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Indigenous Canadian Artists Fill Atmosphere Gathering’s Lineup

Long before there were coal miners and Empire Day parades in Cumberland, the K’omoks First Nation eked out a good life on eastern Vancouver Island – a place they referred to as “the land of plenty.”

Fast-forward a few hundred years, and the Village of Cumberland is now the land of plenty of bike trails, watering holes, and live music. In our modern world of diminishing wild spaces and global unrest, a timely message from many First Nation artists continues to be one of respect for human diversity and for the fragile ecosystems we are all dependent on.

This is a message that is gaining momentum for many concerned citizens, and one that resonates deeply with Atmosphere organizers. Atmosphere Gathering, which hits the island August 18 to 20, continues to support Indigenous artists from North America and beyond. This summer, organizers are honouring that trend by featuring three top tier indigenous acts from Canada and Australia.

Digging Roots from Ontario is a Juno-award winning power couple. Shoshana Kish and husband Raven Kanatakta built a unique musical sound combining romantic optimism with folk-rock, pop, blues, and hip hop influences. The duo has several collaborations with other major Canadian talent such as Tanya Tagaq, Kinnie Starr, and A Tribe Called Red.

Kish’s lilting voice and Kanatakta’s searing guitar represents a pairing based on unvarnished truth and unconditional love. They fight against the forces of darkness, hatred, and discrimination through their intrepid music. Diggin Roots message is one of courage, compassion, and peace. The duos recent hit single AK-47 opens fire on oppression and violence. They see themselves as benevolent warriors amidst the carnage of human conflict. According to Kanatakta “an Anishinaabe word at the end of ‘AK-47’ that distills it all for me is Nizoogide ‘e’. It means ‘my heart is a stronghold.’”

DJ Shub is a title earning Mohawk DJ and award-wining music producer from Grande River. A major voice in the Canadian Indigenous electronic music community, DJ Shub AKA Dan General is a founding member of A Tribe Called Red.

He parted ways with the group in 2014 and continued on to create his own unique sound, while staying within the tradition pioneered by ATCR of combining electronic dance beats with Aboriginal singing and drumming. DJ Shub picked up numerous Indigenous music awards, including one for his EP PowWowStep and his powerful video for the track Indomitable.

Hailing from Australia with that signature feel good Aussie earth-sound, OKA draws on their indigenous connection to place. It provides an irresistible blend of influences spanning house, big beat, reggae-dub, roots, jazz, and world music, plus of course, the didgeridoo.

When asked about their sound the band says, “Imagine Bob Marley meets Stevie Wonder via the Chemical Brothers on acid.” With a sound and force that touches the heart and connects the soul, organizers are looking forward to be bringing this live dance experience to local music lovers.

Atmosphere Gathering still maintains a low-key family friendly vibe with three distinct stages. The circus tent is occupied by the electronic heart of the festival, the Atmosphere stage features live bands all weekend, and the Cumberland Community Forest stage offers a more interactive experience.

For tickets or more information about these and other scheduled performers check out the website atmospheregathering.com

What are some of your favorite tracks by Digging Roots, DJ Shub, and/or OKA? Who will we be seeing at Atmosphere Gathering, and what sets are you looking forward to? Share your thoughts in the comments!