The art and sound of Elisapie came my way a while ago, and I seeped in it for a while. What is it? Music, documentary, you name it. I thoroughly enjoyed her award winning piece, If the Weather Permits, and have found her promo material, music videos, and live performance recordings all to be…enchanting? Can I say that?
Elisapie Isaac blends folk, pop, and traditional Inuit sounds (being dubbed as polar pop) to soothing, catchy, and even danceable pieces. Her album, There Will Be Stars, was hailed as “delicate and haunting” by Time Out New York, and The Beacon Pass said “There Will be Stars evokes a magnificent sound-world; each song is a pearl of polar beauty. Her upbringing in the Great North is evident in the poppy melancholy of the album — never sinking into despair but never rising much beyond a sincere smile.”
Her music and artistic direction is telling of her background as a communicator:
“Elisapie Isaac was born of an Inuk mother and a Newfoundland father. She was adopted at birth by an Inuit family and was raised in the isolated community Salluit, Nunavik – the Great North (…)It has been said that the great singers are first and foremost great communicators. Elisapie Isaac’s life’s work has been communicating, first on radio, then on TV and then on film with her award winning National Film Board documentary If the Weather Permits.
Intrigued, I set out to ask her a few questions.
Farah Joan Fard: There are many aspects of your work that really speak to me. I personally find it great to write music in a way to reflect my cultural background, and enjoy listening to traditional songs and bringing that culture to others who may not be exposed to it. You had a quote on your site: “My grandfather used to say that to avoid getting lost…you always have to look where you’ve come from.” How does that work its way into your songwriting process?
Elisapie Isaac: Well, when I write for example in my language, I’m automatically addressing to the North…even more specifically my own little village where I was brought up. I feel like I want to say things and express in a way that will trigger something…emotional, questioning our lives, and (every) woman speaking her mind.
FJF: I also checked out If the Weather Permits. What prompted you to put together the documentary? Do you feel the questions it poses have yet to be answered? If so, why? And if not…how does this reflect on the modern world’s attentiveness to cultural history?
EI: I think that Inuit people are…(ready to be) part of the world, ready for change but still keep their culture (and) mix it with new ideas. I think that there is a lot of hope.
FJF: I read about how you got your start in TV/Radio—and if you’d like to elaborate for our audience, please do! Why did you find yourself gravitating to this medium? How has this helped you as a performer?
EI: I really believe that communication and radio was really a place for me to express my inner creativity, and I love that medium. And it has helped me to be a little more aware, especially when I have to be doing interviews and have a larger vision of my work than just the artiste point of view…
FJF:Now to some more random, musical questions…what equipment do you use?
EI: Quitare accoustique, my iphone to record ideas, slowly trying to play piano.
FJF: -What is a piece of music you really like that you think will surprise readers?
EI: I don’t know, I tend to like everything…gospel music!
FJF: Now this is a question I have posed and discussed with may other musicians lately: hearing music in your head, so to speak. I have met some artists who tell me they can’t hear songs exactly in their memory, whereas I feel it is near impossible to never have a song running through my mind, all instrumentation included. What is your take on this?
EI: I have a very short term music memory, I make room for other sounds very fast, especially in the creative mode.
FJF: How does this integrate itself into your songwriting process? Or does it at all?
EI: I have to try to focus on my music and my sound…I may have a vibe follow me but not necessarily a song.
FJF: Lastly, are there any plans to play in New York or Boston? Would love to see a performance!
EI: Hopefully next year, working on new songs and new album should be out late 2012!