From the electronic underground to emerging R&B pop, this is the new crop of Canadian talent you need to keep an eye on.
by Glenn Alderson
Just like The Weeknd’s bandages he brandished during the American Music Awards, when it comes to Canadian music there’s much more talent out there waiting to be unwrapped. Thanks to chart-topping artists like Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Drake, there’s been a lot of eyes and ears on Canadian music exports. From the countless music hubs in and around Toronto to the often underestimated West Coast, Canadian artists have been working hard creating music that is reverberating throughout the rest of the world.
While it’s impossible to list them all, these are some of the voices you’re going to want to listen for this year as they continue to push the envelope.
Montreal’s TiKA brings new-age energy to classic R&B, creating a fresh sound she refers to as Futuristic Nostalgia. Just take her recent cover of “I Would Die 4 U” where she transforms Prince’s Purple Rain opus into all the colors of the rainbow with her ephemeral and emotionally-charged vocal delivery.
TiKA already has two EPs on her resume but is set on making 2021 her year with the release of her debut full-length, Anywhere But Here. Pulling inspiration from artists like D’Angelo and Black Queer women of the 90s like Tracy Chapman and Meshell Ndegeocello, TiKA is primed to bask in the glow of a well-deserved spotlight. “I feel like I’m in my third trimester and I’m ready to birth this album into the world,” she says. “I hope people appreciate my vulnerability because I poured all of my 2014-self into this project.”
The piano lessons Molly Annelle started taking at the age of three are paying off as the songwriter prepares to release her debut album, Elevator Music. At just 17 years old, the already celebrated Vancouver-based singer/songwriter has teamed up with producer/songwriter Louise Burns to create a timely collection of pop-infused R&B detailing all the emotions and anxieties a teen can face as she grows into a young woman. “All the lessons I learned from 15 to 17,” she says. “The tears I cried, smiles I cracked—it’s all in this album.”
Signed to 604 Records—the same label that birthed international superstars Carly Rae Jepsen and Nickleback—Annelle’s fresh debut is poised to take the young creative all the way to the top.
DillanPonders has been on our radar since his spit-fire collab with Maryland rapper IDK on his track, “JURASSIC.” With the release of his latest trapped-out single, the Toronto native has adopted the precarious title “King Of The Town.” It’s a tall order considering all of the top-tier talent Toronto so famously produces but he wears the crown so well that we’re gonna let him have it — for now. “There’s a time and space for humility, but also a time for unwavering self-confidence and belief in oneself,” he says. “‘King Of The Town’ is that feeling I get when I step inside the studio. If you don’t truly love and believe in your own shit, who will?”
More than just a mindset, Ponders is putting his larger-than-life persona on full display with his new album, Because We’re Alive. Here to make the most of it and then some, keep an eye on this rising emcee with international appeal and friends in high places.
House music is coming back in a big way this year and Jayda G is here for it. The science major who grew up in rural British Columbia recently hung up her lab coat and hit pause on academia to focus on her music. It proved to be a successful experiment as her breakout single “Both Of Us” is currently up for the coveted Best Dance Recording at the 2021 Grammy Awards.
Showcasing all sides of her talents as a producer Jayda checked in to Dua Lipa’s Club Future Nostalgia album to remix “Cool,” one of the most memorable singles on the Black Madonna-produced compilation. Currently stationed in the UK, she has joined artists like Hot Chip, Bicep and Ross From Friends in pushing back against the implications Brexit has imposed on touring musicians. Jayda G has already won the hearts of technophiles around the world but she’s not going back to the science lab until everyone is dancing.
Chippy Nonstop isn’t a new name in music by any stretch. Born Chhavi Nanda, the multi-hyphenate DJ, rapper, and activist has written songs for Major Lazer and had her music featured on Netflix, HBO, and a Stella McCartney campaign focused on female empowerment.
An outspoken voice against gender disparity in electronic music, Nanda co-founded Intersessions in 2017 and has spent the last four years creating safe spaces for women, femme, non-binary, and queer people to create and learn from each other. Following a brief hiatus, she is making an anticipated return to creating music of her own with her debut LP, Chippy Nonstop X DJ Genderfluid. A playful pop crossover steeped in the ethos of the electronic underground, Nanda is re-emerging in 2021 with purpose. If you’re looking to shake up your next Friday night at home, tease your senses with Chippy’s heavy-handed “Straight To Hell” remixes.