Adjusting the Drum/Adjusting to the Drum: Translation and Adaptation in A Tribe Called Red’s Powwow Step

By Katie Moore, Concordia University | this article is available in pdf

Abstract

A Tribe Called Red (ATCR) are an aboriginal producer/DJ crew who mix traditional powwow vocals and drumming with electronic dance music (EDM) rhythms to create powwow step. Through their concerts – which often showcase aboriginal talent and culture on stage and can include visuals that recontextualize depictions of stereotypical views of North American aboriginals in pop culture –, ATCR have amassed a large following in the EDM scene and urban club culture in Canada, the United States and Europe. This article examines the ways in which a network of interconnected translational acts of space, time, representation, music and intent are at work in the processes involved in bringing powwow into the dance club scene, with the goal of determining whether powwow step is an adaptation of the powwow, and what this qualification entails for translation itself.

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