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Ya Tseen: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

"It's Indigenous Peoples' Month every month, don't you forget, mark your calendars," says Nicholas Galanin. "I think it's important right now that we uplift and acknowledge Indigenous people beyond holidays or months, allocated time." Galanin, who's Tlingit and Unangax̂, leads Ya Tseen and brings his perspective as an Indigenous artist to every aspect of the band's music and artistry. Even the backdrop of their Tiny Desk (home) concert is a house screen — the largest of its kind in Southeast Alaska — carved by Will Burkhart and Galanin (as an apprentice). The video itself was filmed at the Sheet'ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi community house, which is modeled after customary Tlingit Long Houses.

Minutes can quickly turn into an hour listening to Ya Tseen's music, which uses a combination of electronic and acoustic elements to create an inviting atmosphere. But his words are often far more cutting, literally so on "Knives," which hides an ominous bent under an otherwise dreamy texture. It's the first song off the band's debut album, Indian Yard, though by no means Galanin's first foray into music; he's performed under other names like Silver Jackson and Indian Agent, and collaborated with the likes of Tanya Tagaq and Meshell Ndegeocello.

Galanin is also a prolific visual artist, often focusing on political and anti-colonialist statements. His Tiny Desk brings all the elements of his work — music, video and artistry — together in a single package.


  • "Knives"
  • "Light the Torch"
  • "Back in That Time"

  • Nicholas Galanin: vocals, keys, synthesizers, djembe
  • Benjamin Verdoes: vocals, guitar, drums
  • Zak Dylan Wass: guitar, vocals
  • Qacung: Vocals, hand drum Jesse Hughey: vocals, electronics

  • Video: Aaron Minks, Jesse Hughey
  • Audio: Wilson Rahn, Bryan Lovett

  • Producer: Sam Yellowhorse Kesler
  • Video Producer: Maia Stern
  • Audio Mastering: Josh Rogosin
  • Tiny Production Team: Bob Boilen, Bobby Carter, Kara Frame, Sofie Hernandez-Simeonidis
  • Executive Producer: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann
  • Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Sam Yellowhorse Kesler
    Sam Yellowhorse Kesler is an Assistant Producer for Planet Money. Previously, he's held positions at NPR's Ask Me Another & All Things Considered, and was the inaugural Code Switch Fellow. Before NPR, he interned with World Cafe from WXPN. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, and continues to reside in Philadelphia. If you want to reach him, try looking in your phone contacts to see if he's there! You'd be surprised how many people are in there that you forgot about.
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