A Tribe Called Red on pushing Indigenous music and issues to the forefront

A Tribe Called Red's new album We Are the Halluci Nation is part of a movement of Indigenous creatives pushing the conversation forward

In the span of the past few months, the conversation around Indigenous art and issues has quickly swelled into a barreling force that is staring Canadians in the face.

In addition to the work of people like Gord Downie, Joseph Boyden and Tanya Tagaq, q guests A Tribe Called Red are at the forefront of this movement. This year, they released We Are the Halluci Nation, a powerful album that merges electronic dance elements with traditional pow wow music and wraps it all around a political centre. 

Member Bear Witness sees this moment in Canadian history as a "huge amount of hope."

"I was raised with the idea that things were going to get a lot worse before it got better," he tells Tom Power. "So I've always been waiting for how bad it was going to get."

But with people's willingness to pay attention to pay attention to Indigenous arts and issues now, he hopes that this will force the country as a whole to have "a conversation on equal ground without anger and malace." 

Stream A Tribe Called Red's We Are the Halluci Nation on CBC Music now. 

Jarrett Martineau on the future of Indigenous music

Co-founder of the new record label RPM agrees with much of what A Tribe Called Red points out and adds that acts like them have helped open up spaces for up-and-coming Indigenous acts.

"Looking at how popular dance music is and how much people want to come out and have a good time and see an Indigenous version of that, to me, there's a more immediate possibility for that crossover to happen," Martineau explains.

Ottawa group A Tribe Called Red's new album We Are the Halluci Nation is out now. (Melody Lau/CBC)

On the flip side of that, an artist like Polaris Music Prize winner Tanya Tagaq has raised lots of curiosity and a different kind of window into Indigenous arts. Still, there's a gap between those two growing household names and the rest of the Indigenous scene who may not have the same resources. 

But, he remains hopeful that this will lead to more space for more artists: "The lane that they've opened is creating some of those opportunities."

Listen to Martineau's musical recommendation, Mob Bounce and Boogey the Beat's "Vision Quest" below.