AYSANABEE AND RAYE ZARAGOZA RELEASE “COME OUT”
Aysanabee On Tour with Allison Russell in February, 2024
26 JANUARY 2024 (TORONTO, ON) — Aysanabee, rising Canadian alternative/indie artist, announces a new song, “Come Out,” with critically-acclaimed American singer-songwriter Raye Zaragoza. “Come Out,” released today via Ishkōdé Records, showcases the voices of two of Turtle Island’s fastest rising Indigenous artists, both alumni of the International Indigenous Music Summit.
A twinkling, winged ode to lost love, “Come Out” begins with Aysanabee’s finger-picked backbone. Burning bright, the song builds as it begs for clarity, direction and reassurance. Together, Aysanabee and Zaragoza stretch a moment in time into something much bigger and broader; the song is product of both collaboration and compassion. “Often times, when you write a song with another person, it’s for one artist or the other,” says Aysanabee. “This one had deep connection to us both, and I think it shows.”
Listen to “Come Out” here
From making history as the first Indigenous artist to reach #1 on Canadian Alternative Rock Radio, to being shortlisted and performing at the Polaris Music Prize Gala, Aysanabee has traveled an impressive distance from unsigned to award-winning, international touring artist. His most recent EP, Here and Now, showed sharper edges and towering sound, shot through with a feeling of decisiveness, of acceptance. Aysanabee (he/him) is Oji-Cree, Sucker Clan of the Sandy Lake First Nation, a remote fly-in community in the far reaches of Northwestern Ontario.
Raye Zaragoza (she/her), of Mexican, Japanese, Taiwanese and Akimel O'otham descent, is an award-winning singer-songwriter who NPR Music called “one of the most fresh and compelling voices in folk music today." Her new album Hold That Spirit is a triumphant celebration of womanhood and freedom, created exclusively with a cast of female producers, engineers, instrumentalists, and co-writers. The LA Times calls it “a torrential cloudburst of jangly folk catharsis,” and Folk Alley named it a “lyrical and sonic masterpiece.”
Aysanabee will join Zaragoza in Knoxville, Tennessee on January 30, 2024 for Pass the Mic: Creating a Stage for Change, a concert filmed for later broadcast on PBS. The artists will reconnect with a performance on SoCal 88.5 (Los Angeles, CA) in early Feb, where Aysanabee will be a guest DJ. In addition to his upcoming tour with Allison Russell, Aysanabee will also appear at The Great Escape and Tallinn Music Week in the coming months.
AYSANABEE TOUR DATES:
Knoxville, TN: Tennessee Theatre, Jan 30
Port Hope, ON: Port Hope United Church, Hibernate Festival, Feb 16
Vancouver, BC: Commodore Ballroom, Feb 23 w/ Allison Russell SOLD OUT
Campbell River, BC: Tidemark Theatre, Feb 24 w/ Allison Russell SOLD OUT
Lake Country, BC: Creekside Theatre, Feb 26 w/ Allison Russell SOLD OUT
Sherwood Park, AB: Festival Place Theatre, Feb 29 w/ Allison Russell SOLD OUT
Calgary, AB: Bella Concert Hall, Mar 1 w/ Allison Russell
Saskatoon, SK: Broadway Theatre, Mar 2 w/ Allison Russell
Winnipeg, MB: Park Theatre, Mar 3 w/ Allison Russell
Hamilton, ON: The Studio, Mar 6 w/ Allison Russell
Toronto, ON: Danforth Music Hall, Mar 8 w/ Allison Russell
Guelph, ON: War Memorial Hall, Mar 9 w/ Allison Russell
London, ON: London Music Hall, Mar 10 w/ Allison Russell
Kingston, ON: Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, Mar 12 w/ Allison Russell
Ottawa, ON: NAC, Mar 14 w/ Allison Russell
Montréal, QC: Le Studio TD, Mar 15 w/ Allison Russell SOLD OUT
Québec, QC: Impérial Bell, Mar 16 w/ Allison Russell
Fredericton, NB: Wilmot United Church, Mar 18 w/ Allison Russell
Moncton, NB: Capitol Theatre, Mar 19 w/ Allison Russell
Halifax, NS: Lighthouse Arts Centre, Mar 21 w/ Allison Russell
Lunenburg, NS: Lunenburg Opera House, Mar 22 w/ Allison Russell
Tallinn, EE: Tallinn Music Week, April 4th
Brighton, UK: Fabrica, The Great Escape, May 16
Toronto, ON: Massey Hall, Celebrating Gordon Lightfoot, May 23
For tickets and show details, click here.
Aysanabee (Eh-sin-abby) began creating music under his mother’s maiden name during the pandemic when the stillness allowed him to slow down and create music that, he says, more accurately represents himself as an artist. With a swirling mix of indie, soul, and electronic sounds, mournful saxophone, and pulse-quickening fingerpicking, Aysanabee's music is both hypnotic and melodious, and has been compared to Bon Iver, Matt Corby, Don Ross, Kim Churchill, and Kings of Leon, among others.
Short-listed for the 2023 Polaris Prize, winner of three 2023 Summer Solstice Indigenous Music Awards for Artistic Video, Pop/Alternative/Rock Album of the Year, and Rising Star, winner of the 2023 Jim Beam Indie Award for Indigenous Artist of the Year, and winner of a 2023 Canadian Live Music Award for New Touring Artist of the Year, Aysanabee (he/him) is a multi-instrumentalist, producer and singer-songwriter currently based in Toronto. He is Oji-Cree, Sucker Clan of the Sandy Lake First Nation, a remote fly-in community in the far reaches of Northwestern Ontario.
