Indigenous hip hop artist's new album Good Kill getting radio play across the country
It's been over half a decade since Eekwol put her name on a record and released her mix of traditional music and modern hip hop onto the world. While balancing getting a Master's degree and motherhood, Eekwol whose real name is Lindsay Knight, wasn't positive there'd ever be time to get back behind the mic.
"I've always sort of thought music is definitely a spirit. You hear elders say we all have a song and a dance and that songs are spirits so music itself are a spiritual realm," Knight said, adding the music just wouldn't stop coming to her.
"It just sort of came to be, regardless of whether or not I wanted to... Now, I really, really get that concept of how music is so spiritual. You almost can't take credit for what you create or produce because it's coming from that other place and sometimes I feel like I'm just a conduit."
It was through that spiritual realm that her new album "Good Kill" flowed out into the studio, but she got her start spitting rhymes on the prairie streets.
"I've always been raised around my Plains Cree culture and it's really influenced the way that I think about life and of course music," Knight, who is a member of Muskody First Nation, said.
"I was introduced to hip hop when I was about 13 years old and it blew my mind because it was a way to tell a story over a beat or an instrumental. It spoke to me and so I started practicing rapping and hip hop since then and I'm still doing it."
She started listening to the popular "gangsta" hip hop of the 90s as she tried to figure out her identity as a half Plains Cree and half Russian girl living in Winnipeg.
"As I got a little older, I started to realize this is not who we are, this is not who I am," Knight said.
"What we are is people who have gone through a lot of history in this country and so I needed to recognize that and sort of start putting that within my music because it was starting to be on my mind. I was trying to understand that history; how we fit; and the relationships, treaty relationships;... and more recently the (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) and of course with Idle No More."
During the height of Idle No More in the winter of 2012-13 Knight was pregnant with her daughter, or how she calls her "my Idle No More baby". She cheered from the sidelines as her people took to the streets and the malls for round dances , it was a movement she had been anticipating for a long time.
"With my music, I've always sort of had a bit of awareness of history and culture within. One of my lyrics in my recent album is that 'I've never been idle and I've never been asleep," Knight explained. "I've always sort of talked about resistance and resilience and revitalization in my music."
It was harder for her to be on the road with her comrades as a mother to a young son and with a daughter on the way, so when the music began to flow again she knew it was time to write.
"I'm really proud of this particular album because it sort of speaks to my life right now as a parent and also someone who thinks differently about the world and mixed with hip hop, and the way that hip hop has been changing too," Knight said.
After applying for a couple of grants and working with some local and nationally recognized producers, the album "Good Kill" was born. Knight said the name might sound morose but it actually comes from a very important lesson she learned during a speech by Assembly of First Nation's Chief Perry Bellegarde at her graduation ceremony. At the time, Bellegarde was Chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations.
"He commented on the grads saying that when you achieve something like this it helps our communities and 'I like to say today was a good kill,'" Knight explained.
"It really resonated with me, like how we hear that education is the new buffalo and how we need to find different ways to be successful and to better our communities. I took that concept based on what he said and just thought about even overcoming addiction, or just changing something in your life that's harmful in order to better your family, better yourself... Then that's considered a good kill because you are helping and you are feeding your community and your family."
Knight said being a good parent and even finishing the album meant that it had been a good kill, she had provided for her family.
The album speaks beyond her own personal accomplishments, it also touches on the progress of Aboriginal People and the journey still left ahead.
"I've always thought music was such an essential and important avenue to talk about these issues," Knight said, adding that it bridges Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities.
"Music is a universal language, just putting stories to music,and people hear it a little differently. Music is a way to bridge more effectively because everybody loves music It's so relatable , it's so innate within us."
As for touring, Knight said the tour bus life isn't as appealing when you combine it with motherhood
"Predominantly my role is being a mother to these ones and I don't want to be away from them for too long. It's a matter of a balancing act that all parents find themselves in," she said with a laugh.
But she does have have few scattered tour dates in the coming months.
Find out about the stops at the Eekwol Facebook Page.
Buy the album on iTunes or pick it up in Saskatoon at Turning the Tide.
Listen to the full interview on the Meeting Ground podcast.
Kelly Geraldine Malone is a freelance journalist, podcaster, and radio producer based out of Manitoba, Canada