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Miesha and the Spanks Premiere Mystical Video Single “Bear Kids” 

Death, rebirth, and life come full circle as the rock and roll duo unveil their most personal work yet.

by Sebastian Buzzalino

With the release of their sixth single off latest album Unconditional Love in Hi-Fi, Calgary-based garage rock duo Miesha and the Spanks wrap up a highly successful album cycle that saw the veteran band reach new heights. “Bear Kids” is the most personal track on the album, highlighting some of band leader Miesha Louie’s strongest songwriting to date as she explores the death of her father and subsequent birth of her twins four years ago.

In her Indigenous Secwépemc tradition, twins are a gift from the Grizzly Spirit, and she takes that energy and transforms it into something enormous and mystical in the video for “Bear Kids.” Working with fellow Indigenous animator and artist, Sarah Houle, the final single for Unconditional Love breaks from the duo’s previous music videos, moving away from their traditional aspects of live performance to create something that becomes so much more than the sum of its parts.

RANGE caught up with Miesha & the Spanks to dig into the song’s subject matter and take a look at how their latest album cements the duo as an unstoppable force in Canadian rock and roll.


“Bear Kids” holds a unique sonic and thematic place on Unconditional Love in Hi-Fi. What was your process like when you were thinking of this song, putting it together and sequencing it? What did you want to make sure you were saying with the song?

Miesha Louie: I have a tendency to write pretty guarded and even though I’d been talking about the theme of this song, the story, and that I wanted this song to exist, I think it’s probably the one that I shared the least. There was a lot of internal processing for the music and the spoken-word approach for the verses. Once I let Sean [Hamilton, drums] in on where I had taken it, and our producers, Paul Rawson and Danny Farrant, and let them help shape my ideas, we took it in some really cool directions. 

When we added the jingle dancing, Sherry Woods came into OCL [Studios] in full regalia, and we played the track and asked her to just dance to it with all the mics positioned towards her. This song was always about me healing, but bringing in the dancer brought things to a new level. It was a ritual or a blessing and a very emotional time in there for me and everyone present. The dancing completed the storytelling and I became very attached to it. It didn’t really make sense to have them throughout the entire song, sonically it was more meaningful to have the recorded jingles come in and out at key moments, but because the dance had become such a big part of the experience to me I had a really hard time letting it go. I consulted my best neechie advisors and, ultimately, they talked me down. The recording was its own experience and the finished song is its own as well.

There’s a lot of pieces to this song that needed to be done right. The story I’m telling is losing my father to a grizzly sow and her two cubs and reconciling that with my Secwépemc culture’s old beliefs that twins are a gift from Grizzly spirit — which is something I researched after having Grizzly dreams during my twins pregnancy. The tone was different from the dreams I had after I lost my dad and I think, in grief, we look for meaning. I wanted there to be a connection and, as it turns out, there was.

I’d already been slowly learning bits of my Secwepemctsín language, and wanted to incorporate that into the song, but it’s a really difficult language to learn and I didn’t want to pretend I was fluent by memorizing some sentences. So I decided to use key words and go back and forth with the English translations instead. I worked with Chief Atahm School, who offered some online programming I’d participated in prior, to proof and correct my pronunciations on the recording. Part of the art and the story of the song is that I’m reconnecting to all of this and still learning, so I didn’t want it to be perfect, but I also didn’t want to be outright wrong, either. 


This is probably your most personal song to date, directly bringing your immediate family into your music. When you were writing the song, what were you feeling? What does it feel like when you’re playing it live in front of audiences?

It took a really long time to be able to perform “Bear Kids” live. I was so worried that my emotions would take over and I would choke up. I had a few shows where I planned on playing it and then chickened out. When we finally did it, it was for the Come Toward The Fire showcase in Vancouver at the Chan Centre, and we had a big, long sound check first and that was the first time I played it for anyone. I heard Jarrett Martineau say “powerful” under his breath after we checked it and that moment helped me get my head around that, yes, this is my very personal story, but it’s also a performance, and it’s going to mean something to the people listening, too, and maybe resonate with them in a different way. So, maybe I don’t need to hold on so tight and maybe sharing will actually feel really good.


You worked with Sarah Houle on the animated music video and it feels like both song and video really come together as a cohesive piece. How does it feel watching the video now that it’s all done and released? What were some of the elements you and Sarah wanted to make sure were communicated in the final cut? 

I really trusted Sarah to interpret and tell my story with her art, because I’ve seen her art so much over the years and I’m a big fan. I actually visualized her animating the song as I was recording it, so if she had said no when I asked I don’t know what I would have done instead!

Watching the final version of the video was like a huge release, the final step in this whole process of reliving and sharing and reconciling this story. I showed my boys, and halfway through, Otis looked up at me and asked, “Is this my dream, mommy?” Like, what?? I wasn’t sure what they would think, but that was a pretty unreal reaction. It kind of feels like my dream, too. 


What was the thought behind going with an animated direction for this video, rather than live action? 

The story is pretty wild, kind of like the stuff of myths or legends, so I wanted an element of magic or make-believe that I think could only be done with animation. Being killed by bears is a terrifying image, but this story isn’t terrifying. It’s destruction and creation, it’s nature, it’s beautiful and it’s a full circle. Sarah’s animation truly captured that. It was important to me that birth and love was conveyed just as much as grief and loss and that it wasn’t necessarily a happy ending, but that the joy was present. Sarah really accomplished that with her animation. I’m so grateful that she made this video.


“Bear Kids” is the sixth and final single off Unconditional Love, just over a year into the cycle. Looking back on it all, what are some of the album’s biggest celebrations and biggest milestones?

Overall, this album exceeded all of our previous accolades for radio, which is incredible given some of the themes, like residential schools in “Dig Me Out,” and women’s safety, right to choose, and subsequent anger and distrust in the system in “So Mad” — both of which were our top two radio singles! This release cycle also took us all over Canada, into the US, UK, Germany, Sweden, and Poland, and brought us to a place in our career where we have a full team. We’ve been trucking it on our own for so many years and now have management and an agent, which for me is a dream, because balancing parenthood, art, and business is not easy at all. 

We’re also up for a bunch of Western Canadian Music Awards this year! Having all of our hard work acknowledged and celebrated by our peers in the music industry is genuinely such an amazing feeling. It makes me real pumped to get working on the next EP! “Bear Kids” feels like the perfect song to close the cycle out on, and we really hope you enjoy this video that’s very special to us.


Catch Miesha & the Spanks this summer at the following dates:

June 11 — International Indigenous Music Summit – El Mocambo, Toronto ON

June 21 — Sled Island, Mint Records Showcase – Ship & Anchor, Calgary AB

June 22 — 2Rivers Remix, St’uxwtèws Moveable Feast – Hat Creek Ranch, Cache Creek BC

June 28 — Run As One/Siksika Nation Pow Wow – Powwow Arbour, Siksika AB

July 2 — 2Rivers Remix, St’át’imc Moveable Feast – Conway Park, Lillooet BC

July 5 — 2Rivers Remix, T’kemlups Feast – Kamloops Race Central, Kamloops BC

July 19-21 — Folk On The Rocks – Yellowknife NWT