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Interview with Tanya Tagaq

Broken Boxes Podcast is proud to present this episode featuring Tanya Tagaq, respondent Artist for Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory. This is the fourth installation in a series of interviews featuring participants and their respondents from the socially engaged project #callresponse. 

Laakkuluk Williamson-Bathory and Tanya Tagaq performance, 2015. photo credit: Front of House Photography.

Laakkuluk Williamson-Bathory and Tanya Tagaq performance, 2015. photo credit: Front of House Photography.

Tanya Tagaq’s music isn’t like anything you’ve heard before. Unnerving and exquisite, Tagaq’s unique vocal expression may be rooted in Inuit throat singing but her music has as much to do with electronica, industrial and metal influences as it does with traditional culture.

This Inuk punk is known for delivering fearsome, elemental performances that are visceral and physical, heaving and breathing and alive. Her shows draw incredulous response from worldwide audiences, and Tagaq’s tours tend to jump back and forth over the map of the world. From a Mexican EDM festival to Carnegie Hall, her music and performances transcend language.

Tagaq makes musical friends and collaborators with an array of like-minded talents: opera singers, avant-garde violin composers, experimental DJs, all cutting edge and challenging. Tanya’s albums make for complex listening, but her string of Juno nominations attests to her ability to make difficult music speak a universal tongue.

Animism was produced by west coast shape-shifter Jesse Zubot (Dan Mangan, Fond of Tigers) with additional production by Juan Hernandez. The record features Michael Red (Low Indigo), a live programmer whose wild northern field recordings often serve as Tagaq’s de facto backing band, percussionist Jean Martin and Belgian opera singer Anna Pardo Canedo.

Animism has received major critical praise and attention in Canada. The album won the 2014 Polaris Music Prize, a prestigious annual award (based on the UK’s Mercury Prize) that judges albums based on “the highest artistic integrity, without regard to musical genre, professional affiliation, or sales history.” Tanya’s unforgettable gala performance and acceptance speech have further amplified the impact of this win, and her victory has been heralded a turning point in Canadian music and culture. Animism  has also been nominated for in “Pushing the Boundaries” and Aboriginal Songwriter of the Year categories from the Canadian Folk Music Awards (winners have not been announced at this time).
Resource: Six Shooter Records

“Tagaq projects sounds that carry the imprint of the body’s secret contours and recesses, delving far beyond personal utterance, out beyond human identity, to summon voices from the flesh cavity haunts of animal spirits and primal energies.” —THE WIRE, UK

#callresponse Project Details:

#callresponse presents the work of First Nations, Inuit and Métis women and artists as central to the strength and healing of their communities. This multifaceted project brings together five site­specific art commissions that invite collaboration with individuals, communities, lands and institutions. This socially engaged project focuses on the "act of doing" through performative actions, highlighting the responsibility of voice and necessity of communal dialogue practiced by Indigenous Peoples.