The experimental, environmentally conscious Cloud Cult began in the mid-'90s in Minneapolis, MN. The band was initially the solo project of Craig Minowa, who launched Cloud Cult while he was pursuing a degree in environmental science, and also shining shoes and driving an ice cream truck, among other jobs. Minowa spent the bulk of 1995 recording The Shade Project, which included sounds produced by buckets, pans, and couch cushions. Additional musicians were recruited to play the material live, and Cloud Cult pushed the conventions of rock concerts by introducing "live painting" to their sets. During every show, members Connie Minowa and Scott West would complete a painting; the resulting artwork was then auctioned off upon the show's conclusion. Such creative flourishes would soon come to characterize Cloud Cult's music, green-minded philosophy, and live performances.