Written by Andrea Warner, with thanks to Reclaimed host Jarrett Martineau and producer Travis Pereira.
From a Juno-nominated drummer, singer and songwriter introducing Plains Cree music to new generations to an emerging artist bringing Indigiqueer’s perspectives into electro-pop, CBC Music celebrates National Indigenous Peoples Day with six must-have musicians know in 2022.
Logan Staats is one of those artists and activists who has a fire in his heart that never goes out, even in his darkest moments. He shines and shines in so many ways: the creative spark in his storytelling and songs, the smoke of his voice and the blazing conviction of his activism.
Staats, who is a Six Nations Mohawk, has been active on the ground with other land defenders in Wet’suwet’en Territory to protest the Coastal GasLink pipeline. He was arrested on November 18, 2021, during an RCMP raid, which Staats described in a statement:
“During that raid I was punched in the ear. My head was banged on the frozen floor by my braids. And I was kneeling in my spine and restrained while handcuffed and bleeding … all after I was just singing peacefully our water song and hugging / protecting a 70 year old matriarch. I was taken to prison along with my sister, Layla Black, many other earth defenders, elders, along with members of the press. With the support of my community and of the people gathering among the nations, I have been set free and remain firm and committed to defend the land from sea to sea throughout Turtle Island. “
It’s a long journey from where Staats was in 2018 when he won The launch, a television music competition. After a stint in Nashville and Los Angeles, Staats decided to return to the Six Nations and reconnect with himself. “I wanted to bring my songwriting back to medicine within music, medicine within remediation,” Staats explained in his biography.
That medicine is the basis of the new single from Staats, “Deadman”.
“I wrote ‘Deadman’ while I was in rehab,” Staats said in a press release. “It’s not about a girl; culture is the love I ask for. Love for myself. It was stolen from me — by the government, the crown, the church. When I sing ‘Give me back my love,’ I’m talking my culture, my pride and my love for myself “.
Five years ago, musician and artist Ansley Simpson released his debut album, Breaking wall, rave reviews and critical acclaim. A little over a year later they were reportedly already putting the finishing touches on their next album, It fell from the sky.
But instead of releasing that record in 2018, the Simpsons found themselves artistically pushed in multiple directions. In 2020, Simpson, who is Michi Saagiig Nishnaabe and a member of the Alderville First Nation, launched Gizhiiwe, an indigenously owned record label. They composed the soundtrack for the 2021 documentary Spirit to fly by co-directors Tanya Talaga and Michelle Derosier. Ansley also partnered with sister Leanne Betasamosake Simpson to record her nominated for the 2021 Polaris Award, Ice theory.
“When I started, it wasn’t easy,” Simpson told Rumpus in 2018. “I had the idea that when you sit down to write a song it comes to your mind, and that’s what songwriters were: people who could just sit down. and write a song. I realized that’s not the case. It was really encouraging to hear other songwriters talk about how hard they had to fight, how it can take a year or two to finish a song. “
But now the Simpson sequel has finally arrived, and according to the CBC Claimedit’s Jarrett Martineau, It fell from the sky is “a lush, beautiful, high-end album full of layered storytelling levels.”
Ruby Waters made her stage debut at just four years old. She was a summer fair and the singer-songwriter, who is Métis and Slovak, took the stage, joining her mother for an interpretation of “Ave Maria”.
Twenty years later, Waters ‘mother is still a source of inspiration to her, even though she is more of a country artist, while Waters’ music falls more into a spectrum of alternative, pop, soul and electro-lo-fi.
“My mom just has a really soulful voice and I love to put my soul into everything,” Waters said Scoreboard. “This opens up an opportunity to do any genre”.
Waters’ desire to experiment sonically is part of what made her such a hit (millions of games and fans) on TikTok, Reddit, and countless other social and streaming platforms. She was even nominated for a 2022 Juno Award as Alternate Album of the Year for her second EP, If it comes to it. But it’s not just the waves between genres that Waters leaves in his wake; they are also the raw, ironic and painfully real moments he shares in the stories of his songs.
“I channel a lot of inner pain into my music,” Waters said DiandraReviewsItAll.com. But then she laughed. “Not to sound dramatic! Once I channel a certain type of pain into a song, I become free of that pain. Definitely liberating.”
