Toronto singer-songwriter Astrid Tanton is on the rise.
Toronto singer, songwriter Astrid Tanton‘s upcoming EP “From My Eyes” is being released nationally on May 9, 2020, coinciding with her first full concert that night at Toronto’s The Rec Room. We sat down with her before her sneak peek performance on March 11 at Adrenaline Tattoos to discuss her life and career.
Astrid has been perfecting her skills for many years, having started vocal lessons as 3 years old. “I could barely formulate sentences, and at age 3, I knew I wanted to sing. So my parents said if I want to do this, I had to put in the work first, and they will support me. They taught me by doing this that I will get something back, and I will notice a growth in myself.”
Astrid‘s musical training continued with learning to play drums at age 7, and she also started writing her own songs.
“I have diaries where I wrote songs when I was 7.”
She laughs, “They weren’t my best musical moments, as you can imagine.”
She says she always loved different instruments and began taking guitar lessons at age 11. It was at that time she made a big decision. “I was around 11, and I officially decided this is my career, and I was going to go for it and give it all I got, “she says. Her older brother, who now performs under the moniker Rhoda, also helped Astrid in those early days. “At first, my brother would help me out and create the guitar parts and piano parts. As I got older and he started branching out with his own music, we kinda split paths. And now, recently we are coming back to work together. I’m definitely more an indie-pop artist, and he does what he calls lullabies. He takes natural sounds and then adds violin and piano to it. It’s lovely.”
As for coming from a musical family, Astrid chuckles. “My parents’ kinds laugh at it since neither one of them (or any adults in our family) had any musical background. They look at both of us and ask where did it come from?”
Growing up, she admired Demi Lovato.“I really love her. I think she’s a powerful woman, ” she says. “She’s been through a lot. Being a child star is never easy. You see it that with most child stars. She was able to look in the mirror, and I say I need to work on myself and took a step back from her career to do that.”
She also is inspired by Toronto’s Alessia Cara, who shares her attitude about being true to oneself. “She’s really awesome,” says Astrid.
“She does amazing shows without needing the big hair, the glitter. She is just herself. She goes on stage in a band t-shirt and Dr. Martens and a pair of jeans. And she says if you don’t like it, you can get out. But I’m having a good time, and I’m going to perform.”
She continues, “I think it’s also important to stay true as an artist and not need to put on something because someone else expects that. That attitude that I’m going to give you my music. You don’t have to like it, but you don’t get to tear me down because of it.”
Astrid discusses her ongoing collaboration with her producer Spencer Schwartz. “I’ve worked with him for 2.5 years or so now. He gets me as an artist,” she says. “We are really great at communicating and being honest with each other. And we create a work that we both really love and proud of… I’m not great at always communicating what I want the song to be, but I can give you a vibe on what the song should have. He’s really great at understanding that and manipulating it into something he also likes.”
Her EP “From My Eyes” comes from a place deep inside. “It’s all based on raw emotions,” she says.
“I’m going to let people get really close to who I am and who I’m going to be. The rawness behind me. I’m not going to make it super polished and perfect… I’m going to open up into the not so pretty parts of my life. People will know how it shaped me. One of the songs is called “Closely,” and it’s about dealing with people who try to change you. One of the lines is, “you asked me why I dye my hair, you asked me why I dress this way.” I’m doing this because I want to do this because this is me. Another of the songs is called “Comfort,” and it’s about being okay with not being comfortable. You gotta be uncomfortable and learn from it. It’s going to suck for a little bit, but you gotta do it. ”
Some of the songs on “From My Eyes” were written a year or two before. “Sometimes, I write a song that is too raw and too close, and I’m not ready for letting people hear it,” she says. “So I have to let things digest before I give it to the whole world. Everyone has an opinion… I have to be prepared and confident about letting the world see it. Sometimes it can take me a while before I can say let’s do it, I want this out.”
Astrid describes her songwriting process. ” My parents always laugh about this,” she says. “My guitar stand is always out by the living room, and I’ll come out of my room to grab my guitar and go back into my room. Fifteen minutes later, I’ll come out and tell my parents, “I have a new song. It’s done.” And it just happens. I’ll be having a shower, and I’ll stop my shower, grab my guitar, and sit at my piano. It just comes in my brain. A line, a melody that I can feel or hear. And then I have to do it.”
Her face beams when she talks about her upcoming live performances. “I’m actually really excited,” she says. “I’m happy to be partnering with the Rec Room and Cineplex. They’ve given me this opportunity, and it’s going to be a real show, with a full dance opening act. I’m working with the choreographer from the Underground Dance Centre, which is one of the most known dance places in Toronto. It’s going to be with my full band, which is some people from the U of T jazz program. My right-hand guitarist Jay is really cool. I’ve also been working with him for 2.5 years, and he really knows my music.”
She adds, ” We are trying to say, this is me now. You’ve heard my music, but this is me as a performer. At the end of the day, that’s what I love to do. Everyone says when I get onstage, I light up. I’m so happy. Releasing music is fantastic, but I want to be on stage. I want to feel that rush, be in front of people and connect. ”
Astrid is a huge animal fan and is excited about raising funds and awareness for the Toronto Humane Society at her sneak peek on March 11. “I’ve always loved animals, ” she says. “It’s a big cause that people forget about. Animals have strong feelings and are really smart. They can help us. When I went to the Humane Society, I got to see these amazing animals. These animals are passionate. They just want your love. It’s unconditional love.”
She has some advice for others wanting to follow in her path in music. “I would say you have to keep working, ” she says. “And you have to be okay that you are going to fail. Believe me, I have made mistakes. You can’t expect it to be one easy path. There are going to be detours…road bumps. But it’s going to make you a stronger person. You are going to meet people who are going to be great for your career and who are going to help you. But you are also going to meet people who are going to want other things for you. You are going to have to learn to stick up and be yourself. You are going to have to look someone in the eye and say if you are not being real, then I’ll leave. You have to know your integrity and who you are as a person. All it takes is one person to say yes. And you go from there, and you build and build. ”
As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Astrid wants to do outreach. “I’d love to do fundraisers and all kinds of things. Not just in North America, but I’d like to reach out further in the world to places less fortunate, where information isn’t easily accessible. People who I’ve met who have a negative view of the community sometimes only need a matter of taking 5 minutes to sit down and have a conversation with them to open their minds.”
When asked about artists she’d ideally like to work with, Astrid has a list. “I really like this artist called EDEN. He creates really cool work. Acoustic pop. Really raw. He’s very truthful in his work. As well as Dermot Kennedy, an Irish artist. He’s phenomenal. Also, Shaun Mendes. That would be great.”
Future plans include performing at the various Rec Rooms across Canada and at Canadian Music Week.
Check out all her upcoming shows in Toronto on Wed March 11 (her sneak peek) at Adrenaline Tattoos 239 Queen St. W. at 8:30pm and her full concert on Sat May 9 at the Rec Room, 255 Bremner Blvd.
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