For this True North Tale, I sat down with another great northern artist, this time I’m speaking with Andrea Bettger. And at the start of our chat, Andrea tells me that a career in music wasn’t something she chose. It’s just how her life has always been.
“The fact that I am a musician has always been the case; I come from a long line of relatives that are all musicians. Both my parents, my sister, my brother, my aunts and uncles, and even my grandparents are and were musicians and music teachers. So, choosing to go down this musical path never felt like it was a choice, it was just the way that life was for me. I started teaching music in Ontario and really enjoyed sharing my love of music with others. I pursued a performance career then as a side job to teaching…dabbling in playing with jazz orchestras and with popular bands and as a session musician, as well as classical performances. Although I have always written poetry and melody, I never really shared these things on stage – I was usually performing other people’s music and the extent of my own contribution would be my improvisational ideas on stage or in session work. Becoming an independent performing artist was really a direction that I steered myself in when I came to the Northwest Territories in 2003… I started to discover new types of music (specifically, Northern and Métis-style fiddling) that I really found interesting and have inspired a lot of my compositions. And needless to say, everything about the North…the climate, the colours, the people and the serene beauty, are all inspirational for writing.”
Everybody who moves up to the NWT has a story of why they ended up here. I asked Andrea why she decided to move to the Northwest Territories.
“When I first decided to move to the Northwest Territories, I was living in Toronto at the time, teaching music and playing some gigs with other bands. I was really looking for a change and to do something exciting and really different. I threw my resumé up north to the Northwest Territories, the Yukon and to Nunavut for a music teaching job. Hay River was the first place that got back to me. So, I drove across the country with my then-boyfriend now-husband and arrived in Hay River and started my journey there. I fell in love with the North and the people and the music and eventually moved to Yellowknife in 2008. I got married, had kids and we are still here and have no plans of going anywhere else.”
Similar to another artist I’ve spoken with, Laurie Sarkadi, Andrea lives off the grid. To end off my chat with Andrea Bettger, I asked her if she finds that living off-grid helps with her motivation and inspiration.
“Yeah, I think that certainly is a factor in inspiration and also in the motivation to write. I guess just because every day when you get up there’s something different happening with the wind and the weather, the darkness and the light – and these are all things that you’re surrounded by. It’s like natural poetry…all these images are part of your every day… when you look out the window and hear the silence it creates a really big space for being able to think about things in a slow way and create art that is really organic.”- Andrea Bettger, Northern Artist
Listen to the full TNT here!