Bubble Gum (Side B) MUSIC VIDEO

Bubble Gum is from Pamyua’s album SideA/SideB. This drumsong commemorates a student in Ossie’s dance class chewing gum when he wasn’t suppose to.

Pamyua’s double album SideA/SideB is a collection of Inuit drumsongs primarily sung in the Yup’ik and Cup’ik language from Southwestern Alaska. Drumsongs are powerful expressions of Inuit creativity and connection to our Arctic environment. SideA/SideB offers a new approach to appreciate Inuit music. SideA (disc 1) honors Inuit tradition by featuring only vocals and Inuit drumming; SideB (disc 2) has the same songs with different world music arrangements.

This music video was shot in Unalakleet, Alaska during the filming of the Discovery Channels show Flying Wild Alaska season three by Anchorage-based film collective Electric Igloo Creative.

Special thanks go out to the many Kickstarter supporters who funded this project. Quyana!

1 Comment

Filed under Pamyua

Anchorage Press Article on new CD


Posted: Thursday, October 18, 2012 4:05 pm


By Scott Christianson

The Yup’ik drum song “Pulling” has become a touchstone for Pamyua, the vocal group that has become one of Alaska’s most widely known musical exports. During that time Pamyua has used “Pulling” to open or close live sets, but also to bring the group together. The lyrics, sung in Yup’ik, are about looking for ground squirrels while on a hunt, but are also understood to be part-and-parcel of a prayer for strength.

“The way my mom would always explain it was it is a song about pulling from within,” Phillip Blanchett says. “A lot of our performances we don’t play a set list, and the a cappella version of that song has been something we use as a prayer. It’s one we rely on to focus the group and stay grounded.”

The foursome [Ossie Kairaiuak, Karina Moeller and brothers Phillip and Stephen Blanchett] often sing in front of a rock band, playing a world music genre they like to call “tribal funk” because of its connections to American soul music. The mix of modern and traditional music, and Pamyua’s ability (or perhaps insistence) to attract top-notch musicians, might be the reason they’ve traveled to Europe and across the United States, and been called “the world’s most famous Inuit band” in the Italian-language version Rolling Stone.

On Pamyua’s new double-disc release Side A/Side B, “Pulling” appears in no less than four variations, including as a sample from an old LP called Eskimo Songs and Stories and one version sung by the Blanchett brothers’ mother, Marie Meade. (The album presents traditional arrangements on the disc labeled Side A and Pamyua’s world-beat versions of the same songs on Side B—“Pulling” is an exception to the pattern.)

Meade is a culture-bearer in her own right. She has taught her sons “Pulling” when they were small boys. She has also taught Yup’ik language at University of Alaska. She’s used her language skills to interview elders in partnership with anthropologists and museums. She’s performed in dance troupes and traveled the globe. Phillip said Pamyua has not performed in half the places his mother has. “We are still trying to catch up,” he said.

But unlike her sons, Marie Meade didn’t grow up singing “Pulling” or any Yup’ik songs. Her home village of Nunapitchuk, about 20 miles from Bethel on the Johnson River, was one of the villages where Christian missionaries convinced the Yupiit to put away traditional ceremonies, even burn masks and drums, to show their devotion to the new faith.

“When we were dancing in the 1980s, it had already stopped a long time ago,” Meade said. “In the whole area [around Nunapitchuk] there was no dancing in the villages. I think I did my first dance when I was 38 or 39 years old. And I was in Anchorage.”

Meade learned “Pulling” at the crest of a cultural re-awakening that had begun about two decades before she started dancing, during the Native land claims movement of the 1960s. She learned the song from Chuna McIntyre, the Yupik culture bearer from Eek, who founded the dance troupe Numamta.

Celebrating cultural roots seems quite normal today, but Meade recalls being nervous the first time she performed songs with her own mother in the audience. “My mom was strong Christian, but she eventually would have a change of mind about some things,” Meade said. “It was a beautiful thing when I was told it was okay for me to dance, especially coming from my mother—that made my day.”

Pulling from within / pulling from within

My people I come to you

Are you looking for ground squirrels

The lyrics are sparse. The first line describes the muscular strength and internal discipline required to live off the land and provide for a village. The second line may be interpreted as a promise that the land will provide. To a non-Native the third line can be baffling—it places the smallest of land mammals as something to be sought after.

Meade, when asked about the ground squirrel, said there are no small animals. “They’re all big to me. They’re all big and they’re all important,” she said. “The song is a prayer for survival and for sustenance and you rely on all that is available.”

Pamyua’s cultural journey has taken place in more accepting times, but it’s no less complex than what Marie Mead has lived through. They’ve sung multiple languages (English, Yup’ik, Inupiat, Unangan and the Greenlandic of Karina Moeller’s home country) and sung about Native spirituality and traditions such as hunting, performance dance and public teasing. The group’s most radio-friendly tracks are a fusion, performed over electric instrumentation reminiscent of 1970s records produced by artists such as Curtis Mayfield and Sly Stone.

Such diversity can be perplexing for listeners, and the band’s Achilles’ heal might be that their eclecticism wasn’t always disciplined into a singular form. For better or for worse, tension within the music itself has often been a palpable part of the experience. You might love a Pamyua set at an outdoor gathering such as Girdwood’s Forest Fair, but it was impossible to take that experience home—and even if you could, it wouldn’t capture quite what Pamyua is. The drum songs might more fairly reflect the group’s identity, but sometimes felt a bit starchy, particularly on records when the dance was absent. Even the most ardent fans could be forgiven for asking themselves where this band was going.

