Thu, Mar 24

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Ottawa

Turkwaz, iskwē, Zaki Ibrahim

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Turkwaz, iskwē, Zaki Ibrahim

Time & Location

Mar 24, 7:00 p.m.

Ottawa, 1 Elgin St, Ottawa, ON K1P 5W1, Canada

About the Event

Turkwaz is a unique combination of four musician/singers, immersed in diverse traditions from mysterious Sufi devotional love songs, to rousing Thracian dance music. Each performer brings a special flavour to the group. Maryem Hassan Tollar draws on her Arabic language heritage, Jayne Brown and Sophia Grigoriadis bring their experience with Greek music to the mix and Brenna MacCrimmon adds her Turkish fascination.

They have a long-standing collective interest in Balkan traditions and add Albanian, Bulgarian and Macedonian and whatever else strikes their fancy to their repertoire. The love and respect they have for the traditions they draw from are clear but they are not afraid to arrange the tunes in new and unexpected ways to give them a fresh spin.

iskwē | ᐃᐢᑫᐧᐤ is, among many other things, a Juno-award winning artist – a creator and communicator of music and of movement, of pictures, poetry and prose. And through it all, she’s a teller of stories that have impacted our past and will inform our future. Her music is a sonic exploration that not only blurs lines between sources and styles, but also between the actual and the ideal, the real and imagined. Her message is most impactful when delivered from the stage, where it’s not uncommon for people to leave in entranced contemplation or even in tears. Her music merges with dance, multimedia, and more in a completely engulfing and cathartic experience – meant to bring people together and celebrate that which unites over that which divides us.

 iskwē is Cree Métis from Treaty One Territory. She was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. She is an urban Indigenous two-spirited woman from the Red River Valley, the birthplace of the Métis Nation. 

There’s a standard narrative that an artist releases an album, but for Zaki Ibrahim it seems the reverse is true. From one angle, Ibrahim’s career is punctuated by extended absences from the Toronto scene where she built her name, launched a label and found success. From another vantage, for an artist who is known for her multiplicity of influences and identities, absence from one scene is in fact presence in another. The difference between departure and arrival is simply a matter of perspective. Ibrahim’s process, very much about immersion, connection and being there, wherever there may be, is a fundamental attribute of self and sound.

“I didn’t know I was gone,” begins Ibrahim in the trailer for The Secret Life of Planets, a spoken word treatise so poetic and cosmically disorienting that Ibrahim’s philosophy of elsewhere surfaces in the vapours, while the credits roll and you question your place in the universe. “I was gone,” she confirms, and then you realize the word nomad, which often appears in the context of trying to explain Ibrahim’s trajectory, describes something much deeper and truer about her helical path; it’s more a fingerprint than a figure of speech.

Throughout her career, from Vancouver to South Africa to Toronto and many points in between, Ibrahim has worked against the encroaching systems and machinery that would limit or dilute her vision. It’s impossible to imagine the future if you can’t escape the present. There, in the hypercurious process of transposing atomic-level details into big ideas and back again, songs emerge. Ibrahim’s work pushes back against binaries, against reductiveness, against the clenching muscles of expectation. “Planets isn’t just a product of black American or South African music styles; its multiple identities make it distinctly Canadian,” writes critic Anupa Mistry for Pitchfork. “It’s the work of an optimist whose voice wasn’t silenced by the confines of an unimaginative industry; it’s expensive in effort, and by sheer existence.”

Described as “a retro-Afrofuturist vision sending listeners on a journey through 40 years of electronic music,” (Nuvo) Ibrahim’s music brings elements of spoken word, hip hop, soul, house and 70s pop together, filtered through the prismatic and often contradictory lenses of personal, historical and scientific relativities. Even the concept of diaspora seems to fall short of capturing the vivid vibrational multitudes of Ibrahim’s scope, more than the sum of static geographic parts.On stage, Ibrahim delivers theatrical, intricate configurations of bodies and ideas built on a contrast of sharp precision and untethered joy. Ibrahim aims to find space for spontaneity within the parameters of structure; in the same way that her music explores non-linear models of time and space, Ibrahim’s performances are designed with fluidity and recombination in mind.

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