'Apologize To The Future': Chris Korda On The Crisis Facing Our Planet
"Our only hope for long-term survival is to put away childish things and devote ourselves to keeping earth habitable. That’s reality."
by Rosie Cain
Last year gave us all a reality check. With the world
coming to a complete standstill, each and every one of us were forced to
recontextualise our daily lives. Systems and routines were interrupted—
ones that, quite frankly, needed upheaval eons ago— and the future of
our planet came into harsher focus.
People were finally beginning to see tangible effects from putting
the breaks on for just a moment and, gradually, more eyes were being
opened to the imminent crisis facing civilisation.
This is undeniably a positive step in the right direction but, at the
end of the day, this is nothing new — there are plenty of activists
who've been shouting at the top of their lungs for decades: producer, DJ
and software developer Chris Korda is one of them.
She has dedicated her life to disseminating our need for a collective
response to the survival of earth, using everything at her disposal to
spread the message far and wide. In 1992 she opened the Church Of
Euthanasia, the world's first anti-human religion, with one commandment
at its core: 'thou shalt not procreate'.
Inevitably, these themes and the Church's mission have fed heavily
into her musical output, and continue to do so today. Her latest album, 'Apologize To The Future',
is her most poignant and important record to date, with decades of
research and work going into its creation. A haunting, thorough
commentary on how our actions will leave future generations in turmoil,
it's a further call to action: if we don't act now, we're contributing
to the planet's inevitable demise.
Not one to rest on her laurels, Chris has recently followed this
album with two new records—a reissue of 'Six Billion Humans Can't Be
Wrong' under a new title ('Eight Billion Humans Can't Be Wrong')
and 'Passion For Numbers'—both of which we dissect more in our
discussion below. On top of musical feats, Chris speaks honestly about
her ongoing research, the work and evolution of the Church, and the part
we all have to play in ensuring the planet's long-term survival.
Coming out of a year that's had a huge impact on how we view
day-to-day life, what are your biggest personal reflections and
The ongoing crisis of global civilization is caused in large part by
loss of respect for scientific authority. Individuals increasingly feel
entitled to their own facts, and essentially to their own realities, in
what amounts to a pandemic of solipsism. Our refusal to face facts is
childish and incompatible with our survival. Rapidly accelerating lethal
threats—including climate change, overpopulation, overconsumption,
plagues and mass extinction—require coherent collective responses, and
such responses are inconceivable without widespread agreement that the
universe is objectively real, explicable, and predictable.
Solipsism is similar to religiosity in that both argue from ignorance
and erroneously conclude that reality is fundamentally unknowable, but
the history of science demonstrates the opposite conclusion: that with
time and effort, we can overcome the limitations of our senses, form
increasingly predictive explanations of phenomena, and gain
comprehensive knowledge of the universe and its laws. Perhaps magical
thinking served a useful purpose in our prehistoric past, cushioning us
from the traumas of an unpredictable and brutally violent existence, but
however adaptive it may have been, it’s clearly counterproductive now,
with nearly eight billion humans wielding immense technological power.
As Peter D. Ward writes in “The Flooded Earth,” we needn't worry
about escaping to exoplanets, because we'll be too busy moving our
airports, and he’s assuming a relatively optimistic scenario. There are
plenty of scenarios—such as melting the permafrost and incinerating the
rain forests—in which runaway positive feedback starts and it no longer
matters whether we come to our senses. The environment is quite capable
of releasing vastly more CO2 than all of humanity's activities combined
and has done so in the past. Our only hope for long-term survival is to
put away childish things and devote ourselves to keeping earth
habitable. That’s reality.
To give readers a bit of background, you started the Church
of Euthanasia—the world’s only anti-human religion—back in 1992. As more
people have become attuned to the environmental crisis facing the
planet, have you begun to see a shift in the attitude toward the Church,
and if so when did you first notice the change?
The Church of Euthanasia seeks to restore balance between humanity
and the remaining non-human species through voluntary population
reduction. The Church has only one commandment: thou shalt not
procreate. You’re welcome to join us, but understand that it means
taking a lifetime vow of non-procreation. Not making babies is the only
rule, and if you break it, you’re out, permanently. You can’t donate
your sperm or eggs or be a surrogate, but adoption is allowed and
encouraged. Everything else is strictly optional.
The Church of Euthanasia also supports four “pillars” or core
concepts: people should have the right to determine the time, place and
manner of their death; women should have the right to control life and
death within their own bodies; people should strive to avoid killing or
harming other sentient beings; and all forms of diversity, including
sexual, gender, genetic, biological and cultural diversity, should be
The human population has increased by a third since the Church of
Euthanasia was founded. However during that same period, many developed
countries have achieved zero or even negative population growth, and
awareness of climate change has greatly increased. In the 21st century,
young people are definitely getting the message that their future is on
the line. Their righteous outrage needs to be transmuted into
constructive action, primarily non-procreation, but also veganism,
reduced consumption, environmental education, and ecosystem restoration.
