The first wave of artists announced for Yellowknife’s iconic Folk on the Rocks summer music festival includes a familiar name to those in the Kivalliq: Baker Lake hip-hop artist Shauna Seeteenak.
“Covid has taken a huge toll on being able to travel and perfom and share my music,” said Seeteenak from Iqaluit, where she now lives.
The Baker Lake artist got into music when she found an old cassette tape in one of her mother’s spare rooms as a child.
“It was Salt-N-Pepa,” remembers Seeteenak. “I really loved the way that it sounded.”
And she always had a penchant for performing in front of a crowd, with a talent show in elementary school being her first time singing for a full room.
“I really loved the way it made me feel when the crowd clapped and cheered,” she said.
As she got older, she got into Eminem and appreciated how he was able to express his emotions through music without taking action.
“I started practising following along with his songs, getting to know the rhythm,” said Seeteenak. “That’s when I started wanting to become a rapper.”
Her writing skills continued to develop through poetry in junior high. When she was a teenager, she plugged a Rock Band microphone into her computer and downloaded recording software and instrumentals. After recording, she uploaded songs to Bebo, a popular social media platform at the time, and her music began circulating around her home community.
“I’m sure I have over 500 songs that are stored somewhere,” said Seeteenak. “I wrote a lot. I really liked the way it made me feel. Growing up, I was never taught how to express myself healthily.”
Performing at a Baker Lake talent show then got her an invite to the Alianait festival in 2010, her first professional performance.
“I’m still learning a lot to this day, recording music the professional way,” said Seeteenak, who is now signed to Iqaluit-based label Hitmakerz and put out her first album, Therapy Sessions, in 2021.
Over the years, her music has changed and become more positive, she added.
“My music back then was angrier,” she said. “A lot of sad songs I put out. I’ve noticed lately that the music I’m writing now is a lot more heartfelt, more about healing and more about helping other people.”
She’s excited about the Yellowknife festival, and she’ll be following that up with another performance at Alianait this year as well. When not on the road, she’s continuing work on her second album.
Readers can find her music on any streaming platform under her name, Shauna Seeteenak.