Semiah Smith (@semiah.smith on Instagram) is a Mohawk Turtle clan Toronto-based indie-electropop artist and producer from Six Nations who performed at FabCollabs’ sold-out Indigenous Grooves event last month in Toronto.
Indigenous Grooves featured a celebration of the urban Indigenous experience, with an all-electronic, all-Indigenous and all-women and non-binary line-up of musical performers. The show saw contemporary and traditional Indigenous singing and dance performances, along with an Indigenous arts market and a fashion show featuring local Indigenous designers. Two Row Times caught up with Semiah this week to talk about her first sold-out event.
ACE Tip: Semiah lives and performs downtown Toronto where she is set to drop her first EP titled, After the Night Ends, on June 30.
TRT: It’s been over a week since the performance. What emotions were you feeling before getting on stage?
SS: So nervous. On the same lineup were women I looked up to for such a long time. They are the best of the best in hand drumming so I was nervous for my big debut of “Broken Heart,” my R&B hand drum song.
TRT: What did you feel after having finished your set?
SS: I would say that was the best crowd I think I’d ever performed for. They were really cool, vocal, and dancing. You could tell they really liked the songs. I felt accomplished and excited about the future.
TRT: What does it feel like to perform in a community like Toronto?
SS: Toronto is really cool. I’m proud of the community in Toronto. The people and audience members seem to be really supportive. I have always felt safe performing in the big city. I get inspired wherever I go out and if I’m looking for something to spark my interest in a new song I can just go walk outside and find something quick.
TRT: Were a lot of people watching you perform for the first time?
SS: Yes. And I got a lot of great feedback from my friends and other guests I don’t know. Some asked about my EP and if they could come to that launch party.
TRT: What was your favourite part of the night?
SS: I made a joke on stage and people laughed. That was a highlight. The joke landed.
TRT: What did performing in a show featuring specifically strong and talented Indigenous women feel like?
SS: Was my first festival where it was all Indigenous women per se. I’ve performed for Indigenous arts festivals before but I really have never been part of something like this. I appreciated the diversity of the women chosen. Some R&B, pop, traditional.
TRT: What sort of event do you have planned for your EP launch?
SS: Going to be an art-filled experience. There is going to be a 360-degree video camera. Several pieces and installations to take pictures of yourself with. Also will have a set designed like a scene from the rez. It’s going to be a full experience.
TRT: What would you say to the production team, staff, and volunteers who helped set up and handle all the logistics for you to perform worry-free?
SS: So great to have everything figured out for me. I know how much time and effort it takes to put on an event let alone one as successful as that one was. Such a great experience and definitely one of the highlights of this year so far. A big nia:wen to the team and everyone involved.
Watch the recorded event here: fabcollab.ca/indigenous-grooves.