Welcome to Indigenous in Music with Larry K, today we welcome from Toronto, Canada, Graeme Jonez will be stepping into our Spotlight. Singer, Songwriter and Story Teller. He has just released his debut album is out entitled “Creatures & Criminals.”
Also enjoy 2 hours of our Indigenous tunes featuring Graeme Jonez, Samantha Crain, Aysanabee, Bajofondo, The Halluci Nation, Chippewa Travellers, Robert Mirabal, Martha Rebone, Hayley Wallis, Latin Vibe, Sinuupa, Soda Stereo, Brule, Def-i, Marie Font, Richie Ledreagle, Dan L’initié, Bomba Estereo, Gary Small & the Coyote Bros, Teagan Littlechief, Tracy Bone, Joey Pringle, Seneca Shaganappi, Mike Bern, Alexis Lynn, Chantil Dukart, Matcitim, Ozomatli, QVLN, Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas, Janel Munoa, Low Budget Rock Star and much much more.
Look around our site to find out all about us and our programs and visit our SAY Magazine Library with all our featured guests.
OUR INTERVIEW IS 30 MINUTES INTO THE PROGRAM
GRAEME JONEZ IN OUR SAY MAGAZINE FEATURE
GRAEME JONEZ – ITS A COLD COLD PLACE
TRIBAL AFFILIATION: Sheguiandah Ojibway First Nation
EMAIL: [email protected]
Ojibway musician Graeme Jonez is a storyteller. His latest release, the full-length album
Creatures & Criminals, illustrates this in a most vibrant way. A collection of 13 songs written over the span of more than a decade, Creatures & Criminals was released in March 2023 as the first widely-distributed album by this Toronto-based singer-songwriter.
Jonez, an alumni of Manitoba Music’s prestigious Indigenous Music Residency, first gained recognition when his 2006 track “Black Magic Goldmine” was featured on the 2009 compilation album Dig Your Roots: Aboriginal alongside powerhouse Indigenous artists like Tanya Tagaq, Leela Gilday and Digging Roots. His return to the scene commenced in 2021 when the decision was made to release a new album—his first in a decade.
The veteran songsmith refers to his songs as “folk music,” but that’s far from an accurate holistic description of Creatures & Criminals. Sure, there’s a traditional singer-songwriter foundation and an mericana tinge to the album, but the overall sound is way more indie rock than trad folk. Jonez doesn’t stray far from his acoustic guitar and harmonica, but you’ll also find various electric guitars, drums, keyboards and a myriad of other instruments handpicked to flavor Jonez’s compositions. You’ll even find hints of his ‘60s influences throughout the album.
But really, Jonez is a storyteller at heart, and his lyricism is what makes Creatures & Criminals a truly unique record. He’s been honing his songwriting craft for more than two decades, drawing particular inspiration from dark folk, murder ballads and Delta blues music.
“I call a lot of the songs on this album ‘dark fiction,’” says Jonez. “These are just imaginary tales that I made rhyme and then put to song. Most of the tales are fictional but, as with much of the music that influences me, there’s always a serious underlying message or theme in the lyrics.”
Case in point: The lead single, “100 Days Deep,” depicts a zombie apocalypse that’s actually a metaphor for the colonization of Turtle Island. On “It’s A Cold, Cold Place,” Jonez writes of home as a harsh environment rather than a welcoming one. Meanwhile, “The Flood!” creates a sense of hysteria in a tale about New York City being flooded from the effects of climate change. A member of the Sheguiandah Ojibway First Nation on Manitoulin Island in Ontario, Jonez’s Ojibway heritage frequently informs his songwriting, as evidenced on “Draggin’ The Same Dead Deer Up The Same Ol’ Hill,” “Trickster, Wolfman & The Motorcycle,” and the album’s prolific closer, “Valley People.” That song’s final verse concludes with the words, “They will never take our mothers, and they will never take our daughters / Because our spirit’s in the land, and our souls are in the water.”
The task of taking Jonez’s crafty compositions to the next level was up to Toronto-based producer Derek Downham and engineer Tim Foy at Toronto’s The Nelson Room studio. The musical backdrop—lush and yet somehow perfectly sparse at the same time—creates the perfect soundscape for Jonez’s illustrative fables. The final production has been called atmospheric and cinematic. Jonez is adamant about thanking the Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council for supporting the creation of Creatures & Criminals. It was only through this vital government funding that Jonez was able to execute such an elaborate piece of work.
“The support of these organizations is literally the only way I could have made this album,” admits Jonez. “I make it a point to encourage Indigenous artists to research and apply for grants, bursaries and awards that are available in their area. It could honestly take your work to that next level you didn’t think was possible.”
Jonez is excited for the future. Once the promotional work on Creatures & Criminals tapers off, he’s got a bucket of new songs, melodies and ideas to shape into the next album. Do yourself a favour and go listen to Creatures & Criminals via most streaming platforms or by visiting graemejonez.ca.