DJ Shub doesn’t just make Powwow Step, he helped create the genre.

We ask the “Godfather of Powwow Step,” as he’s sometimes known, if it ever sinks in that he had a hand in cooking up a style that’s a monumental mix of powwow songs, drumbeats, electronic music, and dubstep. “It hits home whenever someone brings that up in an interview, or if I’m introduced that way before a show,” says Shub, born Dan General.

“It makes me realize (what I’m doing is) a responsibility, musically and culturally,” he adds. “I love Indigenous music! It carries itself through the culture, and it gives us the opportunity to shine and say, ‘Hey, look how beautiful our culture is!’ And what’s really exciting to see is that it’s getting more popular, and that there are all these sub-genres [of this style].”

Not only did the sound that Shub pioneered when he was with A Tribe Called Red (now re-named The Halluci Nation) fill dancefloors all around the world, their second album  Nation II Nation won a JUNO Award for Breakthrough Group of the Year – making Tribe the first Indigenous artist to win in a non-Indigenous category.

This year, Shub, a Mohawk from Six Nations of the Grand River in Ontario, has been nominated for Contemporary Indigenous Artist of the Year for his 19-track album, War Club. “A war club is a weapon used by our people during war times,” he explains. “My music is my war club. It’s my voice, and it makes you dance. And the MCs in the film, they’re writers, and their pens are their war clubs.”

The film (actually a TV show) to which Shub refers is also called War Club, and it’s a beautiful 40-minute “cinematic adventure” that was shot at Longwoods Road Conservation Area near London, Ontario. It’s currently streaming on CBC Gem, and features Snotty Nose Rez Kids, Fawn Wood, Phoenix Pagliaacci, and Boogat, as well as six Indigenous dancers in regalia.

Shub says the album and film, which is “a celebration of song and dance, with a message of power and protest,” provide “a doorway to learning about our culture, and for me to find out more about my culture. I grew up off-reserve, so the culture was there, but I’d never thought about mixing it with music. But now that I have, it feels like I was supposed to do this.”

Shub is in great spirits the day we speak. He’s chatty, jokes, and his excitement to take War Club on the road is infectious. You’d never know he was in a dark place a few years back, if he wasn’t so forthright about his former drug and alcohol abuse. He’s a survivor, he’s keenly aware of that, and credits his recovery to the people around him. “It was my family that got together, saw me at my worst, stepped up and made sure I got help – and got it fast,” says Shub. “I thank the Creator for them every day. Honestly, I wouldn’t be here if not for them.”

It goes without saying that watching fans lose their minds at his shows makes it all worthwhile for Shub. But, we ask, have there been moments when he realizes the cultural impact he’s making? “I got a message from an aunty who said, ‘I want to thank you for making this album. My niece and I were drifting apart, and I gave her your album for her birthday and we’re talking again.’

“I was in tears,” says Shub. “That’s the magic that people don’t see. It really hit home.”



The Black Lives Matter movement had an impact, all the way to Québec, including its music industry. Less than two years ago, ADVANCE Music, Canada’s Black Music Business Collective, was born, with the objective of uniting Black people working in the Canadian music industry, encouraging their integration into key positions in the industry, and promoting cultural diversity on the music scene.

Recently, the Toronto-based association created a satellite office in Québec to better reflect the realities of that market, and to more accurately represent the Francophone Black communities in the country. We offer you an introduction to ADVANCE Québec and its Chairman of the Board, and A&R Director for Universal Music Canada in Montréal, Widney Bonfils.

Since its founding, “Advance has been seen as primarily an English-speaking, Toronto-based organization,” admits Bonfils. “The organization first wanted to broaden its mandate on the English-speaking side, to be better attuned to [the realities experienced in] other provinces, and then to ensure it had a presence in Québec.”

Mission accomplished, now that Bonfils is spearheading the initiative. “I was approached by Keziah [Myers] because we worked together at SOCAN,” he says, both in the A&R Department. “She asked me if I would be interested in setting up Québec’s Board of Directors to build on what ADVANCE has accomplished, and adapt it to the Francophone reality – because, although I chair Québec’s Board, our mandate isn’t limited to this province. We aim to promote Francophone diversity across Canada.”

Musicians Corneille and Marième, as well as other industry stakeholders, like Carla Beauvais and Stéphane Moraille, Esq., were invited to sit on the Board. “Convincing them to get on board wasn’t very difficult, even though at first we didn’t know exactly where we were going with all this,” says Bonfils.

“First, we had to define our – Francophone – values, the reasons for setting up this committee, and establish our priorities for the next three years” with “realistic but ambitious” objectives in mind, says Bonfils. “Our primary goal is to understand the problems of the Black Francophonie, and then to draw up an action plan” to promote its development.

“It’s also important to create what’s called ‘generational wealth,’” he continues, “to create wealth as a bridge to the future so, that the next generations can take their place in the industry and benefit from it, without being bitter about the past… It would be ridiculous to just slam our fist on the table and say, ‘Give us this or that!’ Our message is, ‘What can we do to solve the problems, the barriers in place, in order to introduce more diversity and opportunities for people of colour?’”

