Photo: David P. Ball
A Tribe Called Red, from left: DJ NDN, DJ Shub, and Bear Witness.

Juno-Nominated A Tribe Called Red on Redskins, the Road and Angel Haze

David P. Ball

On February 4, A Tribe Called Red, a Canadian DJ trio who have pioneered their own genre of Electric Pow Wow or Pow Wow Step music, were nominated for two Junos, Canada's premier music awards.

The crew are eligible for hardware in the categories of Breakthrough Group of the Year and Electronic Album of the Year.

Made up of DJ NDN (Ian Campeau , Anishinabe), DJ Shub (Dan General, Cayuga) and Bear Witness (Bear Thomas, also Cayuga), the Ottawa-based group was formed in 2009, launching a self-titled full-length album a year later, which made the cross-genre Polaris Music Prize's longlist. Their newest album, Nation II Nation, bumped them onto that prize's shortlist last year as one of Canada's Top 10 albums of the year. A Tribe Called Red will find out whether they've won a so-called "Canadian Grammy" when the Juno winners are announced March 30.

As they embarked on a cross-Canada tour, ATCR's Ian Campeau spoke about the band's breakthrough, his successful campaign to rename the Nepean Redskins youth football team, plus the camaraderie of being on the road.

Could you talk about your two Juno nominations?

Yes, it's another very extremely exciting moment in our careers. It's awesome. We can't be more excited.

You did not enter the aboriginal category -- could you talk about that decision, because obviously for a lot of Indigenous artists that's a key way of getting their music out. But why did you decide to not go for that category?

It was a discussion and a conscious decision to not apply for that award, only because we felt that we wanted to be in competition with other music that is of the same genre, as opposed to being put into a category because of our heritage. We don't want to take anything away from the Aboriginal Music Award -- it's fantastic. But we just didn't think it was fair to choose between our album, (St:olo, Ojibwa and Métis singer) Inez Jasper's album (Burn Me Down) or (Sta'atl'imx nation) George Leach's album (Surrender). They're all brilliant. You can't compare a hard rock album with an electronic album and tell me which one's the better album. We decided to opt out from applying from the aboriginal category.


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