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Music City Soundtrack: Hometown Stars

In Part 2 of the Music City Soundtrack digital series, we are highlighting some Juno-nominated local music heroes.
Get to know some of Toronto's Juno-nominated hometown music heroes (Despina Chaskari)

Toronto's music scene wouldn't be what it is without the established artists who have been lighting up stages across the GTA and making albums inspired by our city streets for years. In part 2 of Music City Soundtrack, get to know some of this year's hometown Juno nominees. 

KIRK DIAMOND

Kirk Diamond (Eric Alper PR)

Who are some of your favourite Toronto artists to watch?
My favourite up and coming artists in Toronto to watch are Shayne Amani and Bob Da Builda. They have authentic sounds that I find refreshing to hear. Builda's lyrical capabilities are impressive and the melodies and message in Shayne's music is honest and refreshing.

Can you recall your most memorable performances, or recording experiences in Toronto/GTA?
Two of my most memorable performances have got to be in 2018. One being Harbourfront Centre. It was the first time my parents got to see me perform. We rehearsed 3 times a week for about 6 months just for that show. Second being Afrofest where I closed the festival. At the end to see 6000+ ppl in the park singing and dancing with me was emotional for me to witness.

How do you see the Toronto music scene evolving in the next few years, and how do you see yourself influencing this?
With the Pandemic being in full swing. I believe a lot more virtual shows will be held. Artists are now able to live stream to audiences everywhere. I believe it will give the world a chance to discover all that Toronto has to offer. I turned my studio, "In The Blvck" into a space that is equipped to go live as a venue with multiple cameras at the click of a button. So far I've done shows livestream to the UK, Malaysia and Fredericton, New Brunswick without leaving Toronto.

How does it feel to have your work recognized, and receive this nomination?
Its an honour to be recognized, and to receive this nomination means a lot to me because it's the first song I've produced with my band, "The Movement Of Ahryel". And for "Let It Be Done" to be nominated reassures me that Reggae music has a place here in Canada.

Follow Kirk Diamond on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. 

DIONE TAYLOR

Dione Taylor (crilaphoto)

Who are some of your favourite Toronto artists to watch?
Amazing Toronto Artists to watch right now: Julian Taylor (no relation!), Joanna Majoko (soul/jazz) and Elise LeGrow (soul/pop). 

Can you recall your most memorable performances, or recording experiences in Toronto/GTA?
There are so many memorable Toronto performances to choose from! Performing at The Canadian Songwriter's Hall of Fame for the induction of Oscar Peterson's song "Hymn to Freedom" is definitely at the top of the list. Recording wise, my latest JUNO nominated album "Spirits in the Water" was tracked at The Hive (Tim Abraham) and at Canterbury Music Company (Jeremy Darby). What makes a recording experience so unique and special (to me) is after dedicating so much time and energy in preparation and pre-production then enabling the musicians and engineers to have the space, time and freedom for creativity and fun. All the musicians who played on this album are rock stars so I'm proud of that!

How do you see the Toronto music scene evolving in the next few years, and how do you see yourself influencing this?
(Post pandemic) I see the evolution of the music scene happening slowly, at first, and then I expect a time of unbridled celebration! All of that pent up energy needs to be released and I can't wait to be a part of the action. I imagine more space for outdoor concerts/festivals and drive-in shows will be the way to go, too. Live-streaming isn't going anywhere but nothing can replace the live music experience. I'm not a 'trend chaser' as it pertains to music. I march to the beat of my own drum. The 'prairie blues' sound that I coined is how I express myself artistically and culturally. My hope is to inspire others to share their unique, individual stories with the world. 

How does it feel to have your work recognized, and receive this nomination?
Being recognized and celebrated for my work is absolutely thrilling! Receiving the JUNO nomination for "Spirits in the Water" feels extra special because as an artist I believe it's imperative to find your unique 'sound' and to use your voice in positive and authentic ways.

Follow Dione Taylor on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram

JULIAN TAYLOR

Julian Taylor (Lisa MacIntosh)

Who are some of your favourite Toronto artists to watch?
Kunle,  The OBGMs, Skye Wallace

Can you recall your most memorable performances, or recording experiences in Toronto/GTA?
I think that one of the most memorable performances in recent history would be at the CNE bandstand. It was 2018 and IASTE was on strike with the CNE at the time. It was a summer-long battle and my band was scheduled to perform. Myself and long-time drumming companion Jeremy Elliott had numerous discussions about what we wanted to do. We were adamant about supporting our brothers and sisters in the union. Our final decision was to go out and stand in the picket line before our show. The time that we spent outside chatting and protesting with them was very fulfilling. Other than that show, I really loved my first-ever gig at the Elmo back in 1994, but each and every show is so damn special to me. I can't wait to play again in front of people.

How do you see the Toronto music scene evolving in the next few years, and how do you see yourself influencing this?
I sincerely would love to see more inclusivity and mixing of genres and cultures. I saw that CBC Music had shared a wonderful feature on up-and-coming Asian artists, which I absolutely loved and found inspiring. It's a bit strange for me to be considered by some younger Black and Indigenous artists as a trailblazer, but I guess it makes sense. I'm among a few select artists that can be mentioned as some of the first in the genres that I've been representing over the past two decades. When I started out there weren't many minorities pursuing rock music and folk music and combining it with soul. I'm pretty proud of that and hope that my work, now and then, helps to give other people like me a voice and the confidence to go for it.

