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By Janet Rogers

Fresh off her critically acclaimed (and Polaris Prize nominated) record Animism, Inuit throat singer, performer, musician and all-around artist Tanya Tagaq talks with Native Waves Radio host Janet Rogers.

JR

A little bit about your process; what it looks like to me, is someone who is completely opening their creative channels throughout their whole body. If this is actually what it’s like for you, how do you resolve being so open, after you perform?

TT

I think it’s a day-to-day thing; I’m a pretty open person. I try not to carry too much. It’s a daily ritual of making sure there are no blockages and getting rid of a lot of stuff that comes naturally within myself. Getting on stage is always pretty cathartic. But the process of the abolishment of shame is a huge thing for me when it comes to the shows. I want to completely accept all the terrible parts of the world and myself and allow it to exist and allow it to happen. I figure if I can throw the worst and ugliest parts of myself it gives people permission to be themselves and then it becomes symbiotic, which works well for me because I leave and I feel a lot clearer.

JR

What kind of reactions have you seen from people when you perform?

TT

Everything. I’ve had everything from people throwing their beer bottles at me, screaming, people angry, mad and people crying their faces off, like really crying from right in their heart. I’ve had laughing. I’ve had boners. I’ve had everything. I think it’s what each individual needs to feel.

JR

I find the Inuit legends and Inuit culture is very sexual. Is this part of who you are?

TT

Well it’s part of who we all are. When it comes to sexuality I find something very, very interesting in this culture. Number one, there’s a skewed perception of what women are, and what sexuality is. If you look at the history of culture from foot binding to corsets, to starving yourself to breast implants. There has often been this way to edge women in to not being able to move. The long nails and high heels you can’t run in them. The removal of the physicality of the strength in order to submit and that’s the funny thing. I instinctively know what femininity is. When I was giving birth and when I’m fucking and when I’m in love, and it’s a very powerful thing.  There’s nothing more beautiful than a woman that totally knows her body and likes to have sex and is not ashamed of it. Its not about power and isn’t playing a game. It isn’t about looking a certain way; it is about being a certain way.

JR

Who or what are you joining with to birth what you do as a singer?

TT

Well this is where things get really murky. Nothing is intentional process. It is something completely accidental when I first started singing. Breaking away from this reality. When you really trust yourself and you see how someone moves and you can sense his or her intent. And when it comes to the music I’ll sit in this kind of reality and then it all falls away and it happens by itself; I don’t try to make it happen and when it doesn’t want to happen, I don’t try to make it happen. It’s about respecting what’s there. People have asked me before and I’m finally starting to understand it.

JR

In terms of food how important is food to what you do as a performer?

TT

The food is absolutely, important. It is one of the main parts of the performance. You can’t go on with an empty battery. What I’m doing is so physical. Traditional throat songs are 2 to 5 minutes for a reason. If I’m not well fueled I won’t be able to release my body because I’ll be distracted by what my body wants. If you’re going to elevate you cant be worried about what your body wants.

JR

When you win the Polaris Music Prize, what will happen then?

TT

It’s of course terribly exciting, but horribly terrifying. Pitching people against each other in this reality show kind of way is a little scary. Because inevitably there’s a winner but then there’s a bunch of disappointed people and that’s kind of mean. Then every body is hoping for it, you feel kind of good when you win and you feel kind of bad when you win. This music industry is full of so much garbage; over produced auto tuned really template ideas and I think people are just really hungry for something real. There are a lot of people with a lot of money that deserve it (the Prize) and some people with no money who deserve it. There’s artistic merit in every single one of those people. Of course I want to win it, I’m not going to lie and say I don’t, but there are some people you’d be happier to lose against than others.

To hear the complete interview with Tanya Tagaq go to the Native Waves Radio SoundCloud page. https://soundcloud.com/user386441415.

 

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