Beatroute BC on Instagram

  • Already backed by a considerable YouTube following for her ukelelehellip
  • entershikari are bona fide masters of versatility with a genreblendinghellip
  • typhoonfamilyvacations show at rickshawtheatre on February 24 is just onehellip
  • westwardfest is happening this September! Tickets go on sale Februaryhellip
  • ExOzzy Osbourne guitarist and Black Label Society frontman Zakk Wyldehellip
  • Welsh pop punk outfit Neck Deep are playing at voguetheatrehellip
  • Dan Starlings experimental film The Chorus provides a fresh takehellip
  • Rise  Shine Music Seminar is an event to showcasehellip
  • Noble Oak is taking the Rhodes less travelled Check outhellip

isKwé bridges cultures as a member of many

Thursday 09th, February 2017 / 18:18
By Liam Prost

isKwé’s music comes from a place not everyone identifies with. Somehow, she still speaks to all of us.
Photo: Nat Caine

CALGARY — Indigeneity is the most visible element of isKwé’s musical personae, her name means “Woman” in Cree, and her performances incorporate indigenously-anchored facepaint, but she also identifies strongly with the Irish half of her family, and draws commonalities between the two. She identifies “parallels” between the colonizers of Canada, and the English occupation of Ireland, and specifically the systematic erasure of the native languages in both. isKwé’s eloquence in bridging cultures and communities this way makes her a figure to be paid attention to, and her music commands just as much attention and respect.

isKwé hails from Winnipeg, as so many of Canada’s most exciting indigenous artists do. Despite the Peg’s mixed pop-cultural reputation, it is a fantastic incubator space for a variety of reasons, and even though these are facts, we are going to put them in quotes because isKwé tells it much better than we ever could. “Manitoba is the highest funded province for the arts,” isKwé attests, and “Winnipeg has the largest indigenous population per capita in Canada.”

isKwé argues that arts funding is especially important in “areas that are a little more low income,” because it gives artists focus and freedom, and as a result “tend to generate really interesting art scenes.” Thus cities like Winterpeg are a “breeding ground” for artists of all kinds, but especially the indigenous.

“Sometimes” and “Nobody Knows” are two singles from an upcoming release, both of which are raucous, expressly political, and undeniably infectious. Her early work is more paced, with soft beds; tracks often open with piano chords and build into electronic R&B grooves. isKwé self-describes her first record as “a really good reflection of eight years of growth,” but that her most recent recordings have brought her closer to her “deep down spirit.”

The title lyric of single “Nobody Knows” illustrates the dual frustration and anger of not knowing what is continuing to happen to countless missing and murdered indigenous women, but also the ignorance that so many of us live in surrounding this issue, and isKwé “won’t let you look away anymore.” This track also finds her stretching and experimenting with her voice in unprecedented ways. The track pulsates behind her emotive vocals. isKwé gravitates towards strong and harsh bass, explaining that “low end frequencies and sounds are what resonate with [her] the most,” anchoring her performance, and “vibrat[ing] [her] in [her] core.”

Block Heater’s Indigenous Showcase is part of the Canada 150 initiative, which offers spotlight to indigenous arts and culture, but in the shadow of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, isKwé aptly points out that “nations have been here far longer than [150 years].” Even if positive work is being done, Canada has not “fully reconciled” until “active listening has taken place… as a whole.” A process that she argues is still ongoing.

Vehemently political, isKwé was part of the recent Women’s March in spirit, “protesting by being at home with [her] family” in Winnipeg. After all, what is the purpose of movements like these if not to enable us to be comfortable and safe with our families? It was also her birthday, and even tireless activists, poets, musicians, artists and curators like isKwé deserve a day off.

Catch isKwé in full force as part of the Indigenous Showcase at Block Heater, February 10th at Festival Hall.

, , , , , ,

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: is a member of Apple Music's Affiliate Program. This site collects commissions on purchases that our site's readers decide to make from Apple Music/iTunes affiliate embeds and hyperlinks provided in our posts.




The Heirlooms on avoiding genre traps and keeping momentum  

The Heirlooms on avoiding genre traps and keeping momentum  

By Jodi Brak    CALGARY – Seeking to create something honest, something reflective of internal struggles and the satisfaction of…

, , ,

Beatroute AB on Instagram

  • Win tickets to see Jenn Grant live at the Theatrehellip
  • Sup? Feel like going to a party? Heard there willhellip
  • February 2018 issue out now  This month features Amythysthellip
  • This is just the first wave people Over 200 morehellip
  • Video premiere alert! Erin Kay debuts Holding You Tonight exclusivelyhellip
  • How it Feels by Scenic Route to Alaska is ahellip
  • NorthernCree are the worlds premier powwow round dance drum andhellip
  • I Am The Mountain are set to release something soulfulhellip
  • Cartel Madras is playing the first ever hiphop set tohellip