What is your name?
My name is Geneva! It’s both my real name and my artist name.
What is your genre of music?
This has traditionally been a tough one for me to answer because I find my music doesn’t seem to fit neatly into one single genre, but calling it “electronic RnB” seems to check *most* of the boxes! I’ve released house singles, electronic singles, R&B singles…I just love making good music people can vibe with, regardless of genre. A good song is a good song at the end of the day!
Give us a little bio about you.
I’ve been releasing music independently for about 10 years now — you can see my discography here. I started out singing in the Hamilton’s Children Choir when I was 8-years-old and had been into songwriting, singing and performing from when I was very little. I booked my first show at an old age home my mom volunteered at when I was in third grade, but I digress.
What made you go into music?
I connected with music like most of us do at a very young age; I always loved music and I just naturally gravitated toward it. I don’t know that there’s quite as powerful an artistic medium as sound / song; humans are natural storytellers, we want to know that what we’re experiencing in life is a shared experience, so I think music really does have a powerful connective quality. We’ve used music for thousands of years to tell stories, relate to each other, educate, celebrate, mourn…there is music for literally every occasion and life event/circumstance. The magic that happens in a shared space when you experience live music is unparalleled, I think it’s really special and inspiring. Anything that moves you, anything that makes you feel…that’s that shit I like! I started getting into music and performing as a pretty young kid, I was writing plays and coordinating little performances with my classmates as early as Grade 2 or 3, so I don’t think anyone I grew up with is surprised I ended up pursuing music as an adult. I joined the Hamilton Children’s Choir when I was 8 and was singing in Latin and shit so music has been part of my life for a long time.
Who are your influences?
In terms of song writing, I really love Bill Withers and Shuggie Otis, those are my dudes right there. I love how seemingly “simple” some of their songs are yet they are so powerful. Being able to really boil down the essence of a song is an art form; it’s not always about adding more, sometimes it’s about taking away. Right now, my songwriting icon is actually SAINt JHN, he’s a fucking beast! I love that he approaches his lyrics in a really different way, very unique. I always seek out the artists that have their own sound, they’re in their own lane. I like to take risks and do shit differently, I think that’s where the magic happens in terms of the final song you get. You have to know the rules to break them though! Other underrated songwriters I’m always looking out for are Tiara Thomas, Stacey Barthe and Bibi Bourelly. Victoria Monet also started out as more of a songwriter as well and she has a pretty successful solo career poppin’ which is dope to see.
Are you signed?
I’m currently with an independent distributor called Identity Music, but I’m not signed to a label, no. Independent AF baby!
Your new single ‘Smoke & Mirrors (Circle Research RMX)” is out, tell us more about the single.
When I first heard the Smoke & Mirrors remix by Circle Research (legendary Toronto producer duo Gil Masuda & Nik Timar), I was blown away by how different it was from the original. They somehow took a song that was quite dark and moody and made it bright, hopeful and summery. It literally blew my mind! I actually have received about four other remixes back in addition to this so I will most likely be dropping the whole remix pack next.
What is the meaning behind the single?
I think people tend to shy away from the more “negative” experiences in life from a song writing perspective; the traditional consensus is that people want to hear “happy, upbeat” music, but if you search “Sad Trap” playlists on Spotify, the numbers beg to differ. I think sad, emotional songs can really resonate with listeners if they’re honest, authentic and help people work through their own feelings and experiences. As a songwriter, I think it’s important to delve into the darker, more emotional aspects of life and excavate those feelings. No one is happy 100% of the time, that’s just not realistic…or healthy. In terms of the song’s meaning, it’s very much capturing the sentiment of realizing someone, or some people, just aren’t for you and that they don’t have your best interests at heart. It’s not a fun feeling to be like, “Hey, this person I trusted and thought was my friend turned out not to be,” but literally every single person alive has experienced this at one point or another. For artists, this can be an even bigger issue — oftentimes, people around you might seem supportive on the surface but underneath, they might feel jealous or resent your perceived success; I say perceived because we work so hard to get anywhere in this industry. You really find out who your real friends are and who’s just tagging along for the ride. Having supportive people around me has been my number one focus for 2021 and I’ve weeded a lot of people out which in the past has been very hard for me to do. People-pleasing tendencies are a bitch!
Who did you work with on the single?
I worked with a really dope team on the original song — shout outs SLWJMZ, Yuri Koller, Jay Dufour and Greg Mindorff. We had a really strong tune to go off for the RMX, I’m really proud of this one.
How did the collaboration come around and what was the process like?
