Winnipeg singer-songwriter Sebastian Gaskin had a breakout year in 2021 and hopes to kickstart a similar 2023 when he performs at the University of Victoria on March 11.
Gaskin, a multi-instrumentalist who blends R&B, hip hop, metal and punk, will showcase his unique talents at the Farquhar Auditorium with an acoustic solo show honed over the last 12 months.
And the 26-year-old winner of the Western Canadian Music Awards R&B Artist of the Year and the Kevin Walters Songwriting Award in 2021 also has his sights set on releasing a first album and touring globally.
“I grew to love the R&B genre in my late teens and it really brought out something new in my songwriting,” said Gaskin, whose 2017 debut single 6AM hit No. 1 on the National Indigenous Countdown and won him the 2018 Indigenous Music Award for Most Outstanding Manitoban.
“Much of my material is smooth and concise, no trimmings. I learned to play so many instruments due to boredom, though I’ve always had a natural curiosity for anything music-related.”
Gaskin, who grew up as part of the Tataskweyak Cree Nation, got his start wowing folks at the community’s annual talent shows. He cites Alan Greyeyes, David Landreth and Leela Gilday as major mentors on his musical journey.
He’s also supported artists including Common, T-Pain and iconic songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie.
“I’ve been lucky enough to share stages with some of my biggest inspirations. Back in the fall of 2019 I had the chance to tour western Canada with Buffy Sainte-Marie and learned a huge amount along the way.
“My other favourite opening slot was for Common at the Centennial Concert Hall in Winnipeg. It was definitely the biggest crowd I’ve played to so far.”
Gaskin, whose 2019 debut EP Contradictions was produced by LieBoy Concepts, said his songwriting is inspired by momentous life experiences.
“A lot of my songs up to this point have been autobiographical, situations I’ve been through, people I’ve loved, and times in my life that proved pivotal.”
He said 2021 was an “incredible” year and cemented his rising prominence on the Canadian music scene. “It was huge for building belief in myself, and also helped solidify me in the industry. I’m quite proud of that.”
As for the future, Gaskin is eyeing that first album — and expanding his worldwide appeal.
“My goals for the immediate future are to release an album; I’ve been sitting on so many tunes, it’s beginning to burn a hole in my hard drive. I’d also like to get back into touring, not only in Canada but also the U.S. and Europe.”
To learn more about Gaskin and his music visit sebastiangaskin.com.
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