Winnipeg-based singer-songwriter Ila Barker, recently released her evocative new single “Intuition’ on June 3 via all streaming platforms.
Ila is a wonderful talent of Anishinaabe and Settler heritage and has a vulnerability in her songwriting that sets her apart from her peers. “Intuition” is an introspective track that serves as a reminder to listen closely to your own truths when you feel you might be sinking. The heartfelt single was produced by Sierra Noble and Rusty Matyas.
With a soulful voice and lyrics that wash over the minds and hearts of audiences like waves, Ila is a force to be reckoned with. This Canadian folk-soul artist takes listeners on an introspective journey, inviting them to connect deeply with their own emotions.
Ila has taken the stage at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, Regina Folk Festival, sākihiwē festival, and opened for Jeremy Dutcher’s sold-out performance at the Indian River Festival in PEI. After the release of her self-titled debut album (2013), Ila took time to mindfully refine her artistry, embarking on a creative evolution, and emerging with a self-determine sound. Her forthcoming album is in honour to her metamorphosis into the musical powerhouse she is today and a promise that the tide will turn.
In addition to creating and performing music and as an act of reciprocity, Ila mentors emerging Indigenous artists in AIRsessions, her self-curated music workshop series.
I had the opportunity to chat with Ila about her single, what she hopes fans connect with on the track, and what’s next.
Kat: Can you talk about the inspiration behind your latest single “Intuition”? How did the song come about?
Ila: I was working virtually with a group of youth in Nemaska, Quebec, a community in the Cree Nation. After class one day, we were visiting and the Youth Artist Assistant told me how he had recently heard a story from an artist who wrote a song after getting inspired by a tv show, and asked me how to do that and what that process looked like. This is one of my favourite things about working with young artists is they ask me questions that challenge me. I know that I have pulled inspiration from other art pieces before but wasn’t sure how to put that into tangible steps. I told him to give me a couple of days and I would report back with my findings.
I started consuming all sorts of art; movies, shows, podcasts and music. I listened to this one podcast that talked about the mind-gut connection and how our physical, mental and spiritual health are super connected to our guts! This gave me a spark of inspiration and led me to write Intuition, a song about my relearning to trust myself. After years of being in an unhealthy and often abusive relationship, my connection to myself had withered away. I had lost the ability to trust my own intuition and even doubted my own thoughts. With a lot of hard work (and a lot of therapy!) I have slowly rebuilt a rock solid relationship with myself and now can hear even the softest whispers of my intuition guiding me in a good way and keeping me on the path I need to be on.
Kat: What do you hope new fans will connect with on the song?
Ila: I hope that fans take a moment to check in with themselves when they listen to this song. I hope that it offers them a moment of realigning with their own intuition and inner spirit! This life can be so fast paced and I hope that “Intuition” can offer even just a few minutes of slowing down to just be.
Kat: What can audiences expect from one of your live performances?
Ila: I played solo for over a decade and recently just started playing with a full band which is so much fun. I love taking my audience on a journey with me. I want to laugh and I want to cry with you and let you in on a bit of the stories that led me to where I am and the songs that I picked up along the way.
Kat: What has been the biggest career highlight for you so far? What have you learned along the way?
Ila: I had a really exciting opportunity come my way in the end of 2021. I had been invited to return to the RBCxMusic First Up program for a second time last year and part of the support the program offered was some neat press opportunities. One of which was an ad for the First Up program that had several of us program participants in it and featured Grammy award winning R&B artist H.E.R.! I’m personally a huge fan of H.E.R. and this was such an honour being included in a national campaign with her!
Kat: What’s next?
Ila: I’m working on my first full length album called Fool Under Water which will come out in the fall of 2022. This album has been a long time coming and will let the world in my metamorphosis as a person and an artist. This album is introspective and refined and shares a story of a promise that the tide will turn.
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