Canadian and Native American electronic group A Tribe Called Red formed back in 2008 with a very distinct sound self described as electric pow wow or “pow wow step.” We chatted with member Bear Witness to ask him a few questions about the group, Ottawa and his relationship with Diplo.


ATCR’s eclectic sound consists of dancehall, hip-hop, electronic, in addition to their own club mashups and traditional Native American music. Their group began as a monthly club night that showcased Aboriginal DJ talents and native urban culture, with a dedicated mission to create a comfortable space for Aboriginal people and celebrate their proud variant of traditional Native American music.

The group visits Thee Parkside on April 19 to start of their first full-scale North American tour. Their second album, Nation II Nation is scheduled for release on May 7.

Do you have a favorite live performance in terms of venue?

There are definitely some standouts: whenever we play in Calgary at the High-Fi and also at the U-Haul in Washington. When we’re always on the road, we’re inevitably saying that the best party is the one most recent in our memory.

Do you have an ideal person that you’d love to collaborate with?

Well actually right now we’re working on a big collaborative project. We haven’t released a list of groups we’re working with, but we’re getting that opportunity right now. Think of everybody you want to work with.

To a San Franciscan visiting Ottawa, what would be the one thing you would recommend to do?

The first thing you gotta do is get a poutine. It’s a French Canadian snack: french fries with cheese curds and gravy.

What are your thoughts about the trap genre? Is it here to stay or is it a one-hit wonder concept?

My thoughts in general about music genres at the moment is that it used to be that a deep house producer made house where a ragga jungle producer made ragga jungle. Now it’s more about your own personal flavor that you put on styles that come through. If you look at what we’ve done, our first tracks were dubstep. Then the gear flipped over the moombahton, so we started doing pow-wow and moombahton. Now trap is the sound. It’s about putting your sound on top of the genre of the moment.

What are you thought on moombahton?

Love moombahton! That’s definitely a sound we’ve all loved since we got started. We’re friends with Dave Nada and that realm.

What’s your relationship with Diplo?

With Diplo, that connection was one of the big pushes we got early on. We sent him a track, he blogged about it, tweeted about it and that’s what pushed us outside of the aboriginal scene right away. We’ve always had a good relationship with Diplo and Mad Decent. We’ve never done any release with them, but they’ve always expressed support for us.