Today, Sub Pop releases Indian Yard, the debut record from Sitka, Alaska project Ya Tseen. Galanin began working on the record in 2017 while going back and forth between his home in Sitka and Juneau, Alaska where he was carving a totem pole. The album entwines falling in love and the birth of a child with the urgency of current social and environmental justice movements to tear down destructive systems and build anew. He shared the concepts with bandmates Zak D. Wass and Otis Calvin III and together they structured the album alongside longtime collaborator Benjamin Verdoes. Through sessions in Sitka and Seattle, a cast of brilliant friends—Shabazz Palaces, Nick Hakim, fellow Indigenous Alaskan singer and songwriter Qacung, to name a few—helped form Indian Yard into a cataract of intensely current pop wonders.
His debut as Ya Tseen (“be alive,” and a reference to his Tlingit name Yeil Ya Tseen) is Indian Yard, his first album for Sub Pop. Rich with emotional range and sharp awareness, Indian Yard explores love, desire, frustration, pain, revolution, and connection through magnetic expressions of an Indigenous mind and body. The lusty electro-soul cascade of “Close the Distance,” the lithe funk frolic of “Get Yourself Together,” the insistent weight of “Back in That Time,” sung in Yupik: These 11 tracks put Galanin, Ya Tseen, and Indigenous art at large in a current musical conversation with the likes of Moses Sumney and TV on the Radio, FKA Twigs, and James Blake.
Indian Yard is a profound record of liberation and an implicit act of protest, making its case by facing the intersection of past, present, and future realities. In a nod to Sun Ra, “Gently To The Sun” mentions “meds for a nightmare”—an apt description for a record that offers a much-needed antidote for what now ails us personally and universally.
This is not, by any means, Galanin’s first album. He has released a steady stream of records under a panoply of aliases, including Silver Jackson and Indian Agent. He has worked with the likes of Meshell Ndegeocello, Tanya Tagaq, and Samantha Crain. And for the better part of a decade, he’s also been part of the revolutionarily borderless art collective Black Constellation alongside Shabazz Palaces and THEESatisfaction (read full bio at Sub Pop).
Indian Yard can be purchased on CD/LP through Sub Pop. LPs purchased through megamart.subpop.com, select independent retailers in North America, the U.K., and Europe will receive the standard LP on black vinyl. The North American deluxe edition on clear vinyl is now available for preorder. The deluxe packaging will include a 24-page hardcover LP-sized book with covers featuring a sci-fi landscape populated by a toddler-wearing artist Merritt Johnson’s sculpture Mindset, a VR headset woven from sweetgrass. The interior art was designed by Galanin. This deluxe edition will be available while supplies last.
Ya Tseen’s Nicholas Galanin is one of the most vital voices in contemporary art. His work spans sculpture, video, installation, photography, jewelry, and music; advocating for Indigenous sovereignty, racial, social, and environmental justice, for present, and future generations. For Galanin, memory and land are inevitably entwined. His most recent installation for Desert X 2021, on view through May 16, 2021, entitled Never Forget has garnered international media acclaim including from outlets such as The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Desert Sun, Galerie Magazine, and Time Out. The 45-foot letters of Never Forget reference the Hollywood sign, which initially spelled out HOLLYWOODLAND and was erected to promote a whites-only development. Its timing coincided with a development in Palm Springs that also connected to the film industry: Studio contracts limited actors’ travel, contributing to the city’s rise as a playground and refuge of the stars. Meanwhile, the white settler mythology of America as the land of the free, home of the brave was promoted in the West, and the landscape was cinematized through the same lens. Never Forget asks settler landowners to participate in the work by transferring land titles and management to local Indigenous communities. The work is a call to action and a reminder that land acknowledgments become only performative when they do not explicitly support the land back movement. Not only does the work transmit a shockwave of historical correction, but also promises to do so globally through social media. In connection with this installation, Galanin has organized a Go Fund Me account to benefit the Native American Land Conservancy (NALC.) You can contribute here.
What people are saying about Indian Yard:
“a rich listen, strengthened by Galanin’s burning focus on critical issues” - [ 8/10] Uncut
“A widescreen epic of joyous, synth-driven indie-pop, electro-soul and borderless beats. […] An artist who refuses to be hemmed in.” - WePresent
“Indian Yard is every bit as multi-layered and multi-faceted a listen as Galanin’s artistic take on the world promised” - Loud & Quiet
1. Knives (feat. Portugal. The Man)
2. Light the Torch
3. Born into Rain (feat. Rum.gold and Tunia)
4. At Tugáni
5. Get Yourself Together
6. Close the Distance
7. We Just Sit and Smile Here in Silence
8. A Feeling Undefined (fat. Nick Hakim and Iska Dhaaf)
9. Synthetic Gods (feat. Shabazz Palaces and Stas THEE Boss)
10. Gently to the Sun (feat. Tay Sean)
11. Back in That Time (feat. Qacung)