Aboriginal Music Week Announces Lineup for 2015 Spence Neighbourhood Block Party


The 2015 Aboriginal Music Week is shaping up to be quite the celebration. 

This year, AMW and the Spence Neighbourhood Association are joining forces once again for the 3rd annual Spence Neighbourhood Block Party.

The free outdoor concert will be held from 4pm-8pm on Wednesday, August 19th at the Magnus Eliason Recreation Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The lineup will feature some true #IndigenousExcellence from across Indian Country including singer Winston Wuttunee, Inuk throat singer Nikki Komaksiutiksak, and country/rock group Joe Maxim Band. In addition, three youth performers will also be announced in the coming weeks.

Here's more on the Spence Block Party performers:

  • Winston Wuttunee is a household name in the Canadian music industry who has wowed audiences across North America as well as Europe and Australia as a singer, keynote speaker, and comedian since 1973.
  • Nikki Komaksiutiksak is traditional Inuit throat singer from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut who now calls Winnipeg home.
  • Joe Maxim Band is an Aboriginal country/rock band with well over 10,000 of performance experience under their belt.

Aboriginal Music Week produces concerts in neighbourhoods throughout the city in an effort to make it easier for families to walk to the venues, but music lovers from outside the neighbourhood are more than welcome to attend.

Spence Neighbourhood Block Party Winston Wuttunee, Nikki Komaksiutiksak, Joe Maxim Band, and special guests Wednesday, August 19, 2015 4PM - 8PM Magnus Eliason Recreation Centre, 430 Langside Street Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada Free Concert | Free BBQ | Free Music Workshops

Aboriginal Music Week 2015 is set for August 18 - 22 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. It will include four community celebrations at the Magnus Eliason Recreation Centre, the Turtle Island Neighbourhood Centre, the Austin Street Festival, and St. John's Park. Four lunch hour concerts, three days of music workshops, two ticketed concerts, two networking dinners, and mentor meetings with three international artists round out the festival programming this year.

For more information visit: aboriginalmusicweek.ca

Listen to The Outer Reaches Mixtape: Inside the Sounds of Tanya Tagaq


How much do you know about Tanya Tagaq's music? To celebrate #MixtapeMonday, we take you inside the epic and artful career of the acclaimed Inuk artist with The Outer Reaches—an exclusive compilation that explores her ever-evolving auditory experiments and creative collaborations.  

If it wasn't already eminently clear, Tanya Tagaq is at the visceral vanguard of the Indigenous music renaissance.

Reactions to Tagaq’s win of the 2014 Polaris Prize have been overwhelmingly positive and celebratory. Over at Maclean’s, where Michael Barclay celebrates the “wonderfully weird” nature of the Polaris Prize, he argues that Tagaq is heavier than most metal bands:

Tagaq is not for the faint of heart. Tagaq creates great beauty and great destruction all at once, one woman embodying our relationship with the natural world. Of course, this all sounds ridiculous on paper (or pixels). Until you actually experience what it is she does.

We decided to celebrate Tagaq’s groundbreaking win with a retrospective mixtape exploring her work with many artistic collaborators, so that our readers can experience the outer reaches and incredible breadth of Tagaq’s musical universe.

The mixtape begins with a track from the first recording in her discography, the 2003 Iluani release Erren, which features Ugarte Anaiak and Ganesh Anandan on percussion, and the late, great Canadian fiddler Oliver Schroer. Collaborating with string players is an ongoing theme in Tagaq’s catalogue and, in this mix, we also hear from her current bandmate and producer, violinist Jesse Zubot, and her past bandmate (and RPM regular), cellist Cris Derksen.

Longtime Tagaq collaborator, Vancouver-based DJ and producer Michael Red, who often cross-pollinates electronic productions with Indigenous artists, drops a dub remix of Digging Roots’  Rebel, from their 2006 debut release Seeds, which Red re-released in support of Idle No More.

Joining Tagaq on stage at the Polaris Prize gala were bandmate, drummer, and producer Jean Martin, and The Element Choir directed by Christine Duncan. We hear an early release from the Jean Martin Trio’s 1999 recording Get Together Weather, and an excerpt from The Element Choir’s debut 2009 release At Rosedale United.

As evidenced in her incredible live performances, vocal experimentation is a central theme running through all of Tagaq’s work and in her work with artistic peers. She joined legendary and iconoclastic rock singer Mike Patton on “Fire ~ Ikuma” from her 2008 sophomore release AUK/BLOOD.

