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Trapdoor Social: Creating Alternative Rock for Alternative Energy

tds2December 22nd, 2013
Everybody Solar has had the pleasure and luck to have an outstanding partner and inspirer to help bring a free solar energy system to Homeboy Industries - the L.A. based non-profit which helps former gang-involved men and women receive job training. 


Partnerships in the non-profit world are not uncommon, though what is uncommon is that our partner isn't another non-profit or even a corporation trying to reach its CSR goals but a pair of twenty-something year-olds heading an L.A. alternative rock band.  

Meet Merritt Graves (pictured left) and Skylar Funk (pictured right) of Trapdoor Social. The pair became friends in college around a shared passion for music and environmental action and they got us thinking, how exactly does a pair of upstart millenial musicians get into solar?  And why do it as musicians?  We interviewed Merritt and Skylar to try to answer some of these questions, and in the process learned not only that the two of them are dedicated to solar and environmental awareness but that they know a whole lot more about each subject than you would imagine. 

It's a known fact that Merritt and Skylar met and bonded over environmental concerns. Why did you choose to focus on solar energy in particular?
Like other renewables, solar creates new green jobs, fosters energy security, and reduces carbon emissions, but unlike other renewables, solar shares technology with the semiconductor industry and follows an exponential cost reduction curve.  It's not necessarily where prices are today, it's their trajectory, and because of all the required investment in infrastructure and supporting industries, and the race we're in with global warming, it's important that we throw our weight behind the renewables with the most compelling trajectories.

How did the two of you decide that music would be your mechanism for promoting clean energy and sustainability?
Music is something that we really love doing and anytime you can pair what you really love doing with what you should be doing, it's a pretty neat thing.

How did TDS first become involved with Homeboy Industries?
Once we decided that we wanted to release the album as a fundraiser to put solar panel's on a non-profit, we all sat down and brainstormed who we wanted that non-profit to be.  It was hard because there's so many organizations doing outstanding work, but we were really impressed by the job re-training work Homeboy was doing, especially since they have a program re-training people in solar services.  We think re-training is going to be increasingly important over the coming decades as algorithms and automation start to be disruptive in more and more industries.

Why do you think it's important for Homeboy Industries to go solar?
For one it will save them money on their electric bill which they can in turn invest in helping more people, but it will also serve as the physical representation of the work they're already doing in their solar training program by having panels that they can see and touch.

What do you have in mind for your next project/campaign after Homeboy Industries?
Oh boy, we'll probably want to take a month or two breather after the install early next year to rehearse and book our next tour, but whether it's another non-profit solar rooftop or a different kind of solar awareness effort, there will definitely be more to come.

Who are some of your musical influences?  Have any of them helped spark your guys' environmental stewardship?
Two standouts are Radiohead and Macklemore.  Radiohead speaks towards environmental awareness and technological alienation, while Macklemore tackles more socially charged issues.  Both are important and we really admire them for applying their talents to pressing issues.

To join us and Trapdoor Social in giving the gift of solar and long-term sustainability to Homeboy Industries, while also getting your hands on Trapdoor Social's new album check out their PledgeMusic fundraiser and chip-in what you can! 


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