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Edzi’u Fights For Justice With Their “Warrior Song”

Photo by: Rachel Pick

Edzi’u is a Tahltan and Tlingit artist based on the unceded territories of the Musqueam,

Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations in modern-day Vancouver, BC. Their music is deep-rooted in paying homage to elders' stories, visions and words whilst highlighting the personal and communal experiences of past and present generations.

Their latest release, “Warrior Song'' shines a light on the effects of colonialism, land occupation and unjust policies, all conveyed through a mesmerizing and heartfelt melody.

“Warrior Song” begins with a powerful opening line, “Everything is out there if you want to know," followed by Edzi’u’s echoes, “We can fight them if we want to.” This introduction outlines a profound societal issue: the truth has been concealed for far too long. The reality of consequences stemming from events such as colonialism and colonial legislation will not go unnoticed by those who’ve been affected by it for hundreds of years.

Throughout the verse, they share the harrowing experiences of their ancestors, whose hair was cut, whose rights were stripped away, and who were still forced to kneel. They made this song a prayer and a beacon of hope for those who fear their voices won’t be heard. Edzi’u’s voice is powerful and rich, which complements the hypnotic and enchanting rhythm of “Warrior Song''.

As the song progresses, their alluring airy vocals loom over the steady beat, which evokes a profound sense of inspiration, power and strength. It’s no wonder their work has received features on CBC Radio Reclaimed, Talking Stick Festival and Tkaronto’s Film Festival.

Through the power song, Edzi’u unapologetically shares their vision for the future by inspiring all those who listen to join them in the fight for justice.

Welcome to Buzz Edzi’u, and a heartfelt congratulations on your empowering new single, "Warrior Song." What inspired you to start making music?

When I was a kid, I was always a dreamer, I spent most of my childhood in my own world, and though I was pretty extroverted, I was often alone. When I was six, my mom moved in with her boyfriend into a trailer up the hill with big bay windows and a piano. I would play the keys on the piano and try to play out songs I knew, and I was always singing to myself and singing the songs playing in our house with my mom.

My mom was a trophy-winning Karaoke country singer; most of my early memories are of her singing Reba McEntire, so there was always music in my daily life. On my Tahltan and Tlingit side, I come from a strong history of song creators and storytellers. My first stages were singing to my mom and her friends on our living room coffee table and singing country and rock to my aunts and uncles inside old cars and trucks while driving to my traditional territories. My family on both sides has inspired me to sing and make songs. I think I’m here in this life to create music and sounds; it’s cultural and personal.

The melody and beat of “Warrior Song” is unparalleled and truly captivating. How would you describe your style of music?

A loaded question and hard to answer! Honestly, I’ve never felt comfortable in any genre of music, perhaps because I’m such a mix of experiences and influences. I love 80’s drums soaked in reverb, thick vocals and a variety of individually treated background vocals, synth-like rattle sounds and long decaying epic synths. I think I am unconsciously rebuilding the sounds of my grandmothers’ traditional singing and drumming with the sounds of my mom’s soaring country vocals and my aunts and uncles' 80’s pop/rock influences with my love of RnB music, then jamming that all into my classical music training with an electronic sound palate. I love music and sound and can find something I like in any genre. If I had to name it, I’d say my style is like electronic alternative pop sound art.

What’s the process of making a song like for you? Do you begin with a concept first or dive straight into production?

I use audio clips in most of my music, either an environmental sound recording or clips drawn from interviews I conducted with family and friends about different topics. Sometimes I start with a concept, as I did with this album, but sometimes I let the spirit of the song reveal itself to me as I explore the audio I’m building off of. I listen to the timbre of the audio clip I’m using, the presence, and the emotion of it, and from there, I build a sound world, little riffs, and pieces of various melodies. Gradually the song begins to take shape.

Sometimes I continue to follow the thread I’m pulling from, and sometimes I scrap everything but one riff or audio clip and start again. Most songs I come back to repeatedly and evolve and change each time. Potlatch is the theme of this album that Warrior Song is off of, and the album itself is called “Potlatch in the Box.” On its face, the potlatch is a ceremonial feast practiced by Indigenous peoples along the Northwest Coast, different per each nation. But in reality, the potlatch is the backbone of our lives, society, law, culture, and how to be in relationships with each other and the land. I wanted to use that framework to create work that discusses colonialism's impacts on our communities and our resistance and wholeness despite living in a capitalistic colonial world.

Can you share the significance of “Warrior Song” when reflecting on your personal experiences?

I wrote and rewrote Warrior Song down to the last-minute recording in the studio. It’s the song I’ve spent the most time on in my entire life of songwriting, and I think that’s because it can mean different things to different people.

Warrior song is about getting up every day and fighting for sovereignty, whether that be fighting inside your own heart to dismantle internalized colonial narratives, fighting for land and water on the front lines, or fighting to exist in a capitalist world to support your family. I have existed in all those spaces, as many Indigenous people and communities do. Warrior song is a prayer and a promise to continue on another moment, minute, or day to fight for self-determination however the listener needs.

In “Warrior Song,” you address the fight against enduring injustices such as colonialism and colonial legislation, amongst many other wrongdoings. In what ways would you like to see people take action to create change?

I want to see a structural societal change that recreates a world of equity for all people and all living things. I believe that starts with recognizing, honouring, and upholding Indigenous knowledge and ways of being. I want a complete revolution. The action begins in the mind and heart, and if people don’t let go of individualism and place profit above people, then no one will win.

Individually I would like to see people redistribute their personal wealth and educate themselves in anti-racism. There’s a lot I would like to see done to create change in the world. There are a plethora of Indigenous and Black folks who make it their life's mission to do so and educate others, as well as enact the values they speak to - I would suggest that people reading this find those people, respectfully learn from them, and pay them for their time and knowledge.


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