Aasiva


Courtesy Aakuluk Music

Aasiva (Colleen Nakashuk) is a singer/songwriter originally from Panniqtuuq (Pangnirtung), NU, who now lives in Iqaluit, NU. In addition to writing, singing and throat singing, Aasiva plays a variety of instruments including the ukelele, fiddle, guitar, accordion and piano.

Aasiva began performing around age 11, but her music career didn’t really get going until she picked up the ukelele while studying at the Nunavut Sivuniksavut program in Ottawa, ON. Aasiva used to visit the music room and play instruments in between classes, and one day realised there were a few instruments she didn’t know how to play. “I think the ukelele surprises a lot of people,” she says about what has now become her signature sound, but “I fell in love with it. It was just an instant connection that I’d never experienced previously with other instruments.” [1] While she had previously attempted songwriting, with the ukelele in hand “all of a sudden I had a whole album written!”

Her self titled debut album, released in 2018, was all about her experience as a young woman moving to Ottawa and experiencing loneliness and homesickness. It was nominated for Best Folk Album at the Indigenous Music Awards in 2019; Aasiva was nominated for Best New Artist. Aasiva’s second album Niriunniq (2021) is about hope in the face of grief, representing Aasiva’s reconnection with music after losing her mother—“my number one fan.” Track 3 on the album, “Ungalirakki,” which means “I miss you,” was the first song she wrote after her mother’s passing. This album also features a number of famous collaborators—singer songwriter Terry Uyarak helped her translate her lyrics between English and Inuktitut, and is featured on “Tulugaq”; “Piqatiikka” features pop singer-songwriter Riit, who grew up with Aasiva in Panniqtuuq; and rapper FckMr beatboxes underneath the entire album. Aasiva and FckMr together perform their own version of “throatboxng”, she throatsinging while he beatboxes.

While Aasiva’s work incorporates folk, pop and indie elements, rather than defining it by any of these genres Aasiva thinks of her work simply as being contemporary or modern Inuit music. In addition to incorporating throat singing, she writes all the songs in Inuktitut. Among her influences, she counts the aforementioned Riit as well as Beatrice Deer and Elisapie Isaac—“they showed me that you can face all these obstacles as Inuit, as Inuit women and you can be successful.” She even chose to use her middle name Aasiva as her stage name to better identify herself as Inuit to listeners and fellow musicians, and to honour the great grandmother who shares the name with her.

In addition to releasing music, Aasiva is also passionate about teaching music to others, with a lifetime goal of becoming a music instructor. In school in Iqaluit she remembers instructors coming from the south to teach instruments twice a year. However, the language barrier, the short time allotted to each instructor and the lack of instruments—instructors took their instruments back to the south with them—all made it a tough environment in which to learn. To increase musical education in Nunavut, Aavisa embarked on the Uke’cray tour in 2019, travelling to three communities for week-long ukelele lessons. Although grounded during the pandemic, she hopes to restart the tours soon with even more communities.

About Aasiva

Medium:

Music, Performance

Artistic Community:

Iqaluit, NU

Date of Birth:

Artists may have multiple birth years listed as a result of when and where they were born. For example, an artist born in the early twentieth century in a camp outside of a community centre may not know/have known their exact date of birth and identified different years.

1997