June is National Indigenous History Month in Canada and in its honor, we have eight Canadian Indigenous artists to share for your listening pleasure. These artists’ works infuse Indigenous traditional singing or spoken word with electronica, rap, and hip-hop.
Boogey the Beat
Les Boulanger, aka Boogey the Beat, is a Winnipeg-based Anishinaabe producer and DJ. He earned a finalist spot for RBC’s Emerging Musician Award. He’s collaborated with artists like The Halluci Nation, DJ Shub, Snotty Nose Rez Kids, and former rapper-turned-NDP-leader Wab Kinew.
Just this past May, he released his debut album titled Cousins, which is already reaching critical acclaim with its sounds of “sundances and powwows.” Furthermore, the music streaming giant Spotify picked Boogey the Beat to curate their Indigenous playlist for this month.
Boulanger is mindful of expressing the importance of National Indigenous History Month, sharing, “It’s important to not forget that at one time it was illegal for us to sing these songs, play these drums, and go to these ceremonies. Now it’s a time for celebration, and for us to take over the main stage.”
Dan General, aka DJ Shub, is a Mohawk Indigenous DJ who is a member of the Six Nations of the Grand River in Ontario. His name is known far and wide in the electronica scene due to his many awards, accomplishments, and victories at competitive DJ contests.
He competed in the DMC Canada DJ Championship a number of times and won in 2007 and 2008. He also took home the title for DMC Canadian Battle for Supremacy in 2008. Additionally, won a Canadian Red Bull Thre3style title in 2012.
He’s been nominated and won a large amount of awards with A Tribe Called Red, including a 2014 Juno Award for Breakthrough Group of the Year. After he left the group in 2014 to pursue a solo career, he continued to receive prestigious recognition.In 2017, he won an Indigenous Music Award for his PowWowStep EP. Most recently, he won a Juno Award in 2022 for Contemporary Indigenous Artist of the Year for his album War Club.
Cheyanna Kootenhayoo, aka DJ Kookum, is from the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation and Cold Lake First Nations, its maternal Denesuline traditional territory. Now based out of Vancouver and inspired by hip-hop and electronica, their open-format sets aim to keep the party “hype, fresh, and unpredictable.”
Additionally, DJ Kookum tours with Snotty Nose Rez Kids nationally and internationally as their official DJ. They also act as music supervisor for a children’s television series called Coyote Science and host the Immersive Transfer Podcast produced by the Indigenous Matriarchs 4 Media Lab.
As if that doesn’t make it seem like their schedule is jam-packed: just wait, there’s more! Outside of the electronica scene, Kookum has been a video editor for television, documentaries and promo videos for just over a decade.
Snotty Nose Rez Kids
Snotty Nose Rez Kids are a Hip-Hop duo that moved from Kitimaat Village in British Columbia to Vancouver. The rhythmic duo is comprised of Haisla rappers Darren “Young D” Metz and Quinton “Yung Trybez” Nyce. In January 2017, they released a self-titled debut album and followed it up with another album titled The Average Savage that same September.
They performed their single Skoden (which is Indigenous for “let’s go then”) on CBC Music’s First Play Live. Additionally, it was featured on CBC’s Music Reclaimed.
Silla + Rise
Silla + Rise are a collaboration of epic proportions between Inuit throat singers Charlotte Qamaniq and Cynthia Pitsiulak, aka “Silla.” Their name originates from the Inuktitut word Sila, meaning weather. The beats for the group’s music are made by DJ Eric Vani, aka Rise Ashen, making up the Rise in the name.
Their first album Debut was a Juno Award nominee for Indigenous Music Album of the Year in 2017. In 2020, they were nominated for another Juno Award for their album Galactic Gala that was nominated for World Music Album of the Year.
Hussein Elnamer, aka Handsome Tiger, is an Anishinaabe Métis and North African music producer and DJ living in Vancouver, BC.
Handsome Tiger and DJ Shub collaborated on the track Ombashi (ft. Northern Cree) which also featured on Bass Coast Festival’s fundraising album 12 Days Vol.6 (2022). Furthermore, in 2021, CBC Music named him on their “6 Indigenous artists you need to know” list.
Speaking of Bass Coast Festival: expect to see the fan favorite DJ return this year. He’s also returning to Shambhala Music Festival.
Tam Kadjulik, aka Atamone, is an Inuk producer and DJ based in Montreal, Canada. He briefly moved to Vancouver, BC in 2010 to go to the Vancouver Film School for a degree in Sound Design for Film and Visual Media. It was around this time that Tam picked up the Atamone mantle. Over a decade later, in 2021, he pursued a degree in Graphic Design and Interactive Media at the Toronto Film Festival.
Over this summer you can expect to catch his live performances at two Montreal festivals: the Mural Festival on June 8 and Festival Mutek on August 22. Additionally, he was recently included in CBC Music’s article “6 Indigenous artists you need to know in 2023.”
The Halluci Nation
The Halluci Nation has its roots in a sold-out event called “Electric Pow Wow,” started in Ottawa by two of the group’s founding members: DJ Bear Witness (Thomas Ehran Ramon) Cayuga from the Six Nations Reserve and DJ NDN (Ian Campeau) Ojibway from the Nipissing First Nations.
DJ Shub joined the duo in 2010 and they debuted in 2010 under the name A Tribe Called Red. Which, by the way, is an homage to drum groups at powwows calling themselves by their nations. The name is not, as often assumed, an homage to the New York group A Tribe Called Quest.
In 2017, they debuted under their new group name The Halluci Nation, inspired by late Dakota activist, musician, and author John Trudell.
Their self-titled debut album was released in 2012 and it reached 5,000 downloads in just five days. The group also went on a streak of winning many awards over the years, including several Juno Awards, Album of the Year from the Canadian Independent Music Awards, and more.
The Halluci Nation collaborated with the developers of Fortnite to create a track alongside the first Indigenous character, Massai.
Over the years, the member lineup has gone through a number of changes. In 2014, DJ Shub left the group to spend more time with his family and eventually pursued a solo career. In 2017, Ian “DJ NDN” Campeau left the group for health reasons. The current members of The Halluci Nation are Tim “2oolman” Hill and Ehren “Bear Witness” Thomas.
Looking for more ways to be informed and celebrate?
In advance of the month, the Canadian government shared the weekly historical and educational themes for National Indigenous History Month in 2023. For the first week of June, the government website is featuring information on women, girls, and 2SLGBTQI+ people. The second week will feature information on the environment, traditional knowledge, and territory.
Next, the third theme speaks about children and youth. The fourth week, which overlaps with National Indigenous People’s Day, focuses on languages, cultures, and arts. Be sure to look out for programming from the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) celebrating National Indigenous People’s Day on June 21st. Finally, concluding this history month will be the theme of reconciliation.
Important things happen in Pacific Northwest nightlife, and DMNW will send you alerts!