Inuvialuit electronic musician drops new album inspired by Beaufort Delta's dark winter

·3 min read
Bandon Larocque, left, is a musician from Inuvik who goes by BrandonSonnet. He is pictured with his former classmate, music collaborator and friend, Brian Charlicki, known as Mñso. (Submitted by Brian Charlicki - image credit)
Bandon Larocque, left, is a musician from Inuvik who goes by BrandonSonnet. He is pictured with his former classmate, music collaborator and friend, Brian Charlicki, known as Mñso. (Submitted by Brian Charlicki - image credit)

Picture yourself on a journey through space, leaving your home on Earth, a place where you may never return.

That's the inspiration Inuvialuit musician Brandon Larocque (aka BrandonSonnet) used to drop his second self-produced album in early April called The Look Back Lounge.

Submitted by Brandon Larocque
Submitted by Brandon Larocque

Larocque, who was born and raised in Inuvik but is now based out of Fort Simpson, said he's motivated to help diversify N.W.T. music.

"The piano on this last album was all on me, I played every single note of that and all the drums and everything else like that are done on the computer," said Larocque.

"I'm really proud of it because I produce, I write it, I record it, and then I mix and master it myself."

He said he's been a musician for about nine years, he worked with other musicians as a producer after graduating from Edmonton's Blue Pixel College music school. Wanting to go solo as an artist, he dropped his first album Odyssey in 2020.

The musical inspirations come from the Beaufort Delta's above-the-tree-line tundra and the long dark winters through melancholy tones, he said. He successfully completed a goal for himself — to finish the album when he turned 30 on April 1.

"Growing up in Inuvik, me and my buddies were not like skidoo guys, or anything like that. So we needed to find different things to do in the winter time, to keep us busy," Larocque said.

Submitted by Brandon Larocque
Submitted by Brandon Larocque

Larocque comes from a family of talented fiddlers and folk singers including his cousin the late 'Fiddler of the Arctic' Colin Adjun, whose son Gustin is also a talented musician.

However Larocque said he likes to break outside the box musically and encourages others to do so as well.

"Sure, we're really good at folk singing and stuff like that, but that's not all we're good at. We can step out of that and do whatever we want. We've always been very resourceful," Larocque said.

"My whole studio fits in a backpack, I have my laptop, I have a little piano, it's got eight drum pads on it," he said. "The level of creativity that you can reach is almost limitless with this stuff."

'There's a lot more music to come'

For The Look Back Lounge, Larocque partnered with fluent Spanish artist and former music school classmate Brian Charlicki.

"I see him as a brother," said Charlicki, who goes by the artist name Mñso.

"I remember when he released his first song, he was very excited, I was excited for him.

"Being able to see [him] actually working on his music completely by himself, it's amazing."

He empathizes with the sometimes daunting experience of breaking through traditional expectations, said Charlicki, who is of Nicaraguan and Polish background.

"When it comes to culture, I feel like there's always a side that a lot of people don't understand," he said.

"And I feel like that's where I can relate to it because I know that there's a lot of traditions that come with him … and they're afraid of change, and they're afraid to understand what is abnormal to them."

Larocque is planning to drop his third album later this year, which will be funded by a grant.

"There's a lot more music to come," said Charlicki.

"With the way that Brandon is going, it only gets better. So I can't wait to see what happens in the future."

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