King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard have been bestowed with the first-ever Environmental Music Prize (EMP) thanks to their 2020 song ‘If Not Now, Then When?’ and its accompanying music video.
The EMP aims to amplify the voices of artists who inspire action for climate and conservation, a frequent theme in King Gizzard’s music. Set in a post-eco apocalypse time, ‘If Not Now, Then When?’ is a powerful call for immediate action on climate. The song was released in December 2020, a strong response to the Black Summer bushfires that ravaged Australia.
The finalists for the inaugural prize were announced earlier this year, with King Gizzard seeing off strong competition from the likes of Lime Cordiale, Jack River, and Tim Minchin. King Gizzard were picked via an international public vote, with over 7,500 votes cast across 58 countries.
The EMP comes with a $20,000 reward, which the band have decided to donate to The Wilderness Society, further highlighting their environmental credentials.
“We’re so humbled to have won the inaugural Environmental Music Prize!,” singer Stu Mackenzie said. “It’s fantastic and deeply important for initiatives like this one, to help build community around the fight against the climate crisis. I’ve written quite a few songs about climate change, but after the black summer bushfires in 2019-2020, shit started to feel dire. It still feels dire – more dire.
We need actual, real, tangible action from our leaders, otherwise what are they there for? Why are we not doing everything we humanly can to right our wrongs? When we’re literally on fire, why not now? If not now, then when?”
Directed by Dr D Foothead, the accompanying animated music video enhanced the environmental themes at the heart of the song. “The song made me consider how individual action or inaction affects the world,” the artist explained.
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“What happens when our repressed pain, darkness and confusion manifest and influence our surroundings and relationships? I wanted to explore the journey of a character who has neglected their inner shadow, and how this energy manifests physically and becomes a force of its own.”