Fans can expect a more vicarious catharsis and excellent music soon. Waters’ third EP is expected later this year.
Last fall, rapper Wolf Castle finally came out The Da Vinci investigation, the latest EP of his four-part project, Da Vinci Chronicles. The artist, who is Mi’kmaq of Pabineau First Nation in New Brunswick and whose real name is Tristan Grant, also won his first Music New Brunswick Award after years of nominations. Now Grant has partnered with Music New Brunswick to create the NB Grant for the development of indigenous artists to open the doors to his peers. In other words, it’s been a huge year for the young rapper.
“I just had a great dream and I never forget it,” Grant he told CBC Music.
Grant comes from a long line of hip-hop artists.
“My uncle was a rapper, Red Suga, and my mom was a rapper, Mo3,” Grant told Nex Mag. “He released an album in 2008 and was my uncle’s hype man.”
Grant’s mother encouraged him to create his own beats, his uncle helped him figure out how to write songs, and his cousin Talon the Rez Kid Wonder helped him better understand producing, mastering and mixing.
From the first EP of 2019 to The Da Vinci investigation EP last fall, Grant has spent most of the past four years working for this moment.
“I just have this thing inside me that wants to fight against all that oppression and show the world they won’t keep us down,” Grant he told CBC Music. “We’ll move on. And maybe I could have become an environmentalist or an activist in some other way. But that’s what I’m good at. So that’s the way I’m doing it.”
Nimkish processed a lot of pain during his first two EPs. She titled them Heartbreak on the coast (2019) and Damage control (2021), after all. But the best artists know that pain is not a thing. It is a sky full of constellations and each day offers a slightly different view. Heartbreak on the coast gave Nimkish the space to undo the rise and fall of her first queer relationship, while Damage control became a space to make sense of his father’s death in 2019.
“I think something I’ve learned in recent years is to trust the process and believe in your divine path,” said Nimkish. Do604.com. “If it’s meant for you, it will happen, so try to be there and enjoy the ride. It’s easy as an artist to get caught up in the future and feel a little anxious about it. For me, the creation process is the best part. , so I’m trying to appreciate it as it happens. “
So far, Nimkish’s bedroom-pop-meets-electro-soul songs are mostly rooted in love; after all, that is largely where the pain lies. Her storytellers are real and ironic, sometimes vulnerable and other times bold, and she proudly brings all of herself – queer, indigenous, Chinese – to her music. It’s not always easy in Vancouver. Nimkish I would like to see the city “make room for the incredible BIPOC, queer, community leaders who have been here to fight for representation in this city.”
“This is our time now,” he continued, “and these artists showed up to do the work. I can see the next wave of artists developing and it makes me so excited for us.”
Joel Wood says it basically was “born in Northern Cree“, one of the most famous powwow and round dance drum groups in the world. Joel’s father, Steve Wood, co-founded the group with his brothers in 1982. So it wasn’t a big surprise when Joel joined the band. Grammy nominee, winner of the Juno Award.
But what came as a surprise, even to himself, was the 2022 Juno nomination that Joel received for his debut solo album, Singing is healing.
“It was live on YouTube and I tuned in to sit there with my family for coffee and, you know, I really didn’t hope too much,” said Joel CFWE Radio. “Then came the category and I think I was the second person they announced. When I saw my picture appear with my name and album, I can’t even describe how I felt. I was so excited and very proud.” .
The appointment in and of itself made history: Singing is healing is one of five albums awarded in Juno’s inaugural category for Traditional Indigenous Album or Artist of the Year.
From a young age, Joel’s commitment to his art and culture was shaped by his the words of the father: “If you believe in who you are, where you come from, in your identity, in your culture, in your language, it will take you to places you never even dreamed of.”
These beliefs also helped inform Joel’s latest record, which just came out on June 17, 2022. In an email, Joel explained how his second release took shape:
“Mikwanak Kamôsakinat it is based on the revitalization of language. I came up with the idea of making an album that focused primarily on the language. I’m Plains Cree and I sing with Northern Cree for most of my life. My father Steve Wood is one of the co-founders of the group and leads / manages the group nowadays. Singing has always been an outlet for me in many ways, being one of those who grasp the tongue. “