Up next in today’s exclusive Canada Day content: Mike Bern, an award-winning singer-songwriter from Tobique First Nation, NB. A while back, Bern was good enough to share his new EP Waponahkew with me. Read more about that HERE. Then read on as he tackles my dumb questions.
Introduce yourself: Name, age (feel free to lie), home base, other details you’d like to share (height, weight, identifying marks, astrology sign, your choice).
My name is Mike Bern from Wolastoqewiyik Territory in Atlantic Canada. I’m 23 plus 20 years old. My zodiac sign is sagittarius, a fire sign. One of my first girlfriends got me into astrology. It was fun hearing your daily horoscope and how accurate it would was at times. I’ll share my daily horoscope with you: Too much togetherness? You may be needing some space today — to develop a vision, to decompress or maybe just to hear yourself think. And no, it’s not “selfish” if you carve out a little private plot for yourself even if you’re quarantining with your family, roommates or bae. You won’t be productive if you can’t reset your still point every now and then. Do what’s needed to bring more peace and comfort to your den — noting this is a quick-moving transit and you’ll be your outgoing self again in no time!
What is your musical origin story?
I remember listening to records with my late uncle at a young age. He open the door for me with rock n’ roll, bands like the Eagles, Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan. From that point in my life I always dreamt of being those amazing artists on vinyl. I will dedicate my musical career to him. I miss you uncle and thank you. Koselomal
What do we need to know about your latest project?
I wanted to showcase my love and pride for my people. Wolastoqewiyik meaning “People of the beautiful river). I wanted to share our language with the rest of the world. I always wanted to do an acoustic album and do what I’ve always wanted to do. Drumming, chanting and singing my native tongue. I hope it gives people a little look at who we are as people’s. We are just a small fraction of the population of Canada, let’s hope it brings love to your hearts.
What truly sets you apart from other artists?
I really can’t say there are a lot of Wolastoqew artists out there, other than the super talented Jeremey Dutcher which also comes from my home Rez Tobique First Nation. I love that I can sing in my language and share with the rest of the world.
What will I learn or how will my life improve by listening to your music?
People will learn a little bit of the wolastoqew language. Once an elder told me “if we don’t have our language who are we?”.
Tell us about the first song you wrote and / or the first gig you played and what you got paid.
First song I wrote was Fearless. I wrote it while I was with the band Kickin’ Krotch. My niece came and ask me if I could help her with an assignment with school. It was an indigenous day project where she had to write how it feels to be native in Canada.
What is the best / worst / strangest / most memorable performance you gave?
I remember we were gonna perform at the Indigenous summer games in Regina. We were waiting to go on next and our set was canceled with tornado warnings. I mean we never got to perform but it was strange for sure.
What is the best / worst / strangest / most memorable performance you’ve seen another artist give?
While we we performing a show in Boise, Idaho. I can’t remember the band’s name. But one dude liked busting bottles over his head, piercing his cheek and swallowing swords. Let’s just say there was a lot of blood and a very strange audience. Something I’ll never forget.
What do you want to be doing in 10 years?
I want to be working in my own studio, helping young musicians create their craft. I want to help them get their music out in the world. It can get frustrating in this business and that is why a lot of them give up.
What living or dead artists would you collaborate with if you could?
I’ve always been a big fan of Soundgarden and Chris Cornell. I’d love to be able to pick his brain and see where he gets his inspiration from. Man that would be so awesome.
What artist or style of music do you love that would surprise people?
Frank Sinatra has the golden voice. I could listen to him for days.
What are your favourite songs / albums / artists right now?
Right now I’m driving with my girlfriend to St. Andrews by the sea and we are listening to Bug Eyes by Mt. Joy. I enjoy listening to that album quite a bit. Rearrange Us is an amazing album. My all-time favourite album is Lonesome Dreams by Lord Huron. Give it a listen you won’t be disappointed.
Who would you be starstruck to meet?
Buck Martinez, sports commentator for Sportsnet. I love baseball and the Blue Jays.
What’s your favourite joke?
Why do we tell actors to “break a leg?” Because every play has a cast. Lol
What do you drive and why?
I drive a 2010 Chevy Cobalt, because I have terrible credit. You’re getting kind of personal here. Lol
What superpower do you want and how would you use it?
I’m not sure if it counts as a super power, but I make some delicious homemade pickles.
What skills — useful or useless — do you have outside of music?
I make pickles! So I am useful as a pickler.
What do you collect?
I collect baseball memorabilia.
If I had a potluck, what would you bring?
KD & Hutdogs hutcha!
What current trend or popular thing do you not understand at all?
Not sure about the whole TikTok thing.
Tell us about your current and/or former pets.
We have a dog name Lola. She likes softballs. When there is a tournament in town she’ll be the first one there fetching the foul balls.