Five Questions With… Red Music Rising's Matt Maw

Toronto-based Coalition Music recently announced a new partnership with The Aboriginal People’s Television Network (APTN) to create Red Music Rising (RMR), the first music company owned, managed and operated entirely by Indigenous individuals.

RMR’s mission will to help develop robust, sustainable, life-long careers for Indigenous artists and industry members, and will be under the oversight of Dadan Sivunivut, an arms-length holding company established by APTN. Red Music Rising will not only sign, release and market music from Indigenous musical artists, but will also assist emerging Indigenous music companies and Indigenous industry professionals.

Heading up RMR is Toronto artist manager Matt Maw of Chippewas of the Thames, who brings over 10 years of music industry experience to the venture, along with a passion for artist development. We chatted with Matt to find out more, and for full details go to redmusicrising.ca.

What inspired you to launch Red Music Rising, and how are things progressing so far?

The idea of Red Music Rising emerged from a longterm friendship between Coalition and APTN. After discovering the amount of incredible Indigenous talent that goes unnoticed and underserved by the mainstream Canadian music industry, Coalition approached APTN to ask how they could, together, develop a platform that stands to serve Canada’s emerging Indigenous talent, both artists and industry. While I may not have been present for the ideation of Red Music Rising, I feel incredibly honoured for having been brought to the conversation, and chosen as the first person to lead the company.

What are your main goals for Red Music Rising, and how are you planning to achieve them?

Throughout my career, I’ve effectively worked in two worlds simultaneously, between the mainstream Canadian music industry, and the Indigenous music community. My goal with RMR is to bridge those worlds and bring the resources and infrastructure of the Canadian music industry at large to artists, industry and communities who may not have historically had access to the systems afforded to their non-Indigenous counterparts. My goal, other than helping to facilitate incredible art, is to dispel the idea in Canada that “Indigenous” is a genre. I’m here to uplift and amplify world-class artists and industry members who are shaking up the status quo.

On a personal level, are you encouraged that the Canadian music industry is embracing more diversity?

I mean, it’s about time, isn’t it? The Canadian industry has taken some baby steps, but they certainly still have a ways to go.

Who are some Indigenous artists you feel people should be paying attention to right now?

Some artists who I’m in love with—who happen to be Indigenous—right now include Snotty Nose Rez Kids, Sebastian Gaskin, Shawnee, Wolf Saga, Riit, nêhiyawak, Zoon… There’s an incredible surge of young Indigenous talent in this country that spans genres. The fact that all of these artists would be considered by the industry to be one category—Indigenous—says something. We’re not a genre. This is a list of artists who’ve released critically celebrated work in the past year and a bit. They’re artists, who are Indigenous.

Obviously, doing all of this in the middle of the pandemic is challenging. What are some of the things you have in the works once things hopefully get back to normal?

Things are just getting started, so in a way, it’s a blessing to have the time and energy that would ordinarily be reserved for touring and travel and festivals to devote to other areas of development and strategy. That said, once it’s safe to travel I can only speak for myself and say that I can’t wait to start collaborating with festivals and conferences across Canada, and to actually celebrate the launch of RMR properly in Toronto with some loud, live music, sans plexiglass shield, and as many friends and relations the legal capacity will allow.

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