New Music Wednesdays: Anishnaaabe artist collaboration Ombiigizi

Ombiigizi – (pronounced om-BEE-ga-ZAY, meaning s/he is noisy) – is a collaboration between Zoon (Daniel Monkman) and Status/Non-Status (Adam Sturgeon), Anishnaabe artists who explore their cultural histories through sound. The debut album Sewn Back Together is set to be released on Feb. 10 on Arts & Crafts.

Here, Monkman answers our questions about the collaboration.

How has it been for you as a musician trying to find a way through this pandemic?

It’s been challenging navigating through the pandemic, lots of obstacles but Adam and I have been blessed with a great team.

Tell us about your new project.

Ombiigizi started as an idea for a collaboration between Adam Sturgeon and I. We wanted to write an album honouring the memories of our family members who attended the residential schools.

How would you describe the music of Ombiigizi?

This record takes on many different forms.  Usually, our solo projects involve many layers but for this album, we stripped back a lot so that the songwriting would shine through.

How has the lockdown influenced your work?

I love writing and recording music, so for me, the pandemic allowed for a lot of reflection. Pre-pandemic I was working a day job and hustling music on the side which was very exhausting. Being able to focus strictly on writing was the best thing to happen from such a terrible situation.

What are you hoping people take from the new album?

We hope that people will listen and then do the research about the land they’re on, or look into the residential school system. We also want people to find peace when they listen to our music.

What is your background in music and when did you decide to pursue it?

My mom and dad showed me how to play music as a young child. I attended Lord Selkirk High School (in the music department) but quickly dropped out and pursued music as a solo act. I was about 15 when I decided to take music seriously.

What keeps you motivated to create?

I get an extreme amount of happiness when I write a good song or am in the middle of creating experimental textures. That happy feeling is fleeting though so I’m always driven to write more. Sometimes that doesn’t sound sustainable so I’m always figuring out new ways to find true inner happiness. That pursuit motivates me to create.

Where is your favourite place to play live?

My dream gig is the Burton’s Cummings Theatre.

What message do you have to those eager to check out the album and see you live when possible?

Come to see us with open and accepting hearts.

New Music Wednesdays is a new Streets of Toronto series dedicated to shining a light on local artists creating music in our city despite a pandemic. Our artists need our support.