Shifting and healing with Beatrice Deer

Interview by Stephan Boissonneault
Genres and styles : Indie Folk / Indie Pop / Indie Rock / Inuit

Additional Information

Beatrice Deer is a self-proclaimed, award-winning “Inuindie” artist hailing from a small town in Northern Quebec called Quaqtaq. She has been based in Montreal for the past 16 years and sings in English, French, and Inuktitut, to share themes of hope, personal growth, and mystical folklore from her childhood. Her latest album SHIFTING dropped last December and features members of Land of Talk, Stars, Bell Orchestre, the Besnard Lakes, and Suuns.

PAN M 360 quickly spoke to Beatrice Deer as she was performing at the 32nd Presence Autochtone (The Montreal First Peoples’ Festival).

PAN M 360: I know the 2018 album, My All To You, was the first time you actually wrote all of the music (as well the lyrics of course). Have you been continuing this way of working with SHIFTING and the newest single “MOTHER?

Beatrice Deer: Yes, I wrote SHIFTING the same way as I did My All to You. I asked my friend Kathia Rock to write the French version of MOTHER as I wrote it originally in Inuktitut. The songs were arranged by Christopher McCarron and Mark Wheaton. 

PAN M 360: You’ve been in Montreal for quite some time, but you’re from Quaqtaq originally. Does Montreal always feel like your true home nowadays?

Beatrice Deer: It now feels like home finally after 16 years, since my boyfriend and I bought a house for our family. 

PAN M 360: You sing in Inuktitut which is classified as an endangered language, but I’ve seen in the last 10 years kind of a rebirth of the language in music from The Jerry Cans, PIQSIQ, Tanya Tagaq, you, and other artists. Could you speak about that act of preserving the language through music?

Beatrice Deer: I write and sing in Inuktitut because it’s my mother tongue and I’m most comfortable expressing myself. It’s a way of preserving the language and storytelling. 

PAN M 360: Going off of that, how do you decide which lyrics will be in English, French, or Inuktitut? Are they written in one language first or is it always a hybrid from the beginning?

Beatrice Deer: I write the music first and then feel it out and the language that comes forth is the language I use for the song.

PAN M 360: Are these Inuit folk tales that you use as inspiration ones you remember from growing up or do you still actively seek them out now as an adult?

Beatrice Deer: The folk tales are from my childhood that I further research as an adult. 

PAN M 360: Your music is very trance-like, spiritual, and I’d say “healing.” Do you believe it’s kind of an artist’s responsibility to have a message within their music and platform? 

Beatrice Deer: Yes. An artist chooses what message they want to relay with their art form. I chose to speak healing and hope.

PAN M 360: Is “MOTHER” about your mother or rather, the strong resilience of Indigenous women?

Beatrice Deer: The Inuktitut version is very personal to my mother but the French version is for our Indigenous matriarchs in general.

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