Thanks to all for making TD Sunfest '17 one of the best ever!! Next year TD Sunfest '18 will be from July 5-8. See you there!

Sunfest

IsKwé

Named one of CBC Music’s ‘Top 10 Artists to Watch in 2016’, IsKwé (pronounced ISS-kway, and meaning “woman”) has created an unmistakable sound that draws upon her Irish and Cree/Dene roots and electrifies with politically-charged lyrics, dark soulful R&B rhythms, electronic flourishes and trip-hop breakbeats.  IsKwé is blessed with a voice that’s deep, sultry and stunning. “I love a bass-ee bottom-heavy sound and sounds that get people hyped-up, even if it’s a slow jam, “ she says.  The 36-year-old Winnipeg-born (now Hamilton-based) singer-songwriter is also a talented visual artist and dancer.

Captivated by the shadowy, atmospheric sounds that came out of Bristol, England during the 1990s, IsKwé has always admired bands like Massive Attack and Portishead.  She also counts Björk and Erykah Badu as two of her biggest influences. Both women are pioneers in their respective musical genres and have paved their way to success without hesitation or apology in a male-dominated industry.  While the themes of her songs can be implicitly political, she doesn’t want to be defined solely by that.  For example, Nobody Knows, which is currently being featured in the Netflix series Between, is a potent tune about missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada. By contrast, Sometimes is a more straightforward end-of-love song.

IsKwé elaborates: “It’s important to be able to reach people without being on a soapbox all the time. I think the impact can be greater if I let people interpret my songs as they choose to.  Afterwards, if they hear my story and what I’m talking about it’s easier for them to relate to” (Edmonton Journal).   She adds: “I think that protest has so many faces and so many reasons and rationales and so many people standing behind it that I don't think there's ever going to be one particular sound.” (NPR).

IsKwé’s sophomore album, The Fight Within, has just been released and is being promoted by the powerful single and accompanying video titled Soldier. "It's impossible to know what shape our planet will be in several generations down the road," she observes. Iskwé’s identity as an Indigenous woman is fortified by the paint that often adorns her face. Inspired by both Dene and Inuit facial tattooing, Iskwé views face paint as an act of rebellion against cultural appropriation and the limitations that have been imposed upon her as an artist.

“I was actually inspired by the film Black Swan… I really related to the internal battle of the good and the bad, the light and the dark… [this] battle happens all the time in the self for a plethora of reasons… so I [decided in this one photo shoot that I wanted to be portrayed] as the start of a creature, not just as another [glamorous] or beautiful persona that doesn’t match me and doesn’t fit in my heart or spirit,” explains IsKwé in a March 9th, 2017 article in McMaster University’s The Silhouette.

Unafraid to challenge the convictions of her detractors by honouring her heritage, standing steadfast in her viewpoints and embracing her sexuality, Iskwé is someone whose artistry truly knows no bounds.

The lineup for Iskwé’s Oct. 12th performance is as follows: Iskwé - lead vox; Mary Ancheta - keys & backing vox; Melissa Bandura - strings & backing vox; Alex Mak - guitar; Nick Coultas-Clarke – drums

Click here to check out the video for the powerful new single "Soldier" from the upcoming album "The Fight Within" which will be released on Oct. 13, 2017.