Today’s spotlight is on Mato Wayuhi, a South Dakotan creative whose vibrant sonic landscapes come riddled with expressive visuals. His latest release, STONE COLD LOVER, is a musical epic that gives a thoughtful, yet digestible statement regarding his identity, all the while speaking on the ups and downs of love.
Mato Wayuhi wants you to know who he is, but that also means confronting the Western image of who he is. Wayuhi, who also directed the music video, introduces himself with a scene that parodies old Western films as we see him and his bandmates running from an authoritative figure in a “Cowboy vs. Indian” fashion. Today, we still see poor representation of Native communities of the past and present in the mainstream. Certainly, a Native person half-naked and wearing a form of headdress has become the quintessential image of the Native-American in pop culture. Moreover, they present Natives as being relics of the past, no longer existing in the modern world. Over time, these harmful notions to start to get confused with the true reality of the Native’s ongoing history with the United States. Wayuhi’s choice of clothing could serve to be a statement about his upbringing, possibly addressing a conflict of who he is to himself and what other people’s perception are of who he is. Consequently, would the audience be able to even identify his Native roots without the stereotypical garb? What does a Native person look like today? I feel Mato Wayuhi is confronting himself and his audience with these questions.
Another theme Wayuhi seems to constantly bring up is the concept of duality, the duality of love and the duality of his identity as a Native-American. To me, duality encompasses three spaces: one side of the spectrum, the other side of the spectrum, and the space in between. The people of color in America live this reality and try to discover a space that balances both ends of the spectrum, making sure one side doesn’t completely tilt over. Regarding love, Wayuhi literally identifies with this contrast between being a “stone cold lover” and a “stone cold killer” in the song’s chorus. With that being apparent, it is to say that Wayuhi has experienced the duality of love and how one can love so deep but also refuse it to the point of killing that love for somebody else. His lyrics contain both elements of elegance and tension. He uses both music and film to blend these ideas in an effortless way.
In the very end of this video, we see Native elders together with music, living in today’s world. He departs from the stereotypical images he gives his audience in the bulk of the video and finally presents us with a real image of Native people. These are not antiques of a romanticized past. These are Native people who are experiencing and responding to life in the United States right now.
Mato Wayuhi is the best kind of creative. He is free, thought-provoking, and relatable. His talent are evident is clear, and we are excited for his upcoming album, PART-TIME INDIAN, to come out August 17th.