Weary’s debut music video for “Bruise”, the first single off their debut album Feeling Things (2017), was produced as part of the Nickel Independent Film Festival Music Video Incubator Project. Under the mentorship of Lian Morrison, frontwoman and first time filmmaker Kate Lahey co-directed the video.
Exploring the connections between personal trauma and resource extraction, healing and land relations, this video archives the messy entanglement of personal and political harm. Relations to land, self and movement are sites of healing as the video takes the viewer for a walk along the rugged terrain of Newfoundland’s treacherous cliffside. “Bruise” reminds us that tenderness can be an act of resistance.
I know that playing music, and navigating the music industry, is something that is still quite new to you, so I am curious about how you also felt as a first time filmmaker. What was this experience like for you? Were there any challenges or barriers that surprised you?
I feel really fortunate to have had a really similar experience. Because this was part of the Nickel Independent Film Festival Music Video Incubator, I worked under the mentorship of Lian Morrison, who is a really smart, easy going filmmaker here in St. John’s. Lian was really encouraging of experimentation, doing things your own way, not needing a bunch of gear to make cool stuff, trying different things and just having fun and finding inspiration in your own vision. From shooting to editing and all the little tricks in between, I feel like I got a really incredible crash course. I think because I’m a lifelong student – I just thrive in learning environments. I love learning from other people, I love seeing folks who are really passionate about and good at their work. I love working with people who are so excited to share that passion and inspiration with others, who don’t hoard their knowledge or let their ego get in the way or uphold exclusivity hierarchies. I’m really grateful to have Lian as that person for me with this video, and I’ve been really grateful to have women like Joanna Barker as my mentor and support in music.
Through knowing you, and all your work, it’s hard for me to imagine that everything isn’t always thoughtful and intentional. Can you share with me your relationship to the colour orange and why it seems to reveal itself in all things Weary?
Orange became a really important colour to me throughout the making of “Feeling Things”. I was navigating grief and loss, but also healing and my sense of belonging to home, Newfoundland. When you spend time on this land, you see orange everywhere: ties signalling property lines, oil rigs and buoys, etc. For me, orange came to demarcate sites of construction, extraction, and sometimes emergency. I felt a huge connection between the emotional wounds of trauma and the wounds this land sustains from colonialism and environmental exploitation/extraction. I felt that orange signalled the weird paradox of trauma feeling both hypervisible and completely invisible.
And while I felt kinship and shared experience with the land in this way, orange also taught me that healing and hurting are really complicated, messy entangled processes. Orange also reminded me of the fishing flies and bobbers I used trouting with my grandfather as a kid, the orange vest my nan wore in a picture of her hunting, or the ties that signal paths and trap lines. So the relationship between me, my memories, land and trauma are also all tied up in healing, family, survival and resilience.
Could you elaborate more on the importance of walking alongside Newfoundlands treacherous cliffside for this video, this song, and your feelings behind writing it?
For the same reasons, it was really important for me to braid together myself, orange and this land in a slow and meditative way. Walking is a really important part of my nan’s life that was passed to my mom and to me. Berry picking along trails is a really special practice for me. Being with the ocean is a really special practice for me. I feel small and connected to the bigger picture of my life, my family and the universe. Feeling small and connected is a comforting, healing way for me. Walking in the wilderness makes me feel grounded and rooted and connected and safe. I wanted the video to feel slow and big and quiet and meditative. I wanted to capture the prayer of walking with your memories, your ancestors and your wounds.
I want to comment on how deep this messy entanglement between personal and political is and how well you illustrate this through lyrics that do not offer any distinction between the two. I’m thinking a lot about healing and resilience, especially with the song title “Bruise”, and how this looks both personally and politically for you. Do you feel like there is a deep entanglement here, too?
Absolutely! I think I like to intentionally sort of just make things for myself that make sense for me and resonate with my experiences. Healing and resilience are the crux of the album — “Bruise” was the first single because I feel like it really speaks to anger and hurt, but also to resilience and survival. For me, both personally and politically, healing and resilience has been really messy and confusing. It’s been non-linear and complicated and about a whole lot more than me. The title of the album is also meant to speak to the abundance of feelings that course through and the paradoxical oscillations of anger and rage, numbness and isolation, joy and resistance, relief and security that might rise and fall. This was also a way of holding and validating all these contradictory moods and reactions for myself and for others. I tried to be empathetic.
In the final moments of the video, you gaze at your audience as you sing the lyrics “you don’t seem to see me”. What is the lasting impact or impression that you are trying to leave?
I think for me this lyric and this shot are again tied into the paradoxical duality of hypervisibility and invisibility of trauma. For me this was a political call, but also a personal act of resistance. Sort of a way to challenge ideas of viewership and access, and to confront the audience with my own power and gaze. There was something important about denying the audience my face throughout the video, about controlling that dynamic and claiming ownership. Keeping things vague and messy, like my connection to orange and land, is a way for me to control what ideas, feelings, memories, and relationships I get to keep sacred and private. It’s also a way to allow others to just feel that affective vibe of a slow walk along the ocean, without projecting all of my own experiences onto it so heavy handedly, I think it lets others’ bring what they need to that process. I like open ended, human lines like “I don’t want to love you anymore”. I think there’s just a lot of room there, I want that space to be an invitation. “You don’t seem to see me” is also a way of saying “I see you”.
Photo by Kate Lahey and Lian Morrison
See Weary live:
April 27th – bloom fest w/ Property @ Thunder & Lightning, Sackville, NB.
April 28th – FLOURISH Festival @ The Capital Complex, Fredericton, NB.
May 1st – w/ Property @ Menz and Mollyz, Halifax, NS.
May 3rd – East Coast Music Awards, Charlottetown, PEI.
Contribution by Nikki A Basset and Kate Lahey