My Digital Life: Smokii Sumac and The ʔasqanaki Podcast

Get an inside view into The ʔasqanaki Podcast, a podcast series showcasing Indigenous literature and music. In the interview, Smokii Sumac shares the inspiration behind the project and sheds light on the creative process. Collaborating with an audio engineer and a producer, Sumac brings together captivating storytelling and enchanting melodies to bridge the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous experiences. Join us as we discover the vision behind the podcast and the challenges that came with its creation.

The ʔasqanaki Podcast
Photo by: Tenille Campbell

What is your channel called and what is it about?

My podcast is called The ʔasqanaki Podcast and it is a seven-episode series on Indigenous literature and music.

When did you start it? What motivated you at the beginning?

This project started in 2021, and to be honest, my motivation was meeting amazing collaborators, G.R. Gritt and Krystal Strong. I have always wanted to do a podcast but didn’t have the skills to do sound design and editing myself, and I also wasn’t sure where to start. Producer Krystal supported in grant writing and later project management, and G.R. Gritt was our incredible audio engineer, sound designer, and technician! Without their expertise, it would still be just an idea!

Who were you inspired by? Any influences?

Growing up, my dad always used to say he believed I would be on CBC radio someday. Most of my inspirations come from there- Rosanna Deerchild, host of Unreserved, and the late Candy Palmater of The Candy Palmater Show. I also love non-Indigenous interviewers like Tom Power of Q, and the original VeeJay, George Strombolopolis who I got to know from many years of watching MuchMusic!

How would you describe your audience?

I believe that my intended audience is Indigenous people looking to see their own stories reflected, and non-Indigenous people who are hoping to learn something new. People experiencing adoption, grief, and/or coming “out” as queer and trans will also resonate with the series. I hope my audience is as diverse and unique as our guests!

What is your creative process? Do you have people who work with you?

My creative process has often been solo, and for the content creation, that remained true in this project. For every other part of the show, however, we worked in collaboration. The conversations are all influenced by the guests on the show, and the show sounds so beautiful because of G.R. Gritt, whose music makes me cry every time I hear the podcast intro. It’s been an honour to work with our team and create this series!

How do you monetize your content? Do you also have another job?

This seven-episode podcast was funded generously by the Canada Council for the Arts. Outside of that, I have multiple other jobs as a speaker, facilitator, consultant, educator, poet, and emerging playwright. Most artists will tell you that in the gig economy, we do it all to make ends meet, but I should also say that I love having my job be different every day, and I don’t think I would be happy in a single position with a 9-5 work week.

What is your favourite piece of content you have created?

Oh my gosh! It’s so hard to pick just one episode, so instead I will say listen to the whole podcast! I think my favourite piece of content associated with the work, however, is something that some people might not access, which are the love poems I wrote to each guest that can be found on my website. Here, if you scroll to near the bottom of this page, you’ll see the “found” poem I wrote based on the transcripts from my episode with G.R. Gritt-there are poems for each episode that you can find on each episode webpage!

What is the best part about what you do? What is the worst part?

The best part of what I do is to be able to share brilliant Indigenous art with the world and highlight these incredible artists and musicians, sharing them to folks who may not have known they existed before the podcast!

The worst part of the work is ensuring we meet the deadlines and keeping on top of things like budgets and schedules. I would prefer to be doing the creative work all the time, and having fewer administrative tasks, but overall, we need the emails sometimes to make the work happen!

What are your future plans for your channel?

Right now I’m going to continue to share the 7-episode series, which I hope will be season one. We are currently looking for funders and applying to opportunities to look into producing a second season, but I am not in a rush because this content took so much love and care that I’d like it to go a bit further before we get into a new season.

Where can we follow you?

Instagram is the best place to see what I’m up to!

PAY IT FORWARD: What is another Canadian content creator that you love?

I love following Chelazon Leroux – we collaborated with her on a TikTok for this podcast, and she makes me laugh at every post!


About Joel Levy 2550 Articles
Editor-In-Chief at Toronto Guardian. Photographer and Writer for Toronto Guardian and Joel Levy Photography