Jerry Cans make label, album'Our daughters really bring out the passion in us': Nancy Mike
Northern News Services
Monday, October 10, 2016
The home of The Jerry Cans' Nancy Mike and Andrew Morrison overflows with life.
Steve Rigby, left, Gina Burgess, Brendan Doherty Nancy Mike and Andrew Morrison, who together make up the popular band The Jerry Cans are set to release their latest album Nov. 4 on the first made-in Nunavut record label Aakuluk Music, founded by three of the band members. - photo courtesy The Jerry Cans
Here they are creating a family - their daughters are three and two - music, children's books and a new record label, all while Mike works as a nurse and Morrison completes a Master's degree.
Mike and Morrison have formed Nunavut's first record label, Aakuluk Music, with band-mate Steve Rigby. Aakuluk's first release comes from The Jerry Cans themselves, titled Inuusiq/Life. The label is also working on albums from Kathleen Ivaluarjuk Merritt, Riit (Rita Claire Mike-Murphy) and Agaaqtoq (Abraham Eetak).
The couple sits close on their sofa, next to the tell-tale sign of busy lives - a load of laundry yet to be folded.
Where to begin? The new Jerry Cans album or the new record label?
"The recording company ... Our passion really goes towards Aakuluk Music, young people," said Mike, who explains aakuluk is a term of endearment, very similar to "I love you."
"You can say it to your children, your friends, anyone you want to show caring to."
Mike and Morrison have built a studio in their home. They hope to work with young artists, to whom they can also teach the fine art of grant applications and the business of self-promotion and organizing tours. Aakuluk Music will be structured a bit like a collective, where everyone pitches in to get the work done.
"We're our own booking agents, our own record label, our own distribution," Morrison said, noting southern labels would have a person for each role.
Michael Phillip Wojewoda, the multiple Juno-award-winning producer who worked on The Jerry Cans' new album, travelled to Iqaluit to help them with the studio.
"That's a massive opportunity," Morrison said. "He won the Polaris Prize last year with Buffy Sainte-Marie. He kind of gives you immediate legitimacy like when we promote the demo Riit will do."
Mike and Morrison work closely together. The couple is writing Inuktitut children's books, and an Inuktitut-language learning workbook for Inuktitut second-language learners.
They want their daughters and other children in Nunavut to be able to access Inuit culture, Inuktitut music and books. It's what drives them.
"Our daughters really bring out the passion in us," said Mike. "I grew up with that idea that being white was cooler. That really had an impact. I don't want that to happen with young people nowadays. I want them to be very proud to be Inuk, and be proud to speak their own language."
As for the Jerry Cans' new album, scheduled for release Nov. 4, it's a natural progression from the previous album, titled Aakuluk, which was, as Mike says, "mostly about my late father."
"We were kind of going through that phase of me, personally, losing a father, and grieving," she said. Their daughter, Livee - named after Mike's father - graces the cover of the new album.
"On Aakuluk we were talking about people passing away, young people taking their own lives," said Morrison. In Inuuqsiq/Life, "there are lots of lyrics encouraging people to accept the beauty of life, even if it has very dark spots."
The album is currently available for advance purchase on the Aakuluk Music website.