O Kanata Day: Watch Mohawk Artist Jackson 2bears Remix Colonial "Heritage Mythologies"


Happy Anti-Canada Day—it's time to celebrate the country's Original Peoples.

That's right, we said it.

In a year of reconciliation, on a nationalized holiday of mostly mindless settler celebration, what better time than now to acknowledge not only the long and continuing history of colonialism that has built Canadians' Homes on Native Land, but also the strength and resilience of the Indigenous Nations and societies that predated the arrival of Europeans on our shores?

That's what Kanien'kehá:ka DJ/VJ and multimedia artist Jackson 2bears is doing.


2bears is marking this auspicious occasion with the release of a full-length version of his incredible video work, Heritage Mythologies, an artful deployment of re-appropriation and remix for decidedly Indigenous purposes.

The piece is part of a 2010 installation and live video remix performance at the SAW Gallery in Ottawa, that has since been included in the Beat Nation touring exhibition. Beat Nation demonstrated the unique ways Indigenous artists are using hip-hop and other forms of popular culture to create new cultural hybrids—in painting, sculpture, installation, performance and video.

In Heritage Mythologies, 2bears lets loose his VJ skills on an astonishing array of found footage and cinematic samples sourced from Canadian media, newscasts, CanCon beer ads, Olympic resistance, Canadian rapper Classified's settler anthem "Oh...Canada", those iconic Heritage Minute videos, Cape Breton's singer Rita MacNeil rocking the national anthem, footage from the so-called 'Oka crisis', text from residential school reports, right on up to Prime Minister Harper's notorious 2008 apology for the Indian Residential Schools system. And all set to a rolling hip-hop soundtrack.

Heritage Mythologies is ironic, funny, and a scathing critique of Canadian politics and nationalism.

Not only does 2bears expose the long and destructive misrepresentation of Indigenous Peoples on film and in the media, he does it with an artful, musical eye on the colonial politics at work in how we see and, therefore, how we come to know about the past and present of this country.

Heritage Mythologies closes with a wry twist on that beloved old settler classic, "This Land is Your Land", which strums along against an onslaught of imagery depicting the historical and continuing faces of Indigenous resistance flashing and crackling in the background.

The juxtaposition is potent, powerful, and a clear reminder of how far we still have to go.

So on this 'Kanata Day', why glorify colonial conquest when you can lay bare the deep mythological heritage that still holds sway in the Canadian psyche? Why celebrate a falsely imagined nationalism that overwrites Indigenous nationhood in all its forms when you can champion the work of Indigenous artists committed to the daily struggle of correcting media misrepresentations and representing ourselves on our own terms?

Jackson 2bears challenges our complacency and calls us to account for the inanity of pledging ignorant allegiance to the settler colonial state.

Instead of painting your face with the flag of oppression while shotgunning tallboys of Molson Canadian, or embroidering that maple leaf patch on your backpack ahead of your next drunken hostel excursion through Europe, let's pay more attention to what Indigenous artists are actually doing with the imposed legacy of invasion.

Artists like Jackson 2bears are reappropriating the weapon of representation to reflect back to us the destructive, colonial reality that's been carefully hidden behind the false flag of Operation Reconciliation. Time to take it back to the foundations and try again.

Now, who's ready for some fireworks?

Watch Jackson 2bears, Heritage Mythologies

Heritage Mythologies - O Kanata Day - 2015 from Jackson 2bears


Check out more of his work on Vimeo and at jackson2bears.net

Sonny Assu's Spring Playlist


We asked visual artist Sonny Assu what music he can't get enough of lately and he put together this killer playlist of his current faves. 

Regarded as a ‘Vanguard’ for his work in the Vancouver Art Gallery’s exhibit, How Soon Is Now?, Sonny Assu (Laich-kwil-tach (Kwakwaka'wakw) of the Weka'yi First Nation) merges Indigenous West Coast iconography with the aesthetics of popular culture to challenge social and historical values placed upon both. In an exploration of his mixed ancestry and his interests in Indigenous issues, branding and new technologies, Assu crosses many boundaries with his work and message. In doing so, he reveals a ravishing oeuvre that speaks to many.

His work has been accepted into the National Gallery of Canada and various other public and private collections across Canada and the United States. He graduated from the Emily Carr University in 2002 and frequently holds solo dance parties in his studio.

We're big fans.

Currently, you can see some of his work in the Beat Nation exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery (check out the RPM video installation while you're there!) and anytime at sonnyassu.com.

Without further ado, here's Sonny Assu's Spring Playlist. Enjoy!