The Church of Euthanasia will continue to become more relevant as the
climate crisis intensifies, because we were right all along, and because
our solution works. The human population will ultimately be reduced,
the only question is how humanely. We haven’t lost, we just haven’t won
Your work with the Church has definitely taken on new relevance in
the 21st century. Have you seen an increase in the number of young
people joining the church?
Yes. My favorite example is Jardin AKA Cardinal Leny. Go watch Jardin’s excellent video Débordement
(Overflow) and you’ll see what it takes to become a cardinal. Hint:
don’t wait around for someone else to start something. Jardin organized
the Brussels chapter of the Church of Euthanasia, and invited me to its
opening in May 2019. In the video, notice the care that went into the
huge black and white “One World, One Shit” banner hanging on the side of
the Atlas Brewery, and the intensity and diversity of the participants.
Jardin’s handle “with no future, everything is possible” captures the
zeitgeist. Young people have nothing to lose and they know it. They will
inherit a wrecked planet, but as Jardin sings in the video “We carry
hope / Up to the stars.”
Has the Church’s message evolved since it started?
Imagine falling asleep behind the wheel of a car. Before a certain
point, you could wake up and maybe avoid an accident altogether, or at
least make it less violent by slowing down. But after that point, you
didn't wake up soon enough. The car is hurtling over the guardrail, and
braking is irrelevant. You will hit something, there will be a wreck,
and you and maybe others are going to get hurt or die. That’s our
situation now: People are already hurt and dying because of climate
change. It's just mostly occurring in poor countries that are all too
easily ignored. Catastrophe is no longer hypothetical; it’s already
underway in the equatorial region, and spilling outward rapidly. Will we
continue to accelerate into the catastrophe? Until the amount of CO2 in
the atmosphere decreases, the answer is yes.
In the 1990s, the Church of Euthanasia’s prophecies seemed
outlandish, because climate change and mass extinction were largely
unrecognized threats. In that context, dadaism, culture jamming, irony
and provocation were appropriate and effective techniques for
legitimizing the issues. Thirty years later, climate change and mass
extinction are in the mainstream news on a daily basis. The crisis is
now unavoidable and already impacting us, people are understandably
frightened and disoriented, and mocking or shaming them is pointlessly
cruel. What’s needed now is to motivate people to take action before we
reach irreversible climate tipping points. The Apologize to the Future album is direct and heartfelt because there’s no time left for any approach other than speaking the truth.
Has the evolution in technology helped you to share your message and expand your reach?
Definitely. I enthusiastically adopted performance art, electronic
music, video, radio, TV, publishing, merchandising, email, web sites,
and digital art, more or less in that order. As the internet becomes
more mainstream and constrained, I expect other media will emerge, and I
look forward to adopting them too.
What does music offer you, as a vehicle for your message, that other mediums don't?
I grew up at a time when music normally had political and ideological
content. The revolutionary ideals of the late 1960s and early 1970s are
inseparable from the song lyrics that carried them. The neoliberal
rollback of the 1980s glorified selfishness and superficiality, and
while this was certainly a setback for songwriting, banality needn’t be a
permanent condition. People urgently need to respond to the climate
crisis, and sober journalism and scientific reports apparently aren't
sufficient motivation. I’m convinced that culture is the most effective
way to motivate people. We need “the Bob Dylan of climate change” but in
hip-hop not folk, not only because hip-hop reaches younger people whose
procreation and consumption decisions will have the most impact, but
also because hip-hop is the frontier of lyricism. Climate change hip-hop
for the win, hence Apologize to the Future.
Does the Church’s message always feed into your musical
output or do you also work on other musical projects? If yes to the
latter, how does the production process differ?
Not always. I’ve been playing piano and guitar since I was a
teenager, and I was already making electronic music when the Church of
Euthanasia started. One big production difference is that I usually
write the lyrics first, sometimes months before I write the music. My
instrumental projects cover a wider range of styles, including
environmental, sound collage, choral, jazz and neoclassical. Lately I've
been focusing on traditional acoustic instruments, particularly solo
piano and strings, because they reproduce tense tonalities more
faithfully compared to synthetic timbres.
Decades of work went into your last album, ‘Apologize to the Future’. What was the reaction like to the release?
Given that it’s arguably the first album entirely about climate
change, economic inequality, intergenerational injustice, antinatalism,
and human extinction, told from the point of view of future generations,
it hasn’t yet reached its full potential. I hope the album and its
videos (Overshoot and Apologize to the Future) become more widely known and help us change course before it’s too late.
Inevitably the album process, and the research that went into it,
was very emotionally taxing. How do you look after your mental health
when you’re doing this work? What helps you to recover?
Apologize to the Future was a particularly tough album to
write. I spent many years doing research for it. The first song “A Thin
Layer of Oily Rock” started as a blog post and then a slide show. The
actual writing took about a year. I isolated myself for long periods, to
obtain sufficient internal coherence to translate my ideas into rhymes.
I’m still recovering so I'm in no position to give advice, but
sometimes I binge-watch TV to unwind. My all-time favorite show is Humans.
You’re keeping your foot on the gas with another two releases. One
is a reissue of your International Deejay Gigolo Records release from
‘99, ‘Six Billion Humans Can’t Be Wrong’, under a revised title, ‘Eight
Billion Humans Can’t Be Wrong’. What’s the significance of reissuing
this release right now with the new title?
The population was nearly six billion in 1999, and it’s nearly eight
billion now, so an updated title seemed appropriate. The re-release
includes more tracks, and more photos too. It also includes the original
ultra-militant cannibal anthem “Fleshdance,” which was previously
omitted despite my strenuous objections. It’s released by Mental Groove in collaboration with Diggers Factory, and the official release date is March 12, though it’s already mostly sold out so hurry.
And what’s the story behind the other release?
Passion for Numbers is the sequel to my Polymeter
album, which came out last year on Mental Groove. Like its predecessor,
it consists entirely of instrumentals in complex polymeter, all solo
piano in this case. The style is hard to categorize but it’s somewhere
between neoclassical and jazz, with a strong influence from stride
piano. There’s a succession from “Fazo Kanto” to “Atunwi” to “Overshoot”
to Passion for Numbers. It’s the evolution of my approach to unconventional harmony.
Not a question simply based on the fact that the release is called
‘Passion for Numbers’, but something I’m curious about from listening to
the sequencing in your music. Do you have an interest or background in
mathematics? My father was experimenting with electronic composition
back in the late 60s and his pursuits were at times shaped by a deep
love of numbers — something that later became his full time vocation.
I had a 35-year career in software, eventually specializing in
communication protocols, system architecture, and parallel processing. I
spent eighteen years developing software and firmware for 3D printers,
and since 3D and robotics are both math-intensive I learned a lot of
math on the job, but mostly I had an excellent mentor: Pastor Kim,
polymath and co-founder of the Church of Euthanasia. I have many free
and open-source projects,
and one of them is ChordEase, which is a new type of software-based
virtual instrument that makes it much easier to improvise over jazz
chords. More recently I developed a software called PotterDraw for
designing virtual pottery and hyperobjects, and that one was pretty
My current project is the Polymeter MIDI sequencer. I developed a rudimentary form of it in the mid-90s, but I started modernizing it in 2018 while writing Akoko Ajeji.
The sequencer and the album evolved together and influenced each
other’s development. The current incarnation has many previously
unimagined degrees of freedom, and is increasingly geared towards using
polymeter to generate harmony. I’ve used math to make music since
personal computers became widespread, but I’ve gradually become more
deliberate about it. Since 2018 I’ve been using my own sequencer
exclusively. I don’t write my compositions in any normal sense of the
word. Instead I construct virtual kinetic sculptures that output music.
My work is permutational and analogous to Thomas Wilfred’s, though he
used light rather than sound.
‘Apologize to the Future’ was written in polymeter. In what ways has
using polymeter helped you to better communicate your message?
Polymeter has completely revolutionized my approach to rhythm, and
this makes my music stand out even if the listener is unaware of the
technique. Odd time also creates opportunities for lyrics to be phrased
in unusual patterns. I’m strongly influenced by the use of odd time in
rock music during my formative years. Odd time is rare in hip-hop and
rap, but based on my experience it’s worth exploring further, because it
encourages rhythmic innovation.
You’ve said that you love investing time in learning new
things; polymeter being one of them, you’ve mentioned atonal harmony
before too. What skill or technique would you like to develop next?
People have been asking me to write a book for years. I’d like to
oblige but unfortunately I write at an agonizingly slow pace. I need to
learn to organize my ideas more clearly beforehand, so that I can stay
in the flow without getting sidetracked into editing.
Looking to the future, what sustainable changes would you like to see within the music industry?
I would like society to value music enough so that musicians can
survive by making music. In the era of digital distribution, music is
increasingly grotesquely undervalued. Bandcamp is currently the best
deal on offer, but it doesn't provide a livable income for most artists.
What Spotify and its competitors offer is little more than an insult,
and the situation continues to deteriorate. Platforms such as YouTube
and SoundCloud hasten the race to the bottom, by creating an expectation
that music should be free. Even more ominously, they normalize the
blatant violation of intellectual property law. Much of YouTube’s
content violates someone's copyright or license, but most artists lack
the financial and legal resources to defend their rights.
The notion that musicians should give away their compositions and try
to support themselves by playing shows and selling merchandise is
exactly backwards. If we can’t manage to reward musical skill, don’t be
surprised when there isn’t any music worth listening to.
Complex polymeter is new territory, and I’ve tried to jump-start the
systematic exploration of it by making my tools freely available. I hope
dance music producers will take advantage of that and join the
polymeter revolution, because that disco backbeat is played out. I would
also like to see a return to lyricism and harmonic complexity, and I’ve
tried to contribute to that too.
What’s next for Chris Korda and The Church of Euthanasia?
Hopefully we’ll manage to rapidly remove the excess CO2 from the
atmosphere and stop procreating and consuming so much, in which case I
will gladly spend my remaining years composing and writing my memoirs.
But if not, the Church of Euthanasia will continue to slog through hell
and high water. From the coast we must retreat.