For years Anishinaabe DJ and producer Les Boulanger — known by audiences as Boogey the Beat — has toiled behind the scenes, laying the sonic foundations for other musicians’ anthems. As a longtime lover of hip-hop and rap, collaboration is his comfort zone. He’s worked with the likes of The Halluci Nation (formerly a Tribe Called Red) and Snotty Nose Rez Kids, playing stages across Turtle Island.
Boogey began learning music production in high school, and has been at it ever since. As a teenager his friends wanted to be rappers, so he happily assumed the role of producer. Today, he sees the beats he makes as a voice unto themselves, telling audiences to find joy and have fun while remembering there was a time when Anishinaabe artistic traditions were banned.
In homage to the sounds of a sundance, Boogey builds each song around a percussive heartbeat, then adds vocals and other instruments, letting the drum lead the way. He remembers walking up to one of his first childhood pow wows and hearing the big drum, a guiding force that stays with him today.
While he hopes his music will resonate with revellers from all walks of life, he beams at the thought of Indigenous youth hearing pow wow and sundance songs for the first time at one of his shows.
“It’s important to not forget that at one time it was illegal for us to sing these songs, play these drums, and go to these ceremonies,” he says. “Now it’s a time for celebration, and for us to take over the main stage.”