Track listing:

  1. Arabesque - Three's Company
  2. Sage Francis - Civil Disobedience
  3. Black Keys - Little Black Submarines
  4. Porcupine Tree - Phase I
  5. The Weekend - Life of the Party

Electric Powwow: Westcoast Potlatch Edition Weekend


The Electric Powwow hit the west coast with A Tribe Called Red on February 25th, 2012 as part of the Talking Stick Festival.

The ever-famous Electric Powwow headed by the DJ trio A Tribe Called Red made its debut in Vancouver  as a part of a very musical weekend. With the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards in town, Beat Nation opening at the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Electric Powwow rolling through as part of the on-going Talking Stick Festival, the weekend of February 24th was an important time for Vancouver's Indigenous music and arts scene.

Friday the 24th marked the opening of the Beat Nation exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery with the Fuse event that brought over 2000 visitors to the gallery to check out the new exhibit as well as musical performances by Silver Jackson, Skeena Reece, Vancouver legendary B-boy and artist Nelson "Dedos" Garcia, Raymond Boisjoly, Jackson Two Bears, A Tribe Called Red, and myself Ostwelve.

After rocking the fourth floor venue with A Tribe Called Red, we made our way to the "Indigenous Afterdark" after party at W2 Media Cafe where an unofficial after party for the Fuse event and National Aboriginal Achievement Awards would be held.  Hosted by Ojibway comedian Ryan McMahon, the night consisted of performances by DJ Muk Luk, Lorenzo aka Leonard Sumner, JB The First Lady, Silver Jackson, myself Ostwelve, an ever-deadly performance by the Skookum Sound System and a surprise teaser set by A Tribe Called Red.

People danced the night away til the early hours in a packed venue with some of the most amazing natives around. (Yes...that was Gino Odjick ripping up the dancefloor!)

Saturday the 25th was another day of musical mayhem in Vancouver after some rest and preparation, we headed back to the W2 Media Cafe for Vancity's first taste of the Electric Powwow: Westcoast Potlatch Edition. This event was a part of the Talking Stick Festival and was geared to bring some of Turtle Island's best performers out.

The night started with DJ Muk Luk warming up the dance floor. First on the stage was Sto:lo hip-hop duo Rapsure Risin' followed by East Van's own Starmakerz bringing their deadliest tracks out to rock. Soundvibe Records and Vancouver legend Emotionz brought his best to the stage followed by our dearest friend Kinnie Starr whom I had the pleasure of backing up for her set. The night closed with an amazing set by Jackson Two Bears bringing his powerful video enhanced DJ set to the staged followed by a thumping set that closed the night by A Tribe Called Red.

After much planning and promoting, it was awesome to see these events come together and creating space for people to dance as hard as they did was an awesome sight to see. A huge thanks goes out to all the artists that participated and also to the people who came out to support. As well as the Talking Stick Festival, Fuse at the Vancouver Art Gallery and of course our beloved people at W2 Media Cafe for helping to make it all possible!

My voice is finally back to normal and my dancing feet are ready to rock!

Got any photos or comments about these events? Send them to ron@rpm.fm or leave your comments below.

Beat Nation Storms the VAG


Beat Nation: Art, Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture opens at the Vancouver Art Gallery on Saturday February 25th featuring performances by Jackson 2Bears, A Tribe Called RedSkeena ReeceNicholas Galanin, and RPM's Ostwelve.

Every so often the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) hosts FUSE Fridays with live music and performance. This Friday will not only host an epic roster of performers but will open the Beat Nation art exhibit featuring work by Sunny Assu, Shawn Hunt, Jordan Bennett, Dana Claxton, Nicholas Galanin, Kent Monkman and others. There will also be an RPM installation of Indigenous hip-hop music videos, intercut with commentary by Ostwelve.

Beat Nation - FUSE kickoff party Friday, February 24, 2012 8:30pm to 1am Performances by Jackson 2Bears, Skeena Reece, Nicholas Galanin, A Tribe Called Red, and Ostwelve.

Find out more about this event here.

The exhibit runs from February 25 – June 3, 2012.

Here are some shots from Beat Nation's last show at the PUSH festival.


Aboriginal Performance Series at PuSh Festival


Vancouver's PuSh Festival is celebrating its 9th year as one of the city's signature events. Every year The PuSh International Performing Arts Festival presents both contemporary performances from leading Canadian artists and develops new works for the stage.

