Tunisian-born/New York-based experimental singer Emel has shared a music video for her song “Everywhere We Looked Was Burning,” originally written in 2017 and taken from her latest album of the same title. The music video is directed by Sami Battikh and features relevant images of turmoil and conflict from around the globe.
Emel explains the song’s history and origins of the video: "I wrote this song three years ago, as the world seemed to be heading towards a tipping point. I wanted to raise an alarm, to tell humanity that if we don’t stop provoking nature, she might come after us. If we don’t change the system that’s based on structural inequality and abuses of power, we’ll be walking towards the world’s collapse. In that sense the song was sadly prophetic. I wanted the video to directly reflect this harsh reality, to show abuses of authority occurring everywhere against the most vulnerable. I closed every performance with this song during my fall tour, and as the tour went on, we projected more and more images from around the world that seemed to resonate so much with the themes of the song. All of the sudden everything was literally burning: huge swaths of California, Brazil, and Australia being burned to the ground, as well as heated protests in Lebanon, Chile, France. The earth was burning and so was the human heart with desire for change. Now we're in the midst of a global pandemic, spreading like wildfire across the globe. I wanted to bring the audience a collection of heartbreaking images, mixed with the anger and the determination of the people on the streets. Unfortunately, this may be the only way we can be made to listen. Everywhere we Looked IS Burning but we CAN do something about it, by joining our voices together to say ENOUGH." Battikh elaborates on the video: “Emel’s music triggers very strong and visceral emotions in me, something between life and death, and what happens between those two moments. On her last album she asks the essential question about the disasters created by mankind in connection with nature, industrial catastrophes, global warming, pollution etc. These are all very closely connected to social, human and political issues. The idea of this video was to show the undeniable link between the social struggle for a better and more equal society and the ecological struggle for more respect towards climate change and the environment” In addition, Emel will release a rework of “Everywhere We Looked Was Burning” by French musician/composer Thomas Bellier on June 19th, which will initially be made exclusively available via Bandcamp, with all proceeds that day going to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. ‘Everywhere We Looked Was Burning’ was released last year via Partisan and received the best reviews of Emel’s career. The album was her first sung almost entirely in English after previously only recording a handful of tracks in the language, with NPR declaring her “the 21st century catalyst for change”. Watch Emel’s poignant interview and performance on Al Jazeera here. In recent weeks Emel has performed an at-home concerts for Amnesty International France (watch here), France’s TV5 (watch here), as well as National Sawdust’s Digital Discovery Festival (watch here). Emel rose to fame after a video of her performing her song “Kelmti Horra (My Word is Free)” generated millions of views throughout the 2011 Tunisian Revolution. That song served as the anthem for the Arab Spring, gave its name to her debut album ‘Kelmti Horra’, and took her to the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Concert where she performed it to thunderous applause.