Toi leaves lipstick stains on a glass full of love Image

by Biko Kennedy

There's a high probability you've heard Toi's seductive vocals before, but it's unlikely you'll easily connect the dots as to where.

With her current single 'Suspended by Love' and the Protoje-assisted 'Shot by Love' creating a global buzz, this 21-year-old warbler has found an avenue for her music that navigates the mainstream and the obscures of the music soundscape, and she comes out with her distinct version of Reggae, Pop and R and B infused music that is both nostalgic and futuristic. We recently caught up with her to talk about her unforgettable vocal strengths and upcoming EP.

Jamaicansmusic: When you look at your sound/music, how have outside producers and musicians impacted your sound?

Toi: I try to stay true to my art and the type of music that I want to make, but of course being in the reggae/ dancehall industry producers send you rhythm and you have to open yourself to a different sound, music is changing constantly and I definitely like to keep up with what's new and fresh and will draw inspiration from that every now and again.

JAmusic: What goes into the creative process when you're in the lab cooking up new singles, from beginning to end?

T: No two songs are ever the same; I don't have it worked out to a science. Sometimes I have an idea for a song and we build the beat from scratch and go from there, other times I hear a beat and something comes to me right away. Lately it's been seldom that I actually put pen to paper though; I've been just going in the booth and vibing and doing mumble tracks. Some songs are written and recorded in the same night, others take weeks even months. I can't give my producer Sean "Nynex" Ricketts enough thanks because he plays a major part in this whole process.

JAmusic: Apart from them being timeless, what drew you to all the different types of artistes that influence you sound, like Millie Small, Barrington Levy, Nadine Sutherland, and Sanchez?

T: My outlook on music has changed so much since I started my musical journey, I've come to the realization that authentic reggae/dancehall from the early days cannot be duplicated and we have to learn to cherish and draw inspiration from the artist that did it before us, and apart from that I just honestly enjoy listening to music from this era.

JAmusic: The latest single you've been featured on is 'Shot by Love' with Protoje; how was it that the collaboration came about with Oje and what was it like working with him?

T: Don [Corleon] being the producer on this record sent me the track and this was one of those times where the song [or better yet] the hook came to me the same day. I was very excited about it, though at the time I had no idea what was to come of it. It was a little while after that Protoje linked me and expressed how much he liked the song and wanted to use it for his album [and] of course I was ecstatic. When I heard the final production it was almost surreal, it was perfect, and hearing it being played for the first time on the big sound system at the album launch was indescribable. I was invited to perform alongside Protoje and the Indiggnation [band] for the first rendition of The 8 Year Affair album; of course I knew I had to be there. After the first day of rehearsals I told Protoje it was life changing as this was my first time performing with a live band, I loved the energy and everyone in the band was so nice and welcoming. Sharing the stage with Protoje at the show is something I will remember forever he's truly an amazing artiste and I hope to work with him again in the future.

JAmusic: You're currently working on your debut EP to be released soon; with 'Suspended by Love' being the lead single for it. Is there a title and release date set for the EP as yet and what can persons expect from it?

T: The EP is something I've been thinking about for a long time, we just started working on it so we don't have a release date or title yet. I hope not to disappoint by saying this but Suspended By Love won't be on the EP, I'm working on all new tracks. People can expect it to be different from the songs I do on juggling riddims, this is more personal and it's the music that I want to make, we are putting our heart and soul into it. I hope my fans and new listeners will love it as much as I do.

JAmusic: When it comes to your visuals are you as hands-on as possible or do you just pitch an idea and have the director do their thing? 'Suspended by Love' truly was something else.

T: Right now we (Sean [Ricketts] from Calibur Films and I), do all the visuals our self. We put the concept and treatment together and we go out and shoot, we gather the raw footage and Sean [Ricketts] usually works on the sequencing and flow of the video while I work more on the colour grading and special effects. I'm thrilled that you and other viewers have given such positive feedback on the video.

JAmusic: A number of persons are making comparisons with you to Rihanna; in terms of coming from a Caribbean island and having that R and B/Pop persona. How do you react to such comparisons? And would you describe/compare your style vocally to hers?

T: Rihanna is a great artiste and I take the comparisons as a big compliment. She is someone that I admire as an artiste; vocally people say we sound similar I don't necessarily hear it myself but we both have an Island flavour so that could be where the similarity is.

JAmusic: A lot of persons consider music to be the perfect addiction. What is it about music that is most addictive to you?

T: The thing that makes music addicting is that I could never stop making it, even if I tried. Music is effortless. It's something that you are born with; it's in your veins. Even if I decided I don't want to be in the music industry anymore I could never stop making music. It's a form of therapy for those that love it.

JAmusic: What's next for Toi that is keeping fans biting their nails in anticipation? T: Definitely the EP it's a side of me that no one has really heard. The few people that have heard it so far love it and I hope everyone else will feel the same way.

JAmusic: What would you want persons to always associate with Toi and her music?

T: I want people to associate my music with being relatable; if it's a party song I want people to forget their problems and be happy, if it's a song about heartbreak I want it to be therapeutic to someone going through the same thing etc. Even if it's one person that feels this way my music has served its purpose.

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