Quantum Tangle’s Tiffany Ayalik and Kayley Mackay have teamed up to release a new album under the name PIQSIQ.
The Inuit-style throat singers and sisters perform “ancient traditional songs and eerie new compositions” according to promotion for the album, which the Yellowknife duo titled Altering the Timeline.
The album, available digitally on BandCamp with a full release to follow in mid-January, features five new songs by the duo.
“Each song takes us to a different location in the North,” explained Ayalik. “We’re hoping people can listen and enjoy and be transported there with us.”
Mackay added: “With PIQSIQ’s style we demonstrate traditional forms during our performances, then we use some of those songs to build a base for the looping and soaring vocals that we add on top as layers to create a really full-sounding song.
“We use traditional songs in a new, modern way.”
Joys and challenges
The album’s title, explained Mackay, is an act of reclamation.
“One of the reasons we really pursued throat singing as an art form was after learning about the history of colonization in the North, and how many Inuit were prosecuted for practising cultural beliefs including throat singing.
“There was also a lot of social taboo and shame around traditional practices, so when we first started throat singing it was a fun game we would do with each other on camping trips on the land, or when we were visiting cousins. It evolved from there as a more political statement,” Mackay continued.
“One of the ideas that we have adopted is when we do healing as a people, that healing goes forward but it also goes backwards; so in a way, by reclaiming cultural practices and healing from the trauma of colonization and residential schools, we are altering the timeline.”
Ayalik said the band’s name, PIQSIQ, is a word for when the wind blows the snow and it lifts off the ground and back up toward the sky.
“It’s an otherworldly, strange experience to see snow that’s rising instead of falling,” she said.
“We picked that name for a few reasons: one, it’s cool to look at, and another one is Kayley and I have both often experienced the joys and challenges of coming from two backgrounds … trying to navigate identity and who am I culturally … are questions we wrestle with in trying to find our foothold in two different cultures.
“It’s one of those things where we are Inuk in everything we do, in the same way that snow, if it looks like snow and is snow… it doesn’t really matter which direction it’s going in.”
Both Ayalik and Mackay remain part of Quantum Tangle and will perform with Greyson Gritt, the group’s third member, when their schedules allow.
PIQSIQ, they said, allows them all to perform more consistently and “divide and conquer.”