An Indigenous music grant from FPCC supported Saltwater Hank’s road to releasing his new music in Sm’algya̱x.
For as long as he remembers, Ts’msyen storyteller and songwriter Jeremy Pahl (stage name Saltwater Hank) has been writing poetry and prose. He carries the name Wil Uks Batsga G̱a̱laaw (where the cedar tree stands out on the point, facing seaward), and is La̱xsgyiik (eagle clan), from the house of Txat Gwatk (the mountain that looks like crystal). In 2022 he was a participant he received an Indigenous music grant through the First Peoples’ Cultural Council for professional production and marketing of his new Sm’algya̱x language album, G̱a̱l’üünx Wil Lu Holtga Liimi.
Along with his music making, he is currently working with the Ts’msyen Sm’algya̱x Language Authority on their language site on FPCC’s language-sharing platform, FirstVoices.com. He also began FPCC’s Language Mentor-Apprentice Program in 2022, to deepen his language learning through immersion with a fluent speaker. Jeremy’s love of his language naturally found its way into his music.
t’ilg̱oolsk ‘Thoughts in Sm’algya̱x’
Jeremy doesn’t worry about audiences not receiving his music the way he intends, because he takes care to introduce his songs for audiences of English speakers, explaining the meaning behind a song. He’s worked on his language skills for years, to now be at a point where he starts in Sm’algya̱x
“I am able to think first in Sm’algya̱x when writing a song, and then try to translate it into English after,” says Jeremy. “Early on in my language journey, it was the opposite… If I was to create for an audience, then I don’t think the intention of my work would be a hundred percent authentic and the work itself wouldn’t be authentic. So I kind of just go with what makes me excited, what makes me feel good to create.”
Culture plays a role in his creative efforts, with songs mentioning cultural ways and teachings that were handed down from generations before him. Jeremy gives an example of a song, ‘Nii wila waalt’ that describes harvesting Protocols. “I get to pass those on,” he says, “so it’s a really important thing to me.”
Below you will find Saltwater Hank’s studio-recorded version of Nii wila waalt, currently available on his new album.
Growing up in a musical family, Jeremy says “we still get together whenever we can to play music together.” Looking back, he’s grateful music wasn’t an expectation, and lessons weren’t imposed. Rather, it was something in him waiting for him. When he was 11 years old, he picked up the guitar and that was the beginning of his music-making.
Some of his more traditional songs reflect the spirituality behind his creativity. He gives an example of an unrecorded song he sang at his last eagle feast, “there was one melody that came to me as a result of wind.” That creation and others hold spiritual meaning for Jeremy.
“Creating music is a spiritual act in itself because I don’t know where it comes from,” says Jeremy. “I feel like I might have the influence of ancestors…they don’t write the songs for me, but I think they’re there– and it feels like they’re there.”
Anoog̱u amuksu ła liimit “I enjoy listening when he sings”
FPCC is committed to supporting Indigenous artists at each stage of their music career. In addition to his current album release and involvement in FPCC’s Mentor-Apprentice Program for language immersion, we are honoured to have supported Jeremy through FPCC’s Virtual Performance Training Program in preparation for his appearance in Indigifest 2021.
“The FPCC team is there to help you succeed,” says Jeremy. “They are very accessible, they’re very reachable for any questions that you have about grants or funding or upcoming opportunities.”
Congratulations to Jeremy on the release of this ground-breaking album Sm’algya̱x. We encourage you to take a listen to his music, check out a live show if he is visiting your area and support Indigenous music! If you are a First Nations, Métis or Inuit music professional who is living in B.C. the Arts Music Program is currently accepting applications for individual musicians, performance and touring, recording engineers and industry internships. Scroll down for more information. This summer, Saltwater Hank has tour dates all across B.C. Check out his Facebook page for his upcoming performance dates and more.
FPCC’s Music Program
FPCC’s Music Program is now open for eligible First Nations, Métis and Inuit music creatives living in B.C. The following grants are currently available:
- Creation & Sharing – Up to $20,000
- Recording Engineers – Mentorship – Up to $30,000
- Industry Professionals – Internship or Mentorship – Up to $20,000
Deadlines for submissions will close on September 15th, 2023. Click here to learn more about FPCC’s Music Grants and to watch the info Session.
Funding for the Music Program is supported by Creative BC and the Province of British Columbia.
All FPCC Arts grants are now accepting applications. For more info click here
View all FPCC grants currently accepting applications here.
Explore more stories about Arts and other program areas here!
When possible, language recordings were shared from the public Sm’algya̱x site on FirstVoices.com using Soundcite.
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