Debby Friday brings a cathartic and genre-bending performance to The Intro
The multidisciplinary artist performs songs from her debut album, Good Luck
On the latest episode of The Intro, Debby Friday emerges from a smoky, purple haze as her pleading vocals soar through the air, all reverb and echo. Her movements are transfixing, her eyes are set directly on the camera with coy, knowing glances as she sings her heart out performing "So Hard to Tell," a standout track from her debut album, Good Luck.
When it dropped in January, the single was a surprising shift in Friday's sound to something lighter, less fiery and guttural than her previous EPs, BitchPunk (2018) and Death Drive (2019). The Toronto-based artist usually raps over industrial beats, but here she was singing soulfully and wistfully. It was a fitting introduction to her most revealing music yet.
Friday tells Intro host Damhnait Doyle that "So Hard to Tell" and title track "Good Luck" are messages to a past version of herself. "I respect the journey that she's been on because it was through going through that, that I am where I am today, and I am who I am today," she says.
On "Good Luck" that message is delivered with the directness of a stern but caring older sister who only wants what's best for you: "You got shit to do, you got a lot to prove/ you're gonna make your way" and "You better build yourself up, buttercup."
Friday performs "Good Luck" and another song from the album, "What a Man," in the episode above, accompanied by her co-producer Graham Walsh.
Mixing hardstyle, blues, techno, hyperpop and alternative R&B with an elastic vocal performance that ranges from soft and delicate to the incisive bark she's known for, Friday defies simplistic categorization on Good Luck. The album's themes are centred on self-discovery and self-determination; becoming the person you always knew you could be.
Friday wrote the album as a way to process a tumultuous period. After discovering and becoming enthralled with the rave scene in Montreal, where she grew up, she became a DJ. Then, after almost a year of DJ gigs, she decided to make her own music and taught herself to use production software. Friday was riding the high of being surrounded by so many inspiring DJs and producers, and a future making music as her career materialized in her mind. But the indulgent aspect of club culture wasn't sustainable for her.
In the episode, Friday tells Doyle about the "nervous breakdown" that ended with her becoming sober and moving across the country to Vancouver for a master of fine arts in 2018. "[Sobriety] has made my art better. It's made me a better artist, made me a better person, and it has given me my career and my life back," she says.
The MFA also allowed her to pursue other artistic pursuits, and she forayed into filmmaking. The album was accompanied by a short film that she both co-directed and starred in.
When she was writing Good Luck, Friday felt she was on the verge of a breakthrough — that all the things she dreamed of (and the ones she didn't dare dream of) were on the horizon. Since the release in March she's received accolades from major international music media like NME and Pitchfork, played South by Southwest in Austin and is currently touring Europe.
"It almost has this prophetic feeling. I knew at the time, when I was writing [the album] that it was going to change a lot for me," she says.
CBC Music's The Intro spotlights emerging musicians across the country through interviews and live performances. Debby Friday's episode is the final one for Season 3, and you can watch all past episodes on CBC Gem, YouTube and CBCMusic.ca/TheIntro.