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Killah Green: 'Heavy techno pow wow'

Killah Green has one of the heaviest sounds to come of out of Indian country so far. Based in Winnipeg, their industrial metal style is perfectly suited to the force of their message. "Warpath" is a prime example of their music; hard and heavy bass and guitar, growling vocals, and over-amped drums. The war whoops have been replaced by growls screamed three octaves below middle C; you get the feeling someone is going to get hurt.

After releasing two EPs in two years, "Fried Green" and "Re-Fried Green," the trio is currently working on their first full-length (yet to be titled) CD and a DVD, both scheduled for release next year. "Re-Fried" contains "War Path" and two other songs that are being re-tooled as singles, the milder "Eagle Fly" with psychedelic vocals and flute solos replacing the guitar parts, and ultra-heavy "Still Around": "We still alive, we still around/We sing and dance on pow wow grounds." The song thunders like the sound of a thousand warriors racing out of your speakers.

Killah Green is fronted by Jesse Green on guitar and vocals, with his sister Nikki-Lee Green on bass, and Mike Bruyere on drums. Jesse and Bruyere also run a video production company and recording studio in Winnipeg at the Old Polar Bear Productions site. "I've been playing guitar since I was 10 years old," Green told Indian Country Today. "I've been exposed to it my entire life, as has my sister, who is 10 years younger than I am. She's in the same situation; she grew up with music. Nikki-Lee started playing piano when she was 5, she can take any instrument and play it. She's well trained in writing and reading music, which we are all trained in, but after years of not using it you forget. The drummer is Mike Bruyere, and he's Ojibwa. Mike also comes from a long line of musicians himself. Both his father and uncle are full-time musicians who play in bands around here."

Killah Green started in 2000, but Jesse was developing the music for five years prior to the group's inception. "I was in a band that was involved in the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards, Peacemaker," Green said. "Peacemaker released a couple of CDs and showcased a few shows, but our product was too old to nominate, or at least that's what we felt at the time, so now we want to get a full release out we can use to apply to these places again."

Though many different types of music influence Green, including pow wow drums and classical music, he says that he loves hard rock for the energy and power of the sound. He feels like Killah Green is a part of a much larger movement in Native music where punk, metal, and rap are coming to the forefront. "There's a movement because everyone is sick of 'Native music,' or at least what they call 'Native music,' like flute music," Green said. "I grew up with Metallica and Megadeath and other death metal and thrash metal bands. We don't try to sound like anyone; our own label of our music is 'heavy techno pow wow.' We wanted to make a statement. I am an activist, and in my younger years I used to be more active, protesting against the government and what happened to the Native people in the past. I was raised very untraditionally in the big cities. My mom wanted to get a degree, so we were living from Winnipeg, to Vancouver, to San Francisco. All through my childhood my father was going to music school while my mom was going to universities, so I grew up in the big cities, away from reservation, in the concrete jungle. I think that's why Killah Green is a progressive band. It wasn't until my later years, after I was 18 that I got more into my culture and back to the land."

Most of the sales off of Killah Green's Web site have been to customers south of the Canadian boarder, which Green sees as positive. "Most of our performances are for Native events, but we play a lot of non-Native venues too, like the local rock bars," Green said. "We do get a lot of work on the reservations, for National Aboriginal days, or they will have rallies or protests with a band. We would like to play the reservations more, but up here the Native community is saturated with country music, to put it honestly. There's a Native radio station here that covers the entire province, but it's been mostly country for 32 years, except for the last year or so. We're getting more interest from the states because it's more progressive music-wise. More people are into rock down there."

Green says that the band gets good reactions from young people to middle-aged fans, but very few older people. "We have fans around 40 years old, and that's pretty much the drawing line. Metallica started putting out albums in the 1980s, so now the generation that is in charge of band offices (for events) are that age, and we are almost that age, so they take a liking to us, or at least see our value, that the youth will like us."

As they own their own video company, Green and Bruyere see the DVD as the next logical extension of the band. When they are not working on their own projects, they make industrial and corporate films and do a lot of post-production work (like adding the music soundtrack) to Canadian television shows. "We're just going with the trends of marketing right now," Green said. "All the big bands are putting out DVDs so we feel that the average people need their own role models." For more information and to hear downloads of the band's music, visit Killahgreen.com.