A group of five guys from Moose Factory made their way to Toronto for the Aboriginal Music Awards. Nominated in the Best Group or Duo category against Native mainstream artists Cheechoo and Martin, and Wolfpack, Remedy came away with the award. Although they have only been playing together as a group for six months, they have over 20 years of experience.
Vic Linklater (vocals), Stan Louttit (guitar/backup vocals) John Cheechoo (guitar/rythm), Ron Corston (bass) and Nelson Alisapi (guitar) all hold day jobs as well as being musicians. Their album When Sunlight Broke, came out in August and no one expected them to win. I caught up with them after a performance at the National Aboriginal Festival, which was, incidentally, only their second live gig together, and asked them a few questions.
The Nation (TN): How did you come together?
Remedy: The project sort of brought us together, the album. It started back about three years ago, when Victor, Stan and John had the idea of putting together some original music from words that [we had each] written up. We mixed them altogether to see if we could put something together in the studio, took it to Moose Factory and got the other bunch of people together. A number of different local and not so local people were all brought together as a large project.
TN: Do you have plans to tour?
Remedy: The next step is to tour. Now that we’re Best Group of the year, we have to start touring and selling albums, living up to it. There are open doorways now, to get funding for future projects. We still have a lot of material to work with.
TN: How does it feel to win Best Group?
Remedy: It was kind of shocking yesterday, a real jaw dropper. I just couldn’t believe it. I just could not think that we would win, because there were strong contenders with Lawrence Martin. We thought it was going to go to them no problem. I think a lot of people were surprised by winning that night, because it wasn’t going to the obvious.
TN: Last night at the AMA’s, Elaine Bomberry said that there are no rules in Aboriginal music; that we make our own. What are your thoughts on that?
Remedy: I think she’s right. Our album explains that, we go from funk to a kind of country-ish song, to a U2 song. So we never even thought of anything like boundaries. All these guys have their own influences, so we came together and put our influences together.
It opens up the door to a lot of people when she said that. You’re not just limited to traditional music. In Moose Factory, there are so many talented people, not only musicians, but artists. It’s very community oriented, it’s just a matter of figuring out how to put it together.
TN: What do you think of the Native music scene in the Cree communities and Canada after last night?
Remedy: I think it’s come a long way. When I was a kid, there were only a few of them, Winston Watney was one of them, Willie Dunn. The more the better, more role models. If Hip Hop is what they like, like Tru Rez (Crew) is very community oriented too, kids can look up to them.
It’s also dependent on the availability of Native media to carry the music whether it’s on the internet, radio or TV We’ve got APTN, we have Aboriginal Voices Radio, the Nation, and others out there who can carry the signal of the music.
The more that happens, the more support you can give your Aboriginal artists and performers. Then we have a greater opportunity for the younger people.
Judging from last night, the young rappers and the Red Power Squad, I think it’s exciting. I’m always amazed at how great a lot of these young people are. We’re kind of an older group, except for Nelson. I’m always amazed at how they can get their stuff together and the way they are so confident. I think it’s really good.