nêhiyawak, an Indigenous three-piece from Edmonton, released one of my favorite guitar-driven projects last year with starlight — their song "page" has helped stave off the hunger for a new My Bloody Valentine record more than anything else in recent memory. The band's command of all things "alternative rock" is impressive, and their latest song "tommaso" recalls krautrock and Echo and the Bunnymen while sounding completely its own thing.
The song's music video premieres today on The FADER, and you can watch the film-filtered piece above. Maria Buffalo directs scenes of Indigenous people at home intercut with stunning natural landscapes. It's peaceful, and tender, yet uncompromising. Read the director's statement on the video below:
My vision for 'tommaso' has been in the making for years. 'tommaso' was the first track I listened to from nêhiyawak and I instantly fell in love and I felt at home. When I was approached to do this I was over the moon. During the early stages I was in an indigenous literature class and we were studying indigenous erotica. Its main praxis – and what I wanted my art specifically to explore – is how indigenous bodies are an extension of the land. Growing up on the reservation, that was something I understood from a young age. I grew up on the land. It created me. The track of 'tommaso' was very much about love and devotion. So it made sense to take this chance to create this love letter to my home and my community, and to the band. It was vital for me to make sure this was actually shot on my reservation (mostly for costs, lol) and to include talent from my community as well (with Hunter from Sucker Creek as the exception). We then decided on a location and suddenly it became something so much more personal to me. My Kokum Sadie generously allowed us to film in her home and she agreed to star in it as well. So it suddenly became a family affair. Which was wickedly sacred and beautiful. For my entire family and community to come together to bring to life this story. To structure the video a bit more while doing shortlists and soft blocking I decided to focus on four main people in the four main stages of life. Showing all these beautiful brown bodies and what they contain. This was the story of our land. This was a love story. With indigenous bodies and the land. And with each other.
nêhiyawak's Kris Harper also shared his thoughts on writing the song:
I wrote this with the history of the European Renaissance in mind. I felt like there is an incredible love story to be examined between Michaelangelo and Tommaso. As well to point out to some of the realities of having the master’s work commissioned required the spoils of colonial exploits. For me the idea of having another indigenous artist (Maria Buffalo) visualize concepts knowing some of the backstory of the lyrics in the music, but relating that to images of Maskwacis First Nation, the body, hands, and indigenous people; I could imagine an incredible juxtaposition. The story of the song deepens with additional perspectives working their own ideas into this piece.
nipiy, the new album from nêhiyawak, is out now via Arts & Crafts. Listen below.