New Constellations Takes Community to the Next Level
Four weeks. Thirteen communities. Fifty-plus artists. One tour.
New Constellations is all of that and more.
Billed as a nation(s)wide tour of music and arts, the (inter)stellar lineup features a core roster of Indigenous artists alongside a rotating cast of some of the country’s most celebrated musicians, writers, and poets. Some of the talent includes A Tribe Called Red, Lido Pimienta, Leanna Betasamosake Simpson, Leonard Sumner, Mob Bounce, Iskwé, Elisapie, Jeremy Dutcher, July Talk, Feist, Weaves, Sam Roberts and Joel Plaskett.
Running from Nov. 23 to Dec. 20, the tour will stop in 13 communities: Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton, Prince Albert, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Wiikwemkoong, Halifax, Fredericton, Montreal, Ottawa, Kitigan Zibi, and Toronto. Not surprisingly, a few of the shows sold out within days of even being announced.
But New Constellations is so much more than your typical arts tour. Beyond the concerts, the series will offer digital mentorship opportunities and in-community workshops. Facilitated entirely online, the mentorship program allows emerging Indigenous musicians, producers, and songwriters from across the country to get feedback from industry pros like DJ NDN, Iskwé, Lido Pimienta, Moe Clarke and more. The workshops will offer Indigenous youth an opportunity to engage with – and receive guidance from – artists in an intimate group setting. The roster of in-community mentors includes Cody Coyote, Boogey The Beat, Mob Bounce, Nick Sherman, July Talk and more.
“It was really important to us that New Constellations not just be a touring show with artists on one side and the audience on the other,” said Jarrett Martineau, Cree/Dene media maker and co-founder of Revolutions Per Minute. “We wanted to make sure that aspiring Indigenous artists and youth in our communities had as many opportunities as possible to be heard, to be mentored in their art, and to get hands-on experience making things.
“That’s why we set up the mentorship program in two parts — the Digital Mentorship is set up for Indigenous artists to have their music be mentored one-on-one by some incredible mentors like DJ NDN, Lido, Shad, Iskwe, Moe Clark, and Narcy — and the In-Community Workshops are a way for us to connect locally with youth in the community and with other local artists. We’re doing six workshops on the tour and each location has this amazing mix of different genres, styles, disciplines, and arts—it’s way more than just music, it’s a whole program to uplift and inspire the community. We want our young people to feel like music and art-making is something that’s within their reach, and they are going to be the next artists on this next wave.”
Curated and produced by The Basement Revue and Revolutions Per Minute, the series also aims to connect Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in a collaborative and meaningful way, while promoting diversity, inclusivity and accessibility.
“We (RPM) decided to link up with Basement Revue for this tour—and specifically to work with non-Indigenous artists for it—because we wanted to create a space that was open to multiple communities, not just for either a Native or a non-Native audience,” Martineau said. “Too often everyone just stays siloed in their own worlds, not talking to each other, and definitely not sharing the stage with each other.
“This is an opportunity to try something totally different. We wanted to see what it would be like to bring everyone together like this, all those different sounds and styles, and to show Canada the incredible talent that exists within the Indigenous community. With RPM, we do so much work with breaking down barriers for Indigenous musicians to get exposed to new audiences and New Constellations is an amazing platform to share stories and songs together in new ways. It’s really exciting.”