Psyche-art punk folksters Whoop-Szo bring their tripped-out noisy selves to the Wasted Space Cafe and Gallery in Oshawa on Oct. 21 2015. The band which builds around Adam Sturgeon and Kirsten Palm have played with METZ, Ought and Odonis Odonis and are set to tour with The Constantines in November.
“It's something we are very excited about,” says Sturgeon of the dates with The Cons. “Musically and artistically that band changed my life. Both the art of their first record and the brutally honest music they made found me at an age that set the course for my own career.”
Sturgeon says his career choices have been informed by art, honesty and his heritage (Ojibwe) whether those choices are getting involved in London ON’s Grickle Grass Festival, running the Out Of Sound record label, writing songs or screen printing artworks. The latter was the reason he, along with Palm, spent some time in Salluit, Quebec. They were teaching children the process of printing as part of the Brighter Futures project. Their time there gave rise to much music, the latest album is Niizhwaaswo. The record is a reflection rather than a document and rather than feature cultural differences Whoop-Szo chose communion.
“I'd say we have a good understanding of life in those communities having spent so much time there and there being so many striking similarities between my own culture and the community we lived in. Ultimately, it served as a means to empower us to focus even more on what we do as humans,” says Sturgeon.
One-time peripheral performers Tanya Taqag, A Tribe Called Red and Polaris Music Prize winner Buffy Sainte Marie are breaking down concepts of what native art and music is. People are sharing their knowledge and their cultures. collaborating and creating hybrids and new forms.
“This current wave of Indigenous Art now brings us together, specially aided by technology. At times I've looked at it as a sacrifice because we have to play along in this Mainstream tide, not something we love about making the art," says Sturgeon. "All that said, the Indigenous artist now has a shared and/or similar vision to others who are battling the same adversities within a similar vision and we are gaining strength. No longer will we be simple tokens of Canadian authenticity; headdresses, pow wow dances, drums. Now, we can move forward and push boundaries through our current and real life circumstances. I still feel a relative isolation in real-time especially in that my band plays to a predominantly white audience.”
White rock noise and traditional Native practises may seem like strange bedfellows but Sturgeon says music finds you not the other way around. Anyway Tagaq “is as hardcore as anyone I know,” he says, “So, for me... making folk and grunge is just what I do. That there are elements of my own language or personalized stories of teachings is part and parcel. Mainly, art is a healing process for me. I look to Norval Morrisseau for those teachings; moving our culture forward, trusting our DNA memory etc. I write the things I feel. I tour because I am a nomadic person. Music just makes sense. I do however enjoy educating Canadians about our history and love sharing the beautiful stories of our people,” he says.
Whoop-Szo will be sharing those beautiful, truthful, artful stories plus a whole lot of noise, noise, noise Oct 21 at Wasted Space. I Smell Blood opens.