On a hilltop overlooking the tiny town of Cando, Saskatchewan is what looks like a typical family home.
This white house is a home of sorts to a world of Indigenous words and music and it’s where owner George Parker launched his music platform called Indigenous Cloud.
“We started up our own company around 1996. We were a record label, as well as a distribution company. We went around North America, recording some of the top Indigenous artists out there. That kind of laid the groundwork over those years for what we’ve got today,” Parker told APTN News.
Walking into Parker’s control room on a late Thursday afternoon, the beat of drums and traditional singers streams from the studio speakers.
It’s somehow comforting and exciting at the same time. It’s where the magic of mixing and production happens with a couple of computer monitors and digital editing equipment.
Through a window into the recording studio, some instruments can be seen lining the room, and a microphone stands at the ready-waiting for the next vocalist to come through the doors.
Entering the space, you can sense the passion Parker has poured into his creation.
Parker is Métis, born and raised in Cando, and began his career in the early 90s with the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre (SICC) in Saskatoon. Parker soon realized there were a lot of stories that needed to be told.
“Over the last 30 years, I’ve managed to put together one of the largest collections of Indigenous music in North America,” he said.
Parker said things started to change as technology advanced. He noticed a difference when CD burners were introduced, allowing people to copy music, instead of pay for it. And then, digital music platforms and streaming came along, and Parker said he had to evolve.
Parker and his partners approached a Silicon Valley company to develop a platform to showcase Indigenous talent, but they got even more-with Indigenous Cloud.
Parker told APTN that he wants Indigenous Cloud to be a cultural hub.
“It started out I was after a music streaming platform. As it turned out they just created something beyond what I expected them to come up with, and their capabilities are unlimited. We created a platform with my partners and I that’s second to none in the world right now for entertainment. We have live music streaming capabilities, we have live concerts, as well as fan meet and greets inside the platform.”
The online network will soon be home to a new and exclusive entertainment show.
TP Talks hosted by actress Tamara Podemski will showcase Indigenous entertainers from across the country. Podemski is known for her role in 2022’s Reservation Dogs, and the TV series Coroner.
Other big names in Indigenous entertainment like actress Devery Jacobs, model Ashley Callingbull, actor, director Michael Greyeyes, and music producer and performer DJ Shub will be seen in upcoming social media promos for their episodes.
The show is in post-production and expected to debut on Indigenous Cloud in early 2023.
It’s an exciting development for Parker’s company. Parker described his journey in his light-filled recording studio in Cando, about a 90 minute drive west of Saskatoon in Treaty 6 territory.
According to Parker, he is light years ahead of where he started with his old record label “Drum Groups of North America.”
“It morphed into DNA Entertainment, and from DNA Entertainment, it morphed into the Indigenous Cloud Network. We have Black Rain, Red Bull, Big River Cree. Mostly traditional albums is what I kind of focused in on. But right now, we’re trying to bring all the artists under one streaming platform.”
Indigenous Cloud CEO and creative director, Morgan Bell was brought on board when he was with his former marketing company three years ago and is now working full-time for the venture.
He said there are so many things they’re hoping to achieve with the platform but preserving and promoting Indigenous Culture remains the foundation of the company.
“(Indigenous Cloud) kind of flourished as a cultural hub and that was a beautiful thing because when I first met with George, I said ‘hey, I love your idea, but I see this as something bigger, there’s so much need for this, and so many people in and out of the community that needs this,” Bell said.
Bell said he sees the Indigenous Cloud network’s role as one of connecting communities and empowering Indigenous content creators.
“There’s so much need for the teachings, there’s so much need to preserve these elder’s discussions, there’s so much need to facilitate more connection,” Bell said.
“There’s no competition, we’re just here to facilitate more exposure, and give people the opportunity to really garner the return they need, because sometimes those Spotify’s and Youtube’s aren’t really as fair to the artist, so we really wanted to do that.
“And then on the other side, a portion of our proceeds going directly to a rotating list of Indigenous Community programs. It’s all about circle and all we’re trying to do is give people a professional look, and get the word out there and again, build that connection.”
Parker said he thinks his platform can help with reconciliation as well.
“That’s definitely one of our goals to help and educate, bring people together. I guess-try and clear up the stereotype that Hollywood created over the years, and try to show people the true Indigenous culture, and facilitate healing.”
In the meantime, Parker will continue providing his recording studio and production skills to Indigenous artists of all kinds.