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Big wins for Yk artists
Quantum Tangle takes best indigenous album and Isis Essery takes best recording package design at 2017 Juno Awards

Robin Grant
Northern News Services
Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Yellowknife has three new Juno award-winning artists after this weekend.

NNSL photograph

A split screen shot of singer-songwriter Leela Gilday, top, who announced Quantum Tangle as the winners of the best Indigenous album of the year on Saturday night. On the bottom, Greyson Gritt and Tiffany Ayalik accept the award on Saturday night during the 2017 JUNO Awards. - photo courtesy of Facebook

Quantum Tangle's Tiffany Ayalik and Greyson Gritt won best indigenous album for Tiny Hands, and Isis Essery won best recording package for her design work on Gord Downie's fifth studio album, Secret Path.

"We are tired. We're tickled. We're over the moon, exhausted. Did I say tired?" Ayalik told Yellowknifer from the airport in Ottawa. The duo were flying to Montreal and then on to Copenhagen, Denmark to perform some gigs later in the week.

"We're so excited," she continued. "It's just been an incredible, overwhelming, whirlwind trip. We're just so incredibly happy ... We're able to cry at the littlest things because we're just so honoured."

Gritt said it felt as though they were holding their breath for hours leading up to the announcement. When they saw Juno announcer Leela Gilday's face, the singer-songwriter said they both knew they had won.

"The closer we were getting to the announcement, the more we were just shaking," Gritt recalled. "We saw the look on (Gilday's) face, and we just knew - she couldn't hide it. And she was like, 'Quantum Tangle!' And she was so excited to say it (...) we didn't know that we could jump to our feet that fast."

Ayalik and Gritt are currently working on their second album, set to be released in June, and said they will be spending more time at the Banff Centre. They did a residency there last year.

Quantum Tangle started a GoFundMe campaign to help them travel to the Junos because, as Ayalik said, the cost of travelling as a musician can be high.

"Just the cost of the guitars and the things that we need to do our art and we weren't paid a whole lot," she said. "We try to go to a lot of gigs and not all of them pay the greatest, so we end up being out of pocket for a lot of things. (The GoFundMe campaign) is just able to take that edge off and help us not be in the hole for something as important as the Junos."

During the Juno Awards pre-show, the group posted a video on Facebook thanking everyone who contributed to the campaign.

Isis Essery said she was shocked beyond belief to hear her name called out for the award.

"I don't even know what happened next," she said. "I'm pretty sure I blacked out the entire time I was on stage. And then to also hear Quantum Tangle win for indigenous album of the year just tipped my happiness level to more than I could handle."

She called it an honour to have worked on a project with cultural significance. Secret Path tells the tragic story of Chanie Wenjack, a young Anishinaabe boy who died in 1966 after running away from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School in Kenora, Ont.

"Hopefully, it can be used as a tool to bring indigenous and non-indigenous people together for generations to come," she said. "If I can be even a small part of that, that's more of a reward than anything else."

She added, however, she was put off by the off-colour joke made by co-host Russel Peters about assaulting young women. Peters opened the show with a joke saying: "Look at all the young girls. This is a felony waiting to happen."

"Amongst all the happiness that this weekend brought for me, I was shocked to have to endure not only one, but two night's Juno presenters open up their sets with jokes about sexual assault," Essery wrote on Facebook. "How is this still happening? How are people so tone deaf. Please be better."

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