As lyrical and poetic with his words on stage and off, we caught up with Australian native, Ziggy Alberts, the headliner at 2019's summer ‘Wanderlust’ festival, in Vermont. Set high up on Stratton Mountain, he topped off the last evening of celebration of life, yoga and nature, with his heart-felt indie folk. However it's his passion about connecting with nature and our innate power that truly stuck with me after chatting.
How do you think we as musicians and artists can help reconnect our society with the wisdom of nature?
I think it’s larger than we immediately perceive, but when you’re singing about certain topics together with the audience, I think it’s really powerful. There’s a lot of songs where I’m referring to my favourite memories - inspiring moments out in nature. I think there is an invaluableness to when people sing those words over and over again, to remind them of how important it is to be back out in nature. I mean, it’s just as righteous to sing about animal welfare, political stuff, and humanitarian issues - but there’s no right or wrong. I just choose to focus on environmental issues in my songs. Any area that you’re passionate in is invaluable, and we need people on all fronts singing about what they’re passionate about.
Do you have practices that you could share, that keep you balanced and grounded during the creative and touring process?
I am generally writing while I’m touring, because I’m always touring. There’s seldom a time that I am going to a studio and writing an album from scratch. And it’s always really lovely - I’ll sometimes just take a walk to the park with my guitar and notebook. For me it’s really important, not just in the creative process of writing, but while we’re touring, to take those moments out, like how I took the gondola up the mountain today, and just being out amongst nature. It’s super grounding, physically, to be out in this neck of the woods.
When you’re always in the city, it’s certainly nice to get those little breathers too. This is the way I deal with being in cities - not just for the creative process, but just to be calm. For instance, when I was recording in New York, going back and forth between the studio and the hotel, I was feeling so ungrounded, so to speak. I took a book to the park and read for three hours, and was totally different after. So my short answer is parks are the answer to the city!
Good quality sleep is so important. You sleep better on a tour bus than any other form of touring I’ve done - and I feel so privileged to be able to sleep whilst someone else drives! I also try to keep up with my meditation - because with replying to emails, bookings and family, you can be living on two or three timezones, which can be tough. So it’s just little things - going for the swim in the sea, or going for that walk up the mountain, that help you keep sane whilst things are moving so quickly.
How long have you been meditating for?
For about a year and a half. I fell into it by accident! I was trying to get to the bottom of something, and went and sat on the beach by myself. And that’s how I found it! If you’re playing a lot of shows, dealing with timezones, fatigue, and hugely changing variables - it’s great. But I also love to meditate when I’m at home. It’s become a more common topic for people regarding their jobs and lifestyles - but it just helps me think more clearly. And I like thinking clearly - and thriving in the ever changing environments.
The impact of meditating on your career?
It’s come step by step. This is the first year where us and the team haven’t been driving, in the US and Europe. I have a really young and solid touring team, to the point where I just walk on the stage and play. And I think it’s all helped cumulatively, with meditating, which I wasn’t doing before. We used to have not such a great setup - where we’d be driving for 14 hours and then setting up, then playing. I’m glad I’ve done it, because now I have an appreciation for what I have. And the accumulative effect of that is that I think my performances are better, I have more energy, I’m playing better - and by better I mean I’m more present and can give more on stage. And ultimately that’s the best thing you can do - as opposed to walking on the stage, bare skin and bones.
Who inspired you to get to where you are right now?
We in Australia have a lot of really cool grass-roots stories of people who’ve built themselves up. I think what inspired me is the really classic, like, hard working, just done the grind… yeah those stories of people who have just worked for what they’ve got. I’m usually inspired more so by individuals in my life, like I have really good folks. Even the friends that I have around me, I’m really lucky, cause they’re really inspirational humans. Good quality humans, yeah I think that’s what inspires me most! Being a great artist is a different skill set to being a good human, so I’m really inspired by good humans, and there’s a lot of them in the world - in and out of music. And that’s what really drives me.
I also think meaning what you say is really important. I think that cuts through the enormous landscape of 'neat words put together for convenience' - across every kind of artistic form. That’s a big inspiring thing for me, because then when you get on stage and you are speaking about something that’s true to you, it’s not only easier, but way more enjoyable. And then you get to really connect with people - and that’s what makes this all possible. Otherwise touring would be very hard night after night, month after month. It wouldn’t be nearly as purposeful and fulfilling as it is now.
In my latest record, I was really worn out, and really worried about not having enough energy for the songs, 'cause I still do believe that if it’s a recording that you do carry across that energy. What came from that worry and being so tired was that I really had to mean what I was saying, and I think that’s what people are connecting with.
What’s something you find uncomfortable that has been worth working through to get to that place of authenticity?
For me personally, it’s maintaining a good relationship with your headspace. When your passion/job is to pick apart really finite details and create whole landscapes and stories from one event, you can also go down the rabbit hole of personal events in your own life. And just get really deep on stuff. What comes with that is you can also do your head in. That’s not innately negative, you just wanna do an amount that’s healthy for yourself! Sometimes I have to go down those rabbit holes to understand really deep patterns about myself. I’m happy once the storm’s rolled over though, because it's given me a lot of insight and understanding about other people, and I've got a lot more compassion for what we all go through as humans.
Do you feel that songwriting is your spiritual process?
I find any type of creative writing very cathartic, that goes for any kind of poetry, spoken word, songwriting, screenplays - because it’s often stories of things I’ve gone through or realisations that I’ve had. Thats why I love having hope in my songs, even if it is exploring a lot of hard things. I think if you want to write and sing something 1000 times over, you really are cementing things within you. So its nice to choose what you’re cementing I guess!
What advice would you have for your younger old self?
I’d just say sleep a little more! And be kind to yourself - in the truest sense. Like getting your butt up in the morning to do that 5k run, or giving yourself that rest day. Being kind to yourself is giving yourself sleep, and it is also taking the opportunity to do the show and driving for 12 hours and set up yourself. At 18, I felt like I didn’t have much time, and felt very rushed. That's definitely got me to where I am - but I had to find my limits - so, yeah, I'd just say sleep more buddy!
Follow Ziggy HERE