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A Tribe Called Red: a 3-song Junos primer
By
Andrea Warner

Published

March 27, 2017

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Now with 11 acts and artists confirmed to perform so far (Feist was most recently announced for a tribute to Leonard Cohen), this year’s Junos broadcast on Sunday, April 2, promises to be one of the biggest in the award ceremony’s history.

From emerging artists like Ruth B to established acts like Sarah McLachlan and Billy Talent, there’s something for every music fan, and there are also a lot of great opportunities to discover exciting, new-to-you artists for your earbuds — to punch up your playlists or add to your record collection, or scope out for when their tours come to your hometown.

Think of the live Junos broadcast as an opportunity to survey just a little bit more of the country’s music scene, its depth and breadth, and then keep checking back daily as CBC Music posts its handy three-song primers for each artist and band, as well as a few quotes to help deepen your appreciation of all these great musicians.


A Tribe Called Red

The electronic artists co-created their sound, powwow-step, with former bandmate Dan “DJ Shub” General, breaking new ground by crafting vibrant beats and a boldly reimagined universe of soundscapes that push us forward by pulling the past into the present. It’s music that pulses with life, it’s party past the sunrise kind of music, but it’s also urgent and political and all about the people. It’s dance music for decolonization.

A Tribe Called Red is Ian “Deejay NDN” Campeau, Bear Witness and Tim “2oolman” Hill, and since their self-titled 2012 debut, the group has enjoyed a dizzying amount of success, which has only strengthened their position as cultural leaders. They are outspoken, thought-provoking critics of Canada, Indigenous rights and the music industry, and have collaborated with high profile artists such as Buffy Sainte-Marie, Tanya Tagaq, Angel Haze and Das Racist.

ATCR also won a Juno in 2014 for breakthrough group of the year, and this year they’re nominated for three awards including electronic album of the year for their 2016 release, We Are the Halluci Nation. Below are three essential songs that provide a bit of shape and context to the band’s evolving sound, as well as some quotes and interview excerpts to help you get to know the real ATCR.


Song: “Electric Pow Wow Drum”
Album: A Tribe Called Red (2012)

Bear Witness on politics & party music (Now Toronto, 2013)

"I was raised in a hardcore activist environment. My mom is seriously political and was part of the American Indian Movement in the 70s. But by the time I was in my late teens, I was burnt out. I felt like I was banging my head against a wall. I said, ‘Forget this, I just want to party and forget about all this stuff I've had to deal with my whole life.' I became a full-on raver kid for years, and that's how I got into DJing.

"Somewhere along the way, though, I started to realize that you could do both. You can get people when their backs are down. You get people when they're not looking for or expecting a fight. You get them when they're having a good time."


Song: “Sisters”
Album: Nation II Nation (2013)

Ian Campeau on his decision to strip his DJ sets of misogynistic and racist music (Unreserved, 2016):

"Playing specific artists who [are] known to [have] been misogynistic or have been harmful to women, I just chose not to promote them anymore… I try to not listen to any music that's oppressive in any sort of way, which gets really, really tough when you start realizing all of your heroes are not exactly what they appear."


Song: “Stadium Pow Wow”
Album: We Are the Halluci Nation (2016)

Ian Campeau (aka Deejay NDN) on ending oppression (CultMontreal.com, 2016):

“The hierarchy of race was man-made, which means it can be un-made. Same with misogyny, same with any oppressive ideas that people hold onto. Once we start addressing ideas like this is when we can start ending the oppression.”

Hang out with me on Twitter: @_AndreaWarner

More to explore: 

Sarah McLachlan: a 3-song Junos primer

Arkells: a 3-song Junos primer

July Talk: a 3-song Junos primer