The ten songs on the new album “Songs in the Key of Collaboration” from Martin Høybye is also the soundtrack to a journey spanning several years of intercultural co-creation and research

“Prompted by a serious water crisis in Cape Town, I set out to explore songwriting as a response to anthropogenic environmental impact, broadly speaking. The aim was to both explore how songwriting might shed light on lived experience, and to make songwriting accessible to others by collaboratively sharing stories in this way,” says the Danish singer and songwriter.

Five years later, he looks back on a plethora of human and non-human encounters in a project which earned him a PhD from Aarhus University in 2023, and which was fundamentally inspired by the concept of “the Anthropocene.” A term suggesting that humankind has become a force wielding global geological impact. An Anthropocene moment is then the lived experience of going through a time when we realize that the present or future will be fundamentally different than we had hoped or imagined, because of the repercussions of the climate and biodiversity crises.

“These crises will continue to impact the planet for generations to come. Droughts, floods, sea level rise, wild weather events, and resulting changes to sense of place and identity will follow. We may find ourselves grieving the loss of certain animals and plants, the loss of stability and familiarity. We may indeed experience a feeling described by environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht as solastalgia – when we feel homesick yet are still at home,” explains Martin Høybye.

Engaging with such issues, the songwriting of this project serves as a response to environmental impact, which he terms “the overwhelm” of the Anthropocene. Songs have been written in two diverse settings, the aftermath of the Day Zero water crisis in in Cape Town, where he worked in 2019 gauging diverse experiences of environmental precariousness. The other setting was the Covid-19 pandemic in Denmark, and he wrote songs with people there in 2020, 2021 engaging with different experiences of this challenging time. Songwriting collaborators have come from South Africa, Denmark, the DRC, Zimbabwe, Somalia, Ghana, England, and Sweden.

Ten of 35 songs written in the project are presented on the album. They comprise a meeting of sentiments and ideas from different people, different countries, and very different living situations. A video is also released for the album’s first track “Dream of the Anthropocene.” Asking questions such as “how do we connect, when everything is broken?” this self-penned song encapsulates much of the artist and researcher’s impetus to reach out to others to co-create in times of crises.

“A song is a drop in a very big pond, but I believe in ripple effects and taking action by sharing ourselves, our experience, and knowledge. That may sound radical, but I believe inaction and non-sharing is actually more radical,” he says.

Listen to “Songs in the Key of Collaboration” here:

Music video premiere for “Dream of the Anthropocene”: