In mid-May, after three days of devastating rain in Gunja, located in the region of the Cvelferija, Croatia, the Sava River flooded. As any natural disaster around the globe, the flood caused death, destruction, and displaced persons and animals.
Volunteers from Udruga Pobjede, a Non-governmental organization that protects and promotes the rights of animals as well as operates an animal shelter, were first on the scene. With help from mountain search and rescue volunteers and the military, Udruga Pobjede played a key role in rescuing stranded dogs and cats in Gunja.
“The army had evacuated the people, but most of the animals were left in the flooded town of Gunja,” says Croatian Hip-Hop artist IFEEL. “With help of friends, we managed to bring a load of donations to the animal rescue volunteers in Gunja. Rescue supplies for the animals included dog food, medicine, leashes, and transporters.
“Driving through flooded towns was eerie. Meeting people who lost everything they had in the flood was a humbling experience,” IFEEL says. Along the way, they met a senior man who refused to leave his flooded house without his dogs during the military evacuation.
“Nothing was as touching as helping save dogs from the flooded towns which were quarantined and closed off by the military. Only volunteers were allowed to come in and get the animals out.”
Volunteers worked tirelessly, attacked by mosquitos, fleas, and ticks. ”Dogs were tired, sad, disoriented, and traumatized. Wet and full of fleas,” IFEEL recalls. “Remembering this experience brings tears to my eyes.”
Moved by this experience, IFEEL plans to record a song for all volunteers who helped save the animals in Gunja and who continue to fight for animal rights in Croatia. “Their love for animals, passion, and dedication to the cause continue to move me to make more music to inspire them with music.”
IFEEL’s Indiegogo campaign, MEET ME, is also currently underway. The campaign began on July 9 and continues through August 9, 2014. “Everyone who feels my vision to change the way we see and experience animals, through music, is invited to co-create my EP album MEET ME.”
In less than a month, IFEEL must raise $10,000 to produce a quality studio album and video. His acclaimed debut album ANIMAL IN ME is a sure sign that MEET ME will raise the bar of IFEEL’s creativity, spreading the animal rights message in his unique and stellar hip-hop style.
“It took me twelve months to create my debut album ANIMAL IN ME,” IFEEL explains about the time, money, and effort involved in the recording process. “It's a long but gratifying process if you have a cause that drives you.”
IFEEL produced ANIMAL IN ME independently. Although he had total, creative control, IFEEL says, “I also financed the entire process myself without sponsors, so it was very financially demanding and overwhelming.”
“Before writing a song, I would sit down with a beat and meditate on it to feel the story I wanted to make a song about.” Writing the song also included research for accuracy on the animal abuse topic he was focusing on in that song.
After writing a song, came pre-production. “For days, sometimes weeks, I would practice rapping the song until I was 100% happy with the energy of my flow.”
In the studio to record the song, IFEEL brought a special collection of animal photos he chose for inspiration before each session. “I would watch them to get into their state of mind before I started recording.” A perfect example is in the song CALL 911, in which IFEEL raps from the point of view of three abused animals.
Andrej, owner of the recording studio, co-created the album with IFEEL from recording the songs, obtaining the right sounds, adding effects, and mixing everything together. “I repeated this process twelve times, about once per month,” IFEEL says of the process for each song on the album.
After repeating the process for tracks that did not come out like they wanted, IFEEL relates, “In the end, Andrej mixed and mastered all the songs to get them ready for the album release and CD pressing.” IFEEL designed the ANIMAL IN ME artwork for the album. Darko, a graphic designer genius, created a cover ready for CD pressing.
“Shooting each music video was wonderful and creative, but also a very demanding experience,” IFEEL explains. For example, Ja sam Rea (My name is Rea), a dog revolution music video, was filmed at the Udruga Pobjede dog sanctuary in Osijek, Croatia.
IFEEL collaborated with Director Tomislav Štefanac to write the script to follow the song. In addition to other separate shoots, thirty Udruga Pobjede volunteers acted out the scenes on four different locations.
“If it wasn't for their unwavering passion for animals, it would not have been possible to shoot such a great video,” IFEEL states. “They were all very powerful animal rights warriors and it all came together like one big puzzle.”
“The postproduction of the music video took another two weeks. There was a lot of work, but with the right vision and creative planning, it came out grand. We were all happy with the video and the message.”
“Looking back at this process, I am amazed how those songs even came out of me,” IFEEL reflects. “It's as if I did not write them because consciously creating a song in your mind filters the creative flow.”
“The magic ingredient that made these songs come out the way they did was emotions,” IFEEL stresses. “Animals emotional lives are not that different from ours. If we were in the horrible situations they are in, we would feel and react just like they do. We are all alive beings who feel fear, pain, anger, love and gratitude.”
The other magic ingredient to I IFEEL’s uncanny ability to recreate the emotional state of the animals whose lives he writes and raps about in his songs, is his dedicated promotion of animal rights and animal rescue organizations and his actual experience with the animals.
IFEEL’s Indiegogo campaign, MEET ME, has great potential to propel the animal rights message further into the world through the shared experience of music. If anyone can do it, this Vegan Warrior, Animal Warrior - IFEEL - can do it.