Tonye was the go-to feature singer for Vancouver’s EDM producers and DJs for years, a soulful, powerful voice that stood out, giving her the confidence to create music of her own that reflects who she is. Signed to 604 Records after two solo releases, her new EP, Villain, is a fun, groovy, electronic-spiked R&B/soul recording that declares the arrival of an artist not to be messed with.
She is outgoing and outspoken, a big personality, who can just as quickly laugh at the error of her ways as she can fall in love. Her music is all about that: Love. She writes better in hindsight — “Oh, that guy! What was I thinking?” In fact, she can’t wait to call the guy out from the stage who inspired her song “Villain” and declare her worth (and every woman’s) in her anthem “Queen.” The lady speaks her mind.
Produced in separate sessions by Kevin Maher (Carly Rae Jepsen, Kat Von D) and Colin Janz (Jepsen, The Katherines), Villain follows 2013’s The Solar Twin and 2011’s White Wizard, both self-released EPs that were straight-up sultry R&B/soul. But when she entered the studio to write and record with Kevin, they decided to mix it up and create something that represents Tonye’s eclecticism and tastes.
“We said, ‘Who are you in love with right now? What’s the sound? What is the feeling that makes you go crazy?” says Tonye, “And I was like, Janelle Monae, Jamiroquai, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu and one of the big influences was producer Mark Ronson who has a talent for picking amazing voices. So we figured out who our influences were and then were like, ‘Let’s put that flavour on everything that we do.’
“There wasn’t one coherent sound we were going for,” she says. “It was more a vibe, an approach to the music, and that sound is soulful, groovy, has a good beat and incorporates live instrumentation with electronic sounds, which is something I’ve always been doing. So Villain is a combination of everything I was going for in the past.”
Tonye, who sometimes puts “human” down before describing herself as a singer-songwriter, is heavily involved with charity as well, through #GROUNDUP, which has helped raise over $50,000 for various local and international causes. Her unofficial foundation, The Living Society, is focused on using the arts to connect with the community and bring to light social issues. She does this all through her music; she knows its importance.
“A lot of people get into music because they want to be famous but for me I came from an amazing but sometimes dysfunctional family and music was my home when I felt like I didn’t have one. It helped me be able to express myself when I couldn’t in many other ways,” Tonye says.
“I’m a very outgoing person and I have no problem standing in front of people and talking my face off, but when it comes to expressing the truth of what’s in my heart, I have a hard time with that, so it’s really important for me to put out in to the world, ‘Yeah, I sing and yeah I make music, but when it comes down to it, I’m just a human being that’s messed up and finding my way to express myself and be happy.”
‘Villain’, Tonye’s debut single on 604 Records, was released on Feb 10th, 2017.