“Immense despair and immense hope all at the same time” C0OL PO0L (Beeliar Riddim) / Mei Saraswati
C0OL PO0L (Beeliar Riddim) is a compilation from an incredible array of Perth based artists that aims to further investigate their connection to the Beeliar Wetlands - a region currently under threat from the construction of the Perth Freight Link/Roe 8. To learn a little bit more about the compilation, we had a chat to one of our favourite artists in the country, Mei Saraswati.
For those unfamiliar, can you tell us a bit about the Beeliar Wetlands?
Beeliar Wetlands are some of the last remaining wetlands in Perth - 90% have been cleared or drained since colonisation. Home to motorbike frogs, pobblebonks, jiddy jiddies, red-tailed black cockatoos, ducks, swans, quendas, banksia woodlands, too many to list. It has immense Noongar significance as a birthing site and camping area, artefacts have been found there. Imagine, there were so many humans born there, near the shimmering waters, the bursting banksia blooms, with eucalyptus in the air. The regional park is a big, juicy, treasured section of wetland with massive lakes. They were formed thousands of years ago in between ancient sand dunes.
Can you tell us about the kinds of effects the Perth Freight Link/Roe 8 will have on the wetlands?
It will mean the clearing of banksia woodland much needed for the endangered red-tail cockatoo, who have already relocated from the wheatbelt. Destruction of Nyoongar sacred sites. Cutting between North Lake (Coolbellup) and Bibra Lake (Walliabup). When North Lake hasn’t enough water, swans relocate their cygnets across the way to Bibra Lake. Noise levels and pollutants from the road will harm/disrupt/kill the flora, fauna, soil and hydrology. It means we are acting as if we were still stuck in the 50’s. Lets move to rail. It would also mean that our government still operates with a short sightedness and greed that disadvantages our future generations. As humans we are ‘privileged’ and hold a lot of power over the fate of our flora and fauna relations, so we need to act kindly and with honour… Roe8 just goes against this.
Recently I read something you posted about solastalgia, a concept termed by Glenn Albrecht that describes a kind of ‘homesickness one gets when one is still at ‘home’’. Are you able to speak a little more about this?
It’s a great term. Its a meeting of the words ‘solace’ and ‘desolation’. Albrecht looks at how our mental health is entwined with the fate of other living things, and our ‘natural’ environment. He describes a feeling of ‘chronic distress’ one feels when a home environment has been destroyed or changed beyond previous recognition (in my understanding). Thus resulting in a homesickness when one is home. Reminds me of Alvin Toffler’s ‘Future Shock’.
Can you tell us about C0OL PO0L and how it started?
A group of friends were down at the protests on North Lake Road. There were fences and police sweating, police on horses, cars beeping in support as they drove past, teenagers were making speeches about staying peaceful, kids running around. We were sitting on a rug in the protectors camp and organising a car pool group. We called it a cool pool (lol). It hit me that every one of us made some sort of music and casually asked if perhaps we should make some sort of compilation, just so we could do something at home when we weren’t at the wetlands. Within 12 hours I had tracks sent to me. Lyndon (Leafy Suburbs) set the tone for me. I already had tracks I had written about roads so I chucked that in. Diger came with an upbeat and optimistic track, Tess came with something very spiritual. Well I feel like the whole thing is spiritual.
C0OL PO0L is an incredibly cohesive release, and the field recordings of Beelair Wetlands scattered throughout the record really communicates a feeling of pain, suffering and loss in the community. It feels like broadly, colonisation (and the many systems it brings with it) often results in an approach to the natural environment that is void of emotion - that love is something that cannot be applied to non-human inhabited ecosystems. What role do you think emotion has played in C0OL PO0L?
The trees are our relations. When we see them as family, well… it changes things you know? Noel Nannup talks about totems and how that connects you to other living things in the way of thinking of them as family. The separation humans feel from the rest of the living world is a myth. We are connected. We are organic with our environment. We are not separate entities. It has a lot to do with unfettered individualism in our current culture. Think about all the mental strain humanity is going through right now…I love that you talk about love. It’s not just a love that is about happiness, it’s a love that requires sacrifice and putting others before ourselves. We need to do a lot of work rn…
Emotions motivated this compilation for sure. The emotion ran through it like spirit and made with hands and mouths and minds that are well versed in what they do. We all try very hard to make works with integrity.
How are you feeling about the future? And what steps can be taken to help?
Gosh. Homesick! Immense despair and immense hope all at the same time. The world as we know it is crumbling and making way for new systems. There are destructive forces everywhere, we just gotta be in the constructive side. Be busy. ‘Be anxiously concerned with the needs of your age.’ ‘Be not content with the ease of a passing day.’ Those are Baha’i writings. Find things to add to your moral framework and also keep joyful, find others who are like warm suns and in return give warmth also. I dunno. I’m just typing frantically. hehe.
C0OL PO0L (Beeliar Riddim) is out now and features music from Akioka, Cow Cablin, Diger Rokwell, Kirby, James Ireland, Leafy Suburbs, Matt Aitken, Maxy Bills, Mei Saraswati, Nicholas Allbrook, Pia Remund, Rabbit Island, Sam Newman, YLEM & field recordings of around, above & below the Beeliar Wetlands. Get it over here.