The Jerry Cans ('Pai Gaalaquatikkut' in Inuktitut) are a band from Iqaluit, Nunavut in far-north Canada who combine traditional Inuit throat singing with folk and country music. Several of their songs are written in Inuktiut, which is the Indigenous language of the Inuit people.
Their music is a unique fusion of Inuktitut alt-country and reggae with a combination of musical influences from their roots in the Arctic, where the first European explorers from Scotland and Scandinavia brought their traditional instruments including accordions, fiddles and bodhrans into the region.
Last November The Jerry Cans released their third album ‘Inuusiq – Life’, in Canada, which will be released in Australia on 3 February 2017. This chapter explores the challenges and beauty of life in the Far North. Their hit single from the album 'Ukiuq' ('Northern Lights') was recorded in both Inuktitut and English.
Nancy Mike says that releasing both versions of the song in English and traditional language is something totally new for the band.
“Both versions give me the feeling of being in the long cold Arctic winters. Sometimes it is hard to find that light and warmth in the winter and we hope this song give you a bit of that spark.”
Canadian singer-songwriter and Blue Rodeo band member, Jim Cuddy says the mixture of music and language heats just the right beat.
“A great, epic, sprawling record… Passionate and thrilling with a drop of language bewilderment - A beautiful piece of work.”
"The Jerry Cans will take you on a stroll through the streets of Iqaluit to provide a glimpse of life in Arctic."
Despite the evolution of their hometown of Iqaluit, the band still decide to perform many of their songs in the traditional language of Inuktitut and are passionate about preserving the language. They are committed to representing northerners and also to challenging common misperceptions they have encountered about life in the Arctic.
Their music evokes the contemporary north as well as the spirited people that reside there. It is not only the political motives, but their rapidly developing reputation for getting elders and young people dancing, that has forced people to start noticing this high-energy group. From the red raw dirt down under to the hustle and bustle of music festivals , The Jerry Cans will take you on a stroll through the streets of Iqaluit to provide a glimpse of life in Arctic.
The Jerry Cans are a distinctly a, 'one-of-a-kind group', Nancy Mike, the only Inuk member, featured throat singer and accordionist, grew up in Pangnirtung, a hub for Inuktitut folk music. With the exception of violinist Gina Burgess, who travels between Halifax and Iqaluit, the rest of the Jerry Cans are all from Iqaluit, Nunavut’s fast-changing capital, where people from all over the Arctic and the world collide.
"The Jerry Cans music is largely written in Inuktitut, the Indigenous language of the Inuit people and their lyrics aim to reflect life in the Far North"
The band’s singer, main songwriter and engaging front man, Andrew Morrison is a former Northern CBC Radio producer who’s lived in Iqaluit almost all his life and has now become fluent in Inuktitut.
Bassist Brendan Doherty and drummer Steve Rigby met at school and grew up doing what most teens do – listening to music. In their case it was the sounds of Nunavut rock bands that resonated with their musical passion, along with traditional performances at community cultural events. They picked up instruments and experimented with hard rock and metal before heading south for university and becoming melodic members of the Jerrry Cans.
Their music can be heard far and wide after performing at several festivals all across the world. Their latest success saw them play at annual world music and dance festival WOMADelaide, which kicked off over 20 years ago in Adelaide and continues to showcase different sorts of music, arts and dance.
Operations and Program Manager of WOMADelaide, Annette Tripodi says they’re a hard working bunch.
“They were keen to fully immerse themselves in the festivals and engage with the local community as much as possible,” she said.
“Their unique and lively blend of alt-country, folk, throat singing and even reggae, all in language was a massive hit with our audiences.”
The Jerry Cans will land Down Under in March with their tour kicking off on 3 March in WA and after they will head to SA, VIC, NSW, QLD and NT.