Tanya Tagaq’s music is like nothing you’ve heard before. The Arctic-born artist is an improvisational performer, avant-garde composer and experimental recording artist who won the 2014 Polaris Music Prize for an album called Animism, a work that disrupted the music world in Canada and beyond with its powerfully original vision. Tagaq contorts elements of punk, metal, and electronica into a complex and contemporary sound that begins in breath, a communal and fundamental phenomenon.
While 2014’s Polaris Music Prize win signaled an awakening to Tanya Tagaq’s art and messages, she has been touring and collaborating with an elite international circle of artists for over a decade. Tagaq’s improvisational approach lends itself to collaboration across genres, and recent projects have pulled her in vastly different directions, from contributing guest vocals to a recent F**ked Up song (a hardcore punk band from Toronto) to premiering a new composition made for Kronos Quartet’s Fifty for the Future collection.
Tanya Tagaq’s music and performances challenge static ideas of genre and culture, and contend with themes of environmentalism, human rights and post-colonial issues. In repeated interviews, Tagaq has stressed the importance of considering her work in the context of contemporary – not traditional – art. This statement is not just about sound, although her music is decidedly modern and technically intricate, but about deep-rooted assumptions about indigenous culture in general.
Tanya Tagaq’s new album, Retribution, is out now.