As Marc Meriläinen, the Toronto-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and all-around visionary better known as Nadjiwan says, “Humans have always questioned and wondered about both our purpose and origins in the universe. There are numerous stories in Indigenous cultures of the ‘star people’ visiting us throughout history with the purpose of teaching us a greater understanding of not only the universe, but ourselves. In short, we ultimately come from the stars.”
Nadjiwan, of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation, grew up hearing those stories of star people, instilling within him a lifelong fascination with science fiction that he’s frequently incorporated into his musical body of work that now numbers a dozen releases since 1994.
The latest Nadjiwan album, Star Nation -- out May 28 via Heading North Music -- may be his most ambitious project yet. Although its 10 songs can be simply described as comprising a “space-rock opera,” the album as a whole is a mind-blowing sonic journey into the outer limits, powered by Nadjiwan’s adventurous take on modern rock. Underpinning it are traditional musical elements, which adds up to a heady mix unlike (it’s fair to say) any other rock and roll being made at this moment. The title track encapsulates much of that, and is available today on all digital platforms. WATCH the video now exclusively at Amplify.
Transforming the sound and image of Indigenous music has been one of Nadjiwan’s goals from the very beginning, and his prodigious output has been recognized in many corners, including the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards, the Native American Music Awards, the Indigenous Music Awards, and Toronto’s Dora Mavor Moore Awards for the Performing Arts.
In 2010, he was invited to perform at the Vancouver Winter Olympics and in 2015, at the Pan-Am Games in Toronto. The early 2020 Nadjiwan album The Dog Lake Sessions was described by Exclaim! in its 9/10 review as “a vibrant narrative told through the movement of intense feelings.” The most recent Nadjiwan release came later that year in the form of the “lockdown” EP Anomalous, featuring live versions of previously released tracks, along with a new song written specifically for the project.
Now with Star Nation, Nadjiwan has created what may be his masterpiece. It’s an album that transcends any immediate categorization, while appealing directly to the sensibilities of even the most casual progressive rock fan. If you’re willing to take the trip, just press play and blast off.