Interview Adrian Sutherland


Adrian Sutherland is from Attawapiskat First Nation on the remote James Bay coast. He’s a musician, singer, songwriter, recording artist, speaker, author, advocate, and the fascinating frontman and founder of Midnight Shine. He’s also a father of four, a grandfather to four, a hard-working husband, and a respected cultural leader, proud of who he is and where he comes from. Adrian is a genuine example of someone who does his best to live authentically. He is fluent in his Cree language, practices traditional ways of the land, and hunts to feed his family. He is currently writing his first book for Penguin Random House Canada (2022 release) about growing up in Attawapiskat, a sometimes-harsh place he still chooses to call home. After releasing four albums with Midnight Shine, Adrian has begun solo projects. His debut solo single Politician Man reached #1 on its chart, and won Best Performing Arts & Entertainment at Canada’s oldest film festival. His second solo single Respect the Gift was released in early 2021, with a stellar animated dance video spanning artistic genres, dance styles, eras, and locations that is putting smiles on faces and warmth in hearts.

Where did the idea for this project come from? 

Politician Man is a protest song, and the idea started when my community of Attawapiskat – I live in Canada’s remote North – declared a state of emergency in 2019 over contaminated water. I had just started co-writing some songs, and the idea for this song in particular came from my writing partners. It fit exactly how I was feeling at that time, so we decided to write it together and record it together. The video was created by an award-winning animator named Justin Stephenson who has done some really important video work here in Canada. We shared with him about the song and asked him if he would like to make a video for us, and lucky for us he said yes.



What keeps you motivated? 

What keeps me motivated is my family, my Cree culture, and spending time out on the land where I like to go to get away from everything else and recharge. I am also motivated to keep learning and improving my craft as a songwriter and musician, so I can keep growing my music career and striving for new things.  



Upcoming projects?

I am working on my debut album as a solo artist, which we’ll be releasing later this year. I put out four albums with my band Midnight Shine already, so now it is pretty exciting to be able to take the time to just focus on my own music.  

 I’ve also been doing some scoring work for a TV series here in Canada, which will come out sometime this summer. And I’ve just started writing my first book, which will be published by Penguin Random House Canada in 2022. So there are a lot of things on the go right now, and I am looking forward to getting these projects out.