With a style perpetually galvanized by darkness and haunting northern beauty, sisters Tiffany Kuliktana Ayalik and Kayley Inuksuk Mackay come together to create the Inuit-style throat-singing duo PIQSIQ. Performing ancient traditional songs and eerie new compositions, they leave their listeners enthralled with the infinity of possible answers to the question, “What is the meaning of life?”
PIQSIQ performs October 12 at The Farquhar at UVic Jamie Cassels Centre, beginning at 7 pm. This marks the second performance in the Farquhar’s Voices In Circle series.
Mackay and Ayalik loved to practice throat singing as children, connecting to their Inuit culture through tapes of ancient throat songs sent by cousins living in Nunavut. As they honed their skill over years of hard work, they learned about the Canadian government and Catholic church’s attempts to punish, ban and shame Inuit throat singing into near extinction. Throat singing became a radical act of reclamation—music as cultural revitalization—and the sisters remained faithful to the traditional elements of throat singing for a long time.
PIQSIQ’s name stems from the sisters’ shared feelings of confusion regarding their identities growing up. In Inuktitut, a “piqsiq” is a type of storm where winds blow in a very specific way, making it look like the snow is falling back up towards the sky. Being children of blended backgrounds, born into two very different worlds, Mackay and Ayalik always felt they had to navigate strange cultural waters, but have learned to embrace the joys and challenges of mixed Indigeneity today. Whatever way it’s falling, snow is snow and true to their name, PIQSIQ is dedicated to mixing things up.
Mackay and Ayalik have performed many traditional style sets over the last two decades, and are now blending their style with new technology. Their live performances, in alignment with throat singing’s original form, take inspiration from the world around them combined with their own thoughts and feelings and an invitation to the audience to help steer the journey their songs will take.
Tickets, $36/$32 (students), are available at UVic Ticket Centre at (250) 721-8480 or visit tickets.uvic.ca.