‘Tis the season for looking back on the year, reflecting on the highs and lows, and seeing what moments stand out in our memories. Here at RPM, we’ve been thinking about our favourite moments in Indigenous music culture and this week we bring you our Top 16 Indigenous Music Videos of 2011.
The way technology has developed the past few years, making a video isn’t as hard as it used to be. You can still roll out the 35mm camera and a crew of 20 people, or you can DIY an entire piece with just an iPhone. This means that artists are getting to interpret and share their music visually more often and more creatively than ever before and 2011 saw a myriad of fantastic videos come out of Indian Country.
Here are RPM’s Top 16 Indigenous Music Videos of the year:
16. D Thought – Land of Broken Dreams
One of the most heartfelt tracks in our Top 16, Land of Broken Dreams, and this video directed by Reign Wapioke, share an honest perspective of Rez-life through the words of Shoal Lake rap artist D Thought.
15. Ali Fontaine – Say it to Me
Showing the bright lights of the Big Apple in vivid colours and tones, this is the first of two videos in our Top 16 directed by Jesse Green. Ali is herself a bright new light in the music scene and this performance video captures her sweetness and strength perfectly.
14. Kool Krys - Showstopper
While the track is from Kool Krys‘ third album Listen to Your Art, this video is her first ever. Funded by MuchFACT and directed by Marc André Debruyne, it surely wins most colourful video of the year and is a good bet to put on full screen and full blast if you’re getting ready for a night on the town.
13. Ostwelve – Graveyard
You may know Ostwelve, aka Ron Dean Harris, as a member of the RPM editorial team and host of the RPM podcast, or you may know him as the prolific hip-hop and rap artist, composer, producer and filmmaker that he is. While Os didn’t put his own video on the ballot for our Top 16, the rest of the RPM team agree this video, shot at the 2010 zombie walk in Vancouver, is one of our favourites.
12. Wanbdi - On the Upside
Wanbdi‘s venture into solo work (she’s also the drummer for Indigenous) revealed not only her vocal talent, but her ability to make the most out of limited resources. Made entirely on her iPhone, this video is an awesome example of what you can achieve with just a song and a good idea.
11. Gurrumul & Blue King Brown - Gathu Mawula Revisted
In rich blues and browns and featuring The Chooky Dancers from Galiwin’ku, Elcho Island, this video is for the collaborative piece Gathy Mawula Revisted from two amazing Australian Artists, Gurrumul and Blue King Brown. Sung in Yolngu and English, it captures each artist beautifully.
10. Filthy Animals – Killing Me
The second zombie-themed video in our list, and taking a page from the George Romero zombie film era, the Filthy Animals released Killing Me as more than a music video, but a kind of short film. At ten minutes long, directory Ryan Cheale and the Filthy Animals trio – Broms, P-Nutty and Big Bear – put together an entertaining piece of macabre, shot largely during Winnipeg’s 2010 zombie walk.
9. A Tribe Called Red – Woodcarver
A Tribe Called Red have caught on fire this year. Their multi-media approach to music has made them one of the hottest bands on Turtle Island and while they’ve put out a few videos in 2011, Woodcarver stands out as a tribute to John T. Williams, incorporating audio from news pieces around the tragic shooting of the Nitinaht carver.
8. Don Amero – Right Where I Want to Be
It’s been a big year for Métis roots/folk artist Don Amero. His recent album The Long Way Home has been gaining accolades, fans and awards across Turtle Island. 2011 also saw the release of Amero’s first ever official music video, Right Where I Want to Be, capturing the upbeat sweetness of the love song on film.
7. Winnipeg’s Most - All That I Know
Winner of Best Video at the 2011 Aboriginal People’s Choice Music Awards (one of the groups’s six wins at this year’s awards), this video for Winnipeg’s Most‘s All I Know is directed by Stuey Kubrik. Kubrik’s cinematic take on a cold, snow-covered Winnipeg has seen the views on YouTube push past half a million, and counting.
6. Last Kinection – Are We There Yet
Sumptuously coloured and beautifully shot, you can almost feel the heat in the air in this video directed by Joel Wenitong for Australia’s Last Kinection. The track Are We There Yet is the first single off of their October 2011 release Next of Kin and highlights the band’s hopeful and proud message while still being real about the issues facing us living in colonial capitalism.
5. Yelawolf – No Hands
This video from Alabama born, Cherokee rapper Yelawolf has racked up over a million views in less than 4 months. Directed by Erick Peyton and produced in collaboration with videogame giant Ubisoft, it is based on the game Driver San Francisco. It’s a fast, slick and polished ride through surreality and reality.
4. Billy Joe Green – Honey Girl
Anishinabe blues-guitar slinger Billy Joe Green earned his rock legend status as a swaggering sideman for other bands for years. In 1997 he released his first solo project, and three others since. This video, directed by Jesse Green, takes you right to the dance floor of a hazy blues bar with the best seat in the house.
3. Laura Ortman – Lost My Shadow
This video won Best Music Video at the 2011 imagineNATIVE festival, a well-deserved win for director Nanobah Becker. The track features Laura on electric guitar, violin, vocals and subway recordings, the last perhaps being the inspiration for this mysterious interaction on the New York subway.
2. Elisapie Isaac – Turning My Back
The enigmatic and haunting voice of beautiful Inuk singer Elisapie Isaac drifts effortlessly between her native Inuktitut and English in this gorgeous single from her recent album There Will Be Stars. This sultry, desaturated video is well matched to that dreamy vibe, beuatifully directed by Robert Leboeuf.
1. Samian feat. Sauit – So Much
It’s an impossible task to pick our most favourite music video of the year, but this hot and sunny piece is such a great example of contemporary Indigenous music culture, as well as just a straight up fantastic video from Samian, that we’re putting it at #1. An Algonquin French rap mixed with Innu Montagnais reggae singing, all shot on the streets of Cuba, makes for the kind of cultural mix that artists are creating across Turtle Island and beyond these days. Check it out and try to soak up some of that Cuban sun.
That’s it! Thanks to all the artists who continue to create and share their work.
To see more video content on RPM, check out rpm.fm/category/video.