A sea of freshmen flooded the University of Ottawa’s campus, laughing and yelling and making the most of the beginning of their time at their new school’s 101 Week. Among them, through the ruckus of the welcome week events, came the tones of two guitars.
David Campbell and Mitchell Jackson stood at opposite sides of the same street strumming their instruments, hoping to raise money for Shinerama, a cystic fibrosis campaign held every year during this time. The two musicians, both majoring in human kinetics, eventually came together through their shared interest of the art.
“Sweet guitar,” Campbell said to Jackson. “When did you start playing?”
“Just a couple years ago,” said Jackson.
Campbell was amazed.
Having only begun playing guitar seriously two years prior, in Grade 11, Jackson played with the mastery expected of someone much more experienced. Campbell himself was no stranger to music, as he had played piano from a young age and picked up many more instruments along the way. Natasha Pedersen has been singing her whole life, from classical to theatre to opera. Enrolled in uOttawa’s nursing program at the time, she happened to be living in the same residence as Jackson.
“I met [Jackson] through a friend who knew I was a singer and she told me there was this boy on my floor who plays guitar and we should probably meet,” Pedersen says. “We clicked and the rest is history.”
Pedersen, Campbell and Jackson form Children of Indigo, an indie-folk band that is “characterized by a combination of unique chord progressions, moving harmonies, and nostalgic lyrics.” The band got their name from an Indigenous elder that Jackson met at a conference, who said that the young generation was filled with “indigo children.”
The trio decided to become an official band in December 2017, shortly after Campbell returned from an academic exchange in Norway. They had been playing small gigs and jamming together for months before, and while he was abroad, they sent each other voice memos and ideas.
“We had a lot of chats over FaceTime and we were sending song ideas and lyrics back and forth and thinking, ‘We should actually do this,’” Campbell recalls.
His time and experiences in Norway inspired the group to release their most popular track, Magnum, which features clips from Campbell’s travels in the music video.
The group’s songwriting process is “casual,” as they call it. It often starts with a guitar riff, followed by a melody and then the lyrics. It comes naturally to them and they work together and play off each other effortlessly, just as they do while performing.
But to get to the songwriting process, Children of Indigo have to overcome their biggest challenge: finding time.
Pederson has graduated and is currently a registered nurse working with the government for health research. Campbell is working to finish his human kinetics degree while working as an electrical apprentice and Jackson is looking towards teachers’ college while working three different jobs.
Despite their busy schedules, they have been able to experience many opportunities as an ensemble. They have two music videos on their YouTube channel and performed at Bluesfest last summer, but they are mainly taking the time they can to record and release new music.
“As much as playing shows is amazing—and we’ll continue to do that—we want to make sure we release really good music for people to listen to, music that we’re proud of that we can look back on,” says Jackson.
They agree that their main goal is to make music that inspires others and are thankful for the support they have received on their musical journey.
“We do it for us, and for the people that enjoy our music,” says Pedersen.
While Children of Indigo has encountered many exciting opportunities on its musical journey, Campbell says the trio values the emotions and milestones they’ve experienced just as much.
“People’s appreciation of our music means a lot to me even though I may not think about it all the time or realize it,” he says. “It means a lot that my friends and family and other people appreciate the stuff we make.”
Children of Indigo’s next show is scheduled for Feb. 29 at Musiikki Café in Kingston.