Of Music and politics
A Tribe Called Red talks about both
Article: Liam Fitz-Gerald – Contributor
On Feb. 18, Regina was visited by the Dub step/dance group A Tribe Called Red who played at the Exchange. At 8:30 p.m., eager fans were graced by the presence of the band, consisting of Bear Witness, DeeJay Shub and DeeJay NDN, who took to their turntables to give their audience an amazing show.
The Ottawa based group combines synthesized dub step tracks with traditional First Nations singing. Not only did the band play non-stop (and some of the audience danced non-stop), playing an encore of material from a yet-to-be-released album, they had a hoop dancer. A young man would occasionally come out and dance along with the band performing impressive gymnastic manoeuvres.
The Friday before the show, Bear Witness chatted via phone about the tour, the band’s politics, their experience in the music industry and some details on their upcoming album.
On the tour, Witness described the experience thus far as “amazing.”
“We’ve had an amazing tour, shows in Canada have sold out and are better than they’ve been before,” he says, emphasizing that the current Turtle Island Tour that the band is leading had a good start in London, Ontario.
He also spoke a bit about the band’s politics. A Tribe Called Red have been vocal supporters of the Idle No More movement and have been concerned with how First Nations people are portrayed in popular media.
Last August, the band took to Twitter to ask non-First-Nations to quit wearing war paint and headdresses to shows, saying that their actions were offensive. Witness says the group is speaking out against stereotypes of Indigenous peoples, commenting that fans have been good about this request, and he has not seen as much of this behavior at shows since.
When asked if he considers A Tribe Called Red to be a political band in the same vein as Rage Against The Machine, Witness says he doesn’t quite see the group in the same way.
“Rage Against the Machine was really based around their politics in their music. Our music has become political as we’re creating music for the Indigenous urban community and claiming space within the urban setting,” he says, saying that this process gets political very quickly.
Witness comments that A Tribe Called Red’s experience in the music industry has been “incredibly positive” and the people they have worked with have been excellent. Witness praises the team of agents and producers who have helped the group get to where they are. He says that they have also received praises from their DJ peers like Dirty South Joe.
He also spoke about the new album for 2014, calling it more “collaborative” with different artists, indigenous and non-indigenous and different musical backgrounds.
He mentioned 2014 would be filled with touring and producing and creating the new album. While he gave no release date for the album he did say that fans could expect singles to be released over the coming the months and hear them at the shows.