Meet the Concordia student playing Quebec’s biggest festivals.
Hailing from Kahnawà:ke, DJ PØPTRT (real name Kiana Cross) is an Indigenous DJ and second-year communications studies student. She is coming off a loaded summer which included performances at Montreal’s Club Unity and some of Quebec’s biggest festivals such as the Festival d’été du Québec, the International Balloon Festival, and Piknic Électronik.
One of the festivals that the DJ performed in was Festival d’été du Québec (FEQ), and she looks back at the experience with nothing but admiration. She also played at the International Balloon Festival and PIknic Électronik, the latter being the biggest crowd she has ever gathered. “I was so focused on transitions and playing music that when I finally looked up to see thousands of people it was surreal,” she recalled.
DJ PØPTRT describes her style as “nostalgic sounds from the classic ‘90s rave scene in a more contemporary vibe.” She incorporates aspects of her Indigenous culture into her music and hopes to “see the world, to tour,; to connect with people and share an insight on who I [Cross] am and my culture.”
The rising artist also got candid about the sacrifices involved in balancing a DJ career with being a full-time student: “It was hard. I remember having a job during the day, a class in the afternoon, and I would DJ until 3 a.m. […]I’m trying to add the human aspect of being kind to myself and healthy, combining both so I can have longevity with this lifestyle.”
A Mohawk artist, Cross shared her feelings about receiving support from Quebec festivals and organizations, given Canada’s negative history with its Indigenous populations.
“It’s interesting to be in this time, especially as a female Indigenous artist. When people reach out, it’s hard to decipher if they’re simply trying to appease by making it seem like they’re supporting an Indigenous person,” she said. While she is grateful for the environment she’s in, DJ PØPTRT finds that “there is a lot of work to be done,” and aims to address Indigenous issues and decolonize the music scene.
As an artist who manages all aspects of her career by herself, including graphic designing and business management, Cross has also played gigs in Ottawa and New Brunswick. She now plans to make a breakthrough in Europe following her increasing popularity in Canada. “I’m already making connections and seeing where I want to go,” she told The Concordian.
Be sure to catch DJ PØPTRT’s upcoming show at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa this September, which she describes as having “original music and visuals— a sample of what’s next.”