Arts & Entertainment | Canada

Now Toronto: A Tribe Called Red brings politics into the party





"Watching A Tribe Called Red’s Bear Witness, Ian “DJ NDN” Campeau and Dan “DJ Shub” General clown around during their photo shoot, you’d never suspect that they’ve just narrowly avoided an ugly pileup on the icy drive from their home in Ottawa to Toronto.

They’re in high spirits for good reason. The DJ collective’s self-titled 2012 debut album made it onto numerous year-end lists all over the world, and was long-listed for the Polaris Music Prize. Not bad, considering they released it for free download without the backing of a record label.

Their innovative blend of underground club sounds with pow wow music has reached a much wider audience than they’d imagined when they started throwing their monthly parties in Ottawa in 2008. And no one could have predicted the role they’d play in promoting a wider dialogue around aboriginal rights.

ATCR’s club bangers might not explicitly preach a message, but there’s no mistaking the inherent meaning of indigenous people recontextualizing their own culture – especially when contrasted with the ham-fisted appropriation of “ethnic” music and culture that once went largely unquestioned in dance music.

“If you’re First Nations in Canada, just the fact that you’re even alive is a political statement,” says Campeau with a smile, although it’s clear he’s being deeply serious."

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A Tribe Called Red (Now Toronto 2/7)

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