Orene Askew – aka DJ O Show – is almost ready to drop his first hip-hop single, Status & Clarity
Orene Askew sat in the back of her yellow Mustang convertible from 2005 in North Vancouver last week, doing something she had never thought would come true – filming a music video for her debut track.
Askew – aka DJ O Show – is almost ready to drop his first hip-hop single, Status & Clarity produced by Jane Aurora.
“My song, it’s about the things that I’ve experienced being Afro-native and bisexual,” the 38-year-old said, adding that the track had a slow beat with an R&B vibe.
“There are not very many of us around with all the identities going on.”
The famous DJ wears many different hats. On top of the turntables, she is a motivational speaker for native youth, a Squamish Nation councilor, a voice for the bisexuals on a few different LGBTQ + boards, and a business coach.
And now she can add hip hop artist to the list. Through his music, Askew hopes to break through to young indigenous peoples as well as help non-natives understand the struggles that indigenous peoples face.
“I hope people can relate to that and actually listen to the lyrics and understand what we’re going through as indigenous people here in Vancouver,” Askew said.
“In a couple of texts, I refer to how you know, I have a government card from the government that has a number on it, and it’s almost like a bar code. Then I talk about my mother who went to villa school. “Which is a huge issue right now because of the children that are being found [in unmarked graves at former residential school sites]. ”
Askew began work on the song just before COVID-19 hit in March 2020. With some delays caused by pandemic life, and after a six-month trial, she said the track would likely be released sometime in October.
For Askew, music has always been her “outlet,” and it has “been around her” that has bound her life together since she was young. Whether it was learning the importance of the beat through Squamish Nation lessons in drumming and traditional songs, making mix tapes for her friends or hearing her grandmother from Gary, Indiana, playing the piano in church and listening to her stories of being in an R&B group in the 70s called the Rosettes.
“I come from a really musical family,” Askew said in an earlier interview. “I just really needed to figure out what I wanted to do with it. DJing is so much fun and the look that people give you when you play their favorite song, it’s worth a million dollars, just to see them smile with their eyes and have the best time of their lives. It is fantastic.”
Through DJing, Askew said she always met new people and had doors open for new experiences, including the opportunity to record her own music.
“I feel like, you know, I’ve just been able to try new things and see what I like and see where I want to go,” she said.
“Now I’ve got a number out… I never thought I would be a hip hop artist. It has been a really cool experience and everything is about to go in circles. ”
The song is also not just a once for Askew. She said she would be in the studio working on an album next year.
“It’s funny, I’m always joking about it, when I first went into the studio, I thought I should just write a song, you know, about being afro-native and two-spiritual, and I talked to the producer, and she was like, ‘yeah, that sounds like a whole album. You are not going to get all that in a song of four minutes or three minutes.
Askew said music and songwriting so far have been “an amazing process.”
“Producers [at Creative BC] which I have worked on and continue to work on is just bringing out all the things I did not even know were inside me, ”she shared.
Her style of music has been inspired by hip-hop folk artist Kinnie Star, said Askew, who has been “a great role model” for her and had songs featured in L Word, one of her favorite shows growing up.
Askew said one of her goals was always to work hard to be a role model for young people in her community, so when it came to coming up with an idea for her song’s music video, she decided to make them a part of it.
“It was just filmed in my neighborhood with some of the local kids and my friends,” she said. “I have a yellow Mustang convertible from 2005, and we drove right around North Vancouver in it and filmed.
She added that working with native film director Patrick Shannon of InnoNative and Anika Sykakis of Wandering Docs was also a great experience.
“The cast and crew, like the director, Patrick Shannon, were just incredible,” she said. “He just let me be free and took all my ideas into account.
“It felt like a normal day in our society, but it was just filmed. It was actually so much fun. ”
Being in front of the camera for the music video is nothing new for Askew, who has also just released a documentary about his inspiring life. The O Show — which just won Best Short Film at the Squamish International Film Festival — emerged after Askew caught the attention of one of the co-owners of Human Biography, Sharad Kharé, while giving a speech at the British Columbia Institute of Technology.
Without giving too much away, she said the producers worked to capture every aspect of her life, from being Afro-native and bilateral, the inspiring work she does to daily in politics and through youth lectures, and how it all comes together again to her passion for music and DJing all on a 20-minute card.
A screening of the documentary is expected to be scheduled soon. Status and clarity are expected to decline next month.
Elisia Seeber is North Shore News’ native and bourgeois reporter. This reporting layer is enabled by the Local Journalism Initiative.