TANYA

The singer-turned-au­thor on mix­ing fact and fic­tion, whale and wal­rus bone re­minders and Björk’s mul­ti­task­ing skills.

Air Canada enRoute - - ONE ON ONE / TÊTE-À-TÊTE AVEC - IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY / D’ORIANA FEN­WICK

HOW WAS WORK­ING ON SPLIT TOOTH DIF­FER­ENT FROM THROAT SINGING AND WRIT­ING MU­SIC?

I’ve never felt ner­vous on stage, but I was ter­ri­fied to write this book. It’s been in the mak­ing for over 20 years, and it lays bare my se­crets about events I’ve fi­nally been able to heal from. It was also an in­ter­est­ing process to com­bine fact and fic­tion: I in­cluded child­hood mem­o­ries that are still crys­tal clear, like the crunch­ing of truck tires on shale rock in Cam­bridge Bay, and

I mixed in fic­tional el­e­ments, like per­son­i­fy­ing the north­ern lights.

WHAT DO YOU HOPE READ­ERS WILL TAKE FROM THIS BOOK?

I would like non-indige­nous read­ers to get an idea of what’s be­hind the statis­tics and to raise aware­ness about the ev­ery­day re­al­i­ties that lead to high sui­cide rates and vi­o­lence in the North. I hope the story hu­man­izes us and helps to start im­ple­ment­ing goals, like pro­vid­ing proper men­tal health care.

DO YOU KEEP RE­MINDERS OF NUNAVUT AROUND?

My house is full of them – I have a huge muskox skull on the wall. I also bring a lit­tle some­thing with me when I travel, like bow­head whale and wal­rus bone ear­rings. I take my kids up north ev­ery year – it’s im­por­tant to me that they know who they are.

YOU’VE WORKED WITH SOME POW­ER­HOUSE FE­MALE MU­SI­CIANS – ANY STAND­OUT EX­PE­RI­ENCES?

I’ve loved Buffy Sain­teMarie since I was a kid, so it was great to work with her on Medicine Songs.

I was also so im­pressed with Björk when we col­lab­o­rated on her al­bum Medúlla in Spain – her brain is in­cred­i­ble. She kept switch­ing be­tween pro­duc­ing, play­ing and do­ing com­puter work. She’s also the kind of per­son who would make sure your wine­glass is full.

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