How does it feel to have your work recognized, and receive this nomination?
I am so honoured to be recognized for my work. It's been a long road filled with many triumphs and failures and I'm grateful that I am still here making music. To be honest… if my work had never been recognized then I'd still be making music because it's a part of me. It's in my body and my soul and is a massive part of my spiritual healing. My parents are relieved because all those music lessons are finally paying off. My dad joked a few years ago that it's never too late, when Leonard Cohen won the JUNO for Best Album just a few years ago.

Follow Julian Taylor on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram

SILVERSTEIN (SHANE TOLD OF SILVERSTEIN)

Silverstein (Wyatt Clough)

Who are some of your favourite Toronto artists to watch?
There's so many great new bands, and the pandemic has made it so hard on them with no one able to get out there and perform. I encourage everyone to seek out the incredible local bands in your city - there are amazing new artists everywhere. But for now check out Napoleon - a great new post-hardcore act and Respire - a very heavy black metal band with tons of melody.  

Can you recall your most memorable performances, or recording experiences in Toronto/GTA?
In 2010, we did 4 nights in a row at the El Mocambo to celebrate 10 years of being a band.  We had 4 albums out and played each of them in full.  It was a pretty huge undertaking but also one of the most rewarding experiences of our career.   It was the least we could do for the city of Toronto who had our backs since day one.  

How do you see the Toronto music scene evolving in the next few years, and how do you see yourself influencing this?
Live music has always been the heartbeat of the Toronto scene and with it being gone for over a year now it's been tough to see that growth.  But I know musicians here have been holed up being creative and working on their craft and the scene will come back stronger than ever.  Hopefully the venues will come back and thrive.  We will all need to be a part of that support system.  As for us, we will continue to do our thing and keep evolving ourselves.  It's always special to hear about younger, extremely talented and inspiring musicians who say we were their first concert.  

How does it feel to have your work recognized, and receive this nomination?
Finally!  15 years between nominations!  That must be some kind of record!  Haha I'm kidding but in all seriousness we were honoured to get our first Juno nomination as a young band in 2006, and now to have had such a great career and be recognized for what we feel is our best album yet is an elating feeling.  It's great to know that if you keep your head down and work hard, good things will happen.  Since the last nomination we've performed in over 40 countries, put out 8 albums, a ton of videos, and played too many festivals to count ... I want to give a huge high five and a ton of love to our fans who have been there with us through this journey.  This nomination is as much a tribute to them as it is to us.  

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TOBi

TOBi (Patrick Duong)

Who are some of your favourite Toronto artists to watch?
LOONY has been one of my favourites since I heard her. Had to get her on ELEMENTS Vol 1 on "Silhouette". Tamir is an all around special artist from the east end. Be on the lookout for him. He's going to turn heads. Clairmont The Second too, I'm excited for the world to catch up to his creativity.

Can you recall your most memorable performances, or recording experiences in Toronto/GTA?
My most memorable performance was my album release show at the Velvet Underground in 2019. A lot of love and good energy in the room, easily my favourite show to date!

How do you see the Toronto music scene evolving in the next few years, and how do you see yourself influencing this?
I think we'll see more sub-genres and unique styles coming out and maturing in the next few years. Artists are getting more expressive and I'm excited to see how that unfolds. I see myself as an artist that isn't afraid to push limits and make something different that still connects. Unapologetic soul music is here to stay. I want to continue to represent Canadian art on the world stage in a major way. 

How does it feel to have your work recognized, and receive this nomination?
I'm very honoured to be nominated in both the rap and R&B categories. As a child rapping and singing to myself was all I did. I never thought I would be getting recognized for something that already gave me so much life. For that I give thanks. 

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DIZZY (KATIE MUNSHAW OF DIZZY)

Dizzy (Ryan Faist)

Who are some of your favourite Toronto artists to watch?
The new Babygirl EP has been my jam lately. We also just collaborated with the crazy talented Luna Li for our Separate Places EP who has her own music that absolutely rules.

Can you recall your most memorable performances, or recording experiences in Toronto/GTA?
Our headline Toronto show at the Mod Club (R.I.P.) was a dream. It was the first show of the only headline tour we've ever done and we were so underprepared. I think I was convinced that even though the show sold out people wouldn't show up or something, but when people started filing in we were all petrified. It felt like we were wearing shoes that were too big for us. At the back of the stage we hung this neon pizza sign my dad stole from the place he works  and we very sketchily rigged it to say "DIZZY". It worked sometimes. Our friends shot tiny handheld confetti cannons at the audience. I think I may have looked at the crowd once because of nerves. 

How do you see the Toronto music scene evolving in the next few years, and how do you see yourself influencing this?
I'm really looking forward to helping the scene become more inclusive and diverse. I always say that music is unlike sports in that it isn't a measurable thing.  It's nuanced and rooted in personal opinion. What I mean by that is I think artists, streaming platforms and other people in the industry have the ability to influence the scene with their actions, whether it be bringing certain bands on tour or giving them good playlist slots or whatever else. I would love to see the Toronto scene commit to supporting marginalized musicians, and not *because* they are marginalized, but because I don't think they've been given the same chances that white, cis artists have in the past. 

How does it feel to have your work recognized, and receive this nomination?
I think because we released The Sun and Her Scorch in the thick of the pandemic it was hard for us to know if anyone really heard the album- so this was a nice little reminder that those songs do have a little life of their own. It's also always wild to see our goofy faces up on the screen beside peers we admire and respect a lot.

Follow Dizzy on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram

 
Wherever you are in the world, you can tune in to the 2021 Juno Awards on Sunday, June 6. You can watch live on CBC TV and CBC Gem, listen on CBC Radio One and CBC Music and stream globally at CBCMusic.ca/junos. (CBC Music)

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