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Musician Wins WWF Contest

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Artist and activist Dean Omori recently won a WWF (World Wildlife Federation) contest for his song and video, How Can You Sleep. The song is a beautiful, but mournful lament for a rapidly changing world. We caught up wth Dean to ask him a couple of questions about his music, activism and if winning the contest has helped him reach a wider audience.

Tell us a bit about How Can You Sleep.

I wrote the song How Can You Sleep back in February 2008. It began with the idea that if we stood back far enough and looked at ourselves, we would see a species that acts with what appears to be an irrational desire to drag itself towards it’s own annihilation. As the song says ‘Man, you keep taking us to the end of the world.

Tell us about the WWF contest.

The whole WWF thing was a total surprise to me. I knew virtually nothing of it until they wrote to me saying that my film had won the award. I had made the video very simply; I held up a camera and followed the imagery of the song.

We drank a little wine until my children and their friends slept and I tip-toed into their rooms in the dark and filmed them sleeping. I pieced together the film one afternoon and uploaded it to my website.

A friend of mine kindly passed it around via the internet. Months later I received an email from Maligi Marbari at the connect2earth team who ran the competition for WWF; she said that she had seen it somewhere online and suggested I send it to her, as the WWF criteria stipulated that it had to be submitted by the author. I uploaded it to their website and thought no more about it. Thousands saw it and I won.

Since WWF endorsed me, all manner of people and organizations have taken this thing I do seriously. They have opened doors for me that were firmly shut and I am forever grateful.

This is a job that pays nothing, it tortures me from time to time and inspires my love and hate in equal amounts. I have done it alone everyday for almost 20 years and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
—Dean Omon

How would you describe your music?

Passionate and, until recently, undiscovered. But it plugs that hole where something needs to be said. Everything you hear is written, preformed and recorded by me in my back room, on an Apple computer. All the other noise is down to a couple of friends and my children who rattle around the house making their noise.

This is a job that pays nothing, it tortures me from time to time and inspires my love and hate in equal amounts. I have done it alone everyday for almost 20 years and I wouldn’t change it for the world. And now it’s been let out. I call it The Art of Protest.

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What influence does the environmental crisis have on your work?

At the moment everything I create has environmental undercurrents. I have two little boys who I take care of while my wife; their mother is at work. The children talk about the future and what they will do and who they will be in it. How can I not be moved by their dreams of distant futures and by what, in reality, there will be left for them to inherit after we have all finished taking our bite? I cannot stand by and let this happen. So I pick up my guitar, press record and stamp my feet.

The world is set for change unlike never before; let us not fight it all the way. That which cannot accept or embrace change cannot evolve and will therefore become extinct.

In the books I have written, the pictures I once painted, to the thousands of songs I write and sing; they are all steeped in protest.
—Dean Omori

Have you always incorporated activism into your art?

Yes. In the books I have written, the pictures I once painted, to the thousands of songs I write and sing; they are all steeped in protest. Be it the environmental crisis, human rights’ abuses, the endless ocean of landmines or the outrageous conflicts that shadow this planet like some ancient eclipse. There is nothing more urgent, more worth fighting for than that which prevents us from our position as legislator, protector and guardian of all life on planet earth.

Are the albums Ten War Songs, Last Artist Died Today and Children’s Stories inspired by activism/protest?

Ten War Songs is so obviously political and is as raw as the people broken by another war banquet. It includes the song ‘Beautiful World’ which is accompanied by a striking video of a woman signing the lyrics from a bunker.

The Last Artist Died Today includes the song ‘How Can You Sleep’. A fictional poet, Elzebub Peskins, is found dead at home with these songs as an epitaph. He wonders, as mankind seems to be unable to support other forms of life on this planet, how long it will be before the last artist dies.

Children’s Stories talks of how our future depends on how we bring up our children. But hope will always prevail where children are born. The trilogy ends with the child grown to adult, able to see mankind in the light of our achievements and enormous capacity for good.

On January 5th 2009 my three albums were released on iTunes and Amazon.

I am not naive enough to believe that music can change the world. It can only act alongside those who wish to make a difference. Perhaps it could be the soundtrack for change.
—Dean Omon

There seems to be some sadness behind How Can You Sleep. Is this the emotion that drove you to create the song/video?

Yes it is a sad song, a song that belongs to mournful things. The children represent innocence and as we all know this is a fragile commodity that you can’t have back once it is gone.

I am not naive enough to believe that music can change the world. It can only act alongside those who wish to make a difference. Perhaps it could be the soundtrack for change.

Do you consider yourself an activist? Or an artist?

It’s funny but few months ago I used the word Activist as my occupation on my passport application and it was denied. They said it was not a valid occupation, unlike say, an insurance agent or television presenter. Maybe it made me sound too subversive, maybe I had a bomb in my bag, perhaps I sang songs that incited love. All artists have activist hearts. I will die an artist, but I shall live as an activist.

Let the scientists deliver the facts; let the musicians report it to the world. It is the easiest way to get young people interested in such issues. But I am saddened by the fact that the young appear so lethargic in times when there is so much to be said, so much to believe in and stand up for.

How do you feel about the current state of the planet?

I do not wish to make light of the current economic problems but we can always make more money… you can’t make anymore polar bears.

The tumbling financial institutions come like a warning that something bigger is looming. Money is worthless, life is everything.

For me the most exciting and positive thing about the state of planet earth today, is that we have to do something. No more can we afford to stand back and do nothing or leave it to other people. All differences are to be put aside, politics, religion culture and borders. We need an evolution/revolution.

Visit: http://www.deanomori.com/