The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Baker's Dozen

Northern Uproar: Tanya Tagaq's Favourite Albums
John Freeman , November 30th, 2016 10:06

With the release of her phenomenal new album, Retribution, the Inuit throat singer talks to John Freeman about the albums that make her laugh and cry. And laugh some more.

Tanya Tagaq's music is fuelled by anger. Tagaq is an Inuit from the northern Canadian province of Nunavut and her fourth album, the magnificent Retribution, seethes with pounding rage – a rage fuelled by injustices inflicted on women, on the indigenous people of Canada and on Planet Earth itself. So, when Tanya and I meet up again to discuss her favourite albums, we make a deal. She had wanted to include Pink Floyd's The Wall ("because it is so, so good") at the expense of an album by US horror punks, Misfits. Tanya explained that the Misfits album represented her anger as a young woman and "that wouldn't be of interest for anyone." I chance my arm and beg to differ. Tanya Tagaq's anger is very, very interesting.

And that's because Tanya Tagaq is – in the true sense of the word – extraordinary. I have seen just how extraordinary at first hand. A year ago, at Manchester's Band On The Wall venue, and on the back of her Polaris Prize-winning album Animism, Tagaq produced a display of throat-singing that completely transfixed an audience of a hundred people, who had clearly never witnessed the like before. The experience was deeply primal, utterly moving and totally unforgettable.

So, this may all point to Tagaq being intense and dour in person, and her Baker's Dozen reading as a shock-fest of angst-riddled torment. Wrong. Having both met in person after the Manchester show and interviewed her twice for tQ I can vouch for the fact that Tanya is an absolute hoot and the purveyor of a seriously rib-crunching hug.

In fact, as she talks me through her 13 favourite albums via a Skype link, it becomes obvious that one of the main reasons that AC/DC, Motörhead, Miles Davis, Father John Misty and her beloved "Weird Al" Yankovic all appear on her list is their ability to make her laugh. Indeed, throughout our interview, Tanya's reminisces are punctuated by multiple giggling fits. Apart from when she tells me about the Misfits album. And then shit gets real.

As we wind down the chat, and with Tanya about to head out to pick her kids up from school, I ask her about the underlying themes that connect her choices. She is briefly wrong-footed. "I have to admit that I haven't even thought of that. I suppose the albums are pretty different from each other. I assume what connects them is that none of them are overly contrived or pretentious. I think all of the music on this list is real." Retribution is as real as music gets in the shit-show that is 2016.

Retribution is out on 18th November via Six Shooter. Tanya Tagaq is on tour in the UK in January. Click the image below to begin reading her Baker's Dozen. Listen to a playlist of songs from the Baker's here