Five Questions With Mike Bern

Tobique First Nation, NB-based, award-winning, and 2018 Olympic Games-featured Indigenous folk-rock artist Mike Bern has released his debut solo EP, Waponahkew.

Meaning ‘Person of the Dawn,’ Waponahkew and its title track pay stunning homage and gratitude to Bern’s Waponahki Ancestors, while “First Mother draws on the book “The Red Man” for inspiration; the release’s single “Apatapasiq” honours the suffering and stories of residential school survivors — including those in his own family.

At three tracks on the release, Waponahkew wastes no time before showcasing Bern’s masterful roots within the genre set. Previously, he has sung in award-winning bands Kickin Krotch and District Avenue, the Indigenous Music Countdown chart-climbing single “First Mother,” and opened for Seaway, The Trews, One Bad Son, The Motorleague, and more.

Additionally, District Avenue’s music video for song “Revival” was featured at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Nowhere on Waponahkew is this more notable than the album’s second song, “Apatapasiq.”

“Wolastoqey language is sung ‘Apatapasiq Wasisok’… Children come home,” Bern explains. “The song is about the experience my Aunt and Uncles went through in the Shubenacadie Residential School.

I remember a story my uncle told me once: They were always thirsty when they went to bed and the nuns would never give them anything to drink.”

To solve it as best they could, the kids would “keep one stall clean in the bathroom and take turns dipping their socks in the toilet for a drink.

“I want the listener to experience the heartache and pain these children suffered,” Bern continues. “Being away from loved ones and forced to take on a new world and lifestyle…

This song is dedicated to my family, and all the Residential School Survivors.”

Check out the video for “Waponahkew” below and find out more about Mike via our Five Questions With segment.

Care to introduce yourself to our readers?

I am a Wolastoqew singer-songwriter from Tobique First Nation. People of the Beautiful and Bounty River.

Tell us a bit about your music and writing style.

My music is an infusion of Folk Rock and Indigenous influences. I like to incorporate my native tongue into the haunting melodies. I like to mess around with chords until I come up with something I like, then I’ll try and put some vocals to it. Not sure if that’s a writing style, But that’s how I do it.

Do you have any upcoming shows? For someone who has yet to see you live, how would you explain your live performance?

I don’t have any shows coming up at the moment. I’m hoping to have some as soon as I get the New Album out. Which will be on June 21st, dropping on all streaming sites.

If you were asked to suggest only one of your songs for someone to hear, which would it be?

I would have to say “Apatapasiq” song about the hardships my Aunt and Uncle’s went through at the Shubenacadie Residential School. I wanted the listeners to hear and feel the pain these children endured during these haunting times.

Canadian Beats is all about Canadian music, so who are your current favourite Canadian bands/ artists?

I love Neil Young, He’s always on my playlists. How could you get tired of “The Godfather of Grunge”. Another is Wintersleep, I always loved this band since I heard the song “People Talk”, I’ve been listening to them ever since. So much talent in the Great White North.

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