- Q & A with Jarrett Martineau
Q & A with Jarrett Martineau
The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts is honoured to welcome Jarrett Martineau as its new curator-in-residence. Learn more about the celebrated nêhiyaw (Plains Cree) and Dene Sųłiné producer, artist, scholar, and storyteller as he adds this new position to his impressive list of roles. Discover the artist he can’t get enough of, his top albums, and why he decided to come to the West Coast.
The song that changed your life
I’ve considered this question all week and can’t possibly narrow it down. As soon as one song comes to mind, another immediately follows…it’s been a continuous mixtape flow since I first started listening to music. But, if you ask my 11-year-old self, it would definitely be Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock’s “It Takes Two”. That song was a game changer.
“I wanna rock right now!”
Your Sunday morning music
Depending on how mellow I’m feeling,
Ali Akbar Khan, Legacy
Bill Evans, Sunday at the Village Vanguard
Bob Marley, Catch A Fire
Music for motivating yourself
Honestly, anything from the Griselda crew — Conway the Machine, Westside Gunn and Benny the Butcher are just pure power and energy. I might follow with some Kendrick Lamar, SZA, Freddie Gibbs, Black Thought, Little Simz, Anderson Paak…the rap list goes on!
For electronic sounds, Four Tet albums and DJ mixes all day (also I love that his older collabs with Burial are getting re-released).
Music to heal your soul
John Coltrane, Ballads – the first record I ever heard, and one I’ve been listening to all my life. Or anything by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan or Abida Parveen – that music flows directly from Creation to (and through) your spirit.
And our nêhiyaw ceremonial songs always ground me back into my body, the land, and the present.
Top five ( seven?) albums (not in any order)
Impossible to choose…but some of my all-time classics:
- Miles Davis, Kind of Blue
- John Coltrane, A Love Supreme
- Radiohead, Kid A
- Talking Heads, Fear of Music
- Glenn Gould, The Goldberg Variations (both versions)
- Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly
- Digable Planets, Blowout Comb
Your number 1 streamed artist on Spotify
In 2021, it was Arooj Aftab — I can’t stop listening to her stunning debut album Vulture Prince.
Ones to watch:
So many! To name just a very few: Arca, SAULT, Injury Reserve, Loma, Arooj Aftab, Hania Rani, Nala Sinephro, Arushi Jain, Lous and the Yakuza, Adria Kain, Leifur James, Moor Mother, Divide and Dissolve, Black Belt Eagle Scout…
How do you discover the artists you program?
I listen to music all the time, everywhere. I read music magazines and blogs, listen to podcasts, I go on deep dives through Spotify and YouTube tryin to break the online recommendation algorithms and unearth gems…plus, I’ve got a crew of friends that are always recommending music and sharing albums with each other.
Lately, I’ve also been finding artists through global online radio transmission from Worldwide.fm, NTS.live, KEXP, KCRW, and Radio Alhara.
What advice would you give to someone who is trying to make it as a musician? What is it that you’re looking for when you program someone?
I don’t know that I have any advice about “how to make it” – that all depends on what you’re hoping to do with your music, and what your own measures of success are. It’s hard to earn a living through music, so being realistic about those realities can help you manage your expectations. I would recommend tuning out the noise of social media as much as possible, and not paying attention to what other artists are doing. Just focus on writing the best songs, making the best records, and putting on the best live show that you can. If the music is there, in whatever genre or style you’re working in, just stay the course with it. It might take a long time to build your audience, but your fans are out there…even if they haven’t found your music yet.
For me, when it comes to programming live performances, I’m looking for artists that have a very clear artistic vision for what they do. I’m especially drawn to artists that take risks, push boundaries, and are fearless in the ways they experiment. Artists that know their sound inside and out, know how they want their show to look and feel, and that they can deliver an incredible live show, if the resources and time are there to support it. And if their fans can’t wait to see them perform live each and every chance they can get, even better.
Can you describe your journey to becoming a multi-hyphenate?
