Spotlight On: Midnight Shine

Ontario Presents and its member presenting organizations recognize the importance of presenting Indigenous artists, stories and culture as part of their presenting practice. As we continue to encourage the respectful presentation of Indigenous art, we will be featuring an Indigenous artist each month in our e-newsletter and blog. Our sincere thanks to Denise Bolduc for conceiving of and continuing to support this Spotlight Series. Spotlights are developed with the artist, and are intended simply to share the artist’s work and foster greater awareness and understanding of the strength and diversity of Indigenous art available in Ontario and beyond. 

This month we spoke with Adrian Sutherland of the roots/rock band Midnight Shine.

Find out more about the band here.

Midnight Shine group photo

To get us started, can you tell us a bit about the band and your music?

We are a roots-rock band from the remote James Bay region of Northern Ontario – we come from the Cree communities of Attawapiskat and Moose Factory. We have a new drummer from Norway House Cree Nation in Northern Manitoba, so we span two provinces now. I guess I would describe our sound as a blend of classic and modern rock, with some roots as well.

The lead single on your new album, alongside lots of fantastic original songs, is a new cover of Heart of Gold. What drew you to this song in particular?

We chose to cover Heart of Gold because it was one of my all-time favourite songs to cover and for years I have been covering that. Also, it’s a song that I really fell in love with as a teenager and learned how to play the harmonica for that reason only. 

You wrote a very honest piece on the band’s blog about pulling this new album together. Can you talk a bit about the daunting task of writing a full album and how you overcame the pressure?

Writing for any album can be very challenging for anyone and puts a lot of pressure on the primary songwriter. I remember feeling very overwhelmed sitting in my small porch in Attawapiskat – what I call my ‘rustic’ recording studio – but at s

ome point, I decided to just write whatever came to mind, and whatever came from the heart. I had a lot of stuff to get off my chest so I really directed a lot of that energy into this album. 

Adrian Sutherland solo photo

You’ve spoken in the past about the logistical difficulty of working together from remote locations. How do you address this challenge?

Living in different communities can pose a lot of logistical challenges especially when we can’t rehearse together like most bands do. But so far we’ve managed to pull it off for every show. We do spend time rehearsing together in the cities/communities that we perform in.  We’re a pretty tight band and I can’t wait to see how much better we could be once we actually are able to spend a lot more time playing together and collaborating.   

What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects that you would like to share?

We are hoping to work on our fourth album within the next year, so this is going to require a tremendous amount of resources and it will be the first time all members of the band are going to really make an effort to collaborate for an album. My own personal goal is to work on a solo project this year, too. I am pretty excited about that whole endeavour as well. 

Where can people connect with you or get in touch?

We’re on FB, Twitter and Instagram, too @midnightshineon (all 3 platforms)

Thank you to Adrian for sharing with us!

Photos by David McDonald