A new record label in Saskatoon is offering a unique perspective and opportunities for young artists in the province.
Stay Royal Records co-creators Raistlin Morning Owl and Michael Tootoosis say their focus is on supporting and raising up young Indigenous artists in the province. Their decision to create the record label during the pandemic was fuelled in part by their own experiences as individual artists.
Both Morning Owl and Tootoosis currently make their own music through the label and offer events to promote newer artists joining their collective.
The co-creators also call themselves a one-stop shop. concert
“We aim to obviously guide and nurture the artist inside them and stuff like that,” said Morning Owl, “But once doing that we also do production services. The visual and music production, audio engineering, recording, mixing and mastering and then the promotional stuff as well.”
“We like to leave it up to them as much as possible with what they’re going to do and what they want to create and we just help alongside,” he added.
They also offer guidance on applying for government grants– something that usually feels daunting to their young artists.
“We like to keep it as a community, as a family, as a strong group that everyone has their back with whatever they need,” Tootoosis said. “We always go back to our main goal of supporting the youth because a lot of them are anxious or less confident in themselves.”
After less than a year of operation, the label currently supports seven artists and are looking to expand.
Saskatoon-based hip-hop artist Damien Daniels says he’s honoured to be one of the first.
Daniels is releasing new music this year with the record label and kicking things off with a photoshoot.
“They opened new doors for me in terms of photoshoots, music videos… Just more opportunities,” Daniels said. “It felt like a family and that was the biggest thing for me.
“It was more like a comfortable state of mind all the time — warm and welcoming. It was just fun right from the get go. It made me want to do more, write better lyrics, really harness my skills and show them what I have to offer.”
He said his passion started when he was just a teenager in Muskeg Lake Cree Nation.
“Around 13 or 14 years old is when I really started getting into music. The community there is still struggling with it’s young youth… They’re not really finding their spot in life,” Daniels said.
“Just coming out of that and now being that role model is like a breath of fresh air.”
He said pursuing his dreams with the help of the new label is something he hopes will make his family and community proud.
“It’s really awesome being a part of something like this,” he said.