No Tagaq mixtape would be complete without hearing from the incomparable Björk, who helped launch Tagaq’s career on the world stage. Tagaq’s unique brand of throat singing can be heard throughout the opening track of Björk’s 2004 release Medúlla, “Pleasure is all Mine".

We conclude the mixtape with the closing track of Animism, “Fracking.” Social advocacy is a strong current throughout Tagaq’s work, which she openly addressed on stage at the Polaris gala, by projecting the names of missing and murdered Indigenous women, defending the traditional and sustainable Inuit seal hunt, and in this haunting track, embodying the environmental devastation caused by fracking. There is no separation in her music between aesthetics, politics, cultural practice, and raw experimentation.

As she has said, "what we're making right now is going to be the new tradition".

So open your senses, release your spirit, listen close, and dive deep into this expansive acoustic world.

The Outer Reaches: Tanya Tagaq Mixtape - 


1. Iluani - "Half Way Up the Mountain" (Erren, 2003) 2. Jesse Zubot - "Sundowning Part 2" (Dementia, 2006) 3. Björk - "Pleasure is all Mine" (Medulla, 2004) 4. Digging Roots - Rebel - Mred remix version (Michael Red, 2008) 5. Tagaq - Surge (Sinaa, 2005) 6. Cris Derksen - Dark Dance (The Collapse, 2013) 7. Tagaq - Fire ~ Ikuma (feat. Mike Patton, AUK/BLOOD, 2008) 8. Jean Martin Trio - Get Together Weather (Get Together Weather, 1999) 9. The Element Choir - Cloud Hands (excerpt, fr. The Element Choir at Rosedale United, 2009) 10. Tagaq - Fracking (Animism, 2014)

Tanya Tagaq Wins Polaris Prize 2014, Watch Her Live Performance Dedicated to MMIW


Groundbreaking, devastatingly incredible Inuk artist, Tanya Tagaq, beat out high profile artists like the Arcade Fire, Drake, Chromeo and a long list of others, to win the 2014 Polaris Music Prize for her album, Animism.

She will receive the $30,000 prize and, in her acceptance speech, Tagaq encouraged everyone "to wear and eat seal as much as possible" adding "fuck PETA":

"People should wear and eat seal as much as possible because if you can imagine an indigenous culture thriving and surviving on sustainable resource, wearing seal and eating it, it’s delicious and there’s lots of them.

Her performance included a dedication to missing and murdered Indigenous women, with scrolling projections of the names of #MMIW displayed behind her as she sang, accompanied by an intricate polyvocal choral arrangement.

Hailed for her "jaw-droppingly powerful and astoundingly strange" performance, Tagaq brought the crowd to its feet and proved, definitively, that the Indigenous music renaissance is just getting started.

Watch Tagaq's astonishing live performance of "Uja" and "Umingmak", starting at 3:22:09 below:


STREAM: Tanya Tagaq - "Uja"


The first track from Tanya Tagaq's upcoming release has been unveiled! Her unearthly voice will get into your bones though the beats of Uja. 

Tanya Tagaq's newest album, Animism, is set for release on May 27th on the ever fantastic Six Shooter Records. This new track is the first to be shared with the world and we're stoked to hear the new work.

A few select launch dates have also been announced - mark your calendars if you're in the lucky cities below and otherwise hit play, again and again.

STREAM: Tanya Tagaq - "Uja"


Tanya Tagaq Remixes 'Nanook of the North'


Acclaimed Inuk throat singer, Tanya Tagaq, is currently touring a performance that reclaims and re-imagines the deeply stereotypical 1922 silent film, Nanook of the North, with a new score and live musical accompaniment.

Begun as a commission for the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, Tagaq is currently performing a remixed version of the piece in festivals and concert halls across Turtle Island that channels her frustrations against stereotypes and takes that energy to transform it sonically in order to "reclaim the film".

As the PuSH Festival describes it: "In this concert for film she fuses her voice and musical talents to create a mesmerizing, original soundscape for Nanook of the North, perhaps the most famous (and perhaps most infamous) film ever made about indigenous people. Tagaq’s haunting throat singing combines with Jesse Zubot and Jean Martin’s improvisatory genius and Derek Charke’s original film score to frame film pioneer Robert Flaherty’s 1922 semi-documentary in a new, contemporary light.

Experimenting with and honing her personal style in Inuit throat singing since she was a teenager in Nunavut, innovative vocalist Tanya Tagaq can capture the most ethereal moments of desire, or find the deepest, huskiest, beating pulse, with her voice and breath. She creates soundscapes from inhalation and exhalation, summoning powerful emotion from the smallest movement of lips, throat and lungs."

