Animism is the third studio album by Canadian Inuk musician Tanya Tagaq, released May 27, 2014. The album won the 2014 Polaris Music Prize last September and is shortlisted for Aboriginal Album of the Year, Alternative Album of the Year, and Producer of the Year for the album tracks “Caribou” and “Uja” by producer Jesse Zubot.
Winning the Polaris Prize was already a great feat, during which Tagaq controversially exclaimed “Fuck PETA!” in her acceptance speech, addressing the issue of seal hunting as an important indigenous resource. Tagaq’s disc was picked out of a shortlist that included Drake and Arcade Fire. But the Juno Awards are even more prestigious. Tagaq was in Maine for a concert when she heard the news, “I’m trapped in storm Juno in Maine, and found out Animism is nominated for three Juno’s in Canada! Life is grand,” she tweeted.
Tagaq has described Animism as more consciously political than her earlier work. She continues to push her greatest political message, having dedicated her album to all the missing and murdered Aboriginal women. In an interview she explains, “Everywhere you turn there’s fear, terror,” Tagaq said. “There’s horrible things happening, and I’m sick of it. I want things to change; that’s why I’m talking. I want change. I’m tired of this. I don’t want to be worried for my daughters’ lives. They’re four times more likely to be murdered than your daughters. Like, that’s not cool. That’s not okay.”
Tagaq’s recent popularity in the media has been more positive than last year, when she evoked internet rage by posting a “sealfie” showing her infant daughter beside a dead and bloodied seal Tagaq killed, a photo she said she got “months and months of abuse” from, including death threats and digitally altered photos showing her daughter being killed.
The tides have turned though, and in January she was picked by Rolling Stone as one of “Ten New Artists You Need To Know.” She was included on the New York Times and NPR playlist, as well as profiled in the current issue of The New Yorker. Animism had its US and UK release, and scored 5 of 5 stars from the Financial Times. She’s also been recently commissioned to write a piece of music for the Kronos Quartet.
It’s going to be a race, as the Aboriginal Album of the Year shortlist is long. Tagaq has never won a Juno, and neither has Cree playwright Tomson Highway, who’s in the field for the soundtrack to his play The (Post) Mistress. But Crystal Shawanda, Leela Gilday, and Digging Roots (the other three nominated artists) are all past winners. In the Alternative Album category, Tagaq’s disc is up against releases by Timber Timbre, Chad VanGaalen, Alvvays, and July Talk.
The Juno Awards ceremony will take place on March 15, in Hamilton, Ontario, and will be broadcast on CTV. For complete information, visit [www.junoawards.ca].