Heartbreak to Art

Making music lifted her out of depression, and now she wants to bring that same light to others

Says Toronto R&B singer TiKA: "I had to to learn to love myself to learn how to love my voice."

Toronto R&B singer TiKA: 'I had to to learn to love myself to learn how to love my voice'

"I had to to learn to love myself to learn how to love my voice." Meet Toronto T&B singer in our Heartbreak to Art series. 1:09

It's hard to imagine not doing what you love — but when TiKA was hit with depression, the Toronto R&B singer stopped making music. For six years, she went quiet, but it was music that brought her back again. Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid, her 2016 EP, heralded her return, and she soon followed it up with a second EP, Carry On, a collection of '80s-vibe tracks that appeared later that year.

Her songs have been championed by CBC Music and CBC Radio's Marvin's Room, among many others, and in this short film, part of our series "Heartbreak to Art," TiKA talks about her journey: from depression, to music, to light. Below, get to know a little more about her.

People should know that the light is always attainable.- TiKA, musician

Name: Tika Simone, a.k.a. TiKA (www.tikathecreator.com)

Age: 32

Hometown: Oakville, Ont. "But raised in Rexdale. West end forever."

Lives and works: "I live in Toronto and work all over the world."

Art: Music

Her style: "Ethereal. Vulnerable. Soulful. Transparent."

Top 3 career highlights:

1. Performing at Manifesto 11 in Toronto this past June. "That was a great honour seeing as just four years prior, I was hosting the show.

2. Opening for UK R&B singer NAO at Toronto's Phoenix Concert Theatre in May. "Meeting her after and her telling me that she loved my Prince cover of 'I Would Die 4 U.' I gagged."

3. "Opening for John Legend at his show in Toronto and having his management tell me that I'm incredible and that the world will know my name. Humbling for sure."

In the beginning: "The first song I ever wrote was a song called 'Just Like That.' I'll never forget it. The song was about a guy who was crushing on me and I'm telling him how to approach me and teasing him saying that if he doesn't get it together, 'Just Like That' I'll disappear. The song was extremely jazzy. I sing it from time to time but I still think it's a bop."

"I started songwriting at the age of 14. Growing up, I paid close attention to the composition of songs as I was raised playing both piano and violin."

"When I finally had the courage to share one of my songs with a family member, I was discouraged from doing such and I subsequently stopped doing music for a long time after that. But I was always writing my own material."

Her advice for songwriters trying to find their voice:

"Isolate for sure. I was way too consumed with what other people thought and eventually other people's thoughts piled up to the point where I forgot what my own voice sounded like. Also, if you're going to isolate [yourself], don't just lay in bed thinking. Try to do something creative. Keep your mind busy by challenging your inner child. Paint, draw, sing, yell, act, scream, cry, emote. Identify your strengths as a songwriter, too. Sometimes writing in a repetitive fashion isn't necessarily a bad thing. It could be your style. Remove yourself from social media and read...often."

"I recall that I used to be upset that I didn't have a voice like Whitney Houston. I stopped singing for literally years before I realized that I would never sound like her. Once I got over the fact that I would never sound like Whitney, I eventually learned how to love and appreciate the parts of my voice that I used to think were imperfections. Then I realized that I was scrutinizing myself the entire time. I had to learn to love myself to eventually learn how to love my voice."

The Canadian artists she most admires:

1. Jann Arden — "I love Jann Arden's wit, humour and songwriting abilities."

2. Esthero — "I feel like she's one of the most incredibly underrated singers and songwriters of our time."

3. Daniel Caesar — "Daniel is a dream. He writes and sings from the soul. Her personifies music."

Inspiration: "My journey is inspiring me. I would have never fathomed I'd be in this place. I was just working at Starbucks last year and now I'm a full-time musician. God is good."

What's next?  

Toronto crowds can see her at the Mod Club on August 31, and her first full-length album, Anywhere But Here, is expected to arrive this fall. As she writes on her website, it's got an "'80s-inspired synth-pop sound," and the record will be accompanied by a new short film. "Just look out for a lot more from me."

Heartbreak to Art is a CBC Arts web series about the transformative power of creativity. In each episode, a different Canadian artist shares a disarmingly personal story. These dancers, musicians, painters and poets have all lived through deeply emotional challenges, and they reveal how art saw them through. A collection of impressionistic portraits, the series' director, Karena Evans, puts it this way: these films are "about what every real story is truly about — how the human heart changes."

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