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Member Focus - Cheyanna Kootenhayoo (DJ Kookum)

Posted July 13, 2020 by

Kookum is an Indigenous DJ and videographer from the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation, and Cold Lake First Nations, their maternal Denesuline traditional territory. Based out of Vancouver BC, Kookum has been making a name for their self across the country and is no stranger in the community. Kookum is an open format DJ but grew up listing to EDM and Hip Hop music. Kooks has held down a Thursday night residency at Vancouver’s late night lounge ‘Granville Room’ and is the official DJ for the hip hop duo Snotty Nose Rez Kids. Kooks works as a video editor and music supervisor for a children’s television series ‘Coyote Science’, facilitates videography and DJ workshops, operates sound and lighting for community dance parties and works as a DJ mentor at a weekly youth drop in program called The Hip Hop Drop.


What first got you into music?
I've always been a music lover and listened to various genres from punk to hip hop. I was also obsessed with house music and was inspired to become a DJ from rave culture back in the day when I was a rave kid. Once I graduated from film school and started working as an editor, I decided to teach myself how to DJ. Once I was comfortable DJing in front of people, l I reached out to my film community and started DJing at film festival and parties.

What have been your favorite moments in your musical career so far?
One of my favourite moments is probably when we played this Festival in Ontario with Meastro Fresh Wes, Ice Cube and Redman and Method Man. We met Redman and Method man backstage and they shouted me out while performing. Then Ice Cube singed my original press Lethal Injection record. Some other moments would be killing a hip hop DJ set on a boat cruise in Rotterdam Netherlands for New Skool Rules festival. And DJing at a roof top bar in Guanajuato, Mexico.

Have you been able to create during the pandemic? What has been a challenge, What have you missed and What have you learned?
If anything this pandemic has allowed for more time to stay home and make music and work on skills. However, 2020 was supposed to be my biggest year so far as a DJ. It's been a challenge to accept the fact that all my gigs are cancelled or postponed. We would have been playing the same festival as Wu-tang this coming weekend. I know worse things are happening then lost gigs. It just sucks when you've dreamt and worked hard for something and it just gets cancelled. But I am staying positive and I know once things are back to normal the opportunities will come. I definitely miss traveling and touring, I miss live music and festivals.

Congratulations on your Leo Award nomination. Can you speak on that experience?
Thanks. This is the second Leo nomination for best picture editing in children's series 'Coyotes Crazy Smart Science Show'. The show is created by Loretta Todd and airs on APTN. We are heading into season 3. I work as a music supervisor and video editor on the show. I love working on this show. I get to be creative and learn so much from the youth, elders and knowledge holders featured on the show. We have a really great editing team. The Leo's awards will be online this year and winners will be announced July 29th. Good luck to everyone.

It Seems like at this moment in time, Canada is “waking up” to anti racism. Do you think this will last longer than a new cycle?
People are starting to take notice of Canada's dark history and starting to acknowledge it. Hopefully we can learn from it and not repeat Canadas past atrocities.


What is on your musical bucket list?
Playing all the huge EDM festivals. Starting a girl band.