From the land that never melts comes a sound that radiates life, youth and promise. Riit, from majestic Panniqtuq, Nunavut, is a new artist making space for herself in the electropop world with deep rhythmic throat singing layered over gemological synth cuts and sticky, staticky electronic textures. With field recordings with sounds of the north, from brassy ravens circling overhead to the silvery glint of knife sharpening, Riit’s music emerges from very distinct circumstances of place, language and experience.
Riit’s arctic-born electropop is as brand new as it is ancient. With throat singing, Riit engages with a unique and extraordinary art form and creates a sound all her own. Inuttitut lyrics weave in and out of the deep rumbling rhythmic strata of breath, each element in constant interplay with the other. The sound collapses the distance between the unknown and the familiar; Riit joins artists such as Rosalia, Sevdaliza and Lido Pimienta, among others, who perform in languages other than English and connect with listeners worldwide.
Throughout her debut full-length album, produced by Graham Walsh (Holy Fuck) and recorded in Iqaluit, Nunavut and Toronto, Riit sings about the clarity of forgiveness, the imprint of the past on the present, and personal disconnection. Most of the songs are about family, life and love, and explore unimaginably heavy topics such as intergenerational trauma, residential schools, sexual abuse and isolation. Riit also nods to Nunavut’s rich yet underappreciated legacy of songwriters, with covers of Inuititut classics included on the record.
The monoamine-fueled flush of “Qaumajuapik,” the first song shared from the new album, expected in full in 2019, expresses how intense attraction messes with your sense of time, where a single blink contains a universe. Heart races, clock stops. Produced by Graham Walsh (Holy Fuck), the song sweeps in on a buzzy gust before the Tangerine Dream-esque modulations kick in. Teardrop bleeps fall over Riit’s clear voice like a sunshower (the song title means ‘you are shining’).
On the strength of a 3-song EP released in 2017 by Aakuluk Music, Nunavut’s first record label, Riit was nominated for Best Radio Single (Indigenous Music Awards) and Indigenous Artist of the Year (Western Canadian Music Awards). The host of a groundbreaking Inuttitut-language children’s show, Anaana’s Tent, and soon-to-be recipient of an Emerging Talent Award of Excellence for her broadcast work, at age 23 Riit is one of the faces of a Nunavut youth movement, a group of remarkable, driven and increasingly high-profile individuals who are making mainstream waves through art. For an artist who has performed only a handful of shows, a performance in London for The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Harry & Meghan) and a sold out show in Paris are highlights of a young career.
Now signed to Six Shooter Records, Riit will release her debut full-length album in 2019.