It's that time of year again: the McDowell Mountain Music Festival is here! Each year the festival brings in big names from all over the map, and this year is no exception, with Australian indie-folker Xavier Rudd playing. Rudd's multi-instrumentalist approach will surely add a special touch to the festival.
We spoke to Xavier about the Australian floods that occurred earlier this year, as well as some of the environmental causes about which he is most passionate. He also had some inspiring views about the spirit and meaning of music festivals in general.
Check out Xavier Rudd's headlining performance on Saturday, April 30, at the McDowell Mountain Music Festival at the Compound. For goodness sake, this guy can play every instrument under the sun, so don't miss his set!
Up On The Sun: You're playing the headlining spot on Saturday night at the McDowell Mountain Music Festival. This festival was essentially created to bring real music to Arizona while getting the community together for a great cause: everyone's children. You've played a lot of major festivals prior to this one. How do you feel a festival brings people together and benefits the community?
Xavier Rudd: Music is about connecting culture and spirit. The celebration of music is a very sacred thing around the world. It's still that raw connection through energy and vibration. In a lot of ways, it's very much a modern day sacred ceremony in a chaotic world. People need that, you know? It's like vitamins.
UOTS: Earlier this month you tweeted about meeting the founders of Code Green Tasmania, and you said it was very inspirational. What is Code Green Tasmania do? Do you currently have any involvement with them?
XR: I met the founders just a couple of weeks ago. I just had an introduction to it. I just really like what they're doing. I've been involved in a few different forestry and anti-logging movements in Tasmania. The biggest problem in Tazzy is the logging. You have some of the biggest trees in the world in Tasmania. It's pretty devastating. I've met a group of pretty interesting people who are professionals...vets, doctors, just to name a few...they're sort of putting their professional status behind stopping a lot of things. Tasmanian devils' habitats are being threatened, among other controversies that, if they go through, will be really devastating. Code Green is good. It seems very exciting, and hopefully we'll make some change.
UOTS: I believe that Big Day Out said back in January before the festival started that the show would go on. How have the floods from earlier in the year affected the music scene in Australia?
XR: I can't say too much because I haven't been up where the floods were. I've been south, and there wasn't a lot happening here. I haven't heard a lot about the how it affected the music industry. Did it affect the Big Day Out? I'm not sure. I've been away. When I'm at home, I don't have TV. I haven't heard about the floods affecting music too much.
UOTS: I heard that there were a lot of American artists that canceled their Australian tour dates when the floods occurred. Meanwhile, there were other artists who were making special trips to Australia just to play concerts to raise money for flood relief.
XR: Yeah, there was probably a lot of hesitation because of the lack of travel availability. There were a lot of roads closed. People could still get around. I'm sure those artists would have been able to still do their shows if they [came to Australia].
UOTS: You've been referred to as a one-man band. You play guitar, didgeridoo, lapsteel, percussion instruments...you name it, you play it. How does one musician manage and utilize so many instruments in one performance?
XR: I don't know. It sort of flows naturally for me. I wouldn't do it if it felt uncomfortable or if it was something that I had to practice a lot to get down. It's sort of like dancing, you know? All of my limbs are involved, and as long as I open up and get loose, it all should come out the way I want.
UOTS: It's been nearly a year since the release of your last album, Koonyum Sun. Are you working on a new album? If so, when are you expecting it to be released?
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XR: I am working on a new album! Hopefully [it will be ready by] early 2012.
UOTS: What else is next for you?
XR: [I just did] a few shows in Australia with Izintaba, and then I'm coming to the States! I'm looking forward to it. It's been quite a while since I've been playing solo now...five or six years. I'm really excited and I'm really enjoying it. I've got some new things I'm doing, and I'm really digging' it.