The language of sound has always been ingrained in Mich Cota’s identity. As a two-spirit woman, raised by a native father and a white mother in Southern Ontario, Cota began composing small melodies on the piano
from the age of three to create her own sacred space in an intensely religious home. Inspired by her countryside surroundings, she would ingrain herself in nature, imagining herself in a place free of theology and
This is something Cota has carried with her throughout her creative existence. Her music is a way of navigating past traumas while exploring her queer experience, with open, unapologetic sincerity. It’s through her artistic expression that she relates to others, to build collective understanding and empathy, with the intention to heal and challenge normative ways of being.
"Sometimes it's difficult to show who I am, but I use my music and performance to help elaborate my essence. As a trans woman presenting with the body I have now, I challenge myself as well as others to not immediately categorize gender. I inhabit a male form, but I am a woman. This is my truth; I deal with dysphoria from social and self-criticism but hope to pacify these insecurities through creative practice. A wish of mine is for moments of self doubt to exist in the past, making way for new growth."
It’s this determination and focus that allows Cota to actualize her work in an extrinsic world. After dropping out of high school and leaving home at an early age, she built a modest independent life whilst continuing to
develop her musicianship. Taking inspiration from these overwhelming new experiences – and pouring them into her performance.
"I used to be focused on my childhood, it carried into my young adult life until I found a way to empower myself. My pain is not a focus, but it is not something I can forget. I experienced emotional and sexual abuse within my home. My decision to speak up and share is a means to put an end to a cycle of shame that I was encouraged to keep secret. Beginning to accept myself was the first step in admitting that I am now more than
a victim, I am a healing survivor."
Now residing in Montreal, Cota has received both loving support and alienation after living as her true self – making for a complex, everyday life.
"I look back at my past and thank myself for continuing to find ways of liberation through creative focus working very hard, whether it was working at a catering company or as a sex worker to sustain my
independence. I thank the mothers in my past who have opened their hearts and homes to me, and thank my friends for becoming my family.
Today I enjoy company of others who accept me as I am. I celebrate life and want to share my enthusiasm. I like to go out to parties, meet new people and build friendships that can expand me. I'm a lucky person,
wanting to share my love as much and I desire to be loved."
This creates an unsettling, inward universe on Kijà / Care that follows Cota as she wrestles with finding her way through an overgrown, intimidating path . “She’s got to be her own, find a place in this life,” she sings on
‘Eta-Godj / Only’. “She’s put herself together and pushing through, pushing through.”
Cota is constantly learning and searching for methods to exhibit her history in a way that informs her artistic production rather than exhausts it. The song titles on Cota’s third full-length, Kijà / Care, are represented in
both Algonquin and English; its dynamics oscillate between a restrained delicacy and a roaring exultation while its painful assertions blossom into a strengthened authority. The intention on Kijà / Care is to heal, to encourage others to process aspects of being that they can reflect on and to observe and study the world around them. It is an assertion of ancient understanding in a world that wants to erase it, surging this emotional energy with an intense but fragile spirit.
This visceral conflict not only informs Cota’s artistic production but offers a place of distinct vulnerability and substantial endurance; it’s a culmination of discovering two worlds that are both vital and beautiful that Cota delivers with a confident, meditative spirit. It is a creative, alternative space that works towards change and sees Cota piece together the fragments of her past, present and future self to produce an album that not only liberates those from the constraints of societal convention but welcomes them into an informed, empathetic reality. Kijà / Care offers a sanctuary to digest the intensity of differing.