Bedside Books

Why IsKwé loved Patti Smith's memoir Just Kids

The Juno Award-nominated artist reads the work of another musician.
IsKwé is a Cree and Dene pop and electronic music singer. (Lisa MacIntosh/HarperCollins Canada)
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IsKwé is a Cree and Dene recording artist originally from Winnipeg, Man., but has spent some time in New York City. New York is also the setting of the memoir she has been reading lately, Just Kids by Patti Smith. Just Kids documents the spirit of the 1960s from the perspective of an artist in love.  

IsKwé's second album, The Fight Within, was nominated for a 2018 Juno Award for Indigenous music album of the year.

Retracing steps

"Just Kids is a biography about Patti Smith and her dear love Robert Mapplethorpe — the two of them growing up in a time where being artists in New York was a new thing. It's a book that resonates with me, having lived in New York myself. There were a lot of places in this book that I could relate to and see in my mind's eye. It was interesting to read about somebody else's experiences long before I ever got there."

Visualizing another time

"Patti Smith is a beautiful poet. The way she writes, even in this biography, is very poetic and very colourful. It brings you into her world in that time. When I finished Just Kids, I was inspired by the scene where she's feeling frustrated and goes and looks at herself in the mirror and decides she's going to give herself bangs. I was like, 'You know what? I want to do the same thing and unleash my spirit in a new way.' But I have very curly hair unlike Patti, and my end result was not as stylish."

IsKwé comments have been edited and condensed.