nêhiyawak Share New Single “Secret”

nêhiyawak is the amiskwaciy (Edmonton) trio. The band recently shared a new visual for nipiy album track “secret”
nêhiyawak has shared a new visual for "Secret"

nêhiyawak is the amiskwaciy (Edmonton) trio comprised of Kris Harper, Marek Tyler, and Matthew Cardinal. Recently the band shared a visual for “secret,” a track of their 2020 debut album nipiy. Directed by Dene multidisciplinary artist Casey Koyczan, the music video is an exploration of Indigenous customs through the lens of First Nations youth and performers, as they drum and dance through a full spectrum of colour.

“A lot has happened over the last two years,” says the Yellowknife director Koyczan. “It has been a time of inner reflection, safety, adaptation, and overcoming obstacles. ‘secret’ was a chance to provide, mainly youth, with an opportunity to dance in their traditional regalia and drum in a public setting to celebrate their culture at a time when all large gatherings were unable to take place due to pandemic restrictions. Blooming colour and movement break through the dark undertones and mysticism to symbolize the resilience and strength of our Indigenous practices and traditions defiant of political, economic, and societal oppression.”

The video for “secret” follows the release of nêhiyawak’s debut album, nipiy, which translates to ‘water’ from the nêhiyaw language. The music of the band – whose name refers directly to their nêhiyaw ancestry – is a spirited expression of Indigeneity, dedicated to the life-sustaining force of water. The flow and pace of the album, symbolic of the flow and pace of river water, begins and ends with pieces dedicated to kisiskâciwanisîpiy (North Saskatchewan River), which flows through the center of amiskwaciy. In the band’s words, “There are many important ideas and teachings that we were raised with in our lives, but few more important than water. It’s a modern conversation with complex meanings and understandings.”

Produced by Colin Stewart (The New Pornographers, Black Mountain, Destroyer), nêhiyawak’s sound combines terse post-rock soundscapes with surreal pop and sheer ambient aspects. Anchored by the hollowed pounding of Tyler’s traditional carved cedar log drums and Cardinal’s electronic inflections, nipiy combines the teachings of nêhiyawak’s Elders with the band’s own interests in music, instrumentation and lyrics. nipiy tells their story of collective experience – a band empowered by history and progress. As Harper says, “Our goal is not to build up a group of individuals, but rather keep kicking at the door built in front of many.”

Strongly inspired by the Idle No More movement, says Harper, “nipiy is for those who don’t seem to fit in for myriads of reasons. To inspire others to use their voice and to send messages to future generations.”

Drummer Marek Tyler offers this context on nêhiyawak:

“Why is nêhiyawak more than a band? Because our families, our nêhiyaw communities, and our ways of knowing and being inform our work. For me, our album nipiy represents an ongoing process of connecting, learning and growing with each other.”

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