find myself building strength out bone and love. We love, Lia. And we want to love. And we do it with every transition, with every fear, with every cup of tea. So let us stay here, passing this ukulele back and forth as we play for this shower.

 

My house is dark right now. The curtains are tucking away light from the plants. My house is full of shadows and my room is a dungeon of fears, storing nights of tender and tangibility. The dark side does this. It brings to light what was hiding. There is light there still. Just different light. A haunting light that disguises in shadows and moonlight. I’ve pulled a tarot card for you. You were sent The Star. Of course you did. I expect nothing else. You will continue to be the searcher you are because that is how you stay and walk away. The Star is a returner of self and contemplation. We are grounded in nature and need to be barefoot to speak. This card tells me that we now understand the convergence of staying and walking away as the medium of knowledge. Later, we will notice people do not walk away alone. We both do. It takes to stay and walk away for this to work. We will see ourselves in a distance, away from that lover and notice that you, too, kept walking and they stayed somewhere else.

 

WATER THAT SOUND

Celebrated poet Mariana Rojas and Loam Creative Director Kate Weiner are collaborating on a new podcast series. "Water That Sound: The Loam Podcast" is our way of bringing you into the conversation with the many radical artists and activists that we're fortunate enough to meet through our work. 

Why the name "Water That Sound"? As Mariana explains: 

Not just a transparent and soundless liquid that forms the seas, lakes, rivers, and rain, water is a compound that makes us body, a body, bodies—another body of water. For so long we have misinterpreted silence, we have drawn parameters around fears and secrets and called it silence. Silence, like the desert is the reminder of the lurking rain, the conceivable flood. And like the act of pouring water into a flowerpot and seeing a leaf or petal blossom—the trickles make a sound, confirm that the patience inherent to silence is the companion of growth. Silence is the location for the potential of sound and bloom. Climate change tells stories of oceans rising, but we continue to remain silent in the climatic changes of our bodies. To reinterpret this rising in waters and silence around the condition of our species, our bodies and sound must raise the volume, water the sound, walk in parallel with the stories of our environments. In hope of this noise and remedy for active living, this podcast will water the silences making sound. 

We're so very excited to share this series with you. And as always, we welcome any ideas you might have for interviewees. Know a farmer working to restore soils? Have a friend whose found art is rocking your world? Write in to connect@loammagazine.com. We'd love to learn from you. 

JESS BEST: KID AGAIN

The ladies of Loam have fallen head over heels in love with the latest album from sun goddess Jess Best. Her gorgeous lyrics and soul-stirring beats beautifully capture the raw beauty and revitalizing pain embedded in breaking up. Resonances of the natural world—from the bones of a butterfly to lotus flowers—move in and out through the songs. Listening to the album from "Intro" to "Tried to Run," one gets the sense that for this artist, human connection is profoundly entangled in environmental connection.

What we love most about "Kid Again" is Jess's celebration of the fiery creative spirit. She reminds us that taking the time to make art is essential for healing both our soul and this world that we live in and so love. Our favorite tracks? "Soul Flower," which will make even the most brokenhearted feel inspired to do, and "if I grew up," which returned us to the daring dreams we nurtured in childhood. 

PODCAST: THE SENSUOUS ENVIRONMENTALIST

IMAGE: ELIJAH STEVENS

WORDS: KATE WEINER

In our latest podcast, the lovely Lily Myers and I (co-creators of The Shapes We Make) discuss our desire to come at environmental activism from a place of joy and juiciness. We could only skim the surface of this complicated issue in our thirty-minute long podcast but we are so very excited to continue the conversation.

NOTE: We talk a lot in this podcast about micromovements. We KNOW that what we need in the face of drastic climate change is a revolution—in how we approach energy, the economy, development. But we strongly believe that radical change and small steps can—and must—coexist. People are motivated to act by diverse catalysts. We need to start wherever we can, however we can.

For more on this idea, read our essay (inspired by Joanna Macy's powerful tome on working through environmental despair) on the power of micromovements. And be sure to give our podcast a listen and to let us know your thoughts—we deeply value your perspective!

