“Calling All Dancers” is the first single in over a year from the Godfather of Powwow Step, DJ Shub. It’s also the first on his newly formed record label, Shub Music, partnered with The Orchard’s (Sony Music) new Canadian office.
Shub is part of the new generation of Indigenous artists making a cultural and social impact on the Canadian music scene.
Born Dan General, Shub began his career with acclaimed electronic music trio A Tribe Called Red, performing across North American stages with some of the biggest recording artists in today’s music industry and winning a Juno Award in 2014.
Shub moved on to start a successful solo career, and was a nominee in the Indigenous Music category at the 2018 Juno Awards for his EP PowWowStep. In 2017, his music video for “Indomitable,” (featuring Northern Cree Singers),was nominated for a Much Music Video Award. In 2018, Sacha Baron Cohen licensed the song as the theme music to his show, the cable TV show “Who Is America?” airing on Showtime.
We caught up with DJ Shub at his home in Fort Erie, Ontario, where he is based during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What have you been doing leading up to your new record?
I’ve basically just been working on new music and spending time with my family. I have two kids and it’s been really busy. I just released the first single, “Calling All Dancers,” from my new album. The album is entitled War Club and there are 12 songs on the album.
I really wanted to created a concept album with a story to tell so that it engages the audience on a musical and political level. The story is based around the war club.
What is a war club?
It’s a weapon that was used back in the day in my Mohawk territory. We wanted to tell the story of an elder handing down the war club to a youth and how the youth interprets the war club in today’s society. Today the war club is not about violence. It’s a symbol representing music and social interactions. It gives new meaning to something passed down from generation to generation.
The story is uniquely told in the video released to accompany “Calling All Dancers.”
It was so much fun. It was filmed at an Indigenous and independent production studio called “Thru The RedDoor Productions,” based in Six Nations of the Grand River, Ontario, where my family is from. We put a call out online for local dancers to bring the community aspect to the video, and we had so many applications we had to turn some people down.
The video features an elder who shows up and dances. This represents handing down the war club.The dancers and the regalia are beautiful and colourful, so we kept the background dark to showcase that. I wanted them to stand out.
Aside from your new single, you’ve announced a weekly livestream, “Two Tables and a Mic: Friday Night Mix with DJ Shub.”
Streaming seems to be the popular thing these days for DJ’s with everyone in quarantine, and not going out to perform at clubs has sharpened my skills. I’m digging into a lot of new music, so I decided to start streaming it on a weekly show. It also gives me a chance to highlight other Indigenous artists. It’s every Friday from 10 p.m. to midnight.
I’ll be running it through Twitch but it will be re-streamed through Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, accessible to everyone.
What are your personal takeaways from the pandemic?
I’ve learned you can do a lot as a musician without traveling, and still collaborate with amazing musicians. And I’ve never spent more time with my family. I love it.
What’s on tap for you when life gets back to normal?
The next single will drop in May, and there are some shows I’ve booked. But it all depends on how this pandemic turns out.