On the Rise: Eight Emerging Indigenous Artists to Watch For In 2018
As the great Métis leader Louis Riel once said, "My people will sleep for 100 years, but when they awake, it will be the artists that give them their spirit back."
For anyone paying attention, that time has come.
Thanks to the commercial success of artists like A Tribe Called Red, The Jerry Cans and Iskwé, Canada’s Indigenous music scene has undergone a resurgence of sorts over the past few years. But this so-called Indigenous Next Wave extends well beyond the acts getting mainstream recognition.
For every artist selling out shows or winning awards, there are dozens more on the verge of breaking out. And many of them are just getting started. Here’s a list of eight emerging Indigenous artists to watch for in 2018.
Back in 2016, Toronto-based Anishinaabe singer-songwriter Ansley Simpson won the inaugural imagineNative Bull’s Eye contest as Canada’s top emerging Indigenous artist. She has since released her impressive debut album (Breakwall, 2017) and toured the country with the four-week, 13-community New Constellations series. With a slot at the MEGAPHONO 2018 Music Showcase Festival and new music in the works, she is definitely one to watch in 2018.
Riding the momentum of her dazzling debut album (Everything And Nothing At All, 2017), Métis singer/songwriter Celeigh Cardinal is in for a busy 2018. Between the Indigenous Music Residency in Manitoba, Folk Alliance International in Kansas City and a tour of Sweden, the Edmonton-based artist will also be working on her next album. If it’s anything like the first, we can expect a soulful blend of roots, folk, rock and pop alongside some seriously powerful vocals.
Fusing elements of his classical training, contemporary jazz and traditional Maliseet music, Toronto-based composer/vocalist Jeremy Dutcher truly fits the bill as a genre-bending artist. And with fewer than 500 remaining Wolastoqey speakers, he’s also doing his part to preserve the language. Combined with his powerful voice and commanding stage presence, his message is bound to reach – and perk – plenty of ears.
If you haven’t heard the name Logan Staats, you will. Although the Six Nations singer-songwriter has been making music and winning awards for almost a decade, he recently got his big break on CTV’s talent search show, The Launch. In addition to earning the praise of Scott Borchetta, Shania Twain and others, his rendition of The Lucky Ones was a huge hit on iTunes. Fusing elements of folk and rock, his signature sound is about to blow up in a big, big way.
Drawing from their Indigenous culture and connection to Mother Earth, Mob Bounce explore everything from politics and spirituality to racism and the environment. And their music with a message hasn’t gone unnoticed. Last year alone, the electronic hip-hop duo scored gigs at Aboriginal Day Live, Northern Lights Festival Boréal and with Gord Downie’s The Secret Path project. They also got a great start to 2018, landing on the cover of Beatroute (BC) magazine.
Once A Tree
Since joining forces to form electro-R&B duo Once A Tree, the wife-husband team of Jayli and Hayden Wolf have been turning heads on the Toronto music scene and beyond. In a few short years, they’ve released a killer debut album (Phoenix, 2017), accumulated 100K+ Youtube views on their music videos and been featured on Rolling Stone’s “10 New Artists You Need To Know” list. And with plans to tour in 2018, they may just be coming to a city near you.
Snotty Nose Rez Kids
Bursting onto the scene in 2017, Haisla hip-hop duo Snotty Nose Rez Kids flipped the script on Indigenous stereotypes and gave listeners a fresh perspective of life on the rez. But that was just the beginning. In 2018, they’ll be playing the brand new Skookum festival (Vancouver), headlining Edge of the World Music Festival (Haida Gwaii), releasing their third album (Braided and Faded) and collaborating on new projects with Drezus and the aforementioned Mob Bounce.
It’s hard to believe Ziibiwan’s career is only just getting started. In the two short years since releasing his debut EP (Time Limits, 2016), the Anishinaabe electronic artist/producer has been signed to RPM Records and scored a pair of 2017 Indigenous Music Awards nominations (Best New Artist and Best Instrumental Album). And with a new album on the way, 2018 promises to be his biggest year yet.