Loops Plus Greenpop Equals Hewitt
We hope that people do all that they can to improve our Earth and spread joy and enjoy life themselves. It seems that South African folk musician Jeremy Hewitt is doing his best to make the world a better place.
Last week Hewitt’s musical career hit a peak at South Africa’s largest outdoor music festival, Oppikoppi. His musical act, Jeremy Loops, is a collection of guitar, harmonica, vocals, saxophone and more all being constantly looped and elaborated on live by Hewitt himself.Photo by Heather Mason
The quality of the music speaks for itself with his quick rise. The collaborative efforts of lyricist M.O. Lecko and saxophonist Jaimie Faull bring good energy and an enhanced dynamic to a Loops set. Jeremy Loops sets have been continuously turning heads because of happy noise filled with slow builds and constant elaboration.
His music career began in 2010.
I saw him once at Earthdance Cape Town. He was playing a side stage (The Solar Stage) with no more than 100 people rocking smiling faces and limber bodies. That was in late September of last year.
In the short time since then, his crowds and his popularity have grown. This latest set at Oppikoppi is proof of an artist quickly on the rise.
“I have been shooting for the Red Bull Studios since they opened about four years ago, and two years ago I filmed Jeremy Loops right at the beginning of his career. At this years Oppikoppi, Jeremy Loops launched himself into the mainstream music industry, where we captured his debut performance to a packed crowd on their massive new stage. It’s clear this maestro is the real deal!” said Rowan Pybus, founder of Makhulu Productions, in a quote from a South African press release.
A quote from listener Nicola Schmidt in the same press release addresses Jeremy directly, “Mr. Loops, you were one of the sweetest things at Oppi, and considering the other two were international rock bands, you did us proud! South Africa definitely has a few musical gems that need to be shown off and you are one of them!”
So, Jeremy Hewitt plays music. From the sound and scene it’s apparent that he is pretty good. His sounds make people happy and that in of itself is a good thing. If that were all then this article could be about any musician or it could just focus on his music, which could and will be discussed for a long time.
Jeremy Hewitt also plants trees. He plants a lot of trees.
He is one of the cofounders of Greenpop. He explained the nature of the organization in a recent interview with LTM, “Greenpop is a social enterprise that runs urban greening and reforestation projects in sub-Saharan Africa. We plant trees in schools, communities, and deforested areas with the aim to spread environmental awareness, uplift under-greened communities, make greening enjoyable and combat climate change.” (The description matches the one on Greenpop’s website.)
Hewitt went on to explain the origins of Greenpop: “I was part of a group of like minded individuals who got together to plant 1000 trees in September 2010. At the end of a very successful first month of planting, I partnered with long time friends Misha Teasdale and Lauren O’Donnell to formalise Greenpop as the social enterprise it is today.”
The general premise of the project was to offer themselves as proxy tree planters. They set up a system where individuals or corporations could donate trees online and Greenpop would plant them. Peace of mind and a sort of maternal/paternal bond are included with GPS coordinates of a donator’s tree or trees. Greenpop’s providing of an opportunity for people to go visit their tree and monitor its livelihood will hopefully pull in the hearts of all those involved to secure a more environmentally conscious world.
Hewitt said of the organization as a whole and its mission, “”Greenpop is a movement being pushed forward by a sea of strong individuals. Misha and Lauren are some of the most highly motivated and inspirational people I know and I couldn’t ask for better colleagues. We work tirelessly around the clock with a host of dedicated employees, interns, friends and family to bring the Treevolution as a movement to your doorstep.”
Recently Hewitt joined Greenpop in spending the month of July running the program Trees For Zambia.
Zambia faces frightening deforestation rates due to its timber and charcoal industries. In a piece for the Africa News Service, Joel Chipungu said, “Zambia is slowly becoming bare land, the first step of turning into a desert, by losing thousands hectares of forest every year.”
Hewitt had much to say about the project, which largely took place in Livingstone, Zambia. Beginning with stating it was a huge success.
We had over 100 volunteers join us from all over the world who participated in community-building, environment-changing tree-planting that involved education as a means of addressing the serious deforestation that Zambia faces. It was hard work but the program was designed to be diverse. We planted over 4,000 trees at schools, community centers, farms and conservation areas. We taught pupils and community members how to build solar-energy cookers out of 100% recycled material — chip packets, cardboard boxes and plastic bags. We also taught our beneficiaries about gray-water recycling programs so that they would not have to use fresh water to water their precious trees when water is already a scarce resource.
Trees for Zambia is a testament to the aggressive and full force nature of Greenpop. They have been planting thousands of trees for the past couple of years, and planted 4,000 in Zambia. Hewitt told LTM, “This was only the start of something big — very big.”
The little skepticism was of no ultimate worry. Volunteers of the grueling 3-week program all gave positive feedback. Hewitt said, “They planted trees with love and enthusiasm each and every day, and with all the extra activities such as mural painting with children and huge informal soccer games, they gave themselves to the experience fully.”
He also seemed to have a great deal of admiration and attraction towards the people and land of Zambia.
“We were so inspired by them [Zambian people] that we have started an NGO in Zambia and have appointed a board of trustees that has taken on the responsibility of being the custodians of the project. We know that a lasting legacy and substantial change will only come with time and thus we have developed a monitoring system to ensure our trees survive.”
Aside from the passion shown towards Greenpop’s work in Zambia, the atmosphere and side projects were also inspiring.
Hewitt described a resident hippo who would eat grass by their tents at night, elephants roaming casually, the sighting of a lunar rainbow over Victoria Falls and bicycle rides through villages. It was also not much of a surprise to hear that he squeezed in a few gigs while in Zambia.
Hewitt elaborated: “We hosted five events in Livingstone, each time performing alongside local talent. I was also invited to play a gig in Lusaka, the capital, which was great fun. Near the end of the program my collaborators and I traveled to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe for a big event.”
Africa and the world were doused with an abundance of positive energy from the ecological efforts of Greenpop and the spiritual efforts of Jeremy Loops. Straddling the two projects, Hewitt explained, “both involve always having to be innovative, which ensures that life is never dull. There has always been a synergy between Greenpop and Jeremy Loops. Both started at more or less the same time, and the momentum of both just keeps rolling.”
Jeremy Loops first gig was at a celebration at The Assembly in Cape Town for Greenpops first month of planting trees.
There is a lot of challenges and inspiration in the land surrounding Hewitt and his two projects, which he commented on by saying, “Africa is full of hardship, but it is also full of passion and life. It’s the hardships that make the good things seem great, and keep us all very grateful.”
Despite his growing success, Hewitt focuses on the importance of trying to do good things. Effort changes things for the better. Hewitt said, “I know what I’m doing does change things. It’s not an arrogant feeling. It humbles and overwhelms me most of the time. It’s like Wangari Maathai’s story of the humming bird that tries to put a fire out by carrying water drop by drop. Although it might seem like nothing is changing, it’s the best a hummingbird can do.”