When it first started out in the early 2010s, RPM.fm was a mighty little website operated out of a small office in Vancouver’s Chinatown, in the heart of Coast Salish Territories. Today, it’s a record label, a “global new music platform for Indigenous music culture.” Back then, it was a website and podcast after the same goal.
It was an honour and a privilege to work with the RPM.fm team on creating and producing the RPM Podcast. Over fourteen episodes, the podcast covered various genres and topics, like the music of the North Coast, or New Traditional music, or Native Hip-Hop.
Indigenous musicians from across Turtle Island often find themselves in a unique position: they are creators of music in a variety of genres, but they also carry a common cultural background and history to the music they create that is particular to this part of the world. My friends at RPM.fm call the whole thing Indigenous Music Culture. It defies categorization: it’s not “native music”, yet it is; it’s rock, or it’s hip hop, or country, or traditional music – yet it all belongs under the same umbrella. And yet it belongs also to the broader musical subculture of each genre as well, that may have nothing to do with being Indigenous.
Sometimes, that’s forced musicians from different genres to have to compete for the same tiny square inch of coverage. When my friend Jarrett Martineau founded RPM.fm, I remember him telling me one of his goals was to dismantle those kinds of barriers and broaden the audience for all Indigenous musicians.
In 2011, at the 2011 New York Festivals Radio Awards, the “Electric Pow Wow” episode of the RPM Podcast was awarded the prestigious United Nations DPI Gold Medal, as well as a Silver Medal for best Culture & the Arts Podcast.