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Music City Soundtrack: Ones to Watch

In Part 1 of the Music City Soundtrack digital series, we are showcasing six Toronto-based artists who are on the rise, and ready to take the stage as some of Toronto’s next biggest names.

In Part 1 of the Music City Soundtrack digital series, we're showcasing 6 Toronto-based artists on the rise

Get to know some of Toronto's fastest rising musical talent (Despina Chaskari )

With Toronto, and the GTA being home to such a wide range of musical talent, the two week long Music City Soundtrack digital series will feature -- and celebrate -- the musical talent that the city has to offer. In part 1, we're highlighting Ones to Watch. Artists who are on the rise, already have a local following, and might just be the next big name coming out of Toronto. 

LUNA LI

Luna Li (Felice Trinidad)

Who are some of your favourite Toronto artists to watch?
I'm really excited about Deanna Petcoff, one of my close friends who has a lot of amazing music coming. Mother Tongues, an unbelievable psych band that I actually used to play in. Huxlii, who also plays in my live band but has an awesome solo project. Jay Feelbender, my boyfriend who has created so much incredible music during this pandemic that I can't wait for the world to hear! And so many more but it would take all day. 

Can you recall your most memorable performances, or recording experiences in Toronto/GTA?
My band put together a show called Silver Night at the Baby G in 2018. I co-curated it with my band mate Hallie, and we made it a magical interactive night with dancers, a photo booth, a glitter station, a haiku station, and a 3-act set. It was such an intimate and special show with my musical community, definitely one of my best show memories. 

How do you see the Toronto music scene evolving in the next few years, and how do you see yourself influencing this?
We'll definitely have some work to do rebuilding the music scene after the pandemic, but I know it will come back to life again if the community comes together along with support from the city. It's also my hope that we can work toward the scene being more equitable and accessible, making sure that venues and festivals are accessible and safe for all. I see myself playing a role in this by making an effort to ensure that everyone feels safe and welcome at my own shows, and encouraging others to do the same. 

Follow Luna Li on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram

DEAR-GOD

Dear-God (Curtis Watson)

Who are some of your favourite Toronto artists to watch?
There's a huge list of artists and bands that should be on top of the world right now.  Just to name a few, Clairmont the Second, M.I.Blue, and Real World.

Can you recall your most memorable performances, or recording experiences in Toronto/GTA?
I played a show a few years back at an art gallery in Parkdale that yielded like 200 kids. I met some guys who would throw events, they were called "Outtaline". We were the first band to perform at one of their free events, and right when we started the crowd went crazy. Our gear was getting all smashed up from kids falling all over it. I guess since that was my first show with that many kids going that hard, it still sticks with me.

How do you see the Toronto music scene evolving in the next few years, and how do you see yourself influencing this?
I love Toronto with all my heart. The people and the culture here make it a great place to be. I've seen a lot of people from other places talk down on Toronto and especially Brampton, but hearing that hate just motivates me to show the world how sick and unique it really is out here. It feels like the more we organize and work together to support our community, the better it will be for other artists here. I'd definitely love to see better infrastructure and funding for smaller artists. A lot of the amazing smaller venues have closed down, and the grant system is super flawed. Me and my team are going to brainstorm and try our best to find ways to contribute however we can to a thriving and vibrant Toronto music scene; whether that's free shows or fundraisers, and I encourage all other artists, big or small, to give however they can too.

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DANI NASH

Dani Nash (Calm Elliot-Armstrong)

Who are some of your favourite Toronto artists to watch?
Kyla Charter, Georgia Harmer

Can you recall your most memorable performances, or recording experiences in Toronto/GTA?
One of my most memorable performances was playing Massey Hall accompanying JULY TALK on percussion, keys and vocals. As a Canadian musician growing up in Toronto and watching my favourite performers on that stage, it felt like a real milestone to be able to say that I played Massey Hall. Walking in through the "stage door" was bittersweet and that moment will always stay with me. 

How do you see the Toronto music scene evolving in the next few years, and how do you see yourself influencing this?
The Toronto Music Scene has really grown in the last 10 years. There are so many bands and artists from all genres and I think everyone really supports each other and wants to see their friends succeed. When COVID-19 hit, and shows were cancelled, I think the venues were really hit hard. I know that personally I'd like to make more of an effort to show up and support our local venues in any way that I can. I've been so lucky, having played all over Toronto in all types of places and we need these venues to stay open so that we can continue to cultivate live music in this city!   

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AMAAL

Amaal (Teaunna Gray)

Who are some of your favourite Toronto artists to watch?
Sean Leon, Layla Hendryxx, Savannah Re, Raahiim

Can you recall your most memorable performances, or recording experiences in Toronto/GTA?
I would have to say right before the shut down, I had an unforgettable experience performing at a SoundCloud event that drew in an amazing crowd! The energy was so powerful in that space, I actually felt it transfer to me because my performance felt so overwhelmingly emotional. The other best part of that night was being able to have all my family and friends there with me, seeing them sing along with the crowd was an indescribable feeling because prior to that a bulk of my performances had been overseas. So that night was extra special and overall a magical experience - I was home! I just remember at one point standing still for a couple seconds and taking a mental memory of everything so I could revisit that moment forever. 

How do you see the Toronto music scene evolving in the next few years, and how do you see yourself influencing this?
You've got every kind of person from around the globe living in this amazing city. This diversity has heavily influenced our taste and eclectic music scene which has pushed us to grow at a rapid rate. We have underground up and coming artists oozing with talent and could 100% compete on a large scale with other international acts. But there is some catching up that needs to be done on the music infrastructure side of things, especially when it comes to hip hop/rap/rnb etc. The work is being done and it's also one of my personal driving forces. Being able to successfully create and market a world wide project from home with a Canadian partnership! That would be a dream come true! 

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DIJAH SB

Dijah SB (Marius Jadion)

Who are some of your favourite Toronto artists to watch?
Clairmont The Second, Terrell Morris, Ray HMND

Can you recall your most memorable performances, or recording experiences in Toronto/GTA
When I was chosen in the crowd by Jay Electronica to spit a verse over a Dilla beat

How do you see the Toronto music scene evolving in the next few years, and how do you see yourself influencing this?
I see it evolving by all of the artists creating and sustaining a community between each other, by collaborating frequently and working laterally. The way I'm gonna directly influence this is by funnelling my own resources into the community when I have the means to.

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CASEY MQ

(Provided by Casey MQ)

Who are some of your favourite Toronto artists to watch?
Sydanie, 8485, James Baley

Can you recall your most memorable performances, or recording experiences in Toronto/GTA?
I think an amalgamation of club nights spent at The Beaver and Unit 2 are really close to my heart. It's where I've met so many friends, shared music and so much more together.

How do you see the Toronto music scene evolving in the next few years, and how do you see yourself influencing this?

I think evolution takes time, and patience and the way things evolve don't move so linearly. I think there's been a lot to grow from over the last year and a half, and seeing how that translates to Toronto's IRL music scene is something I'm excited about. I'm excited to see local artists thrive, express and connect with people. Art and music allow for shared connectedness that is almost indescribable in the peak moments. To me, it's the feeling of losing sense of time and space from a note or chord that touches you. I'm excited to be an audience and performer in those moments.

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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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