Churning out beats for more than half of his life, Boogey the Beat (aka Les Boulanger) has rightfully earned his namesake.
The Winnipeg-based Anishinaabe producer and DJ has lent his beats to artists like The Halluci Nation (formerly A Tribe Called Red), Snotty Nose Rez Kids, and even rapper-turned-Manitoba-NDP-leader Wab Kinew.
Known for cuts that oscillate between traditional Indigenous rhythms and hip-hop and electronic sounds, it was at sundances and powwows where he says, “I first heard a beat I really connected to, which was the big drum.”
“I try and keep that big drum in most of my songs,” he adds. “It represents the heartbeat so it’s keeping the tempo of the song and it’s keeping the tempo of essentially me and keeping me on the right track. When I listen to the big drum and different amazing drum groups, I really connect to that – my spirit and my creative being really connects to that.”
In honour of this week’s BreakOut West conference and festival where Boogey the Beat is set to play two showcase sets, we asked the beatsmith to curate a playlist of must-hear Indigenous artists.
Though his sound is frequently rooted in the body-moving realms of club music (hear: Boogey’s infectious 2021 remix of DJ Shub’s “Calling All Dancers,” for instance), the playlist is an example of his far-reaching taste. It features a mosaic of tracks across eras and genres, from the swampy ‘70s rock of Redbone to the aggressive bars of Team Rezofficial and soulful grooves of contemporaries like Ila Barker and NIMKISH.
“I’m fortunate enough to call some of these artists my friends; others I haven’t met, but they’re super inspirational to me,” he says. “It’s not just that they’re Indigenous artists, it’s that they’re really pushing the sound forward of their genre … All of these artists have made songs that have moved me in a certain way.”
Catch Boogey the Beat and over 60 other artists performing in Calgary as part of BreakOut West and keep your ears to the ground for Boogey’s forthcoming debut album on Red Music Rising in early 2023.