The Canadian Art Database

Tanya Tagaq Gillis


Vocals: Tanya Tagaq Gillis
Turntables: DJ: Michel Deveau
Producer: Andy Maize

Segment from 'Blind Spot'
Tagaq (with Michel Deveau)
siku limited edition
Copyright 2003, Tagaq/Deveau

Segment from 'Blind Spot'
Tagaq (with Michel Deveau)
siku limited edition
Copyright 2003, Tagaq/Deveau

Contact Information:
Andy Maize, A & R, MapleMusic Recordings
Toronto, Ontario (416) 961-4332.

Tagaq and Selina, traditional throat singing


Tagaq Contemporary Songs (with Michel Deveau)

Tanya Tagaq Gillis and Michel Deveau

The collaboration of Tanya Tagaq Gillis and Michael Deveau takes traditional music from Canada's North and blends it effortlessly with an underpinning of urban music to create something quite new and breathtaking.

Tanya Tagaq Gillis was born in the remote Inuit town of Iqaluktuutiaq [Cambridge Bay] Nunavut. (Iqaluktuutiaq), located on southern Victoria Island, is considered the regional centre for other Kitikmeot region communities. Just over 1400 people reside in Iqaluktuutiaq [translation: 'fair fishing place']. Musk oxen, indigenous to the area, are often sited in the areas directly surrounding the community.

Coming south in the 1990s to study visual arts at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, she was heading, she believed, for a career as artist and art teacher. While living in Halifax, Gillis was exposed to a whole new world of music, including electronica, dance music and rave. Homesick for the sounds of the Arctic, she began to teach herself traditional Inuit throat singing. This is an unaccompanied pattern of improvised vocalization, usually sung in harmony by two women and emulating the sounds of nature (the crash of breaking ice, for example). Soon, Gillis was performing solo at festivals and clubs in Canada and Europe. In 2001, she toured with Icelandic phenomenon, Bjork, and won favourable reviews of her own.

Michel Deveau (the other half of this unusual collaboration) started DJing as a hobby but gained professional momentum in the context of the rave scene. In 1996, his career exploded when, as well as playing house music at the Velvet Olive in Halifax, he was hired to play for a series of events in Halifax and Montreal, including shows by Fred Everything, Krista and Glenn Underground. Turning to the production of electronic music, one of Deveau's first projects was a remix for the band Mir.

When Gillis met Michel Deveau, she began to jam over the beats that he supplied and laid her voice down over a dynamic mélange of recordings in what has proven to be an exciting meld of primitivism and sensuality. Her first album Tagaq was released in October 2002.

[Notes courtesy of the Canada Council for the Arts SonicWeave Program]

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