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Music ‘My songs are a way of preserving the language’: Riit is a pioneer of Inuktitut electropop

Riit, from majestic Panniqtuq, Nunavut, is a new artist making space for herself in the electropop world with Inuktitut lyrics and deep rhythmic vocals layered over gemological synth cuts and sticky, staticky electronic textures.

Bettina Bogar

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Riit

Who she is: Rita Claire Mike-Murphy, an Inuit singer who expresses herself musically in icy Inuktitut electro-pop and strummed alt-folk sounds, was raised in Panniqtuq, Nunavut. Part of an Arctic youth music movement and recently signed to Toronto-based Six Shooter Records, Riit incorporates guttural traditional throat singing in avant-garde but accessible ways.

Riit's music emerges from very distinct circumstances of place, language and experience.

Bettina Bogar/Handout

What she does: Whether on her self-titled 2017 EP, her latest single Qaumajuapik or as host of the children’s television show Anaana’s Tent, Riit champions the Inuktitut language. “Choosing to present my songs in Inuktitut has never been a difficult decision," she says. “I’ve definitely had thoughts of whether or not more people across Canada, or across the world, would listen to my music more if it were in English, but Inuktitut is my mother tongue and it’s the language I’m most comfortable writing and singing in. My songs are a way of preserving the language, and to encourage people to speak it."

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What’s with the new single: Qaumajuapik is an Inuktitut love song that translates to “you are shining.” It was written during a trip to Thailand, about an Australian man who had helped her through a rough breakup. “I had been with somebody who was very manipulative,” the young singer-songwriter explains. “The song helped me move on from something that was very toxic in my life.”

What’s next: Her yet-to-be-titled debut album is set to drop this fall.

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