LOAM: WOODLAND CITY

WORDS & PLAYLIST: Josh the Word
From a dear friend of Loam, a playlist for your ears. 

I grew up in the woods. When I moved to the city, suddenly some of my favorite songs didn't sound the same. Try listening to a guitar that sounds like wet earth next to a stream bed while you're riding the J train past row after row of brick high rises along East River. Contrast. And in that contrast, something new starts to take shape. 

The poet Saul Williams once wrote, "Not until you listen to Rakim on a rocky mountain top have you heard hip-hop." After moving to Brooklyn in 2011, I think I've come to realize that the opposite is also true. Take Volcano Choir's "Byegone," a song that always sounds to me like the forests of Eau Claire, Wisconsin where it was recorded. It always sounds perfect when I hear it somewhere wild, where the trees stretch as far as the eye can see. Try listening to it in the city. Extract the woodland element that created it and let the towering steel and concrete illustrate it. Something new starts to happen: dissonant, almost wrong, but slightly transcendent. 

Not every song on this playlist is about the wilderness, or was recorded in it, or sounds like some kind of woodsy anthem, but in my ears, these songs all lay against the city like the strangest lover. In town for a few days maybe, from a place you haven't been for a little too long. Take a listen. It just might take you somewhere else.

SUPER LADY MUSIC: PLAYLIST by JAMILA WOODS

This fresh from our Harvest Edition playlist by Jamila Woods is sure to warm any winter day.

IMAGE: ERIKA DICKERSON-DESPENZA

WORDS: NICOLE STANTON & JAMILA WOODS

Jamila Woods is very much so a Super Lady. She is a poet and vocalist hailing from Chicago. Loam met Jamila while she was on tour with M&O (fka Milo & Otis). M&O’s first album The Joy and their sophomore album Almost Us are perfect companions for the upcoming winter months. In her superladyschedule of musician, poet, and teaching artist, Jamila was kind enough to make us a “superladymusic” playlist. Her selection of tunes oozes her Chicago pride and soul/hip-hop inspired tastes. Listen away.

superladymusic

  1. Blossom Dearie by Ravyn Lenae

  2. Have Mercy by Eryn Allen Kane

  3. Take You Back featuring Akenya & Via Rosa by Noname Gypsy

  4. Wake Up by Daryn Alexus

  5. Fingerprints by Homme

  6. Treat Me Like Fire by Lion Babe

  7. Novacaine by Christian LaJon

  8. Lullaby featuring Soft Glass by Chargaux

  9. Has to Be by Yadda Yadda

  10. Hopes Up by Drama Duo

  11. We Can Go Blind by The Flavr Blue

  12. Feeling Like I’ve Been Wrong by Lorine Chia

  13. Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl by Wet

  14. Right Now by Jean Deaux

  15. Why Me by Jess Glynne

  16. Fushia by Highness

  17. Candied Daylight by Jennah Bell

  18. Race Jones #ForMyPeople #MikeBrown by V Bozeman

 

superladymusic is a collection of songs by some of my favorite up and coming female musicians. These artists hail from all over the globe, although the list is admittedly a little chicago-heavy for good measure. This list considers "emerging" in a broad sense, and includes songs that innovate on our expectations of what a song should be, whether it be through blurring the line between the voice and instruments or creating a lyrical manifesto to address the social issues of our time. I hope you enjoy.

Jamila Woods

 

LOAM: Up & Coming

We're up to our ears in working our first print issue, and couldn't be happier about it. One of our featured artists is Jess Best, a jazz-R&B-all-things-good musician based in Brooklyn. We fell in love with her debut album, Gone Baby, and have been swooning over her ever since. She was kind enough to make us up a playlist -- all made up of tunes from "up and coming" artists. Please enjoy and share. The Loam crew has been bopping our heads to this stellar playlist for days now.

 

THOUGHTS ON TUNES

At Loam we hope to encourage being embedded in community – be it our new cyber-community, those in your immediate space, or the clinging to people far and wide. Music is a way of transcending distance, of fusing proximity. Sounds become associated with place, nostalgic ache, thrill for what is next. Our playlists will always be "songs to be outside to," "songs to share," and maybe even "songs to bop your head to."