"SHAKE YOUR PEACE! is a Chicanx/ Punjabi performance artist howling out of Goshute, Ute, and Eastern Shoshone land (Salt Lake City, Utah) who's created a new music style called "whup." Whup is a rock & roll hybridization of: Afro-Latin and Caribbean rhythms, bluegrass fiddling, gospel choir, marching band percussion, and ecotopian perspectives. Simply put: it's social/eco-justice music you can dance to; a defiant celebration of human cultural diversity and the wilderness.
"...and every tree's our country's flag,
air - water - earth - we give rights to 'em,
so you can open your stores, and throw your wars,
my people won't shop or fight for you!"
(SHAKE YOUR PEACE!, 2020, track 6 "Whenever You're Ready")
photo credit: Rachel Znerold
SHAKE YOUR PEACE!'s forthcoming full length album, seven years in the making, is entitled "Whup Music." It sounds like what you'd get if Paul Simon, Michael Jackson, Hector Lavoe, The Mississippi Mass Choir, and eco-anarchist/author Edward Abbey had a baby, and that baby was raised by LA hippies amongst the cowboys of Utah.
"Tie-dye shirt in a country bar,
I was looking 'round the room,
this girl said: "what you lookin' for hippie?"
and I said: "guess I'm looking for you?"
she said: "I'm lookin' backatchoobaby!"
(SHAKE YOUR PEACE!, 2020, track 2 "Backatchoobaby")
Beyond the music, SHAKE YOUR PEACE! is known for incorporating environmental activism into both tours and live shows (a principle he refers to as "harmony onstage/ harmony offstage"). This passion for "harmony offstage" is best exemplified by SHAKE YOUR PEACE!'s many experiments with touring by bicycle, and by foot (hauling drums, amplifiers, and guitars all without the help of a tour van), and amplifying concerts with a bicycle-powered sound system (pedaled by volunteers from the audience). In 2007, these experiments inspired SHAKE YOUR PEACE! to co-found the award-winning Bicycle Music Festival in San Francisco, heralded by the press as: "the greenest music festival ever conceived." The festival, as an open-source idea, has since inspired BMF-style events around the world, from South Korea, to Uruguay, to Canada, all produced by autonomous groups of volunteers.
"...with one foot behind us, and one ahead,
who's the leader? who's the led?
freedom's ours in every breath now,
and every step!"
(SHAKE YOUR PEACE!, 2020, track 8 "The Walking People")
In the video for his successful 2018 Kickstarter campaign for "Whup Music," he states that his primary goal with the album is to: "contribute the music to those who are marching - at home, at work, at school, and in the streets - toward what some of us like to call "ecotopia," a culture of ecological and social justice." And it's clear that this "revolution in-motion" as SHAKE YOUR PEACE! envisions it, is ultimately a movement of inclusion, not division: between hippies and cowboys, between anarchist sons and their realtor mothers, and between every "walking person" who's willing to celebrate a common ground of love, and move forward together on that terrain.
Every kind of body!
any way you move is praise,
any way you move is walking!
Stand up friends (let's walk together!)
On our common ground (let's walk together!)"
(SHAKE YOUR PEACE!, 2020, track 8 "The Walking People")
"...now as we ride, in her Lexus SUV...to Costco,
you can bet I still keep a place reserved for her in the revolution anyways!
Cause what I'm trying to say is - is I love my mother, anyways!
I love my mother anyways!
And she loves me...anyways!"
(SHAKE YOUR PEACE!, 2020, track 7 "My Mom the Realtor")
SHAKE YOUR PEACE! was created in 2004 in Lenape territory on the island of little hills (otherwise known as Manhattan), and since then has been primarily based out of Chochenyo, and Oholone land (The San Francisco Bay Area), and Goshute, Ute, and Eastern Shoshone land (Salt Lake City).
The first album "Sing It As You Please" was released in 2006 to universal critical acclaim from the 3 people who played on it.
13 years, and 6 bike tours later, the second album "Whup Music" was finished and posted on this website, as well as on SYP!'s Bandcamp page. The album will be "officially released" in 2020.
The live band:
Over the years SHAKE YOUR PEACE! has performed in a variety of iterations, from solo act to 14-piece band, and with many different musicians. In all years, and in every iteration of the project, the name has always been written in the same loud-ass way: all-caps with an exclamation point at the end. Because - HEY!
"SHAKE YOUR PEACE! and The Whupestra," is an experimental musical theater company, and a proud Broader Impacts Partner of the National Science Foundation. Featuring 26 musicians and dancers, the company blurs the line between a band and a musical theater production.
The company's first show, "Ecotopia Now!," developed with a grant from the NSF, will debut in April 2020 in Salt Lake City, UT, sharing urgent climate science and eco-literacy with 30,000 high school and college students, through spectacular, bicycle-powered, musical theater.
Future plans for the company include presenting regular concerts at Utah-area arts and music festivals, and creating a theater residency in Salt Lake City, prospectively titled: "Now the Way Up is Down."
Concept Sketch of: "Now the Way Up is Down"
The purpose of this show is to use the theater first like a sledgehammer: to pound through the cultural concrete that we've inherited; that which separates us from one another and the living planet: the borders, parking lots, and imaginary walls; then like a catapult: to collectively launch ourselves toward the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible; a culture of social and ecological justice; Ecotopia - as some of us like to call it; a world of fertile possibility just underneath the surface of our society and our imaginations.
The show will be structured more like the setlist of a jam band than the script of a traditional musical, creating new discursive lines each night by linking together theatrical "moments" (as opposed to strictly "songs," although there will be plenty of those) in surprising and improvised orders. Audiences may encounter new theatrical moments that are still under development, old moments from the back catalog, current "hits," or moments written by other artists (covers). Even so, every show will contain certain familiar milestones and elements.
Promoting a vision of volunteerism, direct democracy, and community power, the show will use a bicycle-powered sound system (Studio Ecotopia) to translate the audience's enthusiasm (or lack thereof) into useable electricity. The power to amplify the show will rest entirely in the will, and pedaling legs, of the audience. Through this endorphin-releasing physical ordeal, along with a mix of politically radical messaging, dreamlike clowning, spoken word, hypnotic drumming, and effortful dancing, audience and cast attempt to make-believe themselves into an altered state called "getting whup" (a feeling of being possessed by one's own wild self/ life-force). "Puttin' some whup on it" (dancing and singing with a little somethin' extra) audience and cast together begin to ritually enact what a party in "ecotopia" might be like: filled as one might be with wilderness-possessed revelers. Soon, the line between the pretend world and the real world grows blurry. By the time these make-believe ecotopians go heroically charging together through a theatrical representation of the concrete walls of The Glen Canyon Dam, yelling at the top of their lungs, amidst blinding blasts of theatrical dynamite, while pretend pieces of the dam rain down on them like confetti, the emotions of kick-ass liberation - the whoops, and tears, and team spirit - are all real. Hopefully - at the very least - the wild, thespian, orgasmic, hippie fervor that saturates the theater makes Fascism, homophobia, and supremacy run for its life. At the very best, in this liberated zone of the theater, as audience and cast shout together: "all walls are imaginary walls!"; the real walls that oppress the wild world tremble more on their foundations: from borders, to the walls of the capitol building, to the Glen Canyon Dam. Dancing amidst the theatrical rubble, the audience and cast build momentum for acting out their dreams on the world stage. When the cast leads the audience dancing out of the theater and into the actual streets of the city, why should the acting and imagining ever end? What more beautiful worlds can our whup spirits dream up - now that the way up, is down?
SHAKE YOUR PEACE! is a project of Studio Ecotopia