Nagamo Publishing provides a new platform for Indigenous music makers

Nagamo Publishing is the world's first Indigenous production music library and composer agency. (Photo Nagamo Publishing)

By Jake Cardinal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

(ANNews) – Nagamo Publishing is the world’s first Indigenous-created production music library. It’s a joint project between broadcasting network APTN and Bedtracks, a Toronto-based music house.

The music is created by Indigenous composers and/or musicians and can be licensed out across film, TV, and other media. One of the most notable pieces of media Nagamo music has appeared on was the hit television show Trickster.

In a press release, the company said their goal was to “provide much needed opportunities for Indigenous music creators to showcase their talents in the film and media industries.”

Nagamo Publishing was created after Oliver Johnson, President and Creative Director of Bedtracks, determined that there was a need for Indigenous music – from Indigenous people – in film, TV, and other media.

Toronto-based Cree composer and Co-Creative Director of Nagamo Publishing, Nigel Irwin, said that in late 2017, Johnson “was finding that a lot of the clients were calling in looking for Indigenous-sounding music for certain projects. And he was realizing that the music he could provide wasn’t coming from an authentic place. It wasn’t actually coming from Indigenous composers.”

“I think that was kind of standard in the industry.”

However, nowadays there is a vested interested in Indigenous voices said Irwin. Indigenous influencers are blowing up on Tik Tok, shows like Trickster were brought into the mainstream (albeit, not without controversy), movies such as Indian Horse are extremely popular, and the popularity of directors like Taika Watiti, who is representing the Indigenous people of New Zealand, is growing.

“People are tired of seeing the same-old thing. They want to see new, authentic voices and Indigenous folks have that in spades.”

The publisher is 100 percent Indigenous owned and houses work from all genres and nations. “You’re going to find a wide-range of genres,” Irwin said. “The idea is that it’s music that services story.”

One of the first things that Nagamo did was commission a few drum groups and throat singers to do some original songs. “We certainly have the traditional side of things covered and will continue to grow it,” said Irwin. “But where it got exciting was when we sent those original, traditional tracks to our composers and remixers. And depending on their genre, they utilized those samples to create new, contemporary tracks that work as production music.”

“In our library you’re going to get those upbeat, pop, electronic anthems. You’ll get the dark and brooding ambiance and atmosphere tracks; you’ll also get hip-hop. As well, there’s lush orchestral music and also rock and blues. Depending on what the project is, we can service that, it just has that Indigenous flair to it,” said Irwin.

“It also just happens to be good production music.”

Nagamo Publishing are working with a growing list of about 20 Indigenous composers and currently house upwards of 300+ tracks said Irwin. “We would encourage Indigenous composers and/or musicians anywhere who are interested in contributing and want to put music in front of us to find our website and reach out.”

“We know what our composers are worth and we make sure to foster that relationship. Because we just want to see opportunities – we want to open doors. To allow access for Indigenous folks who think there’s no way for them to break into this industry or find home for their music.”

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