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North Gold Entertainment champions new talent as Yukon’s first hip-hop label

Rarely does the phrase “necessity breeds invention” ring so true as in the North, where resource scarcity and population size offer serious hurdles for artists looking to break out onto a more worldly stage.

Rarely does the phrase “necessity breeds invention” ring so true as in the North, where resource scarcity and population size offer serious hurdles for artists looking to break out onto a more worldly stage.

Luckily, North Gold Entertainment is one such necessitated invention.

The independent label and artist collective was created by Yukon musician and artist Isaac Pumphrey after he identified a need for advocacy in the Yukon hip-hop and R&B community.

“Growing up in the North I always felt crippled by a feeling of isolation from the rest of the world,” he said. “It seemed that things like becoming a professional athlete or getting a hit song or even just creating something that could reach a real audience was simply an impossible task, just because of where I grew up. I want to change that.”

Pumphrey has been an artist and creator his entire life, constantly pursuing passions in music, photography, film and business. These passions, along with realizing what great talent Yukon musicians have to offer, led him to launch North Gold Entertainment in 2020, while also completing the Entertainment Management program at Toronto’s Trebas Institute to hone the skills he intends to bring home with him.

“The music was there, the creativity was there, but none of these artists knew how to properly brand and market themselves, let alone navigate this maze that we call ‘the music industry,’” he said. “North Gold Entertainment is my solution to all that. I want to build something that can not only guide these artists but build a brand that we can collectively push together.”

The company’s mandate is to create high quality music and content, building a brand and platform to develop and recognize undiscovered talent in Canada’s youth, while offering quality professional services to established creatives.

Since the inception of North Gold, Pumphrey has found the hip-hop and R&B community in the Yukon to be far bigger than he’d ever imagined, and is inspired by the number of creative artists with something to say. With the tools and platforms now open to artists through the industry shift to online promotion, Pumphrey believes now is the time to amplify those voices, and offer accessibility to a wider range of artists.

“It is now possible to be anywhere and connect with the entire world through these [online] platforms and achieve the goals and dreams that, to me, once seemed completely out of reach,” he said. “With North Gold Entertainment, I’d like to be able to take artists from any community or any background and give them the team and resources they need to succeed.”

North Gold Entertainment launched in 2020. (Submitted)

In addition to guidance through the industry labyrinth of royalties, social media, and promotion, North Gold offers a range of services including but not limited to vocal recording, photography, videography, and management services.

While currently operating as a “one-man show,” Pumphrey hopes to add other creatives to his entertainment collective.

“I record all my artists in my home studio that I have built over the last year, get them set up to receive royalties, do the distribution, run all the social media for the company, do all the marketing, along with all the content creation, including photo and video. So, right now building a proper team is crucial to us expanding and growing,” he said. “My focus is to build a team that covers every aspect of the music industry, from the business side to the creative side.”

Though Pumphrey has worked with artists and producers from all over the Yukon and Canada, North Gold also boasts its own artist roster, currently featuring local hip-hop artists Mobb Diggity, Princess Melia, Little Boe, and Pumphrey himself as Pumpskii. He hopes to expand this lineup in the future, and said the company is always looking for new clients and performance opportunities.

North Gold Entertainment has already seen an expanding local fan base after putting on several successful shows over the past two years, as well as sending roster artists to participate in Cypherfest 2021 and online events like Fall Creator Fest, the Bell Songwriting Challenge and March 2022’s Crush the Crisis opioid awareness campaign. Pumphrey is encouraged by these past successes, and is dedicated to furthering the company’s expansion.

“I hope North Gold becomes a gateway into the music industry for young talent from the north,” he said. “Providing that would mean bigger opportunities for artists from any community.”

North Gold Entertainment is currently booking events for the summer; Pumphrey encourages any and all artists to reach out about recording and performance opportunities.

Several performances are already in the works for the season, starting with Mobb Diggity, Pumpskii and Princess Melia at Adaka Festival and Arts in the Park. While these event dates are still to be determined, updates and more information will be available through the company website, or on Instagram, @northgoldent.

Willow Gamberg is the owner of Road Dogs Music Supply and The Lab Rehearsal Studios in downtown Whitehorse.