It's a series I look forward to every year - it manages to be innovative and experimental while maintaining a high calibre of production and I'm always discovering new favourite artists and works. Veda Hille and Bill Richardson's Craigslist Cantata that premiered at PuSh remains one of my favourite live performance/theatre experiences ever.

This year I'm thrilled to see that PuSh is presenting an Aboriginal Performance series which "aims to profile compelling and virtuosic projects that transform perceptions... to foster a broader understanding and interaction of contemporary Indigenous artists and their diverse cultures". Right up RPM's alley!

The series kicked off last night with Beat Nation Live - the cross-platform collective that includes Kinnie Starr, Jackson 2Bears, Cris Derksen, (RPM's own) Ostwelve, JB the First Lady, and the Tangible Interaction Digital Graffiti Wall by Corey Bulpitt and Gurl23. It was a high energy performance that had people on their feet and dancing by the end of it. The collective has honed their collaborative efforts - I saw them almost a year ago at the beginning stages of their work together and they've only gotten better.

During her introduction to the performance, senior curator Sherrie Johnson shared that she was inspired to create the Aboriginal performance series after spending time in New Zealand. She experienced many festivals there that featured work by contemporary Indigenous artists along with the programming of non-Indigenous artists and it made her wonder why that is not the case in Canada. Indeed, we have festivals focused only on Indigenous performers in this country, but there is an undeniable lack of inclusion of current Indigenous works in "non-Native" festival programming.

With that in mind she returned to Canada and to PuSh with the plan to seek out the most cutting edge and current Indigenous artists. The result is this diverse and exciting series.

Running from January 31-February 4th at The Cultch in East Vancouver is No. 2, a theatre piece from Toa Fraser of New Zealand centered around a cantankerous Fijian matriarch.

From February 1-4, at the Waterfront Theatre, is Almighty Voice and His Wife, the moving and funny play by First Nations playwright Daniel David Moses. It "tells the story of a Cree man arrested for killing a cow without a license, and the ensuing manhunt that gives rise to his status as a martyr and a legend."

At Performance Works on February 2nd, actor, choreographer, director and educator Micheal Greyeyes will deliver his "keynote manifesto address" Staging Ethnicity, exploring the complexities of "native" theatre and the impacts on those who create and experience it.

I'm really looking forward to the performance by Calgary's Ghostkeeper - the noisy pop band from Shane Ghostkeeper and Sarah Houle. They'll be rocking Performance Works on February 3rd. Check out the just-published Redwire interview with Ghostkeeper for more on them: http://www.redwiremag.com/site/redwire/features/push-festival-aboriginal-performance-series-ghoskeeper-interview/.

Vancouver - which shows will you be checking out? I hope to see you there!

Christa Couture, Editorial Manager

For more information on tickets, times and performances visit http://pushfestival.ca/festival-events/aboriginal-performance-series/.

4 Indigenous Musicians to Watch in 2012


What a year 2011 has been for Indigenous music! From new music by time-tested artists to surprising new splashes on the scene, here's four artists we're keeping our eye on as we move into the New Year. You'll want to pay attention to these artists for great new things in 2012.

Ali Fontaine From the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba, Ali Fontaine is a 17-year old country artist, mentored by Indigenous music legend Errol Ranville. She made waves this year with her debut eponymous album and single Say it to Me. The track's music video, a slick and colourful trip through New York city, was directed by Strongfront A/V Productions founder Jesse Green. Indeed, Ali has been quickly drawing the attention of big hitters and fans alike - she took home Best Country CD and Best New Artist at the Aboriginal People's Choice Awards. With all of this under her belt before she's even graduated high school, we know Ali is just getting started and look forward to what the young star will create next.

Here's Say it to Me:

Beaatz Hailing from the Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick, Canada, Beaatz is also a remarkable young artist who popped up on the scene in 2011. At 19, he's proven to be a prolific emcee/producer this year, establishing off the bat a clean cut production style and sharp rap abilities.  That, putting New Brunswick on the map for Indigenous hip-hop, and being an innovator of style, are why we recommend you look out for Beaatz in 2012.

Here's Never Lookin' Back:

Cris Derksen Classically trained but futuristically innovative, Cree cellist Cris Derksen has been a hardworking musician for a few years now. However, 2011 was surely a red letter year and a sign of Derksen's trajectory. She was on tour most of 2011, including two European tours, as a solo artist and as a member of the Beat Nation Live Collective, the band Lightning Dust and the band E.S.L.; she released her first music video, her second - a First Tracks selection - will be released in the New Year;  the CBC documentary series The 8th Fire, due for release in January, features an original score compose by Derksen and her debut album, The Cusp, won Best Instrumental Album at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards in Toronto. See what we mean? She's surely in her element and on a roll.

