Inuk Montrealer Beatrice Deer Finds Freedom On New Album

Shifting is an adventurous mix of indie-rock and Inuit throat singing, with lyrics in English, French, and Inuktitut.

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“I am a modern day Inuk,” said Beatrice Deer, “an urban Inuk.”

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The Montreal singer-songwriter is many things, as evidenced by her sixth album, Shifting, an adventurous mix of indie-rock and Inuit throat singing – she calls the sound Inuindie – with lyrics in English, French and Inuktitut.

“It’s just natural,” she said, from her home in LaSalle, where she was caring for her five-month-old baby. “My connection with the members of my band, who are not Inuit or indigenous, is a real collaboration between us. I love it. I appreciate it. I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for them, and if it weren’t for the support of my people and the non-indigenous people who listen to our music. It is wonderful.”

Deer’s band, which has been with her for more than a decade, includes bassist and guitarist Chris McCarron, who also plays in the illustrious independent artists Montreal Stars and Land of Talk; and drummer Mark “Bucky” Wheaton, who can be found alongside McCarron on Land of Talk. (The band is completed by Michael Felberg on bass and Jordan Tucker on guitar.)

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Deer gave McCarron and Wheaton carte blanche to produce and arrange Shifting’s songs, all of which she wrote. The result is his most upbeat and rock-solid album yet, borrowing from Deer’s Inuit roots as he boldly ventures into new sonic territory.

“I’ve always liked rock,” he said. “It is natural to want to incorporate that into my music. I’m a traditional throat singer and it’s very rhythmic, I just like to mix that with my music. It is a very contemporary way of singing the throat.

“It is also decolonizing. A century ago, the Catholic Church prohibited the Inuit from singing deep throat, and for decades they did so in hiding. Today, many women and men sing their throats, so we are proud that we did not lose it. “

The guitars are huge at shifting. Opener Free has a jingling country-rock sound, as Deer sings in Inuktitut and English about how to walk away from a relationship that is holding her back. On the Uqautinnga driving, they ride in waves of feedback; and on The Storm, they’re mixed with a thick, Beck-worthy breakbeat and rhythmic throat chant for a rough dancefloor pitch.

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“Our snowstorms up north are very different from the storms here,” Deer said of the song. “Storms at home can leave you stranded. It is very dangerous if a hunter gets caught in a storm where you cannot even see what is in front of you. It is violent winds and snow everywhere. It hurts to be in the storm and causes panic and uncertainty.

“We too can feel that way in life. You may feel paralyzed and look around to see if there is any help available. Then you see a light in the storm and you realize, ‘Okay, that’s where I’m supposed to go. That’s where home is. ‘ “

Beatrice Deer at her LaSalle home with her five-month-old daughter Inumanaaq.  The deer moved from Nunavik to Montreal 15 years ago.
Beatrice Deer at her LaSalle home with her five-month-old daughter Inumanaaq. The deer moved from Nunavik to Montreal 15 years ago. Photo by John Mahoney /Montreal Gazette

Deer moved from his hometown of Quaqtaq, Nunavik, to Montreal 15 years ago. He came to study, to pursue a career in music and “to seek help for my inner pain,” he said. Overcoming intergenerational trauma has been a recurring theme in his music. When changing, imagine going further.

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“The message of all the songs is about going towards a purpose,” said Deer, “going to a place where you are supposed to be and leaving behind what is holding you back. When we want to move, when we want to change speed or lane, we change.

“It’s something I strongly believe in and something that I know needs to keep happening. We are destined to evolve, to grow. We have to ask ourselves what is happening if there are no changes, if we are sedentary or we are trapped in a bad place ”.

The deer is the opposite of stuck on change. Without denying the harsh realities she and her people have experienced, the album is brimming with life and hope.

“It’s about going to your destiny,” he said, “leaving sadness and depression behind and choosing to live, to be free.”

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Reference-montrealgazette.com

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