November 03, 2014
Warning: there is strong language contained in this article.
“I just had a moment where I was tired of coming home and hearing about the next girl that went missing,” says Winnipeg-bred Toronto-based songstress Iskwé about the inspiration behind her latest single “Will I See.”
The new song was written in response to the murder of 15-year-old First Nation girl Tina Fontaine, whose body was found in a plastic bag in Winnipeg’s Red River on August 17, 2014. Her killing prompted outrage across the country, and calls for a national inquiry into cases of missing and murdered aboriginal women.
As a born and bred Winnipegger and woman of indigenous ancestry, the teen’s slaying felt especially personal to the singer.
“It was my tipping point…It felt personal, even though I don’t know her personally,” says Iskwé. “And then I saw my community stand up against what was happening…I felt the same frustration, anger, and sadness. Then all of those things boiled over into this resurgence of community. Everyone came together, and was like ‘fuck this.’
“I wrote the song in two perspectives: I wrote it in my perspective where I’m speaking to these women that have gone missing, and the second verse is my interpretation of their perspective…it’s heavy.”
Her near-complete sophomore record is set for release in February of 2015, and she says it will be much darker, and more political than her previous album.
“I feel like it’s important to not be afraid to be political,” she says, “as long as you’re not ramming it down people’s throats.”
Produced by up-and-comer John Wolf, the album will further explore the ethereal pop and dark, downtempo style of Iskwé’s 2013 self-titled debut, which took eight years to complete.
“For this album, everything’s shifted to what’s relevant to me right now,” she says. “My first album was about being in the music industry and what it was like to be me. This album is more about my community, my nation, my background, my peers, my family and my environment—things beyond just me as an individual.”
Iskwé, who is of Cree/Dene and Irish decent, says her indigenous roots always play a part in her songwriting. “All of my perspectives are always going to come from someone being of mixed indigenous and Irish ancestry. Everything I write, especially being an indigenous person growing up in Winnipeg and being a part of that community, is always going to come back to that.”
— Julijana Capone
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