“Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams. Don’t give up on what you’re trying to achieve in life. You know, ya’ got big obstacles. All kindsa’ obstacles. But, as long as you keep the end result in mind, it can happen. It will happen.”
Pursuing passion. This is what fills singer/songwriter Armond Duck Chief’s entire life. “You just have to believe in yourself, and your abilities.”
Beginning to dabble around with the guitar at the age of 25, the artist has devoted fifteen-years to his already successful career in music. “With music,” he says. “I’ll take it as far as I can.” So far, he’s brought the air-waves two albums: Country Groove (2011) and The One (2014). His most recent album just received a 2015 Indigenous Music Award this past September for Best Country CD, as well as Best Indigenous Songwriter for his single of the same name “The One.”
Growing up on the rolling prairies of Siksika Nation, Duck Chief cultured an admiration for the roots of country-music at a young age. Twang filled his childhood homes. His aunts and uncles would play for him the likes of Waylon Jenning’s, George Jones, Hank Williams, and all of those timeless country classics.
“It’s what I grew up on, those old classics. I like the fiddle. I like the steel guitar,” he smiles. “It turned into something I really wanted to mimic, so that’s why I kept those instruments in my own stuff.”
Within the contours of his albums Country Groove and The One, Duck Chief ventures through the roots of classical-country. From swift-handed piano-key reveries to the strum’n'slide of fiddle strings, the bands compositional prowess completes Duck Chief’s self-written verses. The culmination is two collections of meaningful, put-on-repeat ballads that would make the likes of Jenning’s, Jones, and Williams proud.
“Country songs. They tell stories. I mean, I like all kinds of music; my iPod is full of all kindsa’ different genres. But country – well, it’s always country that kinda’ soothes my soul.”
I asked him about when he first started writing music.
“Before I started writing music, I was into pow-wow. My drum group and I, we did a lot of singing. We’d hit the road singin’ pow-wow songs on down the pow-wow trail. So, that kind of consumed my teenage years. And then I got into rodeo when I was 25.”
“When I first wrote a song ever, well, that was ‘Gold Buckle Dreams.’ At the time [the crew and I] were travelling all over the place rodeo-ing.”
“The timing and everything was there. One night, I just picked up the guitar and, you know, I got really into it. Writing songs,” he pauses. “And, you know, once I picked up the guitar and really applied myself, it was a lotta’ fun.” Having mastered the vocal-chord stretches found within powwow hymns, switching to a different style of music was easy for him.
“So I wrote ‘Gold Buckle Dreams,’ and it was just from what was going on at that particular moment in my life. From there, you know, I have written songs about loved ones that have passed on, and those are really LIFE songs. And then there’s the other songs that I’ve written, and a lot of them are, you know, songs I figured would sound good on a CD or in a bar, or somewhere like that. When I’m making music, I’m kinda’ just trying to pull something together.”
Earning him Best Indigenous Songwriter of the year, his most recent single “The One” much like “Country Groove” gears itself towards receiving radio play. The song opens with a single electric riff that prairie-plucks its way through the rest of the composition’s simplistic instrumentation. From here, the melody is carried by the concise syllabic flow Duck Chief incorporates within his lyrics, and it really does melt in your ears. While the three-minute radio-friendly track is not exactly profound, it’s an expression of loving life, pursuing love, and living his passion. For Duck Chief, he’s taking this passion as far as he can.
“With music? I’ll take it as far as I can. With rodeo? I’ll take it as far as I can. Whatever comes at me after that? I’ll take it in stride and see what I can do with it. For now, I’m really liking this music stuff.”
Interested in seeing how far Duck Chief will take his music? Keep yourself posted on his website www.armondduckchief.ca or via Facebook. His songs are available through these links, and they can also be purchased on iTunes.
Best Country CD – Winner and Nominees
Armond Duck Chief | The One- Siksika, Ab (Winner)
Bob E. Lee West | The Tree- Beausejour, Mb
Jody Thomas Gaskin | Born On The Rezz- Winnipeg, Mb
Kimberley Dawn | Til The Cowboys Come Home- Winnipeg, Mb
Thelma Cheechoo | Stay- Yellowknife, Nwt
Best Indigenous Songwriter – Winner and Nominees
Armond Duck Chief | The One- Siksika, Ab (Winner)
Jason Burnstick & Nadine L’hirondelle | My Headstart Preschool- Peachlan, Bc
Joseph Strider | Seven Arrows- Colubia, Pennsylvania
Lightning Cloud | Meet Me At The Pow Wow- Studio City, California
Tomson Highway | Taansi, Nimiss- Gatineau, Qc
Will Belcourt And The Hollywood Indians | Burn It Down- Edmonton, Ab