Cris Derksen Making Magic on "The Collapse"


On Cris Derksen's sophomore album "The Collapse," the classically-trained Métis artist continues to experiment in instrumental and electronic realms, drawing inspiration from eider ducks to pipelines, from club beats to Russian composers.

On her debut album "The Cusp" Derksen drew attention from around the globe for taking the traditionally classical instrument, the cello, onto the dance floor thanks to a loop station and a row of effects pedals. While she's adept at playing with beats, she also builds slow, winding, melodic soundscapes, and any live audience I've seen her perform for has never been short of inspired. She's collaborated with artists like Kinnie Starr and A Tribe Called Red, is often commissioned to compose for film and television, and tours across Canada and internationally.

Yup, she's fantastic.

CBC Music described "The Collapse" as "an evocative and highly atmospheric album" (read their full Q&A with Derksen here) and recently Janet Rogers wrote for BC Musician Magazine:

The Collapse, continues to be an exploration and experimentation in the limits and limitless capacity of the voice and the instrument. On her track “In Line” Cris’ vocalization accompanies one of the more melodic compositions in the collection with crash cymbals breaking in bringing to mind a circus soundtrack while watching a high-wire act. In Dark Dance, she brings us back to the original sound that put her on the map while playing the urban club scene where her fan base was built. This is a bassy musical detail flowing over a rapid trickle of notes sending your thoughts skyward, but since this is a dark dance, we surpass the sky and enter unknown galaxies. Yes, it’s trippy, and yes, I like it.


In the meantime, Cris is making magic from thin air and offering a fresh recipe from the same old kitchen. The Collapse is appropriate music for Saturday evening porch-sitting, international jet-setting or hours long sessions of love-making. Sexy, without being sexualized. Well done.

I think you'll agree too - get "The Collapse" on iTunes and stream "Mussorgsky's house" now:

STREAM: Cris Derksen - "Our Home on Native Land"


#SoundtrackTheStruggle continues with this new track from electro-cellist Cris Derksen.

Half-Cree electro-cellist Cris Derksen continually experiments and creates with her instrument (the cello), electronics (especially the loop pedal), the addition of a live drummer, and her voice. Here her impassioned declaration of our home on Native land will ring through your heart and feet and across Turtle Island. #IdleNoMore.

STREAM: Cris Derksen - "Our Home on Native Land"

Lisa Jackson & The Making Of "Pow Wow Wow"


The new Cris Derksen music video, Pow Wow Wow, was directed by Lisa Jackson and RPM talked with Lisa about the experience, inspiration and production of the video.

As a part of the Aboriginal People's Television Network's "First Tracks" initiative, Cris Derksen traveled out to Toronto to work with Big Soul Productions and renowned director Lisa Jackson for her newest video project Pow Wow Wow.

I asked Lisa about her experience and inspirations for making this amazing video.

"When Big Soul Productions approached me to work on Cris' music video for APTN's 'First Tracks,' it was an instant yes. I love Cris' music and her style and could see my film sensibilities blending with her genre-blending approach. Plus, I was just finishing a year doing the Directors' Lab at the Canadian Film Centre where I had intensively trained in straight-up narrative filmmaking, and I was ready to bust out and do something totally creative and experimental.

Making Pow Wow Wow, I was inspired by Norman McLaren's beautiful 1968 dance film "Pas de Deux" as well as Dr. Who. Cris' whole cello-keyboard-pedals setup made me think of a plane's cockpit and I realized the video had to be set in outer space. And what a great place for fancy dancing! I wanted to capture a sense of a child's fantasy world, but with a steampunk edge. In my mind, Cris' playing is fuelling the ship and the dance, like some kind of imagination generator.

Cris and Shyama (the dancer) were great to work with - both in planning and especially as our shoot day stretched past the 12-hour mark. Poor Shyama had to go and go and go, and she's a raw foodist, so we kept her supplied with carrot sticks and fruit so she didn't pass out.

I originally wanted to shoot Cris playing inside a shiny white futuristic pod that was to be built from a complex papier mache plan, but when the pod broke in transport to the studio on shoot day, we switched to Plan B and shot Cris against a green screen. A lucky accident as Luis Almazan's space pod graphics turned out amazing (you can see his effects process on the video in action at

One of my favourite parts was working with a couple of designers to come up with Cris' supercool spacesuit. Cris was a trooper, as it was a super form-fitting, non-stretchy, hot outfit she was strapped into for hours. She kept it so I hope she at least got to wear it on Halloween or something, but maybe she's too traumatized.

So yeah, it was a great collaboration all around, Cris and I jamming on ideas, Shyama bringing it dance-wise with grace and energy, and Big Soul Productions skillfully facilitating all my crazy ideas. I would do more Cris Derksen videos anytime."

Watch Cris Derksen, Pow Wow Wow here:

Pow.Wow.Wow Cris Derksen Video from Lisa Jackson on Vimeo.