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Songs from the Canadian North

by Saturn De Los Angeles February 26, 2013
Songs from the Canadian North

Google Elisapie and you’ll discover Navvaatara, Inuk and Life is What You Make It on the front page. Then you’ll see various names such as Elisapie, Elisapie Isaac and Taima. Confused? Just call her Elisapie (As in E-leh-suh-pee).

“My name is actually Elizabeth,” said the artist. “I have many common names…and it’s really complicated because everybody doesn’t know how to say my name. I don’t wanna change it on my fifteenth album.”

Elisapie (Photo Raphael Ouellet)

Travelling Love is Elisapie’s latest album. It’s upbeat and pop in flavor and deviates from the dreamy northern folk-rock ambience in There Will be Stars. The album is a creative offspring from a difficult time in her life, and she turned to making music as a kind of therapy that freed her from her inhibitions.

“I was going through a separation, and I was questioning my beliefs in love. I feel like I was sidetracked and I asked myself what am I going to do with the passionate and spiritual side of me,” she said.

The album represents her state of mind at that time. It aims to tell a story, and it reaches out to listeners who might be going through a difficult time too, as long as they can acknowledge the situation.

“It’s amazing to be able to go [to the studio] and realize right after [recording], you’re not saving a life, you’re making an album. But once it’s done, it’s there. You cannot be in that state of mind all the time. You’re out in the real world [and you have to move on]. Because love is moving constantly and it’s mysterious.”

Salluit is a small Inuit community on Quebec’s far-northern shore. It is your average town – isolated, no technology, tight-knit, according to Elisapie. She grew up as a vocalist for her uncle’s former rock band of the town’s same name called Salluit Band. “I sang since I was a little girl… It’s like breathing,” she said.  “[My mom] always encouraged me to sing. But I stopped because I don’t see myself seriously doing that.”

Elisapie was a youth counselor before she left the North, did a year of college and got involved with many projects in various mediums, such as film-making. She spent a year working on a TV production about young people living near the North Pole.

But the beauty of sound is something that preoccupies Elisapie nowadays. When performing live, “It’s not just about the music, it’s what you have to say – how you use your voice and how you’re gonna find a way to make a story.”

She admits that she has a lot of things on her plate right now, but she’s taking it one thing at a time. “I need to learn to say no,” she said. “I can easily say yes to everything and I can’t do well when I do too much, so I don’t multitask. I wanna do another album; I have leftover creativity, it’s just so liberating for me.”

That liberation continues to allow her to move forward. “It was through Travelling Love that I realized I can write songs, and I’m not doubting that anymore, and I feel so free. I can be myself and say what’s on my mind.”

But for now, she may consider taking a break and go back to film-making. By that time, we’ll know for sure that the next break-out film will be produced and directed by Salluit’s own folk rock superstar.

By that time, we will know how to say her name  – Elisapie.

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