The David French production will feature music and narration by singer Ania Soul. Known for singing with popular event band St. Royals, Ania Soul has showcased to great reviews at local festivals NXNE, CMW and Manifesto. Raised in both Toronto and Edmonton, Ania Soul is a second-generation Caribbean girl, with musical influences ranging from mainstream pop, gospel, reggae, jazz, and alternative rock. She shared with us her thoughts on artistry in music… and a whole lot more.
How would you describe your style of music?
My style of music is soul, live, electronic. I say live because I love having a live band and that live band sound especially when recording so I would say soul live and electronic.
That sounds cool, who would you say inspired you?
I guess starting back, my mother is a minister in Edmonton, and I started singing in her church. So gospel music has been kind of like the lead-up point I guess you can say to nurture that love for music. Then getting familiar with different types of artists out there that are really influencing me even today Janelle Monae, Erykah Badu, there are so many strong singers out there, you know and then Aretha Franklin. I’ve been into Jazz music a lot… Ella Fitzgerald, I listen to a lot. Stevie Wonder is a huge influence for me. So yeah it really is that for now, there’s so much more but that is it for now.
So tell me a little bit about Salt-Water and Moon.
This is a play that is running at Factory Theatre, February 23rd-March 13th, and it is a story of just love, loss, and reconciliation between two lovers from the past that meet up again. It is a story that is reimagined through the director’s eyes Ravi Jain, who is incredible and just a beautiful visionary for this play. It’s a classic Canadian piece and written by David French a while ago. So now this is a story that has replaced white actors with people of color and adding music to it. I am the musician and the storyteller in the play. Factory Theatre is actually doing this season that’s called the Naked Season, which is reimagining Canadian classic plays so just seeing it through a different lens and Ravi Jain is doing a great job with that.
Why is it necessary to expose Torontonians to shows of this kind?
I think it’s important because it’s a universal story even though we can switch the ethnicities of the cast or what not and do it from different lenses it’s still a universal story. So I feel that it’s important for Torontonians to come to this event because an acclaimed director is directing it, we have an amazing cast. I feel that the story is accessible and relatable to many people and I feel that many people have experienced some form of love and loss and reconciling any differences from the past to the present. So I think its important because its just an accessible and relatable piece.
Just going a little off topic here, I meant to ask, how do you feel about the state of music in Canada?
I feel; very cliché statement but it is what it is. We have so many talented artists in Canada, and this is from coast to coast there are so many beautiful artists in Canada. I’ve lived in Edmonton, Alberta for a long time. Travelled around to BC, Saskatchewan lived in Montreal, Ontario, so it's like we have a lot to offer and I guess in terms of the support it is limited. Artists do work really hard to get their music out there, to get their stories out there, to get their voices out there. There could be just a lack of support from the industries surrounding music in Canada. I remember reading an article, or I don’t know if it was a Facebook post from an artist friend Kamal, and he said that the industries are (and I’m paraphrasing) are really built for white rock and roll artists and it’s not really at all-encompassing all of the different genres that are out there. We’ve got like amazing hip hop artists, and soul artists, electronic artists, and what have you; and it’s probably not as supported or the funds are not thrown out there to support these artists which are so limiting that we have to go elsewhere for those particular genres of music. But as a rock artist or folk artist, I feel like that is much more supported in Canada more than any other genre that I mentioned in Canada.
So how do you as an artist combat that type of problem?
Right now I’ve definitely been at the crossroads with my art. I’ve been juggling a couple of things that I feel right now is the time that I’m putting a lot more energy into my art than I have ever been before. That’s because I’ve been raising kids and I’ve been managing a cleaning company for a while, and I’ve been singing and performing with an events band and a wedding band so that kind of puts in more of my energy. So getting back into my art and my music on a full-time basis, and I feel that I’m really ready to do all that it takes I don’t really force the combat. I’m sure that it does exist in Canada where we live, but I’m just ready to move forward and just be undeniable with my art and if I have to go across the border, I will go across the border, if I have to go across the ocean I will go across the ocean. I could be probably fighting a lot of forces I don’t know, but what I’m trying to say is I’m ready to do my art! I’m ready to do it! I’m ready to move forward with it. And yes there will always be hiccups along the road but I’m really not focusing on that right now. I’m really doing the art for myself, it is a personal goal of mine and I would love for it to be accessible and for it to touch others with my stories and with my music. But really it is something that is on my bucket list that I need to do for myself it's really fulfilling my highest purpose in life you know for me. If that resonates with other people that’s a beautiful thing.
Since you touched on your music, I wanted to ask, what are some of the messages or ideas that you wish to convey to your audience in your music?
A lot of the music that I’ve written in the past has been very personal so it touched on relationships; it touched on love and loss, forgiveness. It touched on politically what’s going on in the world. It is somewhat personal but also there is an urgency for us to really look at what is happening in our world, and what’s happening with you know Black Lives Matter…..it’s extremely universal, but also talking about the news at home as well.
How did you find the performance that Beyoncé did at the Super Bowl? There are a lot of different viewpoints.
I loved it. I am a Beyoncé fan, and more than loving it I just felt it was time for that type of message to come from her. I definitely see her as a pop diva and not really having a message that is permeating activism that much in the past. Now she came out with dancers dressed as Black Panthers and I was like yeah! I really, really support that. So, of course, she is a hardworking woman, hardworking artist, doing what she does. So yeah there will always be a backlash, there will always be a lot of public discourse about what she does or what she doesn’t do.
That’s true. Alright for the last question, what’s your advice for people getting into your field?
I would say that I love looking at interior design magazines for some reason, so I just love dreaming up different landscapes and architecture designs, and there is in the back of the magazine different quotes from different artists and creators, and one of the quotes was “Create like an Artist, Think like an Entrepreneur”, and I thought that was a good reminder that your art is something that you want to be personal but also you’re creating it to put it out there and so you want to put as much energy into your art and allow it to be undeniable as possible. Have that reflect in the public eye, that you’ve done great work. But also there’s a business side of it. Own your work, and make sure that you are the voice that controls things. You are the queen; you are the king of your work. What are your goals and aims in life? Do not allow somebody with a different hat to come into your space and dictate how you need to do things. Especially if you’re not comfortable with how they want things to go. Own your work! “Create like an Artist, Think like an Entrepreneur”