Twin Flames excited to take their unique music on the road

By Allan Bradbury
Staff Writer
abradbury@fortfrances.com

Twin Flames will be burning bright in a five-show tour across northwestern Ontario, including a stop in Fort Frances on Tuesday March 15 at Townshend Theatre.

The Ottawa-based husband and wife pair have developed a unique sound which digs into their heritage as a couple. Jaaji (pronounced Yaah Yee) is Inuk and Mohawk and Chelsey June is Métis with Algonquin Cree heritage. Their music includes lyrics in English, French and Inuk and in a myriad of styles. In August of 2020 they released their most recent full-length album titled Omen. Their unique sound was a perfect fit for the Tour de Fort concert series, and organizers were pleased to be able to add them to this year’s line-up.

When it comes to singing in different languages, Jaaji says sometimes songs just come together in the different languages.

“I think it just kind of happens by accident because we just happen to sing in whatever language we decide to sing in, in that moment,” Jaaji said. “I think it also pays homage to where we come from, and showing that no matter where you come from, music has a way of putting people together in one spot and enjoying it, despite whatever language you may be listening to.”

The music can vary from folk-based acoustic shows which consist of just the pair, which is what audiences will see in Fort Frances, to full band shows, with other musicians joining on a variety of instruments, and leaning more towards the heavier rock side of the spectrum. Chelsey June says this varies from show to show with the size of the event or venue.

It was an evening of relaxing vibes and folk music, for an appreciative audience at Friday’s Tour de Fort double bill. Sleepy Jean teamed up with DRFTR for the concert series’ latest offering. With restrictions eased, live music lovers can look forward to Tour de Fort’s next offering, Twin Flames, a husband and wife duo, which blend their Cree, Inuk and Mohawk roots to bridge cultures and language divides. They’ll will hit the stage March 15. Submitted photo

“I think that’s always been a funny thing, from the time that we started in music was trying to pin down what genre we could fall into,” Chelsey June said. “You know, we have different setups when we’re performing. So Omen is with a full band. And we do play major festivals and bigger events as the full band, which tends to lean a lot heavier into the rock world, into pop. Then when it’s just the two of us up on stage, which has happened a lot more lately, due to the pandemic, that’s a lot more folk based.”

Chelsey June also added that their music is always changing. They don’t try to fit a single box or genre, but the songs do find roots in folk music before they’re fully developed.

“I think a lot of the songs when we’re writing them, the roots are definitely in folk music. And then once we start layering them, we don’t really know what’s gonna come out,” she said. “But I think it’s just about that feeling, that sound, and just going with it. I think genres can be kind of like a box, right? It’s like constantly trying to shove our music or ourselves into this box and I think art is something that’s constantly changing and moving and growing just like us as human beings.”

They say there’s a bit of an age gap between them, but they share many of the same influences in their music styles. Folk acts like Peter, Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan, and Paul Simon. But they have also been influenced by rock acts like Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Rolling Stones.

Being an Indigenous band hasn’t come without its struggles, according to Jaaji.

“It’s that brown box you know, we get funneled into the Indigenous category and that goes right into festivals,” Jaaji said. “Festivals will ask for funding and they get Indigenous funding and sometimes unfortunately end up giving us only a portion and splitting the funding with the other non-Indigenous artists which is pretty screwed up.”

Chelsey June added that sometimes because of their style of music they get excluded from Indigenous music circles and events.

“It kind of comes from all sides, honestly,” Chelsey June said. “We’ve had instances where we’re not included in certain things because we’re not considered Indigenous enough. Then we’ve had the other side of that where we’re not included in non-Indigenous events because we’re considered too Indigenous.”

They also said it’s harder to get featured on the radio because some of their songs incorporate all of the languages they sing in. When they perform live they take the time to explain what they’re singing, but unfortunately they don’t get that opportunity on the radio.

Despite being released during the pandemic, Chelsey June says their third album, Omen, has done well since its release, garnering positive critique and reviews.

“We were originally told not to release [Omen] during the pandemic. But we’ve never really listened to the way the industry is set up, I think we’ve kind of always just gone at things totally and completely in our own way,” Chelsey June said. “So we did release Omen August 28, of 2020. And the album did very well, as far as critics and reviews and things like that. But obviously, we weren’t able to tour it.”

Typically a lot of music artists go on tour in an effort to promote a newly released album but due to pandemic restrictions a lot of concerts and festivals have been cancelled over the last two years. They will be playing songs from Omen as they tour through this spring and summer and have some full band dates lined up and will get to play songs from the album.

Since the creation of Twin Flames, the pair has been nominated for 24 music awards, winning two Canadian Folk Music Awards and three Native American Music Awards. They’ve had two number one hits on the Indigenous Music Countdown’s Top 40 and played more than 1,000 shows throughout Canada, Greenland, the United States, Australia and France.

Twin Flames perform in Fort Frances at the Townshend Theatre on Tuesday, March 15. Tickets are available at Ski’s Variety and the Fort Frances Library Technology Centre for $25. They will also be in Dryden on March 16. Their new album Omen is available to stream on Spotify and can be downloaded on their website twinflamesmusic.com.