I think I’m constantly curious and hungry to seek out inspiration everywhere I can find it. I look to every form of art and music and the natural and technological worlds around me as potential sources of creativity or inquiry, and I tend to let that process of discovery guide me wherever it leads. Sometimes that’s to music, or to writing and literature, or to film and visual art, or to academic research…but however it appears, I I just try and stay open to the world and alive to the magic afoot (to quote Buffy Sainte-Marie).
Why did you say yes to becoming the curator-in-residence?
The opportunity, the team, the space, the vision for the space—everything lined up at the right time and felt like the perfect fit. This is an opportunity to bring several of my passions together in one place: sharing music that I love, letting my creative and intellectual curiosity run wild, and building pathways for artistic experimentation and community collaboration. I’m excited to program performances that will move and inspire our audiences and to put on shows that spark their curiosity to continue exploring new musical worlds.
I’m looking for artists that have a very clear artistic vision for what they do. I’m especially drawn to artists that take risks, push boundaries, and are fearless in the ways they experiment. Artists that know their sound inside and out, know how they want their show to look and feel, and that they can deliver an incredible live show, if the resources and time are there to support it. And if their fans can’t wait to see them perform live each and every chance they can get, even better.Jarrett Martineau
What is the best part about moving to the West Coast?
Turning down the constant noise of the urban onslaught and finding balance in the harmonies and frequencies of the natural world. For me, it’s not aesthetic, it’s not just about the visual appeal of “nature around us”, it’s about actually being able to tap into the quiet, gentle, and restorative power of the land itself.
Do you know how much it rains here? I hope you do not have Seasonal Affective Disorder.
I do know how much it rains…and I’m into it! As long as I have good a rain jacket and rainboots, and all the layers, take me deep into a forest even when it’s pouring rain and I’m happy.
Can institutions such as the Chan Centre/UBC decolonize?
That’s not an easy question to answer. I think institutions can play an important role in activating ideas around decolonization. By learning about their own implication in colonial histories (and the colonial present) and working to unlearn and undo embedded practices that perpetuate inequity and harm, that’s a necessary step in the right direction. I think expanding Indigenous presence (and in the case of the Chan and UBC, specifically xʷməθkʷəy̓əm presence) is critical, given the unceded territory on which the university and the Chan are located. Then, letting those relationships guide the steps, priorities, and timelines that institutions can take from there, and ensuring that those actions are led by Indigenous Peoples, that’s all part of building a foundation for change. But I see decolonization as an inter-generational, long-term project that requires mutuality and patience—it requires a willingness on everyone’s part to be okay with trying things, with failures and making mistakes, and that means we need to cultivate relationships of trust, respect and generosity. We need to be kind with each other as we navigate the unknown, new terrain of undoing and rebuilding together.
Books that have ignited your imagination
So so many, but to name a few:
- Claudia Rankine, Citizen
- Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts
- Aja Monet, My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter
- Rachel Cusk, Second Place
- Richard Powers, The Overstory
- Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow
…and I just picked up the new J Dilla biography Dilla Time and it looks amazing!
What are you watching on TV these days?
I just came back around to watching Treme again and loving it the second time around. I’ve also been watching a bunch of other HBO shows: Station Eleven, Watchmen, Mare of Easttown, How to with John Wilson, and Hacks.
On your off-time, what do you like to do?
In non-pandemic times, I love travelling…going to festivals, seeing live music, visiting museums and galleries, going camping. The past two years have meant a lot more time at home (and away from crowds), so they’ve been full of forest walks, ocean time, island escapes, reading, and watching movies through a projector that covers a whole wall of the living room.
Favourite places you’ve ever been to?
New York, Mauna Kea, Haida Gwaii, Berlin, Chengdu, Gotland – but the one that I return to most often is a special spot, way up in the mountains, in Jasper National Park. There’s nothing like the power of that place to humble you and make you feel connected to the deep, spiritual undercurrents that course through Turtle Island.
Thank you for your time and your thoughtful answers, Jarrett, and welcome to the Chan Centre!