Local rocker Digawolf is up for Indigenous Artist of the Year at this year’s Juno Awards.

The musician was chosen for his album 2019 Yellowstone, which was released last year and features both English and Tlicho lyrics.

“It feels great, quite an honour,” said Digawolf, who grew up in Behchoko and is also known as Jesse James Gon. “The nomination is the award.” 

This year’s Juno Awards will be held on March 15 in Saskatoon. 

Digawolf was last nominated for a Juno in 2010, when Distant Morning Star was a up for Aboriginal Album of the Year.

Digawolf, a critically acclaimed rock performer who sings in Tlicho and English.
Photo by Angela Gzowski / Photo courtesy of the Northern Arts & Cultural Centre

He received Best Male Artist of the Year at the 2005 Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards.

Since then, Digawolf said the community around him and his music has grown considerably. 

“When you have a team and they all have one goal, it makes things a lot easier for yourself. You don’t have to do everything. You just trust,” he said. 

Very little planning went into Yellowstone, he said. That was on purpose: There were few preconceived ideas about the recording or songwriting process.

Digawolf said he gathered some poetry, threw it in a garbage bag and hopped on a plane to Denmark, where he planned to record.

When he got there, most of the tracks were laid down on the spot, using primarily first takes.

“We just went into with pretty much a blank sheet, a blank canvas. We all picked up paint brushes and started painting with audio,” said Digawolf, explaining he aimed to capture unique moments in the music.  

Recording took place over three weeks in a barn “in the middle of nowhere,” he added.

Surrounded by cows and fields, there was no choice but to walk away with something. 

“We were recording on the edge all the time,” he said. 

The motivation behind all this spontaneity was to find new sounds and a unique voice for the project, he said, explaining he hopes each record differs from his previous releases. 

“As a musician, singer-songwriter, my goal is always to enjoy what I do and what I love. And always try to keep that fire burning, and still keep writing, and still keep enjoying it,” he said, adding he hopes it can be a source of inspiration or help for listeners. 

“As long as I still enjoy it, I hope that they walk away knowing that this is something (of) a journey for me, a fun at that.”

Nick Pearce

Nick Pearce is a writer and reporter in Yellowknife, looking for unique stories on the environment and people that make up the North. He's a graduate of Queen's University, where he studied Global Development...

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