Poet Vivek Shraya duets with Donovan Woods in new song ‘Colonizer’

TORONTO — Poet, playwright and musician Vivek Shraya has contemplated the layers of white supremacy in her work, but on a new project, she’s getting far more personal about the subject.

“Colonizer,” a duet with Juno Award winner Donovan Woods, is an upbeat love song that reflects on the “the complexity of being in an interracial relationship” told from two perspectives.

Shraya, who is of South Asian descent, says the song was drawn from her experience as an artist who explores the impact of racism while also being in a romantic partnership with a white person for the past 11 years.

The track is a half-acoustic, half-electric pop-rock effort that exchanges perspectives on the subject between Shraya and Woods, who appears as a stand-in for Shraya’s partner.

She originally asked her partner to appear on the track to sing his side of their real-life relationship, but he “emphatically turned down” the request.

So she turned to the raspy-voiced Woods, the folk and country singer whose previous duets include tracks with Canadian pop singer Ralph, Australian musician Ziggy Alberts and Alabama native Natalie Taylor.

The new song appears on a newly released deluxe version of Shraya’s debut album “Baby, You’re Projecting,” which originally came out last month via Mint Records.

Shraya says the idea behind the song has “comedic roots” but that the more she explored them, it became clear to her she was writing about “something I wasn’t hearing in pop music.”

“One of the things that I’m leaning into, especially in my 40s, is — what can I say that maybe no one else can say? And I feel there are not many pop songs about interracial relationships,” she said in a phone interview.

“To me, it feels like a very personal thing, but also something that a lot of people experience.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 7, 2023.

David Friend, The Canadian Press

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