“Folktivism” for the Earth: an Interview with Musician Luke Wallace

An Interview with Luke Wallace, politically engaged Canadian singer/songwriter; conducted by Bioneers Arts Coordinator, Polina Smith.

Luke Wallace embodies a new wave of politically charged folk music, writing the soundtrack for a movement of people rising up to meet the social and environmental challenges of our times. His most recent album, “What on Earth,” is his 5th. He has played at folk festivals all over the West Coast, led many sing-a-longs at Canada’s biggest youth climate marches and performed at climate change events internationally. Known for his catchy songwriting and inspiring musical delivery, Luke sees his role as using his music to amp up and inspire the folks fighting for a better world and as a platform to amplify the voices of communities threatened by unjust resource extraction.

Luke will be a panelist on a session with fellow engaged musicians affiliated with Guayaki Tea’s “Come to Life” music venture at the upcoming Bioneers online conference 

POLINA SMITH: How did your musical career begin?

LUKE WALLACE: I’ve been writing songs for as long as I can remember. For me, folk music was a beautiful antidote to the more structured music I was performing in choir and jazz bands in my teen years. I loved, and still love, the freedom that comes with just singing; however, writing and singing about the things most important to me is even more fulfilling. 

POLINA SMITH: How has the pandemic changed your trajectory? What have been the challenges and the gifts?

LUKE WALLACE: Like most touring artists, my spring tour plans collapsed in a matter of days. It was a shock, and it took me a while to get out of the depression that followed losing a tour that had taken 6 months of unpaid planning to put together. As with all things, this was a lesson in acceptance, and underneath the frustration I was feeling were deep lessons that I now consider some of the most valuable of my life. Control is something that I often get caught in, and being forced to let go of that control was challenging at first, but is now something that I embrace as best I can.

POLINA SMITH: What are your ultimate dreams and vision for your art?

LUKE WALLACE: I write music to be understood and to heal. I find a real sense of being ‘heard’ when I get to perform and record music. If I’m lucky, this translates into being understood on a human level. When I’m understood on a human level, healing is inevitable, for myself and for the listener. On the larger than personal level, I’d hope that my art could play a small part in humanity’s global awakening to its right place within the beautiful harmony and limits of planet Earth. 

POLINA SMITH: What is your perspective on the times we are living in?

LUKE WALLACE: Our dearest mother Earth is giving us a shake. She’s reminding us that when we travel too far from the source of our life and wellbeing, we will experience suffering and disconnection. We are being asked to reconnect, reintegrate and remember where we are from

POLINA SMITH: What do you believe is the role of art and music in social justice movements and in this time specifically?

LUKE WALLACE: I used to think that music was fuel for the movement, but now I see it a little differently. I see amazing human beings (those on the frontlines fighting to protect the planet) organizing for change and justice, and I see music as an important contribution to those folks’ sanity. To be understood is a gift, and I think music can offer those who are deep in the trenches of justice a moment of rest and reassurance. 

POLINA SMITH: What are you most excited about in the Bioneers Conference you are going to be participating in?

LUKE WALLACE: Imagining a new world is exactly what we need to do right now, and the Bioneers Conference consistently brings the newest ideas and ways of being to collective consciousness. I am very excited to hear what everyone has been dreaming up. 

POLINA SMITH: Thank you Luke, for sharing your wisdom and music with us, we can’t wait to see you at the conference!

Join Luke at the Virtual Bioneers Conference on Guayaki Tea’s Panel: Come To Life: Inspiring the Regenerative Movement Through Arts and Activism

Learn more about Luke’s Work: www.lukewallacemusic.com

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