Tag Archives: Iskwé

Iskwé’s Neon-Bright Dance-Pop Tackles Pressing Cultural Problems


Photo by Lisa MacIntosh.

The self-titled, 2013 debut from singer-songwriter Iskwé (pronounced “iss-kway,” meaning “woman” in Cree) was eight years in the making. The album took her from her native Canada to record in New York and Los Angeles, far from her family, which led to painful loneliness. The album was meant to be her summary statement, evidence of the hard work she’d put in to establish herself as a musician. And yet as she was putting together the promotional package for the record, she came to a daunting realization: the album barely reflected who she was as an artist.

“That album was heavily influenced by bands like Portishead, Massive Attack, and Tricky. But it also had external influences—like what the industry was telling me to do.” Iskwé is sitting in the lobby of Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York hotel as she explains this, lounging casually in overalls and a black T-shirt, a tattoo of amplified beadwork winding its way up her arm. “There are songs on there that aren’t me at all, but it was important to keep them on the album, because they represent other thoughts and voices. It’s a good way to show that there are different ways of being influenced: some influences are about creativity and freedom and some are not.”

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