Six Nations Logan Staats has had quite the adventure this year in the music industry. As the lead singer of Ghost Town Orchestra his work earned the band an Aboriginal People’s Choice Music Award in 2014.
His talents have drawn the attention of the entire indigenous world. So much so that earlier this spring the artist was invited to perform at South by Southwest music festival. This summer Staats is scheduled to perform at both APTN’s Aboriginal Solidarity Day event in Winnipeg and the Pan-Am Games.
Now Staats is branching out from that project and releasing his first solo album this summer. His sound is organic. And his voice enchanting in the capture of lyric and note.
This year has been a great one for many indigenous artists, such as Digging Roots, Tanya Tagaaq and A Tribe Called Red – embracing their natural sound and experiences while at the same time capturing mainstream success. It is certain that Staats is next on the list of stars.
“I can’t read a stitch of music,” said Staats. “I can hear it and I can make it by ear. I think I like doing everything by feel I think it produces a different sound. Not being stuck to the scale gives the music a different energy.”
He is the quintessential image of a rock star: long hair, worn blue jeans and an intense concentration as he sits at the mixing board of Jukasa Studios on Six Nations of the Grand River. Right now the mission is new – laying his organic rock vocals over a hip hop beat. For Staats this is uncharted territory.
“There’s so many great people around me. So many great people around me supporting what I am doing,” said Staats. “I wanted to do something outside of my comfort zone. So I reached out to a couple producers and Jonathan Garlow came to me with a hip hop beat. It’s been really fun.”
“Remember My Flame” is the name of the soon-to-be-released track and echoes the sounds of alt-rock bands like Imagine Dragons, Sneaker Pimps and Portishead.
This track is almost a 360 degree turn from his upcoming album – which is an acoustic and microphone venture to be released on Aboriginal Solidarity Day this year.
Staats said, “Me and Derek miller jumped in a van. I was going through a tough time. I needed to get away from this town, this murdered city. So we just loaded some guitars and microphones into a van, drove to California, set up in my friend Cal’s pool house and just started recording. I played all of my songs over three days.”
The journey was part escape, part gypsy music quest. Staats said, “I didn’t want my first album to be over produced. I wanted it to be – Logan Staats – this is what you get, this is what he sounds like – and this is how he tells his story. So its live, off the floor It was a really cool experience. Theres something magical about California. Maybe its just me, but I felt like a real musician. You couldn’t stop me. I was riding this wave – this high. I played all day and all night. And we got some gold. Its straight up me in a room with a microphone and my guitar. It’s raw. What you see is what you get.”
For Staats, music has long been a healing modality. He said, “Belting out songs really made me feel better when I was down. Thats what it was for me. A lot of my songs are just sad. Once I realized that it could make me feel better that is when I really took off.”