Up north, round Canada way, there’s a new indigenous movement in music rumbling in the clubs, on dance floors, and in festival fields. Some call it powwow step, others call it indigenous electronica, others still call it First Nations’ dubstep. It’s a scene driven by Canadian electronic trio A Tribe Called Red and it’s here to change the way you think about indigenous music.
A Tribe Called Red formed in 2007, as an indigenous band for the 21st century. Members Ian “DJ NDN” Campeau, Tim “2oolman” Hill, and Bear Witness blend the age old dance and chants of indigenous North America with the electronic beats and scratches of ultra-modernity. They’re bringing what many people see as archaic and lost music from a lost people into the national consciousness and onto sweaty dance floors for the first time. And it’s sounds awesome.
As a mixed indigenous kid from Washington State, I’ve been following and loving A Tribe Called Red for a few years now — largely because there is so little indigenous music out there. When a group as powerful as ATCR comes along you take note. So I was thrilled to catch up with guys on their recent American tour up the east coast when they had a free day in Washington DC. We talked life for an Indian in Trudeau’s Canada and Trump’s America, our shared history, Canada 150, and what it’s like dropping fresh beats with a truly old school twist.