Adria Kain, Taya Marquis, Faiza, Jessie Reyez rise up

As editor-in-chief of Urbanology Magazine I am constantly being asked to check out music projects, films, events, clothing lines. In most cases, the person making the request has one goal in mind: to land some editorial coverage within our publication, whether it be online or in print.

Every now and then an individual or a project catches my eye amidst all the clutter. Earlier this year, while I was on my Canadian Music Week (CMW) circuit, five individuals managed to break through and catch my gaze – four soulful, beautiful and talented young women from Toronto, and the visionary who brought them all onto one stage: Tika Simone.

Heading into 2016, it was made clear to me that Adria Kain, Jessie Reyez, Faiza and Taya Marquis were artists to keep an eye on. Here’s a little insight into who they are and how they caught my attention. Get familiar.

Adria Kain // Her name came up a few times amongst #TeamUrbanology discussions, but I had never had a chance to fully check her out. It wasn’t until I attended one of the Hennessey Artistry events featuring DJ Questlove that I saw her perform live. Her melodic, soothing vocals gave me goosebumps, and I knew I wanted to hear more. Between her releasing her debut full-length project and several notable performances, including headlining Tika’s CMW showcase, the name Adria Kain has been a mainstay on my timeline this year – and that’s a good thing.

“My music comes from, [my soul]. I call it ‘Kain Soul’, so it’s just real. It’s just real stuff.”

Her Music: “I kind of branded myself when I said my music is like soul music because that’s where my music comes from, [my soul]. I call it ‘Kain Soul’, so it’s just real. It’s just real stuff.”
Her Message: “I’m a ‘just be yourself type of person.’ Don’t try to be anybody that you’re not.”
Her Inspirations: “Everything I go through, everything I see or do inspires me to write.”
Her Goals: “A better life – I just want to live at peace … my living situation is not the best, but I know that if I keep doing what I’m doing and keep the faith, everything is going to come together.”
Her Next Steps: “I literally just take every day one day at a time. I don’t look too far ahead because then I start to over plan, get flustered and then I start to not follow through with what I planned.”

Editor’s Picks: “Satellite” ft. The Flan and “Higher” off of Island in My Mind album

Jessie Reyez // I first saw her perform, with guitar in hand, at the annual community event 106 & York held in Toronto’s west end. Her sultry vocals had a particular edge to them and I liked it. But it was during her CMW performance, when she hit the audience with her cover of The Rascalz’ 2000 single “Top of the World”, breathing fresh life into a T-Dot classic, that she really piqued my interest. She has a solo EP on its way, and another with Chicago’s King Louie, and I, for one, am looking forward to it.

“As long as I’m not starving and I can make my parents proud first and foremost, [doing] music every day, I’m down.”

Her Music: “I just don’t want to do anything that anyone’s already [done].”
Her Message: “Authentic, there’s no sugar coating anything – as real as possible. When I talk about myself, that’s what I want people to walk away with, like shit, there was no censoring.”
Her Inspiration: “My ex-boyfriends … this is really common with people who don’t like to talk about it, people who are artists, but then on stage they can be really open.”
Her Goals: “My life to be music, and not starve. As long as I’m not starving and I can make my parents proud first and foremost, [doing] music every day, I’m down.”
Her Gratitude: “I was part of the Remix Project … my life completely changed … [It’s] just positive people in that circle. Anyone you meet that comes in and out of that place [asks] ‘what can I do or what can I offer,’ not what can you do for me.”

Editor’s Picks: “Living in the Sky” King Louie ft. Jessie Reyez

Faiza // I had never heard of her before CMW. Not only did I gravitate towards her brand of funky melodies, but I was also taken in by the dynamic stage presence she commanded and how the crowd reacted to her. As I looked around the room – faces were in awe. Performing is still one of the best ways for new artists to cultivate a loyal fan base, and Faiza appears to be doing just that.

“People have really seemed to embrace me so that’s good. Toronto’s a really tough crowd; if you’re shitty they’re not going to give you a pass.”

Her Music: “It’s very honest music, it comes from a very real place. The things I write about, I write them in a very candid, real way, [for fans who] want to connect to someone who’s just speaking the truth.”
Her Message: “I’m still in the process of figuring out what my message is to be honest with you; right now I just make music based on what I’m feeling … a lot of it has been about love, and some of it about pain and struggle and things I’ve been through.”
Her Gratitude: “[Tika Simone] – instantly we connected. She really believes in me … It’s nice to have someone who is in a position to do things like put on shows, who can sort of take you under their wing and show you the ropes – almost like unofficially a mentor.”
Her Experience: “People have really seemed to embrace me so that’s good. Toronto’s a really tough crowd; if you’re shitty they’re not going to give you a pass.”

Editor’s Picks: “New Beginnings” and “Made to Be” off the Faiza project

Taya Marquis // Again, an artist who hadn’t been on my radar before the showcase, Taya kicked off the night with her upbeat, infectious Pop/R&B performance – dancers and band in tow – and got the audience energized. She has all the makings to accomplish her dreams of superstardom; it will be interesting to see where her career takes her next.

“I want to go on tour around the world. I definitely have high expectations, big dreams.”

Her Experience: “I opened up for Tinashe … and it was sold out. I couldn’t even believe it; there were people right up on stage, touching my hands. It was an incredible experience … My EP Woman is getting so much love from Toronto, locally without anything being on the radio so that’s a blessing.”
Her Inspiration: “My own experiences as a human being just living life … it’s almost dangerous because I’ll be driving and then I’ll be like, ‘uggh’, I’ll pull out my phone and try to record an inspirational moment.”
Her Goals: “I want to go on tour around the world. I definitely have high expectations, big dreams [and] I will be doing everything I can, along with my manager, to make that possible.”

Editor’s Picks: “Obsession” and “Love Again” off of the Woman EP

Photos By. Isa Ransome © Urbanology Magazine