Interview – Shawnee Kish

Singer-songwriter Shawnee Kish and two-spirit Mohawk Indigenous performer has just released her debut EP.

She was the 2020 winner of CBC’s Searchlight competition. Since then, Kish has continued to make a name for herself with the release of chart-climbing singles “Got It Bad” and “Burnin’ Love ft. Jamie Fine.” Both are currently making their way up the charts in Canada.

Kish recently got married to former medal-winning Olympian Jen Kish. Their ceremony was officiated by Premier Rachel Notley.

On her new EP, here’s what Kish had to say.

What does it mean for you to be releasing this EP? How is it different from your previous releases?

This EP has been a career in the making. All that I am and have worked so hard to become within myself is launched with this EP and new music. This development I think people will hear in my voice and in this body of work, lyrics, and stories I am excited to share. I have grown so much in the past year or so. A lot of life changes and realizations have forced me to dig deep into the pits of who I am and then create and share with this.

What was the songwriting process like?

The songwriting process was intense at times. A lot came out creatively in writing and released through these songs. It was the voice I needed and that’s why these songs mean so much to me. I wrote these songs in the moment of creating in-studio and deep dove into creating a sound that was inspired by some of my most favourite soul female musicians of all time. I needed to speak my truth in these songs and what I have most recently faced.

How does your heritage as a Mohawk influence the songs on the EP?

My voice as an Indigenous person will always walk with me. It is in my blood and spirit. This influence is even at times unspoken but always there. Where I have come from, what I have faced and overcome and the vision for giving music as medicine and healing within myself and my people will never change and will always be my driving force to heal and to give healing. It’s just who I am.

Did your upbringing impact the instrumentation of the EP? If so, how?

When someone is faced with overcoming, I believe this comes with a sense of depth. When we have to look something we struggle with in the face and make it ok for ourselves to become, that takes your spirit to step up. I believe heart and spirit are the essence of every memorable song. Music is medicine and instruments are a representation of that. The spirit of every song is different and requires a different level and representation but ultimately is impacted by the storytelling and is influenced by this.

What stories inspired the EP?

My truth. My story, My side. A lot has happened in my world that has changed everything I know. I can be a fighter but I tend to be the person who tends to retreat into themselves when emotions are overwhelming. My release was this music. A part of this most recent journey has been coming out the other side of the struggle and discovering the ride of love.

We couldn’t help but notice your collaboration with Jamie Fine. What was it like working with her?

Jamie is the most epic human that ever lived. Truly a force. Her voice, talent, and writing skills are in every way epic. Working with Jamie was the most organic experience I have ever had writing and collaborating. I can’t say enough about this human.

What else can fans expect from you this year?

I have many exciting projects on the go including TV, Orchestra, and dream live performances.

I have so much I want to say with my music and my EP is only the beginning of this new chapter of my career’s voice.

Connect with Shawnee Kish:

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