No borders, no baggage, no rules: Welcome to … The Halluci Nation.
The new project from Bear Witness and Tim “2oolman” Hill of A Tribe Called Red, The Halluci Nation takes its name from a phrase coined by late artist, poet and activist, John Trudell, to describe the vast global community of people who remember at their core what it means to be human, and who are living their lives in line with Indigenous values. Trudell recognized the connection between his accomplishments and what ATCR did intuitively through music and art. He understood the impact artists can have in demolishing the unnecessary walls that divide the people who inhabit this planet, and understood how far any voice can travel through the power of art. So, after careful consideration as they enter a new cycle, Bear Witness and 2oolman are reintroducing themselves as The Halluci Nation, to reflect the evolution of their music and mission into something larger and more world-focussed, while still maintaining a tether to the history that brought them here.
Trudell’s voice was the first heard on Tribe’s last record, We Are The Halluci Nation, and will, fittingly, be the first you hear on The Halluci Nation’s upcoming record, One More Saturday Night. The album is a love letter to the Electric Pow Wow gatherings launched at Ottawa’s Babylon nightclub in 2007 by the DJs who would swiftly – and quite unexpectedly – become known to critics, tastemakers and festival crowds worldwide as A Tribe Called Red. It represents an imagined denouement to the biweekly Saturday-night parties that ended abruptly in 2017, without ever getting the proper send-off. One More Saturday Night thus pays genre-oblivious homage to the energy, momentum, humanity and hours of sweaty late-night abandon that elevated The Halluci Nation to this pivotal point with equal parts nostalgia and joy. The record also probes the monstrous potential yet to be tapped in The Halluci Nation’s vision of connecting the dots between traditional Indigenous music and post-rave electronic music. Or “mixing dance music with dance music,” as Bear Witness succinctly puts it.
“We wanted to pay homage to Electric Pow Wow and wrap that whole decade of experience up and close the cycle, and in doing so give direct coordinates of where the future was headed. In a nutshell, that’s what this album is about,” says Bear, albeit adding slyly: “We just wanted to make a party record, as well, one that people could dance to while still having the strong message we are known for.”
As was the case with its proud legacy, The Halluci Nation’s future revolves around collaboration. From hip-hop star, Yasiin Bey (AKA Mos Def), to the Indigenous Australian band, OKA, to the Wayuu-Colombian powerhouse, Lido Pimienta, the group has always sought out artists from around the world with whom to create a truly “borderless” sound. The upcoming record will be no exception – with features as inspired and unpredictable as the music from Texas “electro-cumbia” star, El Dusty, First Nations singers, Chippewa Travellers, New Zealand Maori artist, Rob Ruha, Inuk avant-garde throat singer, Tanya Tagaq and round-dance/R&B fusionist, Antoine Edwards Jr., among many others. Through it all, The Halluci Nation flex their muscles as producers and collaborators, respectfully hitting familiar A Tribe Called Red marks while decisively staking new sonic ground.
“We wanted to take the music to another place,” says 2oolman. “We showed a little bit of our ambitious side on this record and we got to do a lot of songs that we’d been wanting to do for a long time. And this is just the beginning, man. I wouldn’t be surprised if you heard The Halluci Nation produce a project for someone else. We’ve got so much more coming.”
This is a beginning, not an end, after all. The Halluci Nation maintains focus on what they feel they can impact most: how Indigenous people are seen. Through groundbreaking stage shows and ever-changing visuals, Bear Witness and 2oolman are working to create media that reflects today’s Indigenous identity. By partnering with striking visual artists from the community such as Whess Harman, Saige Mukash and Cedar-Eve Peters along with a growing army of musical collaborators from around the world, they see themselves simply as contributors to a necessary conversation around a subtle and complex representation of the contemporary Indigenous experience.