Where is the most compelling and innovative music being made right now in Canada? Your first guess might be one of the country’s major urban centres, but a strong argument can be made that Canada’s North is truly changing the game. Case in point is Quantum Tangle who, after their 2016 EP Tiny Hands won the JUNO for Indigenous Album of the Year, have followed it up with a dynamic full-length debut, Shelter as we go…
Quantum Tangle combines the wide-ranging artistic visions of Greyson Gritt and Tiffany Ayalik who draw from their respective Anishinaabe-Métis and Inuit backgrounds to create a fusion of old-world sounds and new-world flair. Woven throughout Shelter as we go…, deep blues riffs, traditional throat singing and haunting melodies intertwine with hard beats and equally hard-hitting storytelling. Proudly and boldly displaying their Indigenous roots, Gritt and Ayalik tailor their music to examine systemic racism and colonialism, while offering ways to empower marginalized groups. As vocal advocates for gender-equality and the need for safe-spaces, Quantum Tangle looks back through history to challenge, educate and encourage audiences to be socially aware.
“Our overall vision for this record was to explore the idea of shelter and how we find that in different ways and in different relationships,” Gritt says. “Whether that is being free to love the person that you love, to make a home with your family wherever you go or to fiercely protect your home when it is threatened.”
With the instantly unforgettable track “Tiny Hands” setting the tone, Shelter as we go… alternates between light and darkness, all the while casting an unflinching eye on issues many are unwilling or unable to address. A prime example is “Freeze, Melt, Boil,” written at a turbulent time in North America where governments displayed their lack of respect for sacred Indigenous sites. The song in many ways challenges more people to speak out about the value placed on resource extraction over Indigenous treaty rights.
Exploring another type of shelter, “Love Is Love (Parts 1 and 2)” was written to celebrate a couple who, like many others, face prejudice because of who they love. Gritt and Ayalik wrote it as a song of devotion but also a message about the role all people play in their communities. The message is to decolonize hearts and minds, while reinforcing the reality that there are many ways to define what a family is.
As Ayalik says, “We both come from different backgrounds but something that we both share are questions about identity and what it means to be an Indigenous person in Canada today. That is something that is reflected in our music. We both are very easy going and have a clear aesthetic in what we like, but are also both open to being surprised.”
The pair first met in Ottawa in early 2014, and collaborated for the first time later that year at the Indigenous Circumpolar Women’s Gathering. The overwhelmingly enthusiastic response to their performance at that Gala prompted them to formalize their union. The name Quantum Tangle came soon after as a two-part homage. One is the scientific phenomenon known as quantum entanglement (basically, that nothing is separate and that a seemingly separate entity directly affects another) and two, a tongue-in-cheek reference to blood quantum rules established by governments to prove Indigenous ancestry.
With their JUNO win and the release of Shelter as we go…, Quantum Tangle joins Tanya Tagaq and A Tribe Called Red as artists who are revolutionizing the genre of Indigenous music and bringing it to the mainstream. These are the most vital voices in Canada at this moment, and they will no longer be denied.
“This is a very exciting time to be creating music in this country,” Gritt concurs. “Just the fact that there are artists finally being recognized outside of the ‘Indigenous Categories’ is something amazing. We owe a lot to the trailblazers that came before us who broke down barriers and opened doors for us to even be able to do the work that we do. To see something like throat singing or drumming from any Indigenous culture in Canada that at some point was banned in this country, and to have those voices blended together to create the vibrant, dynamic things we are seeing today, is incredible.”
Ayalik adds, “From folk music, to EDM to classical music collaborations, we are everywhere now. People are recognizing that the silencing of the voices of an entire group is not only bad for those people, but everyone is going to miss out on something when those voices aren’t present in an artistic conversation in this country.”
Watch Quantum Tangle’s Videos: Youtube
Buy Quantum Tangle Album: Coax Store
Quantum Tangle Website