Jeneen Frei Njootli is a visual artist who works at The Banff Centre. It’s fitting that she’s contributed the first tone in the Banff series, for it honors Aboriginal peoples in Canada. “I’m First Nations,” she told me, “with some Czech and Dutch in there, too.” If you’re unfamiliar with the terminology, “First Nations” describes various Aboriginal peoples in Canada who are neither Inuit nor Métis.
“I was born in the North, my home community is in the Arctic, but I was raised in Prince Edward Island, and went to school in Vancouver. Having moved around a lot, I find myself drawn to the energies that exist within the ‘inbetween places,’ that I inhabit. Part of my artistic practice is an investigation of history embodied in land–I’m interested in exploring the idea of stories associated with a place through sound and image. In terms of sound, when I look at the land, I imagine the stories various places might hold, and think of some of the ghosts, or spirits that are present, there, too.””
Here is Jeneen’s haunting Anai, Nakwaltuk (“Come here, I’ll tell you something”) Tone. We recorded it in a stairwell that had great acoustic quality, within the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed building on The Banff Centre’s campus. Her ringtone consists of improvised melodic vocals–her response to the beautiful land in the area. It’s a sound that Jeneen has been exploring lately with her newly formed (and still un-named) band. “I recently got a loop pedal, a mic and amp. I was thinking about an economical way to spend the winter here. There’s always snowboarding, but it is expensive and potentially painful. Plus, I’m bad at it. So I decided to invest in doing something this winter that will allow me to interact, practice, have fun, and play with other people.”
Here’s wishing Jeneen Frei Njootli a musically inspired and productive winter! Thanks, Jeneen, for this first and lovely tone in the Banff, Alberta, Canada series.