Sisters Kayley Inuksuk Mackay and Tiffany Kuliktana Ayalik are highly skilled Inuit throat singers who, as PIQSIQ, perform traditional songs and eerie new compositions. Raised in Yellowknife and with roots in Nunavut’s Kitikmeot and Kivalliq Regions – two places where endless sunlight shines through short summers and wintry darkness consumes the rest of the year—the sisters have developed an aesthetic that is deeply impacted by their relationship to the environment. PIQSIQ ‘s “wonderfully rhythmic and atmospheric” (Vancouver Sun) sound is an ethereal and mesmerizing blend of traditional vocal technique, improvisation and new technology like looping. The duo has incorporated that haunting feel into its 2019 debut album Altering the Timeline.
Kayley and Tiffany often have reminisced about the feelings they would get growing up, when receiving cassette tapes from their cousins in Nunavut. Delivered in a brown paper package, each tape was a carefully recorded lesson containing ancient throat songs.
The internationally renowned vocalists see their live performances as both art and a political act of cultural revitalization: a dynamic, modern expression born out of the ancient practices of an incredibly resourceful people. “(When you) throat sing for a very long time, it does get a bit trance-like and it’s just a really beautiful way to bond with someone you love,” says Tiffany.