Canadian singer-songwriter Bebe Buckskin is one of this year’s chosen artists for RBCxMusic’s First Up initiative. First Up launched in 2020 as support for performing artists during the pandemic, the program has returned this year with an incredible lineup of emerging Canadian artists, providing them with support to hone their craft and resources to progress their music careers.
Bebe is a Cree/Metis artist from Calgary, and her soulful vocals and introspective lyrics are captivating on her latest release, Captain Medicine. The album reveals her alter ego of the same name, inspired by a trickster coyote spirit. Recorded in a legendary studio in Alabama once used by the likes of Aretha Franklin and Etta James, the bluesy, rock-n-roll tracks showcase vulnerability and emotional depth—bringing forth grief, trauma, and ultimately, inner strength.
We caught up with Bebe Buckskin to hear more about the story behind Captain Medicine, her influences, and her musical journey.
What are your earliest memories of music?
I was three years old when I first began performing on stage. My mom would back me up on her guitar and I’d sing old country songs. I have vivid memories of knowing back then that this is what I want to be doing for the rest of my life. I also come from a passionately musical family, so I have fond memories of them jamming at family functions — playing Métis fiddle and guitar music, while my cousins and siblings and I would jig. I grew up listening to a lot of old-time country, and roots music.
Which artists would you consider to be major influences?
My mother and grandfather first of all.. and as I matured into an artist, I looked up to and drew inspiration from Janis Joplin, CCR, Robert Plant, Fleetwood Mac, Buffy Sainte Marie and Joni Mitchell — but honestly that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
What do songwriting and performance give you?
It gives me strength in times of hardship. It gives me hope and joy when I need it. It’s my way of connecting to the world around me, I view it as an act of love, an act of giving back to the world.
Your latest release ‘Captain Medicine’ refers to your alter-ego. Who is Captain Medicine? Can you explain the significance?
Captain Medicine is an alter ego I created to help me cope with the loss of my husband. The character is half light and half dark — and is a bit of an anti-hero. The character is represented by the coyote — whom is a bit of a trickster in my culture. I liked the idea of a trickster’s journey towards self-acceptance and self-actualization. I seem to collect alter egos with whatever body of work I am creating at any given time.
What philosophy is currently helping to guide your journey?
I highly recommend the book The War of Art. It talks about how we must remain stoic but driven in the face of adversity and resistance and how to overcome the fear of rejection and success.
What’s a piece of career advice that has served you well?
Be yourself. I have never been one to compromise my integrity and it has served me well.
What does it mean to you to be part of First Up with RBCxMusic?
Opportunities like this make me believe in the music industry again. The musician’s path is not an easy one so I’m grateful for opportunities like First Up with RBCxMusic to help ease the burden of the plight that so many indie artists feel. I’m grateful to have their support and encouragement in this strange post-Covid era.