“Mad Eskimo” marches to a different beat

For Montreal DJ Geronimo Inutiq, “all the world is music.”



IQALUIT — His name is Geronimo Inutiq, but you can call him the Mad Eskimo.

Don’t worry, you won’t offend him.

The Mad Eskimo is his DJ handle, and Inutiq is passionate about DJing.

His passion began more than seven years ago in Quebec City.

“My dad had a bunch of old music equipment kicking around, like old synthesizers and drum machines. He’s an artist, so he likes anything that’s creative and he wanted to instill in me a sense of music.

“So, I started playing around with the machines,” Inutiq, 22, says in a telephone interview from his home in Montreal where he’s raising a family while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Concordia University.

“As a youth, I’d go and wander around the city and I’d hang out at the basketball park and I met these dudes who were rapping,” he says. “I went up to them and said, ‘I make music, I can make some beats,’ and we hooked up.”

Inutiq’s family is originally from Clyde River, but he spent most of his childhood living in Iqaluit with his Inuk mother.

His father is a Québecois artist whose work has been exhibited at the National Gallery of Canada.

In 1989, Inutiq moved to Quebec City to attend school because his father was worried about the quality of education he was receiving up North.

Today, Inutiq is grateful for his intimate acquaintance with two distinct societies that are both noted for their artistic, cultural and linguistic richness.

Inutiq is fluent in Inuktitut, French and English, and he slides easily between each.

In person, he appears laconic and unflappable – characteristics he sometimes jokes are the products of his “Inuit reticence.”

But these characteristics also make him seem street-wise and cool.

Therefore, he doesn’t come across as a poseur or a wannabe when he recalls the years he spent rapping and making beats with Presha Pack.

“We would do shows in Quebec City — we would draw a few hundred people every show,” he says. “We were a big crew, like six people.

“It was kind of a loose organization. … At one point we had a live drummer, guitarist, a couple of DJs,” Inutiq says. “I’d rap in English, and a couple of people rapped in French.

“I’d rap but it wasn’t intricate like my friends. (It was more like a) stream of consciousness.”

Presha Pack disbanded four years ago when the group’s leader returned to his home in Senegal, Africa.

Two years ago, Inutiq started producing his music digitally on his PC with free software he downloaded from the Internet.

“In hip-hop, I would just work with samples of non-original material from other peoples’ records,” he says. “I would spend a lot of time looking for records with little pieces of music that I could manipulate into new songs.

“(But) I wanted to compose my music, so I got myself a computer. With a computer, there’s a considerable amount of things you can do. You can sequence your tracks, you can just load it up with samples of any type of sound.”

Last month he debuted some of his tracks — like “Ice Sculpture,” “Even Odds” and “Itchy” online at a Web page hosted by MP3.com.

He produced the tracks about a year ago.

“What I do now is removed from rap,” he explains. “It’s still linked because it’s what you call urban music, but it’s more of electronica, techno, slight influence of drum and bass, house a bit.

“In hip-hop, there’s a group of people who are anti-techno, but I like to keep open boundaries.”

Since launching his Web page, Inutiq admits he hasn’t hit the financial jackpot, but says that doesn’t matter because he’s into making music rather than making money off of music.

And, he says, other DJs are sharing his passion.

“I’ve been getting responses [to the web page] from Australia, Russia,” he says. “For some reason I seem to get a lot of responses from Russia, but I think that’s because there is a big tracker scene in Russia where people make the type of music I’m making right now.”

Inutiq’s uncle Mathew Inutiq is thrilled about his nephew’s musical enterprise.

“I think he’s doing something that I’ve always wanted to do, music-wise,” his uncle says. “I learned to play piano when I was nine — I taught myself — so I’m glad he’s making use of his talent.”

Inutiq says he’s always thinking of new ways of making music to keep from stagnating creatively.

“Right now, I’m feeling limited by the process (of producing tracks on computer) and I want to get involved with musicians who use actual real live instruments, and not be so digital.”

But for the next little while Inutiq says he’s probably going to spend more time being a dad rather than being the Mad Eskimo and a university student.

This year he’s taking paternity leave from his studies to spend more time with his nine-month-old son, Sacha, and his girlfriend, Marie-Claude.

But he says he’ll return to school to finish his degree.

And he says he’s going to keep making music because “everything is music, the whole world is filled with music.

“My music is the old stuff with the new — that’s where the future is — and I’m one of the only Inuit artists making this type of music.”

You can check out the Mad Eskimo’s music at mp3.com/madeskimo.

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