Based in Montreal, Kìzis is an Indigenous, two-spirit artist who challenges conformity with her artistic expressions. Her new album, Turn/Tidibàbide, is as much a collaborative album as it is a family record with around fifty collaborators including the appearance of Beverly Glenn Copeland, Owen Pallett, Cub Sport's Tim Nelson and many more. Kìzis’ experimental knacks and spellbinding grooves produce a flawless synergy with elements of techno, pop, poetry, and Algonquin dance melodies Kìzis dismantles the notion of what it means to be alive today. The energy behind her harmonies is a sign of hope for the future.
Is your Algonquin background intrinsic to your music?
It’s who I am, who my family is. I sing from the heart and that has been guided to embrace this body and culture that bestowed me.
What role does identity play in your work?
My identity doesn’t really play in my work, I have lived present, historical and spiritual understandings of why it is relevant to express in the name of love for Indigenous sovereignty through excitement and pain which brings music. What I will mention for certain is that it’s up to other cultures to know that calling an Indigenous person white anything is damaging; so I ask you, reader, to dismantle this association because words are inspiring – for better or worse. We’ve seen enough of what people can do and are treated so violently in incarceration when sequestered. Be grateful to know us.
What is a contradiction in your life?
I don’t embrace that analytical deconstruction of living and stay an open person, it keeps me honest.
During your childhood, you mention you found a safe haven within the nature surrounding your then home. Do you think nature sounds have a direct therapeutic effect on us as individuals?
Get out to nature as much as you can. Be by calm or rushing water, providing us with life. Two spirits, though some people choose to disregard our voices, nature will never deny you. We are here together.
I felt a strong sense of nostalgia listening to When the Night Came. It reminded me of my friends and I dancing at the club. A space to be unapologetically us, we felt safe, since we are living in times that make nightlife feel like something of the past. Where do you find safety in today’s world and what does it mean to you?
Celebrating with friends is everything, there are still ways to do so, it takes some more strategic effort to figure it out these days. Don’t give up on finding those moments, one day your nostalgia will be replaced in a moment to come with music surrounding you! When the season is right, the nights are rarely long enough and that fosters desire to see another day.
“Respect is the solution and that must be given to the people who have built cities and bridges, the people who know the earth and water like the back of their hands, it’s an honour to learn the way from my elders.”
How did you choose the chronology of the album?
I went with my gut.
Your new album is an intimate collaboration between numerous artists and locations around the world. From Montreal, Moosonee and Toronto to London, Berlin and Lima. How could you say the collaboration process influences your work?
These people are very skilled artists. Most of the players on this record are my friends and family, as that’s usually the way I work. Some are blood relations. It’s as much a collaborative album as it is a family record. A place where we could exchange sound to capture our vigor for the rest of the world.
You gift us with a symphonic thirty-six-track album. What was your vision before starting this album versus now?
It was always going to be a love album. Although Turn/Tidibàbide is a reflection of our time together, it is also immemorialised by each moment recorded and that is why I love recording so much. The sound of each space is combined in sonic arrangement to make these atmospheres possible, and I have in my mind the groundwork of where each player fits to recreate each piece of music. There is enough music on this album to make a strong experience no matter where it may be initiated.
If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?
Politeness. It’s an imperial cultural engulfment that inhibits language from diverse action. It’s what detaches Indigenous people from the land, it’s written right there in every legislative measure. Respect is the solution and that must be given to the people who have built cities and bridges, the people who know the earth and water like the back of their hands, it’s an honour to learn the way from my elders. They’re back on the land, away from residential schools and greedy people.
Industry people: cherish us with all your resources and attention and allow us to converse with you and stay transparent. We are different and we are people that will be here to see the end of our age, so let’s stay on the gentle side of history in the making. While I’m in cities, I listen to the builders.
How has your journey of sisterhood influenced your music?
Sisterhood is fun as much as it is hard work! It’s friendship, so the quality of warmth translates into the integral composition. The baseline in Sister Flower is from when I heard a mourning dove as the sun began to rise before us in the summer time. I am auspiciously brightened to have them in my life, now in different continents. Nice to be loved. I’m not such a bad sister myself, though I do have someone’s underwear from Berlin, oops! I also lost three thongs in Lima when I was with Escalimetro. Ah, life’s misplaced treasures.
“Music is music, it’s what happens around it that’s fascinating.”
If you could recommend any body of work that has inspired you recently what would It be?
The written work of Smokii Sumac, whom I am grateful and relieved to know in this life. Two excerpts from his book Love poems for the end of the world are: “Reconciliation would mean indigenous youth growing up alive, will you reconcile?” and “feel tips of your wings across the small of my back push smoke into me the fire takes a breath.”
I keep going back to the track Sister Flower 2 (4 Spirit). Beverly Glenn-Copeland and Elle Barbara both appear on the four-part Sister Flower set, during some of the monologues which express thoughts about the political climate of today. In what way do you think your music is politically defying?
When someone is hurt, another comes to care. They turn to find medicine and bring it back so both can dance.
Do you think there are limitations to the ideas and emotions that music can express? 
Music is music, it’s what happens around it that’s fascinating.
What are some of your inspirations when it came to your narrations?
The drum, then the voice of the drum keeper. Strings get the work done, horse hair and cedar sap? Also, major love to Nish Dish in Toronto, I was going through some intense things and getting into that restaurant and having a meal there brought me to peace. Give them money they are saving lives, they have a GoFundMe going on right now, do it!
Do you feel yourself growing/evolving with the music you create?
I work very hard because this voice and talent was gifted to me so it’s my responsibility to dedicate my life to this. Let’s go dance!