For Fans Of: Björk, Mike Patton, Diamanda Galás
Why You Should Pay Attention: Inuit avant-garde throat singer Tanya Tagaq has been transporting and terrifying audiences since joining Björk on the Icelander's 2000 world tour and subsequent album of extreme vocalizers, Medúlla. Tagaq recently triumphed over Arcade Fire and Drake to snag Canada's 2014 Polaris Music Prize for her fourth album, Animism, a powerful collection of abstract, electronics-enhanced tracks evoking both fracking and fucking. A typical Tagaq performance, however, is a freely improvised shamanic ritual during which she exorcises her demons in real time, accompanied by violinist Jesse Zubot and drummer Jean Martin. Tagaq, 37, is self-taught and didn't start singing until her mid-20s. She later learned traditional Inuit music, which involves two women singing literally into one another's mouths. "If I love the person I'm singing with, we can really get into it."
She Says: "The person I am onstage and the person I am as a day-to-day mom cooking lasagna are totally different. My shows are cathartic. They release all the things that collect in us every day, the questions and fears about how to grapple with life and how we're all going to die, the thoughts you're not supposed to have. The best show I ever did — the most terrifying, darkest, grossest and sexiest — was last November in Montreal. It was so scary that when I'd go up the front of the stage, this packed room of people would all back away. They were terrified! Someone fainted. But other shows can be very sweet. When I don't do concerts, everything just builds up and I get eczema — and depressed.
Hear for Yourself: For her 2014 Polaris Music Prize performance, Tagaq, her band and members of the Element Choir performed in front of a screen that listed the names of hundreds of Aboriginal women that were murdered or went missing. By Richard Gehr