We Are Music to Present Benefit Concert in Somerville

Summer Forest Hoeckel is bringing electronic music, climate change education, and Philippines typhoon relief together under one Boston-area roof this Saturday in Somerville.

The Right Now! climate change awareness and Philippines benefit event presented by Forest Hoeckel’s company, We Are Music, is planning to educate and entertain Bostonians on Feb. 1. A lineup of both locally and globally popular electronic musicians as well as experts on climate change and human rights is set to take the stage at Right Now!, creating a unique environment in which Forest Hoeckel hopes to spark a movement.

Forest Hoeckel, who has worked in the media and entertainment industry for 15 years, published a graphic history of the influence of the American underground electronic dance music scene, Searching for the Perfect Beat, in 2002. Idealizing the themes of peace, unity, and love which characterize the electronic dance movement, Forest Hoeckel was able to find similarities in ideals of her own, including her passion for climate change awareness and Buddhism, which she has been studying for over 10 years. “I decided to turn my day job into my passion, which was to bring all of these things together into one stream,” Forest Hoeckel said.

Despite a few years spent in more commercial jobs as the company started up, Forest Hoeckel came to the conclusion that a large-scale music festival revolving around climate change was a perfect outlet for her ideas. “I thought, ‘how can we plug music into the cause of climate change, how can we make that effective?'” she said. “When you look at big concerts of the past-they all did a lot of good, raised a lot of money-but didn’t have the full experience I was looking for.”

Living in a Buddhist residential community in Cambridge at a distance from traditional entertainment centers, Forest Hoeckel looked toward the academic arena to complete the experience she had in mind.

“When the typhoon happened, we decided that this would be a really great opportunity to test some of the ideas and try to bring all of the pieces together around one event,” she said, and the Right Now! benefit was conceived as part one of her hopes for music festival success.

Over the past few months, Forest Hoeckel and her team took special care to invite the area’s most popular electronic musicians as well as the most informed climatologists to build a lineup and panel that she hopes can spark a conversation on climate change: “Music creates a certain type of energy, and climate change is a hard topic to address-it is huge and overwhelming-but any time you bring people together around joy like music or art, it creates a different kind of reference for it,” she said.

Forest Hoeckel hopes Right Now! will work as an intermediary between those who are experts on the current climate situation and the public who can do something about it, and she has called on a few big names to address the subject. To build an intellectual reference for her event, Forest Hoeckel collaborated with Peter Harrington, a graduate candidate of public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, to invite 25 to 30 speakers to represent climate science. Michael Mann, American climatologist and geophysicist; Jack Healy, human rights activist; and Cameron Wake, regional climate change expert, will lead the panel in discussion on climate change and its implications. Bill McKibben, called “the nation’s leading environmentalist” by The Boston Globe, has also worked with We Are Music to create a special video message to be screened at Right Now! in hopes of creating an intellectual, yet accessible conversation on climate change.

Much of the discussion at Right Now! will highlight climatological work in New England and its impact at the local level. “This happens to be the large issue of our time,” Forest Hoeckel said. “There always is one, but when people come together in a certain kind of way, they begin to see how their life could be if they engage.”

One of the most unique panelists set to address climate change is Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, president of the Buddhist Association of the United States. Forest Hoeckel said that any spiritual leader commenting on climate change would bring a universal element to the discussion, and, for her, having a leader in the Buddhist community makes the event even more personal. “[Bhikkhu Bodji] provides a powerful voice helping to explain that what is happening right now is important,” Forest Hoeckel said.

The lineup of electronic musicians who will perform at Right Now! on Saturday is as varied as the list of panelists. Boston electronic pop quartet Bearstronaut will accompany ESCORT and DJ Kon to highlight the electronic disco genre Forest Hoeckel is so passionate about. “We are able to plug into this global mouthpiece and use it to be effective in the world, not only as a creative source but as one that can shape a movement,” Forest Hoeckel said about the recent global surge in popularity of electronic music.

“I am as passionate about music as I am about helping the world,” said Forest Hoeckel on her decision to send 100 percent of the proceeds to typhoon relief in the Philippines. “The good that we can do, the impact we could have both for the Philippines and climate change education, what to do with the money was never really part of the question,” she said.

Hoeckel is hoping to sell out the concert’s venue on Saturday. Because of the support the event has been receiving from the community, Forest Hoeckel said that she thinks the success of the benefit is inevitable. Companies ranging from PopChips to Island Creek Oysters have agreed to sponsor the event that will be held in at Somerville indoor climbing facility, Brooklyn Boulders.

“It was just easy for everyone to get on board,” Forest Hoeckel said. “Right from the beginning everything has been geared toward doing good, and there is kind of an amazing synchronization happening there.”


January 29, 2014