‘Global Grooves For Plants and People’ is the tagline for the brilliant Dance For Plants, founded by DJs Sam Forryan and Emily Shinagawa. Their aim is clear; throwing dance parties with an ethical conscience and raising awareness of climate change. So if you join them for their events you can dance the day and night away knowing that you’re helping in some way towards the climate change emergency.
We had a chat with Sam and Emily to find out all about Dance For Plants.
Uncover Liverpool: Tell us a bit more about yourselves, how you come up with the idea for Dance For Plants and when did you get started?
Sam & Emily: Dance for Plants started as a simple idea of just two people (us) wanting to have a party with their friends. Basically we both had been bedroom DJs for a few years and loved the idea of DJing live, and so we just decided to go for it! We thought that we could use our first event to raise money for a good cause, and so hired a small venue, sold tickets for a few pounds each and used the money to support World Land Trust. We also felt that in raising money for an environmental charity, it would be a bit counterintuitive to use single-use plastics (i.e. cups, straws etc.), so we kind of made the event about trying to reduce our waste footprint too. The event was a hit, and we decided to try and do more! Sadly this was about 2 weeks before the pandemic hit (February 2020), so we had to wait a long time to do more in-person events!
UL: You guys also have your own show on Mixcloud where you play some seriously cool music and chat about important environmental issues. It’s such an enjoyable listen! Did this feel like a natural step for you to take with being DJ’s?
Sam & Emily: We actually made a few of these Mixcloud shows in the early part of last year, when most venues were still closed or restricted due to COVID. It was a fun project for us to work on, and it was a great way to learn more about some of the music and artists we love, and try to get to grips with some of the environmental issues in the world today. It’s pretty clear the world is in a bad way as a result of human impact, so it was important to us that we didn’t just raise awareness about some of these things, but try and give people some little ideas about achievable things that they can do to try and have a more positive impact.
UL: The music you play at your parties and on your Mixcloud show is such an incredible mix. What can the party-goer or listener expect?
Sam & Emily: Really glad to hear you liked it!! We both really enjoy music from a really wide range of styles and genres, and from all over the world. Our live events differ from our recordings in that it is such a joy to get to play our favourite songs on a big soundsystem and watch people groove to it! Essentially we want to play music that maximises that feeling and gets across how much fun we have while doing it. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, because at the end of the day we’re just sharing music that other, more talented people have made! You can expect to hear a real mix of stuff across a whole range of vibes, from more laidback Saharan Blues, Brazilian jazz and Arabic reggae to latin house, fiery Caribbean zouk and Vietnamese disco!
UL: Could you tell us a bit about the environmental charities you support and the work that they do?
Sam & Emily: For our last two parties, we raised funds for World Land Trust, which is a conservation charity that protects threatened habitats and wildlife by buying land to prevent development and helping them regenerate. We’ve been big fans of the amazing work they do for a long time, so it was fantastic to be able to support them whilst having a lot of fun. We also planted trees in Scotland with the Future Forest Company through our monthly gigs at a great bar in Liverpool called Subrosa – we used our pay to plant about 30 trees a month, and have now planted around 300 trees with them.
For our May event, we’ll be planting a tree with FFC for every ticket sold. We’re also donating the rest of our ticket profits to the Cheshire Wildlife Trust. They are a great local organisation that manages and regenerates a variety of habitats, from meadows to wetlands and even the sea. We are so lucky to have such a variety of unique landscapes around the Merseyside region, and it’s important to protect these habitats for everyone to enjoy for decades to come.
UL: Obviously environmental causes and climate change are really important to you, how would you encourage others to get involved in the movement? What small or big changes have you made in your lives that you think others could do?
Sam & Emily: Climate change is a very real challenge we face, and it can be quite daunting to think about how to overcome it – but we really want people to realise that small, consistent changes in our daily habits can make a big impact on the long run. It might be reducing how much meat/dairy you eat, choosing to use public transport, or buying second-hand clothes instead – these all add up! If you want to get more actively involved, there are plenty of environmental charities and organisations that need our help, both locally and nationally. Social media is a great way to find out about any groups and events happening nearby, and there’s plenty of ways to do your bit – it can be as easy as adding your name to a petition, making regular donations, volunteering for a few hours or even taking part in a fundraiser!
UL: You also arrange litter picking sessions, that you currently run once a month, how can people get involved with these litter picks?
Sam & Emily: We normally post about them on our Instagram page about a week in advance – drop us a message if you fancy joining in! We provide all the equipment, so all you have to bring is enthusiasm – you get a free drink at the bar afterwards too.
UL: What does the future hold for Dance For Plants? Do you have more events planned? What are your long term goals?
Sam & Emily: Dance for Plants has already far exceeded what we imagined it could be! As well as helping environmental charities, it has been so great to collaborate with local charities too, such as Liverpool Cares and Liverpool RASA. In the long term we’d love to work more with some of these guys. Similarly, it has been really enjoyable to collaborate with small local businesses and invite them into our events, and this is also something we’d like to pursue more in the future.
We have also been selling T-Shirts with our logo on to raise money for the Disaster Emergency Committee’s work in Ukraine – if this goes well we might try and expand this idea to sell other kinds of merchandise to help good causes.
We are also currently in talks with local radio station Melodic Distraction to turn our podcast into a radio show with them, which we’re really excited about.
However right now most of our mental energy is focusing on trying to make our next event as big a success as possible! It takes place at Bloom Building on Bank Holiday Sunday (May 1st) from 4-11pm, and it’s gonna be a blast. Tickets are available on Resident Advisor, and as above each ticket sold plants a tree, with the remaining profit going to Cheshire Wildlife Trust. We’ve also enlisted the wonderful Desert Island Dumplings to come and sell their amazing plant-based dumplings, and can’t wait to see what they bring!