This event is a Nordic Spotlight, part of Nordic Bridges.
First, traditional Sámi yoiks are pushed up against present-day pop with Sámi band VILDÁ, followed by an electronic response in ISÁK. Chart-topping and JUNO award winner Begonia finishes the evening with intimate lyrics and her signature bold pop style.
VILDÁ is an original blend of indigenous Sámi yoiks, grooving rhythms and improvisation. It is inspired by the Sámi people’s strong connection to nature, present-day pop and the Finnish folk tradition. The result is a unique dialogue that takes the listener on a fascinating journey to the Sámi land and the vast landscapes under the arctic hills and frosty winds.
VILDÁs debut album Vildaluodda has gained great reviews internationally and was singled out as one of the best albums of 2019 by Songlines magazine. Since then, the band has toured in Scandinavia, Canada, Spain, the UK, France and Bulgaria.
Viivi Maria Saarenkylä (accordion, live effects) is one of the most promising young Finnish accordionists. She has been awarded in many renowned competitions such as Castelfidardo and Coupe Mondiale and performed internationally. Her musical nuances are inspired by the different music cultures found worldwide.
Hildá Länsman (vocals, frame drum) was born in a small Sámi village called Ohcejohka in the northernmost municipality of Finland. Having grown up with reindeer husbandry, handicraft (duodji) and a joik (luohti) tradition which spans several generations, she connects her background with contemporary world music and academic studies.
ISÁK has been a hype in Sámi music for a long time, renowned for its energetic live shows and intense presence. Since their debut in 2017, they have experienced an overwhelming response in Norway and the world.
ISÁK is a natural successor after Mari Boine, known for developing yoik and modernizing Sámi music for decades. With a new and exciting fusion of traditional yoik, urban synths and a text universe that combines both English and Sámi, ISÁK continues to push the limits of Sámi music.
The trio consists of vocalist Ella Marie Hætta Isaksen, producer Daniel Eriksen and drummer Aleksander Kostopoulos.
Begonia’s Alexa Dirks has never been able to fit into being a “conventional woman.”
“I’m loud, awkward and always taking up space. I’ve done things that some people would tell me weren’t appropriate for a ‘girl.'”
That narrative that once tore Dirks down is now what empowers her to take charge of her own story in her way.
The Winnipeg-based Dirks is a JUNO Award winner with her former group Chic Gamine. While she thrived from the collaboration, she knew she was ready to go solo once the band broke up.
As Begonia, Dirks is bold and daring with her florid, surprising pop tempered with sensitivity and wisdom. Her first solo output was with her 2017 debut EP, Lady in Mind, listed on NPR‘s 10 Artists You Need to Know in 2017, and “Juniper” reached #1 on the CBC Music Charts in 2017. Noisey wrote that “Begonia has one of Canada’s most extraordinary voices, and thankfully she uses it to obliterate the misery from this world one live performance at a time.” NPR wrote that Begonia is “where synth-pop meets old soul and scrappy meets sexy.”
Begonia’s songwriting style is mainly autobiographical. “There’s always some element of me in these songs whether I like it or not,” she says. She gets to the heart of her subject matter, whether it’s learning to come into her own or confronting and processing a brutal heartbreak. Her intimate lyrics and bold pop style sound allow her audience to relate to the messiness of life with refreshing honesty.
With Begonia’s debut full-length album entitled Fear expected next year, Dirks is leaning hard into a sense of arrival. She wrote and co-produced the record with a familiar team: Matt Schellenberg and Matt Petters of Royal Canoe, along with Marcus Paquin, who has previously worked with The National, Stars, Arcade Fire and Local Natives.
Begonia forms a special kind of musical translucence. Transparency of learning to unlearn some parts Dirks didn’t care to have, the ones she wanted to hold onto and nourish and how that relationship can inform her music. On her latest single, “The Light,” Dirks sings over soulful swells, her vocals curving around the notes of the song and making them explode as she bluntly tells us, “Hang up the phone and scream your name/ again, again/ but I like the pain.” Who among us hasn’t wanted to rage and yell and yet curl into and find comfort in the things that brought us pain? Begonia explores the nuances of such heartfelt emotional experiences.
Dates & Times
7pm – VILDÁ
8pm – ISÁK
9:30pm – Begonia
235 Queens Quay W.
Toronto, ON, M5J 2G8