Arts·Following Folk

For Sister Ray's Ella Coyes, music is a place where they feel 'infinitely understood'

Ella Coyes' raw, unflinching songwriting was born out of a childhood enriched by Métis music. Discover the artists redefining folk music in new CBC Arts series Following Folk.

Ella Coyes' raw, unflinching songwriting was born out of a childhood enriched by Métis music

Streaming now on CBC Gem, Following Folk takes us on a journey to discover the artists who are redefining folk music today. Featuring in-depth interviews and intimate performances, this series is a treat for all music lovers.

This episode of Following Folk takes us to Toronto to spotlight Ella Coyes and their project Sister Ray, featuring a performance of "Good News" at The Cameron House.

"There are these moments where I'm writing music, where I'm playing a show, or I'm listening to music, where everything is exactly right for a moment and everything has just fallen into place and we are in perfect alignment," Coyes says about their relationship with music. "It's fleeting, but those are my favourite moments in art. And I got to learn that feeling through fiddle tunes."

"I mostly heard my papa playing fiddle when I was younger. My family gathered a lot. My family loves traditional dance; we two-step a lot, waltz and stuff too. My dad wore steel-toe boots for work and I would stand on his steel toes and that was how I learned how to dance."

"Fiddle tunes in particular was the first music where I was like, 'Oh, I think I understand a part of myself that I didn't know existed'. Métis music was the first time I kind of felt access to a freedom that I get to feel now when I play music. But I felt it when I would hear it, when I would dance to it, seeing the way my family interacted with it."

Ella Coyes stands in the middle of an empty small music club during the day, facing out the window where a TTC streetcar goes by in the bcakground.
Ella Coyes performs their song "Good News" at The Cameron House for Following Folk. (CBC Arts)
In my day-to-day life it can take a long time for me to want to share, but sharing through music there is a sense of feeling almost infinitely understood. Music feels like the most true format for me to make sense of things that maybe should be secrets, but they escape the realm of secrets for me and live in songs.- Ella Coyes

Follow Sister Ray at @sisterray780 on Instagram. Stream Following Folk now on CBC Gem.

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