That’s why Side A/Side B is exciting. The project has been in the works since 2005, and is easily their best record since their 1998 debut Mengluni. The debut record ambitiously updated drum songs, but in gentler fashion. Here, Side B features full-band sounds—most often guitars, drums and electric keyboards, but a tenor sax, trumpet, violin and cello also appear—that fill out the songs in a manner Mengluni only hinted at.

As always, Pamyua has included both traditional songs and songs by contemporary songwriters who author drum songs on modern topics. Kairaiuak’s “Bubble Gum” was written as a teasing song for a student who chewed gum during a dance class. His “Ocean Prayer” pays respect to the ocean and the creator for sharing gifts. Kairairuak’s cousin, Vernon John contributed “Bulldozer,” a song inspired while operating heavy equipment.

As I shake I work / As I shake I work

I look around as I work

Where am I building a road to / Where am I building a road to

I look around as I work

As in the traditional song “Pulling,” Vernon John has used minimal lyrics to describe his bulldozer-driving experience. Meade is familiar with song, and quickly offered an interpretation, punctuated with laughter. “Well, he is building a road to the future. It can be understood quite easily,” she said.

© 2012 Anchorage Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments Off on Anchorage Press Article on new CD

Filed under Pamyua

Pamyua CD Release Concert

October Pamyua concerts in Anchorage at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts Discovery Theatre. Tickets on sale at www.centertix.net Seniors and youth are $22 and adults are $25.

Keep posted for more news about the concert and of course for the upcoming album SideA/SideB.

Comments Off on Pamyua CD Release Concert

Filed under Pamyua

Pamyua Soars with New Song


As seen on Discovery Channel’s show Flying Wild Alaska, Pamyua’s single “Flying” is a fun reggae style song written about the Tweto family and their flying service Era Alaska.

Pamyua: Flying

In the spring of 2012 Ariel Tweto invited Pamyua to travel to her home town, Unalakleet, in northern Alaska. Pamyua member Phillip Blanchett wrote this song to surprise her family. The group performed the song live on the frozen Pacific Ocean coast in Ariels village. Her family was there as well as most of Unalakleet. The concert was caught on tape and you can see it on the Discovery Channel’s reality TV show Flying Wild Alaska in the season 3 episode titled “Radio Silence.”


Filed under Pamyua

Watch Pamyua, with Pamyua

This Friday at 9pm (Alaska time) the Discovery Channel debuts its newest episode titled ‘Radio Silence’ and guess what… PAMYUA performs on camera in the show!

Watch the premiere with members of Pamyua in Anchorage at the Peanut Farm Sports Bar and Grill meeting at 8pm. The Peanut Farm has reserved its biggest screen to showcase Alaska’s up-and-coming talent, who all just happen to be young attractive Alaska Native go getters.

We are proud of the show Flying Wild Alaska and love the Tweto family! It’s about time we show the world how we do things up here in AK!

We’re excited to see you, snap a photo, have some drinks and watch some good TV together and possibly a couple “Seal Calls.”

(Friday July 13, 2012 8pm at the Peanut Farm Sports Bar and Grill)

Comments Off on Watch Pamyua, with Pamyua

Filed under Pamyua

Indigenous Music Platform features Pamyua









Pamyua is proud to be in the RPM family. RPM is an online platform that promotes indigenous music artists. Recently RPM showcased the music of Sitka’s Silver Jackson and now the site is showcasing Pamyua’s newest work. RPM’s worldwide audience base can now checkout Pamyua’s “Tundra Chant” music video. The 1-minute video promotes Discovery Channels newest soundtrack. The Flying Wild Alaska Soundtrack is available on iTunes and a slice of it is now on RFM.FM.

Comments Off on Indigenous Music Platform features Pamyua

Filed under Pamyua

‘Radio Silence’ Premiere Friday 10pm et/pt

(Pamyua in Unalakleet, AK photo by Zak Melms)

Watch Pamyua’s debut this Friday July 13 on Discovery Channel’s hit reality TV show Flying Wild Alaska. The episode titled ‘Radio Silence’ showcases the realities of piloting in the Arctic as Ariel Tweto disappears from radio contact during her flight training.

Meanwhile in Unalakleet, Pamyua prepares for a free live concert on the frozen sea ice. The entire town shows up to a natural pressure ridge (iceberg) amphitheater as Pamyua surprises the Tweto family with a song written just for them. We haven’t seen the episode of course, but this is how we think it’ll go down. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens this Friday night.

A special thanks goes out to Pamyua’s Kickstarter bakers who sponsored a crew of Anchorage based filmmakers to accompany the group in Unalakleet to film a music video from Pamyua’s upcoming album SideA/SideB (to be released October 2012). To our bakers, we haven’t forgot about you and we’re working on finishing the video for you all to see first, but now its time to go “Flying” with Pamyua and the Tweto family this Friday 10pm on the Discovery Channel Quyana!

1 Comment

Filed under Pamyua

Stephen and Karina Back in Europe

Safe travels to Stephen and Karina.  The two Pamyua members travel to Greenland this week with vocalist Aviaja Lumholt. Aviaja is an incredible musician and close friend of the group. You will hear Aviaja on Pamyua’s upcoming album SideA/SideB from the song Ocean Prayer (to be released in October 2012). Stephen and Karina are in Denmark visiting family and happily accepted Aviaja’s invitation. They will be traveling to the Eastcoast of Greenland. We look forward to hearing about their trip.
(Aviaja, Karina and Sophie in South of Greenland 2009)

Comments Off on Stephen and Karina Back in Europe

Filed under Pamyua