Indigenous Duo shaped by Canada’s North
Feeling the pull of the music industry’s under lying current, we realized we had to release a new album and fast! It had been so hard to find the time to get back in the studio since our last album release of Signal Fire in 2017. With 300‐plus shows a year, since our start as a duo in 2015, and being on tour regularly, we struggled to find the time. We started the preproduction for our third studio album, Omen, in the summer of 2019 with hopes of having it released by the following April 2020. Unfortunately, everyone’s world was flipped upside‐down due to the global pandemic!
Who are we? We are Twin Flames, a multi-award- winning chart-topping Indigenous Duo. We represent three Indigenous groups in Canada. I am Chelsey June (Metis, Algonquin Cree) from Ottawa, Ontario, and my husband is Jaaji (Inuit, Mohawk) from Quaqtaq, Nunavik.
We joined each other on this crazy ride of life and music shortly after meeting in 2014 on the set of a television show called TAM (Talent Autochones Musicaux). A few months after we met, we connected again in my hometown, Ottawa. As our romance bloomed, so did the possibility of starting a band together. We had both started out in music at the beginning of 2013 as solo acts and had received notable recognition; however, fate brought us together for many reasons. Making music was something we needed to try together. I’m so happy we did!
Our musical journey as Twin Flames has taken us to every province and territory in the beautiful country of Canada. We are so lucky to call this place home. We have had the great opportunity to perform in France, Australia, Greenland and the U.S. Although we have travelled near and far, when I think back to the time that genuinely shaped us, it would be our time in Canada’s North.
Our first year touring as Twin Flames began in 2015; we debuted at the Puvirnituq Snow Festival in Nunavik in front of a highly enthusiastic crowd. I remember us both being so nervous, but the love we received that night changed how we saw ourselves and helped us realize the joy we could bring to people through music. What we experienced that night was a glimpse of the magic that was to come from our visits to Arctic communities.
The North may be cold in climate, but the people truly have the warmest hearts. The support and love for local musicians is something I have never seen anywhere else. I have always felt incredibly privileged for my time spent in my husband’s homelands. The community spirit, the people, and the celebrations are memories I will keep close to my heart forever.
Our plans and aspirations of making a name for ourselves were well underway for the past six years. In March 2020 we were still working on our almost complete album, Omen. We braced ourselves as we received news that all music studios were closed and that tours into 2021 were postponed due to the pandemic. With so much uncertainty, we chose to focus on a solution. We seized the opportunities that this pause allowed. Jaaji got hard to work, and with the input of Jake Jones, our producer, they came up with a fantastic solution: build a home studio, one that could be used virtually. Our musicians, Jay Watts, Mike Giamberardino and Troy K Huizinga, had all been recorded in professional studios before the shutdown. With our new studio at home, we were able to finish tracking all our vocals for Omen, without compromising sound or quality. Omen features collaborations with Inspiring Indigenous women Nina Segalowitz, Andrée Levesque Sioui and Charlotte Qamaniq, two-time Juno Award nominee from Silla and Rise.
The album is concept-based around a dystopian reality, global warming, and humankind being free of social classes, mental health disorders, and addictions. It speaks to seeking omens and signs of hope within ourselves and Mother Nature. Omen is an album we are truly proud of and most fitting for the times we are living now.
We are hopeful our musical journey will continue and we all will get through this challenging time in history. Until then, we will keep writing and producing music. We forever hold the spirit of the North in our hearts and look forward to visiting again soon. Thanks to all who have supported us along the way.