Among his many accomplishments, Aysanabee was also nominated for a 2023 JUNO Award for Contemporary Indigenous Group or Artist of the Year, and became the first Indigenous artist to hit Number 1 on Mediabase Canada's Alternative Rock chart (March 2023).
His debut album, Watin (Nov 2022), named after his grandfather, includes 10 tracks and nine interludes featuring the voice of his grandfather that combines music and journalism with artistry and expression. “Watin actually started out as a series of conversations between myself and my grandfather,” says Aysanabee. “We spent the first year of the pandemic talking about things we’ve never spoken about, his life on the trapline on Sandy Lake First Nation, falling in love, his life in residential school and then leaving everything behind…we never spoke of it until now. Even though we were over 1,000 kilometres apart, it was probably the closest we’ve ever been.”
In what became a whirlwind year for Aysanabee, he released his first single, “We Were Here” in July of 2022. This single charted on the Indigenous Music Countdown and was featured on an episode of Station 19. This single was also performed live at the 2023 JUNO Awards, further solidifying Aysanabee as a major player in Canadian music. The year continued with the release of “Nomads'' (August 2022) which charted on Billboard Canada, reached #1 on CBC Music and #1 on the Alternative Radio Chart (March 2023), and finally, “Ego Death” (October 2022), which led up to the release of his full album, Watin, in November. With the success of his debut releases, Aysanabee has made a name for himself as a unique and talented artist, proving that he is here to stay and will continue to be a major force in the Canadian music scene.
With Here and Now, the artist’s latest EP, Aysanabee moves in a new direction, towards his own experiences of love’s end and his process of unflinching self-examination. With high voltage production, Aysanabee shifts Watin’s finger-picked acoustic foundation into soundscape waves that carry his voice forward. The album features 6 new songs including the hit single, “Somebody Else” (June 2023) which reached #3 on the MediaBase Alternative Chart and delves into the theme of memory – a significant motif in his songwriting. “Here and Now”, the title track off the album, is a coulda woulda shoulda song. “There are a million ways and a million different outcomes to any situation but things unfold the way they unfold,” says Aysanabee, “and sometimes you just need to appreciate the moments, the memories, the people who have come into your life for a time to share their gifts with you and vice versa.”
Raye Zaragoza’s Hold That Spirit is an album rooted in this realization. The Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter has always made political folk music that is informed by her identity as a woman of mixed Indigenous, Asian and Latina heritage. She gained recognition in 2016 with “In The River,” which was written to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline. When she performed a Tiny Desk Concert at NPR, she spoke and sang about making live music more economically accessible. And, she currently writes the music for Netflix's Spirit Rangers, a show featuring an all Native American writers room and cast.
As she approached 30 last year, Zaragoza (Zare-a-go-zah) started thinking specifically about the expectations placed on women as they age: what they should have achieved in their careers, the nuclear families they are expected to pursue and nurture, the way that beauty standards and ageism collude to make it more and more difficult to be seen. 29 was also the year Zaragoza got engaged and, soon after, ended her relationship. After the engagement ended, she used what would have been her wedding budget to fund part of the production of her new album. As much as it was a practical decision, it was also one rife with symbolism: Zaragoza was investing in herself.
There’s an enduring sense of agency to these songs, which pull from buoyant indie pop like Japanese Breakfast and contemplative folk like Joni Mitchell. On tracks like the soaring pop opener “Joy Revolution,” which was a collaboration with fellow LA-based activist-artist MILCK, Zaragoza acknowledges that a big part of achieving happiness is choosing to be happy rather than waiting for your life to be perfect or feeling like you have to earn comfort and ease. She uses this album to claim joy that has always rightfully been hers and to actively mold herself into her own role model. As she says on galloping country track “Sweetheart,” “I don’t want to be a woman, crying on the floor at night. I don’t want to keep on searching for the day I feel alright.”
A feminist undercurrent unifies these songs. Meditative folk ballad “Strong Woman” was written as a commission for a friend’s daughter, but also more broadly celebrates a world led and built by women. “Not A Monster” candidly addresses Zaragoza’s eating disorder. And “Garden” grapples with all the unfair expectations placed on women as they age. Zaragoza also worked with exclusively female collaborators on the project, a rarity in an industry where less than 5% of production/engineering credits go to women. She feels that working with women allowed her the emotional safety to fully process the pain of her breakup and to make honest art about her life.
“It’s easy for me to be vulnerable with a female collaborator even the first time I meet her,” she says. “A lot of these sessions were 3 hours of us talking and therapizing before we started writing. This album is so much about what it feels like to be a woman leaving the “prime of your 20s” and processing what it means to get older, which is something which men don’t experience in the same way.”
She also felt like the songwriting process was communal, less a process of telling her specific story than one of finding ways to connect with her collaborators and share stories that resonated with all of them. For example, she worked with fellow songwriter of Indigenous heritage Hayley McLean on “Still Here,” a track about owning her culture as a woman of Akimel O'otham descent and acknowledging how Indigenous people exist in all facets of society. “The Native community in LA has been a huge part of my life since I moved here at 14,” she says. “Indigenous artists aren’t played on the radio or given space in mainstream publications enough, so I do what I can to be as proud as I can and pave the way for other artists too.” She hopes the sense of community she fostered while writing these songs shines through and, in turn, helps listeners feel less alone.
Hold That Spirit is a nuanced, complicated album because it is rooted in Zaragoza’s specific hardships, from her anxiety to her fraught relationship with work to her heartbreak, but it also looks outward and finds solace in people who have a shared understanding of those experiences. By leaning on those who make her feel seen and supported as she ventured into the world alone, she was able to remain defiantly optimistic, and inspire us all to do the same, too.