Here's an excerpt of Tagaq's recent chat with Holly Gordon for CBC Aboriginal:

You were commissioned to do this project for TIFF in 2012. Are you pushing it forward now with this iteration?

It’s the same thing but it’s also different every time because of improvising with my band. We have a beautiful backing track composed by Derek Charke, and he is a brilliant composer and I was really lucky to be able to work with him. And how we did that was, I watched the film four times, and responded vocally and composed my own melodies and stuff like that to the film. And then sent that all off to Derek and he took that and put field recordings over it from Nunavut. And he processed my voice and it’s just a really nice kind of bed that we get to, like a sonic bed we get to lay on while we’re improvising on top of it. It’s fun.

You said you thought the movie was perfect to work with. How so?

There are moments in the movie where … my ancestors, they’re so amazing. They lived on the land and I just still can’t believe that. Growing up in Nunavut and just the harshness of the environment itself, the ability for people to be able to survive with no vegetation, and just the harshest of environments, it’s just incredible to me. I’m very proud of my ancestors.

So that’s one facet of it, but I’m a natural presenter, like I went to arts school, so I watched it and I was just like, "They put a bunch of bullshit happy Eskimo stereotypes," you know what I mean?

So I can respond to that as well, with finding some hardcore punk, kind of that feel, kind of put that sound all over it to make it clear. It’s really nice because I can take my frustrations of stereotypes all over the world and take that energy and put it in sonically. I reclaim the film. Even though I have no doubt in my mind that Robert Flaherty had a definite love for Inuit and the land, it’s through 1922 goggles. It’s just nice to be a modern woman, well modern Inuk woman, taking it back.

You said you first saw the film when you were a kid, was that through school?

I think so, yeah.

Do you remember anything about how you felt when you saw it that first time?

I remember being really, really embarrassed and annoyed when he was biting on the record [there's a scene where Nanook laughs at a phonograph and bites on a record, as if he's never seen one before]. And there were a couple of scenes like that where I’m embarrassed and annoyed. Like I said, that’s why it’s great to sing over it.

I read that the record-biting scene was fake, too.

Yeah, like, “Look at these savage people that have no idea what this is, oh isn’t that funny, they don’t know.” And it’s like yeah, why don’t we take someone living in England and put them on the land and laugh at them for dying in the cold? “Oh, he’s being eaten by a bear.”

Read the rest of the interview here: Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq on reclaiming Nanook of the North

Here's a list of Tagaq's upcoming 2014 performances in Canada and the U.S through the winter and spring.

Tanya Tagaq 2014 Tour Dates

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 Nanook Of The North - Calgary Venue: Festival Hall

Thursday, January 30, 2014 Nanook Of The North - Edmonton Venue: Canoe Theatre Festival - Garneau Theatre

Friday, January 31, 2014 - Saturday, February 1, 2014 Nanook Of The North - Vancouver [SOLD OUT] Venue: PuSH Festival

Saturday, February 1, 2014 Nanook Of The North - Vancouver [SOLD OUT] Venue: PuSH Festival

Free panel discussion presented with Tides Canada: February 1, 3:30pm at The York. A panel discussion on the representation of Inuit life and culture oon film. Moderated by Michell Raheja, associate professor at the Unversity of California, Riverside, with panelist Tany Tagaq and invited guests. Everyone welcome.

Saturday, February 8, 2014 Duo Performance (w/ Michael Red) - Guelph, ON Venue: Hillside Inside

Thursday, May 8, 2014 Tanya Tagaq with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra Performing: Thirteen Inuit Songs by Derek Charke Venue: Carnegie Hall, New York City

Performance information and ticket info available at: tanyatagaq.com

VIDEO: Elisapie Isaac - "Life is What You Make It"


In the new charming video from Inuk Elisapie Isaac the Polar Pop artist braves life's perils for love.

Of her most recent album's title Traveling Love Elisapie has said “love cannot be owned. It is something that is always moving, always flowing" and in this video, lyrically and visually, Elisapie seems to be celebrating love within that changing flow, and the risks one might encounter along the way. Like open flames and snakes - eep!

