St. John’s artist Liz Solo has released a music video that depicts events still unfolding on the ground in Labrador, where land protectors and people from across the Big Land continue flocking to the Muskrat Falls construction site in an effort to stop the imminent flooding of the hydro project’s reservoir.
The Independent is debuting Solo’s new video for the song “Everything is Leaking”, which was recorded by The Black Bags, with music and backups co-written by her other band members, Marcel Levandier and Mike Kean. The video and recording were produced at The Black Bag Media Collective studio in St. John’s.
Solo answered some questions via email about the song, video and ongoing events in Labrador.
Interview with Liz Solo on the release of the video “Everything is Leaking”
What inspired you to write Everything is Leaking?
Witnessing the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and the subsequent devastation, live via the internet, was profoundly disturbing. The world watched, in real time, as environments were suffocated, animals and ecosystems destroyed and lives torn apart by the failure of one oilrig. It was a real wake-up call for me with regards to what is happening here in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The risks from exploitation by industry are grave and the casualties of these big boom deals are people and living things. The global will is to move on from these dirty mega projects, because they represent an insanity that does not belong in the world anymore. I’ve also been watching with growing horror as the latest series of governments, beginning with Danny Williams, have turned the people of this province out for corporate profits, sacrificing everything in their wake. I wrote the lyrics for Everything Is Leaking to express my deep sorrow and rage at witnessing the exploitation of Newfoundland and Labrador for the sake of what can only be called abject greed.
It’s an incredibly powerful song in and of itself, but the fact that much of the footage you use in the video is only a few days old makes it even more compelling. What role did seeing that footage play in prompting you to make the video and release it as the resistance to Muskrat Falls in Labrador continues to unfold?
I’ve been aware for years about the risks of methylmercury, landslides and the sad state of the Muskrat Falls project and have wanted to make this video for a long time. The issue holding me back was lack of images and footage. I could have scripted a video but really wanted to keep it for the right moment, release something when the song and its intention could be most useful. I sadly knew the footage would be coming sooner or later, so I have been waiting and watching for the opportunity to make a video and use this song as an offering to this cause.
What has struck you most about the events that have unfolded over the past couple weeks?
If there is anything that is going to get me riled it is the violation of rights. I have a physical response to these things, as I know most people do. So witnessing the police violence of the arrests, watching the indignity and injustice of the justice system at work, the continued lack of regard for the basic human rights of the people of Labrador, all hits me intensely. In the face of this, the courage and resolve of the hunger strikers Billy Gauthier, Delilah Saunders and Jerry Kohlmeister is a powerful revelation.
These events are galvanizing people together in a way that I haven’t seen here in a long time.
These events are galvanizing people together in a way that I haven’t seen here in a long time. Lines between people are dissolving. People are starting to say that this is not the Newfoundland and Labrador that they want and this is not what they voted for. People are saying that they do not want to leave this horrible legacy for future generations or allow atrocities to happen on their watch.
I have spent much time on the phone calling the MHA offices and even the government’s own staff are expressing that they are scared and concerned. The situation is now so urgent that it transcends party lines. All people of conscience know what direction to take. The Land Protectors are showing us, by example, what peaceful resistance looks like and I have been learning so much from watching the power of the people on the frontlines. It’s a beautiful thing and it is what I live for.
On the flipside, Dwight Ball seems to be in hiding, silent, last seen sneaking out the back door of an official function; Siobhan Coady phoning it in while down drinking screech cocktails at the New York Stock Exchange with Fortis as people’s lives hang in the balance. Then, that hasty press conference of utter gobbledygook with Coady and Perry Trimper. As a person who works with media every day, it is almost beyond my comprehension that any one would want to be documented and go down in history on camera effectively saying, ‘We are going to poison people and the land to protect our assets.’
In the song you sing “beyond the scope of your vision / beyond all your petty division” — what is this in reference to?
It refers in general to a small mindedness that cannot see beyond itself to experience the whole; a myopic view of the world. The lyric implies that there is something beyond that small vision, and that refusing to see interferes with our ability to connect.
The entire last verse of the song references Shanawdithit and Demasduit and the effects of colonization. What are your thoughts on Muskrat in the context of colonialism.
This is a real education moment for Newfoundland and Labrador, a chance for people to learn from each other and build together. It’s one thing to talk about reconciliation or respect for the cultures of the people of this province but it’s another thing altogether to put that into practice.
We are still stuck in a colonial mindset, too long divided along cultural and class lines. Right now we really have a chance to learn what reconciliation is and what it means, by doing it. Many of us may have to learn as we go but the fact is it’s up to us, we are the ones. Making Muskrat Right is a part of that process.
What would you like to see happen on the ground in Labrador? And how do you think that could happen.
My dream scenario for Labrador would be to see the mess up there dismantled, the land returned to its natural state and those responsible for the whole fiasco held accountable.
Barring that outcome I want to see the requests of the Land Protectors fulfilled, including a full clearing of the Muskrat Falls reservoir area and negotiation of all the appropriate agreements for the management and monitoring of the project, in a process that includes all of the stakeholders.
Whatever way that happens, no matter how complicated the government or Nalcor or Siobhan Coady may spin it, it’s actually as simple as the will to do what’s right. In no universe, in no time, in no dimension, is it ever acceptable to put “assets” and “infrastructure” ahead of human lives or the integrity of the environment.
All it takes to make this right is a decision.
What is your message to elected decision-makers, whether they are with provincial, federal or Indigenous governments?
I have been saying for a long time that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador will take a lot of crap, but go too far and there will come a time when they won’t take it anymore. That time is now. This one isn’t going away, b’ys. The people aren’t going away, the problems aren’t going away. The voices rising against this are not going away. My voice is not going away.
It would appear Justin Trudeau likes to talk the talk but he doesn’t seem to know how to walk the walk. The silence of the federal government is deafening.
How about the land protectors. What do you want to say to them?
I want to tell the Land Protectors: You have my full support and I love you all. You are true heroes. Many of us are far away and wishing we were there to stand with you. Please call on me anytime – my time and skills are at your disposal.