Are you a fan of Indigenous music but often don’t know where to start your search for the best artists out there? Behold Revolutions Per Minute, AKA RPM, a global Indigenous music platform, label, and artist collective. This year they present Catalyst, an exciting evening of music showcasing some of today’s most compelling Indigenous voices in electronic experimentation. Each performer is a catalyst, a vector for new sounds and transformation.

 The lineup includes Ziibiwan, an emerging Anishinaabe electronic artist/producer from Toronto;  Somali-Canadian beat producer, Obuxum; Dio Ganhdih, a queer Indigenous rapper from New York;  the radical queer politics and sounds of Elysia Crampton; and feminist rapper, poet, and all-around fierce lyricist Chhoti Maa!

Chhoti Maa

CHHOTI MAA was born in Guanajuato, Mexico, and is currently based in Oakland, California. She’s a multidisciplinary cultural producer, who has self-released five projects in her eleven years as an MC / singer / producer. Her sound work is rooted in Mexican oral tradition, specifically Grandma’s storytelling magic. As part of the post-NAFTA diaspora, CHHOTI MAA was formed by her migrant experience. Their music deals with decolonial living, contemporary Indigenous spirituality, queerness, migrant empowerment and the reconstruction of the womyn temple. 

1. What are you most looking forward to performing at Pride Toronto this year, and why is it important to you to play events like this?

This will be my first performance in Canada, so I am juiced to see more intimately what music and art is coming from the community in Toronto. It’s super important to me to connect with like-minded creators around the world to build equitable partnerships and special experiences together. For me, Pride is a crucial moment to reflect on the importance of respecting difference. It is a moment to remember that queerness has always existed; a moment to collectively commemorate the lives of Queers who fought for the possibilities we enjoy today and to remember that we have to constantly express our queerness to rejoice and protect our livelihood and continue opening the
way for young Queers yet to be born.

2. Can you describe your musical style, and inspiration behind creating it?

My musical style is complex, strong, eerie, luscious, and healing. My work is a reflection of being part of the Mexican Diaspora, of having mixed heritage and strong Indigenous roots. My inspiration ranges from the delight of seeing strong colour combinations, the sweetness of recognizing a plant out in the street and the comfort in having a good conversation with a homie.

3. What can people expect at your show, and where can fans hear some of your music to get ready for it?

RAWNESS. People can check out my work in all streaming services  Songlink , Bandcamp, and Soundcloud

4. Who do you cite as your musical and/or life influences for your work?

I think since 2013, one of my biggest influences has been elder CK Ladzekpo. I was fortunate enough study under CK while I did my Masters at UCBerkeley. He is fantastic teacher of Ewe philosophy, Ghanaian history and African polyrhythm. He changed my life in ways beyond words. I thank him for his lessons. I am also a huge fan of Howard Wiley, a fantastic saxophonist from the Bay Area who is part of the Jazz-Hip Hop ensemble Extra Nappy. Howard is on two of the tracks in my new project which I CANNOT wait for people to hear. In terms of
music, I love to work of Ibeyi, Lido Pimienta, Mykki Blanco, Anderson Paak, Deniece Williams and any ensemble that focuses on drums for the heart.

5. Any recently released or forthcoming music on the horizon?

Yes! I am super excited to be releasing my next album, titled Caldo de Hueso (Bone Broth)​ in the next months. This project was supported through a grant by Women’s Audio Mission, the only studio built and run by women in the world. We are mixing the songs this month, and we are going to be mastering next month. This week, I am also releasing a single titled Nah Homie​ that I co-produced with the legendary Raka Stylo featuring my cuzin Dio Ganhdih.  Aside from these works, I recently premiered (June 10th) a visual titled  Mala Fama at the 14th Women of Color Film Festival. Follow her out on Instagram

Catch Chhoti Maa as part of the programming for Catalyst , Friday June 22nd at Village Stage, 7pm to 11pm 
Performance Schedule 
OBUXUM 7:00 pm
Dio Ganhdih 8:00 pm
Chhoti Maa 9:00 pm
Elysia Crampton 10:00 pm

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.