Award-winning musician Logan Staats reconnecting with culture and finding light in the darkness

There was a time when Logan Staats felt there should be a separation between his activism and his music career.

Times have changed for the award-winning musician and producer who has released a new single and was recently arrested while in Wet’suwet’en territory, where he has joined the fight against the Coastal Gaslink natural gas pipeline.

Staats was arrested on Nov. 18 during an RCMP raid on the Gidimt’en checkpoint. An arrest he says was violent.

“About 80 to 100 RCMP approached us. I’m talking, not just RCMP but green guys with sniper rifles. They had dogs. And they advanced on us and they violently took us out,” says Staats, who adds he was punched in the ear and had his braids pulled.

“It was one of the most terrifying days of my life, it was one of the most horrifying days of my life but also one of the most beautiful days of my life but also one of the most beautiful days of my life to see everybody standing together and standing in great peace and setting an example for some of these RCMP.”

Staats, who is Mohawk from Six Nations of the Grand River territory, has an upcoming court date scheduled for Valentine’s Day.

Staats, who is now back in Wet’suwet’en territory, says the first time he tasted water from the Wedzin Kwa, he knew he had to join the fight to protect the river and is now vowing to stay to the end.

He doesn’t know what the end will look like but remains optimistic the natural gas pipeline project will be stopped.

While Staats was a household name within Indian Country, he really rose to prominence when he was selected out of thousands of contestants to appear on the musical competition show, The Launch.

Staats won the show and his single The Lucky Ones was an award-winning, hit.

Four years later, Staats has left his major label and has now signed with the Indigenous-owned, Red Music Rising.

After spending time in Nashville and Los Angeles, he’s also made the decision to re-root at home.

“I always kind of struggled to find somewhere, where I belonged,” says Staats on the latest episode of Face to Face. “I didn’t really fit in on the Rez because I was raised outside of town and I didn’t really fit in, in town because I was Native.

“So, music was the one place where I 100 per cent knew where I belonged.”

Staats says having his boots on the ground on the front lines of land defence has made him realize his music and activism are connected. He says the movement is embodied in every chord he plays and every note he sings.

He has just released the first single off his upcoming album, Deadman.

The video was filmed on the property of the Mohawk Institute, the former residential school that his great, great aunt attended and at the Land Back Lane camp.

“I really wanted to show polar opposites, you know show one place that ripped and tore my culture away and I also wanted to show another place that gave me pride in my culture. Land Back, as crazy as the whole situation is, it did connect me to my community and to Six Nations,” says Staats.

The new album is done and in the can but Staats is waiting to release the record until the pandemic has cleared and he tour.

It’s called A Light In The Attic and is a play on words says Statts who adds that he has struggled with addiction and other vices but has been navigating his way up the musical staircase, finding the goodness amid all of the darkness.

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