Here's 2 Hours Parking:

A Tribe Called Red Who knew about these guys one year ago? In just one year, the electronic chiefs of the Electric Powwow have made huge leaps and bounds with an international touring schedule, mainstream press recognition and the pioneering of a new style of Indigenous electronic music "Powwow-step" that has taken the music world by storm. The trio of DJ NDN, Bear Witness and DJ Shub have been rocking dance floors at major festivals and parties as well as their own weekly nights in their hometown of Ottawa, Canada, and it's been catching on like wildfire. We know it will continue to grow in 2012 and are excited to see what new artistic heights these three men reach.

Here's Red Skin Girl:

Keep your eyes on RPM for the latest and greatest from these artists, and others in 2012.

VIDEO: The Storm - "Gurl23 & Corey Bullpitt"


Here'a new video featuring graphic artists Gurl23 and Corey Bullpitt with music by Impossible Nothing.

Gurl23 and Corey Bullpitt are both established artists in the Vancouver community and are also the resident graffiti artists for the Beat Nation collective. They recently completed a sponsored mural entitled The Storm in Vancouver and a video has been produced featuring music by Impossible Nothing.

VIDEO: Ostwelve - "Light Inside"


Coast Salish hip-hop artist, and RPM's own Ostwelve has released a new video for Light Inside.

Ostwelve was in Paris this past summer with the hip-hop/digital art collective Beat Nation. In between their performances, Os fit in a visit to the famous Père Lachaise Cemetery - resting place to the likes of Jim Morrison, Édith Piaf, Marcel Proust, Oscar Wilde and Gertrude Stein - and filmed his stroll among the sunlit graves, adding another solid video to his repertoire.

Directed and edited by Ostwelve, Light Inside:

Top 10 Indigenous Music Events: July 8-10, 2011


As we head into the heart of the summer music season, there are plenty of Indian gatherings, powwows, and Indigenous musical performances taking place across Turtle Island. 

Here are RPM's Top 10 Indigenous music events to check out this weekend:

1. Joey Stylez July 8 — Hip-hop/pop/crossover kid Joey Stylez rocks the Cobalt in Vancouver, BC. Event info: Hip Hop Balloon Pop

2. Squamish Nation Powwow July 8-10 — the annual Squamish Nation Powwow will be rocking through the weekend. Grand Entry: Friday 7:00pm / Saturday 1pm & 7pm / Sunday 1pm. Event info: Squamish Nation 24th Annual Youth Powwow

3. Beat Nation Live July 9 — Indigenous hip-hop/digital art collective Beat Nation (featuring RPM's own Ostwelve) will be performing in Stanley Park, Vancouver BC. Event info: Beat Nation Live

4. Electric Powwow July 9 — Indigenous DJ crew A Tribe Called Red throws down their latest 'Electric Powwow' night at Babylon Nightclub, in Ottawa, Ontario. This one's celebrating the official release of their amazing remix of "Red Skin Girl". Event poster + info: Electric Powwow July 9th - Red Skin Girl Release

5. Vancouver Island Folk Festival July 8-10 —  Cellist Cris Derksen performs with e.s.l. and singer-songwriter Leela Gilday play the Vancouver Island Folk Festival in the Comox Valley BC. Event info: Vancouver Island Folk 2011 Festival Schedule

6. Winnipeg Folk Festival July 8-10 — Up & coming folk singer Samantha Crain and RPM's own talented singer-songwriter Christa Couture will perform at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. Event info: Winnipeg Folk Festival 2011

7. Mariposa Folk Festival July 8-10 — Inuk singer Elisapie Isaac performs throughout the weekend at the Mariposa Folk Festival. Event info: Elisapie Isaac at Mariposa 2011

8. Mohican Pow Wow July 8-10 — The 27th annual Great Mohican Pow Wow will be held place in Loudonville, Ohio.  Event info: Great Mohican Pow-Wow 2011

9. Atlin Music & Arts Festival July 8-10 — Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq and stalwart singer and actor Tom Jackson perform at the Atlin Music & Arts Festival. Event info: Atlin Festival 2011 Lineup

10. Montana Folk Festival July 8-10 — Inuit throat singing duo Nukariik perform at the Montana Folk Festival. Event info: Montana Folk Festival 2011 Lineup

What a weekend! Make sure you get out and enjoy all the great music Indian Country has to offer.

Anything we missed? Hit us up with events and shows in your area: info@rpm.fm