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Iskwé on 3 key influences behind her new album, The Fight Within

Andrea Gin

Listen to Iskwé's upcoming album, The Fight Within, before its release via our First Play here.

It’s been five years since her self-titled debut, and Iskwé is now on the cusp of releasing her latest, a powerful new album full of dark anthems for the dancefloor.

Between albums, the Winnipeg-born, Hamilton-based artist has been busy, winning a West Coast Music Award, serving as a judge on the Canadian Music Class Challenge and collaborating with a host of rising producers for her new album, including Juno Award nominees the Darcys. In 2015 she released “Nobody Knows,” an arresting single that turned a spotlight on the more than 1,200 missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada.

Next week, Iskwé will release her second album, The Fight Within, and in anticipation of this new release, we asked her to tell us about some of the key influences behind her songs.

1. Protecting the planet

“I've tried to do my best at being a part of the change I want to see in the world, but when it comes to finding ways to evoke change regarding the waterways and our environment, I was finding it difficult to see how I could be a part of that change. I watched as people came together in protest at the Dakota Access pipeline and was in awe of their strength and courage of the folks down at Standing Rock. Songs like 'Soldier' are my way of supporting the warriors out there defending our waterways and protecting our planet each and every day!”

2. Community

"My first album (self-titled) was quite introspective — the majority of the songs were based on my own personal experiences over a series of years, many of them focusing on personal relationships or struggles I was experiencing within the music business. This album, while titled The Fight Within, is actually more about what I see happening around me — within my family and community, the relationship between Canadian Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, the fact that our women are still disappearing/being killed at an exponentially higher rate than any other demographic in Canada — these are the things I've been focussing on for the past few years. Intergenerational trauma and cycles of negativity are a real concern within my community — the fight is within each of us — so while we're moving forward through our healing processes, reclaiming our seat at the table that is 'Canada,' I'll continue writing songs to encourage my community to keep sharing stories. Our voices are important and our stories are real. I want people to know that we're here to stay, and I don't intend on being quiet about it.”

3. Future generations

“I'm an aunty now. My niece is the brightest star I've ever met — she makes everything sparkle, even when it's covered in half-chewed food! And the thing is, all children are equally as bright as she is, they all sparkle and shine. But some children are at a societal disadvantage to others, and this is not OK. I want Indigenous children and youth to feel that they can take on the world if they choose. I want them to feel proud of their culture and legacy, to walk a little bit stronger each and every day. I want them to have the same access to opportunity as other non-Indigenous children and youth in this country. But all of this takes work, because right now, in this moment, that access to opportunity is not equal. Songs like “Healers” and “Say it Sweet” are for them, so they might walk a little taller knowing that their community loves and cares for them, and we're here fighting for their futures.”

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