TiKA: “Put yourself first always”

The world is diverse, so it only makes sense that film and television represent the world we actually live in rather than a world that is curated to appease a specific genre, gender, or race. As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing TiKA. Canadian songwriter, […]

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The world is diverse, so it only makes sense that film and television represent the world we actually live in rather than a world that is curated to appease a specific genre, gender, or race.

As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing TiKA.

Canadian songwriter, film composer, model and curator TiKA is releasing her much anticipated debut LP, “Anywhere But Here” via Next Door Records on February 26th.

Opening for RnB greats like John Legend and Nao set the tone for the potential of TiKA’s career, and from SXSW to NXNE; from A3C to the Redbull Music Festival; Luminato in Toronto or SonReal in Vancouver, Pride in Toronto & Montreal, TiKA is an undeniable headlining act- showcasing not only her soulful and powerful voice, but her overall unique artistic expression. An integral part of the Toronto music scene, TiKA, a former promoter introduced audiences to Daniel Caeser, Jessie Reyez, Haviah Mighty and others. In continuing with that legacy, soon after making Montreal homebase, TiKA partnered with Pop Montreal in 2018 to run a festival within the international festival: ‘Iverna Island: The Fest for Black Womxn & Women of Colour”. TiKA continues to put women and especially Black and Queer women, at the center of her creative offerings. From doing makeup for her homegirl, singer-songwriter and DJ, Elle Barbara, a Black trans artist in Montreal, to agreeing to model in the 2018 and 2019 Sephora campaigns so that, as she put it, “little chubby black girls could see themselves”.

Where TiKA really shines, though, is in her own art. “Anywhere But Here” is comprised of records that boast “ethereal sounds that wrap around you, reminding you of other memories”. The vibe remains current, and like the artist herself, evolving. The album’s themes address deeply personal relationships, some of the tracks are inspired by Tika’s Jamaican roots while others are sonic representations of conversations with the self. An absolute must listen.

Thank you so much for doing this with us TiKA! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up between Ontario (Rexdale and Oakville) and Jamaica. I was raised by a single mother who worked hard to raise my two brothers and I with limited resources. We briefly moved to Jamaica for a few years, but I returned to Canada after a traumatizing experience. Like a Fresh Prince moment, at 14 I moved in with my grandparents in Oakville. Living in the suburbs, I rebelled and started playing piano as a form of escape. That’s also around the time I started writing music and paying more attention to the liner notes, the production credits, and the lyrics of songs on the back of albums. Growing up I really loved being alone and reading books. I loved fantasy, music, and animals. I also loved anything Disney in terms of music and envisioned myself as a Disney character for many years. Actually, I still do.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

Throughout my life and my journey, I’ve been in a few abusive relationships and music always seemed to be the escape or the lover I could run to when harmed. Music has been a safe space for me; it really has become a form of healing, comfort, or solace. When I started performing and people started booking me for shows to the point where I had to quit my job at Starbucks, I decided to take it seriously as a career.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

One of the most magical moments that ever happened to me was when I had the opportunity to open for NAO in Toronto. When I got off-stage, she said she loved my PRINCE cover and my voice. I adore NAO, but that topped it for me as far as moments that changed my life for the better. I gagged and was stunned!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Definitely. When I first started performing, I was terrified. You couldn’t get me on stage without an edible. One night, I took three edibles before performing and I literally fell into the music. It wasn’t bad, per se, but I was a hot ass mess after the show. Never again. I eventually learned how to face my fears and perform sober. I don’t drink or smoke now so it’s so interesting thinking about where I was then.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Right now, I’m working on two movies. I wrote two original songs for one, and I’m doing the composing and vocals for the other. I’m super excited, but I can’t say too much more about them.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

  1. The world is diverse, so it only makes sense that film and television represent the world we actually live in rather than a world that is curated to appease a specific genre, gender, or race.
  2. Black people are at the forefront of creating, birthing, and maintaining culture. Think of the music that’s most popular today. So, I think it’s imperative that the film and television industry be at the forefront of preserving and documenting that culture and diversity, since our livelihood keeps the world rotating.
  3. Diversity helps people to learn from one another. Rather than segregating folx and boxing them in to a perspective that they are familiar with, diversity promotes further creativity and critical thinking which develops our industry further!

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Put yourself first always. Identify and then prioritize your needs.
  2. Write down all your goals and dreams.
  3. Make a vision board.
  4. Learn how to accept yourself and your voice rather than trying to sound like or be like someone else.
  5. Don’t limit yourself to one artistic medium. Explore alternative mediums in music, like composing!

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

To me, burn out is often a sign that you’re an empath and may not know how to prioritize your own respective needs. Know your limitations in terms of when you’re tired, exhausted, spent, etc. Ask yourself about the urgency of each respective task. Grant yourself breaks and incentives when you meet a goal.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If I could inspire a movement for good, I think it would be some kind of private space that encourages Black rehabilitation, the safety of Black healing, and progressive and communicative conversation for Black folx to learn and unlearn safely, and without shame. We need that deeply.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My friend and saxophone brother Aubrey McGhee.

I’ve been friends with Aubrey for many years. When I was struggling to make the decision to quit my job and wondering if I was even talented enough to do it, he sat me down and told me the truth. He looked me in the eyes and told me I was talented and that I would regret not doing this for myself. I’m forever changed because of that friendship and I’ll never forget that he believed in me. He also gives the best advice. I feel safe because of Aubrey.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My friend Caleb once said to me: “You can’t know who you are without seeing who you are not first.”

This advice changed me deeply because it reminds me of the importance of duality. It’s hard to see the light when you haven’t seen the darkness. One doesn’t exist without the other. Yin and yang. Balance. Perspective.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I would love to have a lunch with Kendrick Lamar or with Solange. I’m fascinated by both of their abilities to stay grounded within their success and Blackness.

How can our readers follow you online?

@WithLoveTiKA on everything 💓

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

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