Raven Kanatakta and Shoshona Kish | Image Source: diggingrootsmusic.com
Since the debut of their first album in 2006, musical duo Raven Kanatakta and Shoshona Kish, have revelled in a whirlwind of success. They have won multiple awards including the Juno for Aboriginal Album of the Year in 2010, the Aboriginal Award for Best Canadian Album in 2007 and are in demand with a heavy touring schedule which has inspired their signature hashtag #NomadHearts on social media. Kanatakta and Kish are from Winneway, QC and Batchewana First Nation respectively and currently live in Barrie ON where they own their a recording studio and raise their family together. After coming home from the Glastonbury Festival, Erica Commanda from MUSKRAT Magazine, spoke with Kanatakta amidst their busy touring schedule.
MM: What sets your new album, For The Light, apart from your last one?
RK: We produced it ourselves, so we recorded it in our own studio. We ended up using all kinds of vintage equipment, but also used some new equipment. We used old microphones and old pre-amps, so stuff that was used for records like the Beatles. On the recording side we used all modern technology. By producing it ourselves we really got to focus on our vision as opposed to working with someone else so we had more control over how we wanted the music to be represented. We were super excited about it. It also bleeds over into performing live. If we have the song recorded the way we wanted to, then when we do it live it’s kinda makes it more streamline and fun.
MM: You’ve performed all over the world and just came back from the Glastonbury Festival, where has been the most memorable performance?
RK: Well I have a few highlights. Performing with the Funk Brothers was cool just because they’re basically the backing band for Motown. There’s so much music that comes from that, so just playing with those musicians with that history was just super exciting. Then we played at the Sydney Opera House in Australia. Performing at Glastonbury was really cool because its the largest greenfield festival in the world. There were 195,000 people camping out in a bizarre crazy community that just had music going on for 24 hours a day, parks all over, super cool food and dancing. Just being able to perform there and to experience seeing a crowd in one spot that’s over 100,000 people. It was just absolutely amazing.
MM: How do you think that an international spotlight on Indigenous artists during the Pan Am games will affect people’s perception of Aboriginal people?
RK: I think that anytime Canadians are exposed to Indigenous people whether it be culturally, ceremonially or politically, it’s good because Canadians live on Indigenous land. They really should get to know Indigenous people. By having something like the Aboriginal Pavilion and seeing Indigenous people perform at the Pan Am Games they get to see Indigenous people in a contemporary setting. It puts us outside of a museum and puts it into their head that we’re a part of this country and that we’ve always been here. We kinda have to command people’s attention in that way so that we can establish that line of respect for each of us.
MM: After performing at the TRC closing events in June, what changes would you like to see in Canada?
RK: First off I would like Canadians to become more educated. There’s so many Canadians that just don’t know the history of what’s going on. As long as people continue to perpetuate the type of thinking patterns that are utilized in creating these ongoing policies that we’re dealing with today- it’s just going to continue in the future. It starts with education for Canadians, but also educating our own people: the First Nations, Métis and Inuit. We really have to boost it up so that we can actually learn how to communicate together.
MM: Are there up-and-coming Indigenous artists that have caught your attention?
There’s Samantha Crain, we performed with her in the states. Nick Sherman, who’s living in Thunder Bay, he’s awesome. Lorenzo ( Leonard Sumner) as well, he’s from Winnipeg.