Unreserved

Making music in isolation: Indigenous artists create new work during pandemic

Cancelled tours, postponed shows and a sudden loss of income. Musicians would normally be busy with summer concert dates. But because of COVID-19, they now have very quiet schedules. So we're checking in on them in their home studios, to hear what they're working on.
Musicians had their lives changed due to the pandemic, but it's not stopping them from overcoming challenges, staying creative and releasing music. (Submitted by Aqqalu Berthelsen, Submitted by Wolf Saga, Submitted by Samantha Crain, Submitted by Mato Wayuhi)

Cancelled tours, postponed shows and a sudden loss of income. Musicians would normally be busy with summer concert dates. But because of COVID-19, they now have very quiet schedules. 

This week on Unreserved, we're talking to musicians from their home studios to find out how they're keeping busy. From audio samples crowdsourced from fans, to a David Bowie cover in honour of frontline workers — we learn how musicians are coping during the pandemic. 

Because of COVID-19, hip-hop artist Frank Waln had to cancel or postpone the rest of his shows for the foreseeable future. Waln, who is Sicangu Lakota from the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota, needed to find new ways to provide for himself and for his family. 

Electronic music producer Aqqalu Berthelsen was bored at home, stuck inside because of the pandemic. To keep himself busy, Berthelsen, who is from Nuuk, Greenland, made a new song with a little help from Twitter.

Electro-synth pop artist Wolf Saga recently released a cover of David Bowie's 1977 song, Heroes. The Toronto-based musician wanted to honour frontline workers, from healthcare providers to grocery store clerks who continue to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. For singer and keyboardist Johnny Saga, the song also carries a personal connection to his own hero.

Three years ago, Choctaw musician Samantha Crain thought she might never be able to play guitar again. But in July, she'll release her new record, A Small Death. Crain recently put out singles leading up to the album release — her new music has already been praised by the New York Times and NPR.

Mato Wayuhi is a self-described "Indian with an education." In 2018, he rapped that line in a video submission to NPR's Tiny Desk Contest. After his 2019 release, Scatterbrain, Mato was set to submit a new Tiny Desk Contest video. But because of COVID-19, he had to find a new way to put it together. Wayuhi is Lakota and he talks about making music with a group… in a time of isolation.

This week's playlist:
Wolf Saga. (Michael Alexander/Facebook)

Frank Waln - Victory Song 

Samantha Crain - Garden Dove 

Wolf Saga - Heroes

 

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