Aysanabee brings his breakthrough debut album Watin to Harvest in September.
Aysanabee is a multi-instrumentalist, producer and singer-songwriter currently based in Toronto. He is also one of several artists heading to Fredericton in a few weeks to perform at the Harvest Music Festival. But unlike a lot of artists we’re used to seeing on stages across downtown each fall, Aysanabee is a relative newcomer to the music business. But don’t let his short history fool you. Over the past couple of years he has become a rising star in Canadian Alt-Rock and Indigenous music circles. His debut album received a JUNO Award nomination and was longlisted for the 2023 Polaris Music Prize. He has won multiple Summer Solstice Indigenous Music Awards, the 2023 Jim Beam Indie Award for Indigenous Artist of the Year, and winner of a 2023 Canadian Live Music Award for New Touring Artist of the Year. Not a bad start to what is quickly becoming a promising career.
Aysanabee, born Evan Pang, is Oji-Cree, Sucker Clan of the Sandy Lake First Nation, a remote fly-in community in Northwestern Ontario where he taught himself to play guitar. He began writing music under his mother’s maiden name during the pandemic and quickly amassed enough original material for an album. Watin, released in November 2022, and draws on both his education in journalism and his natural songwriting ability, intermixing the voice of his grandfather (who is also the album’s namesake) with songs that speak to family, love, and the gift of memory. Guided by equal parts soul, pop, and contemporary rock, Watin is a remarkable debut effort.
“Watin actually started out as a series of conversations between myself and my grandfather,” says Aysanabee. “We spent the first year of the pandemic talking about things we’ve never spoke about, his life on the trapline on Sandy Lake First Nation, falling in love, his life in residential school and then leaving everything behind…we never spoke of it until now. Even though we were over 1,000 kilometres apart, it was probably the closest we’ve ever been.”
The album’s latest single, Somebody Else, is a deep exploration of memory and relationships. In his own words, this deep and driving song is “about the changing feeling between two lovers, about two people holding onto the memory of something that no longer exists. This song is for people who love hard, until the bitter end.”
With a swirling mix of indie, soul, and electronic sounds, mournful saxophone, and pulse-quickening fingerpicking, Aysanabee’s music is both hypnotic and melodious and has been compared to Bon Iver, Matt Corby, Don Ross, Kim Churchill, Kings of Leon, and Sam Smith among others.
Aysanabee & Laila Biali | September 16 | Fredericton Playhouse | Buy Tickets