Tribal beats with a modern kick

A Tribe Called Red mixes historical music with modern EDM at the Casbah

By Logan Broyles | SDUN Reporter

A Tribe Called Red’s style is unlike anything ever put out before, incorporating traditional drumming and chanting from indigenous Canadian cultures into their mixes of more modern house and dubstep music.

A Tribe Called Red comes to San Diego April 21 (Courtesy paper rock scissors inc.)

A Tribe Called Red comes to San Diego April 21 (Courtesy paper rock scissors inc.)

Each member of the three-man audio-visual DJ crew from Ottawa belongs to one of Canada’s First Nation communities.

Ian Campeau (aka DJ NDN), Dan General (DJ Shub) and Bear Witness formed A Tribe Called Red in 2007 and will be playing at the Casbah April 21 as one of 15 stops on their first major tour of the United States.

Their electronic music has already won the group a Polaris Prize nomination, a Canadian award similar to Britain’s Mercury Prize, and a spot in the Washington Post’s top 20 albums of 2012.

“The idea came from us wanting to put together a party that was geared toward First Nation members around Ottawa, so we posted at all of the Aboriginal centers at the local colleges,” Campeau said. “Our first show was packed with mainly Aboriginal kids who said they had never really felt comfortable going out in the city before that, having grown up in a reserve in Northern Ottawa.”

Campeau said the parties then became a regular event in their hometown, and people went crazy for the music once the band started playing songs that mixed what he called “Pow Wow music” into what was popular at the time: electronic dance music or EDM.

“Mixing those two genres worked out really well,” he said.

Once DJ Shub joined the group they started producing their own sound and put out an album. Their latest album “Nation II Nation” will be released May 7.

“It was a very natural progression from wanting to have a party geared toward First Nation kids to recording our own music,” Campeau said. “The idea came from me and Bear wanting to showcase the fact that we were Aboriginal DJs here in the city, in Ottawa.”

The group will be playing at the Casbah for the first time, but Campeau is well versed in the local San Diego nightlife having lived here in the past.

“We have an album coming out on May 7 and we wanted to break into the West Coast scene,” Campeau said. “I’m really stoked to be back in San Diego because I used to live in Pacific Beach and know the Casbah well.”

Campeau said the next step for the group is more touring and another album, set to come out in the fall.

web ATCR13_coverFor now, they’re excited to introduce brand new U.S. audiences to their unique take on contemporary club music, mixed with their cultural heritage. Campeau said they will be performing many different styles of EDM.

“It gets pretty sweaty and there will be some crazy and well-thought out visuals,” he said. “You’re going to hear something that you’ve never really heard before at our shows, and you’re going to learn something whether you wanted to or not about First Nation’s experience in North America today.”

Doors for the 21 and older show open at 8:30 p.m. on April 21. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. The Casbah is located at 2501 Kettner Blvd. For more information visit or call 619-232-4355.

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