Interview – Shawnee

Photo Credit: Jo Johnson

Having shared stages with names like Lady Gaga and Tegan & Sara, Canadian powerhouse Shawnee is turning her talent to her newest single, “Warrior Heart”. With all proceeds going to combating indigenous youth suicide—combined with her flying to Toronto to perform at Pride, Wild Women, and the Indigenous Arts Festival—the track promises to be a radio hit with backbone.

First of all, congratulations on the release of “Warrior Heart”. Can you tell us how this project started?

There are youth that need us to be paying attention to their calls for help. Suicide is very real and a growing epidemic in the indigenous communities here in Canada. This subject is something that is close to my heart, knowing and remembering what it was like as a youth struggling with a day to day just to keep going.

How long has it been in the works?

Warrior Heart started a couple months ago. After hearing about the suicide pacts happening in communities and young people giving up, I knew there was something that I needed to do.

As an advocate for human rights, LGBTQ rights, and indigenous rights, what solidified your decision to dedicate this song to the rampant issue of indigenous youth suicide?

These words were specifically written for these kids. For every heart and soul that suffers with their day to day. For the youth that know what it is to feel tired and hopeless but to know that they are not alone and that their purpose is to fight the very things that bring them down and to use these very things as fuel for their own fire. That’s what Warriors do.

How did the song change from its concept to the finished project?

The song stayed on its path from finish to end. It was always about including cultural influences and to have a strong message to recognize a young persons vulnerability but also strength and power.

Can you let on if there will be a music video for “Warrior Heart” in the future? Is it a possibility?

The music video is here!

Were they any hurdles you had to overcome during the recording process, whether those hurdles were emotional or physical?

The entire process of creating from the lyrics to recording and even through out the video was filled with emotions. I carried high expectations for myself and the vision. I have learned a lot about myself through out this project. I am more detailed driven then I even knew about myself, I wanted nothing but true passion going in to every bit of this process. Many hours went in from start to finish to raising funds planning production and recording building a team around those days dealing with budgets, casting and other bits. Also the day of shooting the video we filmed on a steep cliff and walked up and down more then a handful of times, not to complain but my entire body the next day I cant even tell you how intensely soar we all were… but so worth it and I would do it a hundred times again.

And what is something you would want your audience to know about the track?

I want them to know what Warrior Heart means. I want them to know that there are real issues in Canada and this is something as a Country and a community we need to acknowledge. I want every single young person to know that they are Warrior Hearts and that this world needs them, our communities need them. Warrior Hearts are a family and our relation is our strength even if it feels like its all run out.. there is a spark still there and we can ignite it within if we stick together. I want Warrior Hears to know that even if they are alone, you are not alone and the whole world is waiting for you.

Now, you have upcoming appearances in Toronto for Pride, Wild Women, and the Indigenous Arts Festival. Can you hint at any excitement or anticipation you have that’s surrounding them?

Yes I have many shows around Canada this summer. My goal is to really connect these shows online and do live feeds and visits. Warrior Heart will be released on radio so I will be visiting stations and hanging out when we can fit them in.

What was the musical highlight of your 2016?

2016 highlight would be writing new music and discovering and understanding just a little more about myself personally and creatively.

And can you tell the people at home what you have lined up so far for 2017?

2017 and forward is all about embracing what I know about myself in my path and music journey as a female business leader, creative spirit and indigenous lesbian wild child soul. I feel good about it, I am ready to tell my story and be there for people through my music I am ready to take on business challenges especially as a female in this industry. Besides shows and appearances I am really looking forward to telling my story.

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