When I first started writing the original song, it was actually January of 2020 and SLWJMZ had a studio in Etobicoke at the time. We’d been meeting up off and on during the year, sporadically working on songs that were originally intended to be an EP. It’s very cold, dark and grey that time of year in the GTA (Toronto, ON). At our sessions, we’d typically just start songs by fucking around and letting the idea take shape. I’d say that was the case for this song; the moody vibe just came out of the more sombre and pensive season. I was definitely feeling some feelings at that time.
Describe the track in two words.
What was the writing and recording process like?
Funny enough, I didn’t actually finish writing the song until 10 months later, October of 2020, from when I first started writing it in January,…I ended up recording it in November with Yuri Koller at RCR Studios and he helped take the song from a 7 to a 10. It was very much a team effort! Jay Dufour on the mix and Greg Mindorff on the master contributed to how clean the song sounds. I’d tried to do a recording originally at home but I wasn’t happy with the sound quality I was getting so I decided to head to a professional studio to finish it properly. Turns out it was a great decision, couldn’t be happier with the vocals. By the time I went to record, the song had already been refined and was ready for its final iteration. I believe we cranked it out in a single three-hour session. Circle Research surprised me with the remix; I’d sent out DJ packs to many DJs I know and they were the first ones to jump on it. I didn’t even know they were doing the remix till i got an email and I was like ZAMN! This is dope!
Will we see a Music Video and if so what can we expect from it?
Yes, there was a music video for the original song. It was probably the strongest music video I’ve released to date, we shot a really polished looking video for what would be considered not a huge budget in this industry…but it’s not cheap funding it yourself out of pocket if you catch my drift 😛
Will we see an EP or Album and if so, what can we expect from it?
RIght now, I’ve been focused on building my audience with singles but I ended up writing 15-20 demos over COVID. I have a handful of songs that are completed but a lot more work needs to be done in terms of finalizing a full album…but I do think that’s probably the next step for me as I haven’t put out a full length album before and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I’m working with the right team to make that happen so I’m excited at the prospect of putting more out there in the world. I think my sound has really evolved over the years and I’m excited to share this next sonic chapter with everyone. Note to those who’ve been sleeping on me: You’ve been warned! LOL
What else can we expect in 2021?
I’m pretty psyched about the additional “Smoke & Mirrors” remixes I got back from the 4 other producers; I’m just working on finalizing those and getting everything mixed and mastered so I can put those out some time in October. I don’t want to milk this song too hard but…the remixes are all different flavours, so I think they will all find their own audience! The song ain’t over yet. I have a collab with Harm Franklin in the works which is super dope…I wanted to work with him and reached out with the song concept and he’s down, so I’d like to make that materialize by the end of 2021. I also have an extremely hot new single in the bag and want to drop that before 2022 as well to end the year with a bang. It’s called “64 Impala” and it’s got a very strong West Coast energy…a head nodder for sure. I’m really in my bag right now with song writing so I’m excited to finish this next body of work.
Where do you see yourself now in 5 Years?
I’d love to make music my full time career, that’s the big dream right!? I’ve been balancing work and making music for many years, but as all artists know, it can be challenging, especially if you add a kid/family to the mix (I have a 6-year-old with my partner who is also a rapper). You don’t always get a lot of “alone time,” so carving out that window to be creative can be challenging the more responsibilities you have. I also have a passion for mentoring younger artists and helping them navigate the industry, as well as writing for other artists and putting on events to showcase artists that deserve more exposure and appreciation. I want to provide other artists the support, nurturing and talent development opportunities I wish I’d had earlier in my career. Who knows, maybe this takes shape as some type of community arts organization or a label. I’m not sure yet, but I really enjoy conversations about getting people where they want to go. Sharing resources / connections and experience is really important for everyone to be able to grow. There’s no need to hoard anything, there’s enough to go around
What quote or saying do you always stick by?
“The wisest man is the man who knows he knows nothing” by Socrates has always been one I’ve really resonated with. We’re all works in progress, we’re all learning. There’s never some end destination where we have it all figured it out. Sometimes you have to embrace the not-knowing; this quote from Rilke summarizes that sentiment really beautifully:
I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
When you are at a gig, what are 5 things you cannot forget?
Doing your proper warm ups prior to your set and minimizing interactions / socializing; I really like to be quiet and focused before I perform. I can be a big bag of nerves so this helps me stay in my zone.
I always drink a ton of water so the vocal cords are hydrated, so you’ll probably see me with a big Mason jar of filtered Berkey water! Having your beauty squad on deck is also important — pro make up and hair all the way because I suck at that stuff! If possible, having your team / close friends in the crowd make you feel less nervous, I just visualize performing for them and it takes some of the pressure off. Trying to remember to have fun with it and enjoy the crowd is also important!
Do you have social media accounts so your fans can follow you?