Origin: Igloolik, Nunavut
Hailing from the 69th parallel in the Arctic is a story unlike any other. Born on the land to Nomadic parents and later settled in the hamlet community of Igloolik, these childhood friends grew up learning to play on toy instruments until becoming accomplished musicians and forming a group in 1977. Their talent won success in the early '80s with contests, press coverage, and tours of isolated Northern communities until in '85 when CBC Radio invited them to travel 3000 km south to record an album. The result became the first Canadian Inuit Rock/Metal album ever made and first Indigenous language rock album in North America. Pressed in a tiny quantity of 500 copies for promotional use only, the LP quickly disappeared into the vortex of rare Canadiana. Over the 1990’s and into the millennium, Northern Haze endured great hardship yet 35+ years on they still prevail. In 2010, a new recording and a documentary film on the history of the group was produced on location in the Arctic. Complete with traditional “ayaya” parts and sung entirely in Inuktitut, the end result is a heavy melodic rock/metal album played by veterans of the genre with a distinctly original character unlike anything heard before. For these men who live two lives, the old ways of the past meet with those of the present; “Sinnaktuq” (their “dreams”) are truly embodied within the realization of this amazing deluxe collection of original material.
It was the early seventies in Igloolik, a tiny Canadian Arctic hamlet with a population of about 1000, when a group of young Inuit men began learning and playing some real, gritty rock and roll music. The self-taught musicians - Kolitalik Inukshuk, Naisana Qamaniq, James Ungalaq, Elijah Kunnuk, and John Inooya - played with various other bands before coming together to form their own ensemble in 1984, called Northern Haze. Jamming at first on homemade guitars and a plastic Disney drum set, the band gained local recognition while performing at community dances in their hometown.
In 1985, Northern Haze released their first record, the self-titled Northern Haze, through the CBC. All of the original music featured lyrics in Inuktitut, making this the first Indigenous-language rock album recorded in North America. Rousing guitar riffs reminiscent of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin mix with traditional Inuit songs and stories to make a sound that is uniquely theirs, and a special representation of Canada’s far North.
After the release of the record, Northern Haze were invited to perform at large festivals across the country, including Folk on the Rocks in Yellowknife and the 1986 Expo in Vancouver. They also continued to perform in Northern communities, including their hometown of Igloolik.
Northern Haze was hit with a double bout of tragedy in 2007, when Elijah passed away that year from cancer, and Kolitalik was murdered just a few days later.
The band’s three remaining members - James, John, and Naisana - continue to play and record music, with the addition of new bassist, Derek Aqqiaruq. Northern Haze recorded three new songs in 2010, and played a show every night at The Snow Festival in Puvirnituq, Nunavik in 2011. Most recently, Northern Haze released Sinaaktuq (2012) with the help of producer Jason Flowers, a record that contains all of their recordings, from the eighties into the 2000’s.
Northern Haze has recently signed to Aakuluk Music, Nunavut’s first and only record label, and plan to re-release their LP in 2017, which will be the first time their songs have been available digitally and for commercial sale. The group will celebrate the resurrection of Sinnaktuq with select performances across the North.
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