At experimental fest X Avant, there's no one way music from any culture is 'supposed' to sound

Bear Witness of A Tribe Called Red and the artists he's curated for the festival are challenging stereotypes around cultural music.

Bear Witness and the artists he's curated are challenging stereotypes around cultural music

Bear Witness of A Tribe Called Red. (CBC Arts)

What is music supposed to sound like? The tags we attach to it, like "experimental," are often meant to give us an expectation of how it will speak to us — more culturally specific descriptors like "Indigenous" or "world" perform a similar action.

In this video, CBC Arts correspondent April Aliermo heads to X Avant XIII: The Halluci Nation, the most recent iteration of the Music Gallery's new music festival. Its curator, Bear Witness of A Tribe Called Red, makes a strong argument: "There's always some way, even if it's just within the thought process that you're making the music, that there's something of your culture and your connection to your past that's embedded in that music."

Watch the video:

X Avant New Music Festival

4 years ago
Duration 3:34
In this edition of the experimental music series, Bear Witness from A Tribe Called Red curates artists who are changing perceptions of cultural music. Filmmakers: April Aliermo and Trevor Blumas

You'll also meet Ziibiwan, Geronimo Inutiq and respectfulchild, some of the musicians busting down stereotypes while they make music that looks way ahead. respectfulchild, who uses a violin in some entirely non-classical ways, says, "I know I don't want to make music that people can point at and say, 'That's an Oriental or an Asian sound,' because whatever I make is going to be Asian art. So this is like — break down that idea and give you a whole new thing to listen to." This is music that pays respect to roots and grows out of them, while grappling with totally new ideas.

X Avant XIII: The Halluci Nation happened at the Music Gallery in Toronto, October 11-14.

April Aliermo. (CBC Arts)
respectfulchild. (CBC Arts)
Ziibiwan and respectfulchild. (CBC Arts)

Stream CBC Arts: Exhibitionists or catch it on CBC Television Friday nights at 11:30pm (12am NT) and Sundays at 3:30pm (4pm NT). Watch more videos here.


Lise Hosein is a producer at CBC Arts. Before that, she was an arts reporter at JazzFM 91, an interview producer at George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight and a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. When she's not at her CBC Arts desk she's sometimes an art history instructor and is always quite terrified of bees.