Silla and Rise embrace Inuit culture through throat singing

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Inuit throat singing band Silla and Rise have released their second album, Galactic Gala, on Oct. 5, 2019.

The album consists of 14 songs, mostly instrumental, where the “beautiful” sounds of Inuit culture meet futuristic rhythms on the dance floor.

Cynthia Pitsiulak of the left and Charlotte Qamaniq perform throat singing. Vincent Ret photo

The group is made up of two Inuit throat singers Cynthia Pitsiulak and Charlotte Qamaniq, as well as Montreal born musician Eric Vani.

Both singers are from Nunavut communities, Pitsiulak from Kimmirut and Qamaniq from Iglulik.

Silla and Rise formed in 2015. Their debut album, Debut, was nominated for Indigenous Music Album of the Year at the 2017 Juno Awards.

For Qamaniq, it has been her throat singing that has allowed her to remain connected with her Inuit culture.

Qamaniq explains that when she moved to Ottawa as a teenager, she experienced an “unexpected” culture shock.

“I didn’t realize how tough it would be to move to a city, away from my family, my homelands, my language and my food,” Qamaniq said.

“So, both Cynthia and I used singing as a way to stay connected to our culture.”

She explains the songs in the album reflect Inuit themes and culture.

Sunrise, the first song in the album, makes a reference to the Iglulik skyline. To Qamaniq, it is “the most beautiful in the world.”

She recalls waking up early one morning and looking over the horizon and ice to see the sun coming up.

The landscape of Qamaniq’s homeland became an inspiration for the song.

The throat singer believes many people will appreciate the music because “we’re taking something that was almost taken away from us, something very ancient and sacred and bringing back in a positive way.”

“We’re a very positive band,” she said. “We like to make people dance. We just want people to feel good when they listen to our music.”

Throughout his life, Eric Vani also known as Rise Ashen, has been pursuing the intersection of traditional and futuristic music. Photo courtesy of Vincent Ret

According to Vani, the songs aim to preserve the beauty of Inuit culture as the Inuit move forward in the world and become more moderate.

“I love that we’re able to cross cultural lines and combine things together and mix them up,” Vani stated.

The album is meant to be listened to in one sitting, explained the musician.

“As you are listening to the album, it is going deeper and deeper into this thing that we’ve created until you really hit the outer bounds of the galaxy,” said Vani.

The trio, presently living in Ottawa, has no plans yet of performing in Nunavut.

Pitsiulak was unable to be reached by press time.