Directed by Iouri Philippe Pailé for the peppy track "Life is What You Make It", watch the new video now:

STREAM: Elisapie Isaac - "Moi, Elsie"


Daring and darling Salluit native Elisapie Isaac has been making waves with her first solo album There Will be Stars. Perfectly trilingual, Elisapie sings on the album in Inuktitut, English and French. This track, with French lyrics written by Quebec singer-songwriter Richard Desjardins, showcases Elisapie's velvet voice at its raw best. It whispers in your ear and touches your heart. STREAM: Elisapie Isaac - "Moi, Elsie"

Moi, Elsie by vegamusique

RPM Podcast #003: "North Coast"


In our third episode, we look up, way up, to the North Coast of Turtle Island.

Ostwelve talks with Dene/Inuvialuit country artist Leanne GooseDene singer-songwriter Leela GildayInuk hip-hop artist M.O. and Tlicho writer Richard Van Camp.

We find out what makes the north coast - and its influence on these artists - unique. We also learn how to pass the hours when the sun never rises and more behind the saying "when an elder dies a library closes".

You'll also hear Inuit throatsinging by Karen Panigoniak and Maria Illungiayok from Arviat, Nunavut.

This is just a slice - a super tasty, action-packed slice - of the diverse music and culture of the North Coast. Also check out RPM's North Coast YouTube Playlist for more.

Download: RPM Podcast #003 - "North Coast" 

Subscribe via your favorite RSS reader

The RPM podcast is produced & engineered by the amazing Paolo Pietropaolo.

Photo Illustration: Thanks to the talented Joi Arcand for the depiction of the dancing northern lights.

Folk on the Rocks Festival 2011: Indigenous Artists and Full Festival Lineup


Folk on the Rocks, the north's largest annual summer music festival, will be held in Yellowknife this weekend from July 14-17, 2011.

The festival draws musicians and fans from all over the NWT, Nunavut and across the globe for "the North’s biggest party under the midnight sun".

Among the many talented musicians who will be performing at this year's festival are a strong selection of Indigenous musicians. This year's lineup includes performances by:

Elisapie Isaac (Inuk singer-songwriter)

Kulavak (Inuit throat singers)

Boyd Benjamin and Kevin Barr (Gwich’in fiddlers)

Michael Cazon (Ft. Simpson-based Dene drummer)

The Yellowknives Dene Drummers

Oka  (Indigenous Australian group from Torres Strait)

Tina Roy (Métis singer-songwriter)

Shauna Seeteenak  (up-and-coming female Inuk hip-hop artist from Qamini'tuaq/Baker Lake, Nunavut)

Folk on the Rocks offers four jam-packed days of music and entertainment on six stages, including a children’s area, cultural area, international and traditional cuisine, and Northern creative works featured in the Art on the Rocks area.

Check out the Folk on the Rocks 2011 Full Festival Lineup for more information.

And here's a sample of the amazing Yellowknives Dene Drummers:

VIDEO: Elisapie Isaac - "Turning My Back"


The enigmatic and haunting voice of beautiful Inuk singer Elisapie Isaac drifts effortlessly between her native Inuktitut and English in this gorgeous new single from her recent album "There Will Be Stars".

Isaac came to our attention several years ago through her work with Taima, a wonderful collaboration with guitarist/composer Alain Auger.

And if this new song is any indication of where her music is headed, "Turning My Back" offers us a trip to a dreamy place, above the clouds, within what Isaac calls "a constellation of music from our universe".


STREAM: M.O. and Geothermal MC - "Muskox"


Inuk hip hop artist M.O.’s new album String Games – a collaboration with Geothermal MC - continues to explore the contemporary urban Inuit life that filled his first CD. He raps about issues that are close to him - identity, northern politics and, in this track featuring Kinnie Starr, suicide. He’s not one to mince words and while he may shoot straight for the heart, his lyrics are crafted with a frankness that avoids cliché and melodrama. The result is intelligent, provocative and moving work. STREAM: M.O. and Geothermal MC - "Muskox"

M.O. & Geothermal MC Release "String Games"


Iqaluit-born hip hop artist M.O. teams up with North Vancouver's Geothermal MC to release "String Games".

While "Eskimocentricity" presented linear rap narratives, "String Games" moves into more of a staccato hip hop storytelling style. The collaboration is exciting, dynamic and moving.

Get the album from CDBaby.

Track listing:

1. Marching Out 2. Drive 3. Bearings ft. Whitey of Southside Totems 4. Muskox ft. Kinnie Starr 5. Tundra ft. Big Scratch 6. Saturday 7. Spanned 8. Scaling ft. Shauna 9. Sides 10. Assembly ft. Hyper T 11. Shadow 12. Midnight ft. Belladonna the Virtuous