Updated: Mar 8, 2021
By Scott Roos
Initially formed in the spring of 2018 by Kriss Atcheynum on vocals, her husband Audi who plays guitar and Reg Whitecalf who also plays guitar, with bass guitarist Mike Martin and drummer Braden Dutchak added into the mix later on to flesh out the ensemble, Battlefords band Gypsy Moonbird is a classic rock, blues and country infused outfit with a pinch of soul and a double portion of true grit.
Kriss, originally from the Sweetgrass First Nation, has lived most of her life in the Battlefords where she currently resides. She was exposed to a wide swath of music early on in her musical upbringing thanks, no doubt, to the dedicated nurturing of the art form instilled by her parents. Her father was a self-taught musician while her mother was involved in local singing and drumming groups.
"I was first introduced to music at a very young age," relates Kriss Atcheynum in a recent conversation with NSMZ, "I can attribute that to both of my parents and my upbringing. My late dad sparked my love for rock n roll music. He was a self-taught singer and musician who was a part of a few different bands in the 80’s and 90’s so I grew up listening to him sing and play the guitar."
"My mom’s side of the family introduced me to the cultural aspect of music, growing up traveling the powwow trail, my mom, uncles and aunts all sang in the Sweetgrass Singers and Blackstone Singers drum groups. I had the best of both worlds," continued Kriss.
As Kriss began to delve into music on her own, eventually influences started to creep into her own singing style which would later serve as an important foundation for Gypsy Moonbird.
"I like Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac, Axl Rose from Guns N Roses, Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, Emmy Lou Harris and Ann Wilson of Heart," said Kriss.
Combined with the collective influences of the rest of the band members and the unique sound, style and vibe of the band took shape. You can hear sounds from the 60s, 70s and 80s in everything they do - Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, April Wine, George Harrison (and the Beatles of course), E.L.O. and the Eagles to name but a few. For a band that has only just started out, they have begun to develop a following with their music being readily available on their Youtube channel which can be found here.
Kriss and Gypsy Moonbird will be performing in the digital SaskMusic produced International Women's Day concert this sunday at 7 pm (not sure where in the concert order their performance will take place) along with several other artists from across the province. It's an opporunity that Kriss doesn't take lightly. She's honoured to have the opportunity to represent the Battlefords, and also her indigenous heritage.
"It is such an honour to be selected as part of this showcase for International Women’s Day alongside so many other talented Saskatchewan women. To be not only a woman in music but an Indigenous woman, it’s important for me to be able to represent in a sense and to be a part of something like this from the comfort of my own home, as much as I miss performing live with my band, is an added bonus. Keeping the music alive any way we can right now due to the pandemic is essential, even if that means virtually and we are so grateful to Saskmusic to be able to do just that," Kriss said.
In the meantime, Gypsy Moonbird has also been working on a new single to be released very soon. So, if you're a fan or just simply curious to hear a great Saskatchewan band in action, keep an eye on their social media for further details.
*Band pic courtesy of Gypsy Moonbird