‘Music is a full immersive journey’: local Indigenous artist releases debut single

A group of people in winter attire stand before a light at a crossroads in a winter scene with an orange flag.
As Layla Staats drops her first musical offering, she describes music as a healing, and educational entity. Photo via Layla Staats Official, Twitter.
Riley Gillespie-Wilson - CICW - FergusON | 13-12-2023
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A local Indigenous artist has gone from water protector and TIFF filmmaker, to songwriter, releasing her debut track White Pine.

From Brantford along the Grand River as a youth to a recent expedition to British Columbia, it's been a long winding path towards a release date for Layla Staats. Staats is Mohawk, Turtle Clan, Six Nations of the Grand River. She says she wants to share stories of Indigenous significance, and added her roots shaped the writing of White Pine.

"I grew up in Brantford. I didn't grow up on Six Nations, so I didn't get to learn these stories like the peacemaker story and the white pine and so, I've been on a journey to rediscover that inside myself," Staats explained.

"A lot of that has come out in song," she went on.

Staats said music is a healer. She added it's a difficult task to release a first song, but that the depth and complexions of this tune run deep.

"It's kind of a scary thing to put your first song out there. The Haudenosaunee call the white pine the tree of peace, and  in our stories the peacemaker brought all of our nations- all the Six Nations together at a time of war, to the white pine," Staats described.

She mentioned her brother, who she’s done background vocals for for many years, has been an influence on her, and led her towards writing impactful tunes regarding Indigenous culture and practices.

"When I do perform the song, I tell these stories. It's music but it's like a full immersive journey, and people are often very deeply moved," Staats said.

Staats noted she has plans for more, and is just "testing the water with this song."

She explained more singles and a full album coming are coming, too, along with live performances throughout Wellington County and surrounding area.

Listen to the CICW story below: