Her Self-Titled Era: Ebhoni Interviewed

Ebhoni on Toronto's club culture, her new single and new era...

Things have changed rapidly for Toronto’s Ebhoni since her first album ‘Good Dick & Weed dropped. Ebhoni has been on the scene since 2016 and has since been armed with what’s been described as her mission in “reclaiming the Toronto R&B crown.” Alas, the release of ‘Good Dick & Weed’ and several solo hits including the thorny ‘X-Ting’, has firmly etched her name in its pastures.

Her current ethos is a “contract to herself”; an eternity sort of deal. Although R&B is her first love, Ebhoni is branching out into a genre-less territory with feminine power, culture and fashion as the driving force. There’s something particularly special about her niche and the pockets of Toronto she represents. Whilst the city has been described by critics as being in the throes of “an identity crisis”, piggy-backing of other cosmopolitan cities such as London and New York, it’s now a hidden gem of untapped Gen Z potential.

The 22-year-old’s latest single ‘Thats Your Problem (STANK HOEZ)’, first debuted at JERK, a bi-annual rave featuring the latest in experimental Caribbean and global club music, created by DJ BAMBII. With production from Brazilian maestro Alexay Beats, the song is the first pot in the feast that is to come for this version of Ebhoni. Ahead of it’s release, we spoke with the Toronto singer about her Boiler Room takeover, new single and the promise of a new independent era.

Who is Ebhoni now?

I hate this question because I don’t know how to answer this. The best thing to say is I’m unapologetic…

That being said, since turning one year older, are there things you’ve left behind, any new lessons you’ve learned?

I would definitely say staying true to myself. I feel like before I didn’t trust my instincts, I didn’t trust myself fully. I’ve had situations; I was kind of trusting everyone around me, which is okay, but you do lose yourself in a way. In the process, you do what isn’t necessarily best for you; everything down to the music and the sound. It’s just really about trusting yourself because you’re never going to steer yourself in the wrong direction.

Can you explain what the situation was?

I was previously signed and I feel like because I have a Caribbean background, I was shoehorned. They were like: “you have to make this type of music, you have to sound like this – we think you should do this and you shouldn’t do this.” I actually would sit down write the music, and not be happy about sharing it. I think that just played a big role in it. 

Her Self-Titled Era: Ebhoni Interviewed

And now you’re independent, have you spread your wings and reclaimed that autonomy?

I literally just had this conversation! I can honestly say, making music now is way more fun than it was before. The pressure is off having to share it with people. For example, with ‘STANK HOES’, I literally wrote it in my bathroom and recorded it the next day. Because I loved it, I just had fun. There was no pressure to be like: “If I share it with these people, they’re not going to understand it or they’re not going to like it.” It was me doing it for me.

How did the Boiler Room situation come about then? 

Boiler Room partnered with Jerk, which is basically a party that DJ Bambii throws. It’s like a collective. It’s really big in Toronto, a showcase of Caribbean artists and DJs from the city. Bambii actually reached out to me. I had no prior knowledge about Boiler Room at the time. But I’m like: “of course, I’m gonna do it!” We went through the songs together – I sent her a bunch of songs and Bambii actually picked ‘STANK HOEZ’. If it wasn’t for Bambii, I probably wouldn’t have performed it. Bambi basically helped with everything.

That’s so wavy! With regards to the Caribbean scene in Toronto – for those who don’t know – what do you guys do? What’s it like?

I feel like Toronto is a melting pot of people from all over the world. You can go to a party and you’ll hear dancehall and then you’ll hear like afrobeats. It’s just like a bunch of different vibes in one night, which is really cool.

You grew up in Toronto, so why did you choose to film the video in Atlanta?

I’m a Toronto girl but I decided to do it over here because I do spend a lot of time in Atlanta. I go back and forth. I have a good group of friends over here. To be honest with you, it wasn’t supposed to be the vibe of the videos; a bunch of people pulling up outside a Corner Store. That was not the plan at all. It was supposed to be me going to the studio flanked by my two friends. But they said no and I actually had to do a call out and have everyone in Atlanta pull up.

Her Self-Titled Era: Ebhoni Interviewed

What was the mood like when writing ‘STANK HOEZ’?

It was me doing shots at my ex’s girlfriend. It wasn’t meant to be a fun song. It was just me being petty! But then it ended up being a bit more universal. I feel like everyone who heard the song made it a fun song, made it an empowering song. But when I wrote it, I was irritated and I needed to just get stuff off my chest. 

What’s the next move?

I’m just building out my sound. I’m getting ready to drop a project and I know for a fact this project is going to be really big. I’m really excited for it. Right now, I’m just working on my actual projects. I mean, with being independent, I’ve had the opportunity to experiment and do things that I was I wasn’t doing before.

And now we finally get to work together

That’s what’s so beautiful about being independent now, because I feel like I’m around genuine people. It was the smartest thing that I could have done, to build my own relationships and collaborate with people like you.

Finally, words you live by?

I would say, just have fun. And fuck what everyone has to say. Stay true to yourself. That’s all I have to say. When you do that, you’re unstoppable.

Words: Thandie Sibanda @Thandietweetss

Photography: @whosiggy

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