To what extent does the reality of Black artists in the Québec music industry differ from that in English Canada? Language is a distinct factor, says the Chairman. “But we don’t have the same institutions” as in English Canada, he says, citing Musicaction and SODEC. “We also have our own gala,” referring to the ADISQ Awards. Thus, ADVANCE’s first challenge in Québec “will be to increase our notoriety, to make these institutions and Black artists understand that there’s now an organization that can help them,” he says, to achieve greater diversity within the Québec music industry.

ADVANCE Québec has already identified several angles to the lack of cultural diversity in the music industry, and will work to implement actions to remedy it. For example, the Board of Directors is lobbying ADISQ for the inclusion of an Award category for the R&B scene, which has been largely ignored. “There’s a Best Rap Album category, but it’s not enough,” says Bonfils. “There’s a pool of creators in this genre that aren’t represented [in the industry]. We must demonstrate to ADISQ that there are people in our community who work in this style,” he says, citing as an example Les Louanges, who adheres to the musical genre.

The other important aspect of ADVANCE’s approach is the funding of musical projects developed by Black artists. “We need to focus on the levers of development, understand why [the Black community] is not applying enough for grants [from institutions that support the industry] and why too many of those applications are rejected,” says Bonfils. “Also, we aim to create programs that will educate, inform and advance the community, for example, by reaching out to universities.”

Finally, ADVANCE Québec is committed to improve communications with members of the Black community about the tools available to them to create their businesses and develop musical projects. “When I was hired at SOCAN, I realized that there was a gap in our membership itself, musically speaking,” says Bonfils, citing artists from the hip-hop, R&B, blues, jazz, and Gospel scenes being under-represented. “Why was that? Because SOCAN is racist? Absolutely not! The problem was one of representation [of our mission to the communities] and information. Kids who were making hip-hop and putting their songs on YouTube had no idea that they could make money from their copyright royalties. Why? Because they never knew anyone like them who could explain it in their own words.

“To me, the real challenge is education, funding, and mentoring,” says Bonfils. “That will be our game plan for our first year.”



In February of 2022, Adria Kain released When Flowers Bloom. Fans had been eagerly awaiting the Toronto-based artist’s debut LP since the 2015 release of her song “Ocean.” Inspired by artists such as D’Angelo, Maxwell, Frank Ocean, André 3000, and Brandy – and crafting her own glitchy blend of R&B, jazz, and soul – Kain followed up “Ocean” with a string of equally compelling songs, including “Reverse Psychology” (2016),  “DE{com}pressed” (2017), and singles “Alone In Kenzo,” “Classic” (featuring Leila Dey), and “Ocean (Reprise).”

She’s been praised by The Fader, Complex, HYPEBAE, and more; opened for the likes of Miguel and Questlove; and sung on projects including PARTYNEXTDOOR’s second album and Allan Rayman’s ROADHOUSE 01 album.

Contemplating her music, Kain explains that challenging herself and her artistry is at the core of her approach and unique sound. “I’m learning how to play guitar,” she says. “It’s been a long, inconsistent journey, but a journey nonetheless. Even if I find the chords or melodies don’t make sense, I find myself coming up with interesting ideas that I’m excited to [explore] more.” This desire to learn and grow also extends beyond music, into content creation. “It [production, visuals, and photography] is something I’ve always been passionate about, but never fully allowed myself to dive into, full force, so [my aim is] to make that more of a focus.”

Kain allowed her debut album to unfurl naturally over six years, allowing the right songs to find their way together. “Originally, when I conceptualized this album and began working on it, I had an entirely different expectation in mind of how it was going to turn out, or what the story was going to be,” she says. “It was simply supposed to be about experiences in love.

“Writing songs is kind of like a daydream, a dream that I’m awake for”

“But I think where my life was at, it naturally became a story of accountability, and facing things in relationships that I wasn’t prepared to acknowledge, especially not out loud. It almost forced me into this space, because it was needed in order for me to tap into a certain level of emotion to create each song. Songs like ‘Only With Time,’ ‘To the Ones I’ve Loved Before,’ and ‘Lost One’ are perfect examples.”

Aa a solo singer-songwriter, Kain describes the process as “kind of like a daydream, a dream that I’m awake for… I have random moments sometimes where I’m walking somewhere and a melody or lyric idea comes to life based off of something I see or hear in real time. My songwriting process is never the same. It always depends on my emotional state, or where I am in life, and how it inspires me creatively. I could be in a moment with someone, whether it be an artist, or a partner, and an idea can spark in an instant, and I’ll have the urge to write it down to record a voice note.

“Sometimes I’m just in my own sessions, or sessions with other artists and producers, and ideas come from things I hear through production or direct instrumentation. I’ve had songs that have come to life in minutes, and songs that I’ve started and didn’t finish until months or years later. My song ‘Only With Time,’ I began writing in 2017. ‘Alone in Kenzo’ was literally a guitar loop, and I visualized that entire song about a year before I even began writing or recording it, and then it took another full year to finish the song entirely.”

This trust in her own creative timeline has resulted in an album Kain is incredibly proud and pleased to share with audiences. “After the release of my album, I realized all of the songs were sitting exactly where they needed to be sonically,” she says. “It’s such a fulfilling feeling to know you created that from your mind and soul.”