Use this link to go to the original article on GuelphToday.com: https://www.guelphtoday.com/spotlight/save-the-date-dont-miss-iskw-at-river-run-centre-on-december-1st-2023-7791500
Exciting artist is a must-see, part of an exciting lineup of performances this season in Guelph
If you like to be entertained and enlightened, this season at Guelph’s River Run Centre will not disappoint. Their programming features an impressive list of new and diverse artists.
On December 1st, they’re excited to welcome singer-songwriter iskwē | ᐃᐢᑫᐧᐤ (short for waseskwan iskwew, meaning “blue sky woman”). The Juno Award-winning artist who blends Indigenous sounds from her Cree Métis roots with genre-bending, electronic rhythms will perform and talk about her new music as part of the Miijidaa Music Series.
Village Media Content Studio spoke with the talented multi-hyphenate—someone the CBC has named “one of the most powerful performers in the country”—to find out when she got her start, who her greatest musical influences are and what fans can expect at her upcoming show.
VM: You have so many talents. How long have you been singing, dancing, writing songs and performing?
iskwē: Since I was about 4-and-a-half years old! I started off in dance, with ballet and contemporary being my first love. Music was always a part of me, as I sang for the city choir when I was in elementary school, sang in school musicals, etc., but mostly, I sang the loudest when I thought nobody was listening! But it wasn’t until my early 20s that I really began writing and performing my own music.
VM: How would you describe your style of music and performance?
iskwē: Haha, I am the worst at answering this question! I tend to let others do the describing, as I feel the art of what I do is just that—the art. I would say for the performance, I really love offering audiences the opportunity to immerse themselves in my shows—from details in the staging, lighting, sound immersions and so on. I design each show differently, there is yet to be one that is the same as another and this is something that excites me! Creating for the room, for the audience, for the story.
VM: Could you share a few examples of some of the ambient sounds and beats that you have incorporated into your music?
iskwē: The new music I have been releasing recently was all recorded in Mexico City, with many of the stories taking place while I was living there, so Damian Taylor (my wonderful friend and producer I worked with on this music) and I collected sounds from the local environment that he then transformed into the pieces. Some are more obvious than others (i.e., the sound of rain or thunder) whereas others are less discernible (a little frog that was making noise late one night outside the studio).
VM: Who would you say have been your most cherished musical and/or artistic influences to date?
iskwē: Oh, absolutely the following: Björk, Kate Bush, David Bowie, Erykah Badu and an incredible retelling of Macbeth in NYC called “Sleep No More”. Absolutely go see this if you find yourself in NYC! It has been going on for 9 years and counting!
VM: What can the audience look forward to at this December 1st show in Guelph? Will you be playing songs from all three of your albums?
iskwē: New music! There’s a LOT of it, and I have been itching to share it with people! New music, new stories but the same old iskwē. I don’t want to give everything away, but there will be a nice reflection back on prior songs as well as a nice look into the future of what’s still to come.
VM: You have done multiple collaborations with other artists. What have some of your favourite projects been and why?
iskwē: I absolutely LOVED the project with Tom Wilson (2022’s Mother Love). First of all, he’s always so much fun to be around and on stage with, but also it was such a new experience for me, showing up to the studio with the job of interpreting the songs and performing them via interpretation, rather than from my own direct experience, as I did not write those beautiful tunes. It really was a great way to learn how to perform differently!
VM: Your videos are so strikingly beautiful; they stand on their own as pieces of art. Who is responsible for these and are these visuals incorporated into your performances at all?
iskwē: Thank you! I really take pride in creating a story from start to finish, and the visuals, be it video, photo, or whatnot, are a big part of what I see as I’m writing and recording music. I’ve also been working alongside my dear, longtime friend and creative director, Elena Vazintaris, on the visual components of my stories. I find this partnership is one that gives us both the opportunity to dive deep into our creative spirits and spaces, where the wilder the better, the odder the better, the free-er the better!
The 2023/2024 RESOUNDING Season
This, of course, is just one of many stellar performances this season at River Run Centre. Be sure to check out the rest of the upcoming shows and explore the brochure for the 23/24 RESOUNDING Season, proudly sponsored by Richardson Wealth.
River Run Centre is known for engaging the community, promoting the arts and bringing inspiring performances to local audiences. This season truly presents something for everyone, with outstanding Indigenous artists such as iskwē and fellow Juno Award-winner Susan Aglukark, alongside renowned children’s shows, international blues legends, some of
Canada’s best rock, comedy—and yes, more! There are shows for all ages and for lovers of all genres.