Canada’s music scene is bursting at the seams with great artists. The country is home to many of the industry’s biggest and brightest stars as well as its most innovative. Drake’s ear-popping hip hop; The Weeknd’s creative brilliance that blends R&B, pop, and electronic; and Arcade Fire’s symphonic, indie-rock escapades are just some of the examples. We haven’t even touched on Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen, Feist, Diana Krall, Celine Dion, Tegan & Sara, Broken Social Scene, Metric, and that rock band everyone loves to hate.
Beyond the stars, there is a large swell of emerging artists who are close to achieving that breakthrough. The next wave of great Canadian talent who will be topping charts and selling out venues. Among those who are on the precipice as Canada’s “Next Big Thing” is Sophia Danai.
You might recognize Danai’s name, as she’s been everywhere and doing everything since the release of her debut EP, Wishing Well, three years ago. While her album garnered significant attention across Canada, it has been the wide array of collaborations that has earned Danai fame. She’s worked with DJ Khalil, The New Royales, Shad, Talid Kweli, and one of our favorites, Purity Ring. In addition, she teamed up with Madchild, formerly of Swollen Members, as well as SonReal & Richkidd, and both of these collaborations earned Juno nominations for Rap Recording of the Year in 2013.
Since that time, Danai has released several singles, which have been remixed by producers and DJs from across the world. More importantly, Danai took some time to diversify her musical palette. She traveled up and down the west coast between Vancouver and Los Angeles, essentially as a way to rediscover herself. In that process, her debut full-length, Love Royale, was born.
A two-year labor of love, Love Royale, is the culmination of all the experiences Danai encountered, both positive and negative. The album also reflects Danai’s diverse interests – from the smoothness of R&B to euphoria of pop music, from the hypnotic vibes of electronic music to the sultry nature of soul, and from the moving aspects of hip hop. Not surprisingly, all these genres can be heard on her excellent record, but done in a way that keeps two things at the center of every song – Danai’s stunning vocals and the stories she has to share.
While one could say that Danai’s earlier forays into music were aimed at expanding her experiences and having the world get to know her name, Love Royale is completely different. As Danai describes the album:
Love Royale, is a reflection of love as our ruler, our law, and something we are all subject to. For better or for worse, we can only hope to learn with time how to navigate it’s temperamental nature.
But there is more to Love Royale than the focus on love and its power. It’s an album that sees the young singer-songwriter from Vancouver bare her soul to us, one that aims to make us think and remember about the past, about lost opportunities, and about the mistakes we’ve made. Maybe by the end of the entire process, we’ll be left remembering Sophia Danai.
Today, we are extremely pleased and feel immensely privileged to be premiering Danai’s Love Royale. Hear the LP in its entirety below. In addition, read Danai’s comments on each track, and you’ll learn something new about this tremendous talent.
Jon Brown’s (Pink, Meghan Trainor) studio is built inside a house that was once owned by Marilyn Monroe. That classic Los Angeles vibe was with me every day we spent working there, as I wrote this song about longing for something more.
This song explores the unresolved feelings at the end of a toxic relationship; hurt, longing and thoughts of revenge.I wanted to explore and talk honestly about the unresolved feelings at the end of a toxic relationship; hurt, longing, thoughts of revenge. The end of my relationship was one of the hardest times in my life, but one of the most illuminating. I think it’s important to let yourself go through the whole process, and to feel what you need to feel, without judging yourself.. Brevner, who is a Vancouver MC and helped produced the track, is also on this track, and his presence brings the other perspective. I wanted to create a song that showed both sides to the story.
This song once again touches on a tumultuous relationship, specifically the effects of a relationship long after it’s over and the ups and downs of fighting to get yourself back.
“How I Roll”
I consider this to be my anthem for girls and women – one of self-empowerment and breaking free from control. I’ve had experiences – professionally and personally – with men who had strong opinions of what I should look and sound like. I finally said, “Enough is enough!”, and I decided to take my career into my own hands. This is why I decided to executive produce Love Royale. This song, which was co-produced by Omar Khan, is a middle finger to anyone is has ever told you to be anything other than what is uniquely and perfectly you.
This song tells the story of being lit up by the love of another in your darkest moments. With help from Brevner, I wanted to create a song that makes you feel as though you are on a battlefield, redeemed and victorious.
“To All The Lovers”
This soulful, pop infused r&b ballad is for everyone who has someone they love and recognizes the work it takes to hang onto something worth fighting for. I wrote this song like a letter, which describes the complex nature of relationships and how changing together rather than apart is not without its growing pains.
“Something To Nothing”
When you wake up from a period in life that proved itself to be nothing more than smoke and mirrors, the epiphany can be unforgiving and harsh. This is what “Something To Nothing” is about. I wrote this song when I was still very angry and hurt about the ending of a relationship, I was continuously discovering how I mislead myself into believing in a house we built on sand.
This song was influenced by artists like Nancy Sinatra and Astrud Gilberto, who also were inspirations on my EP. This song also channels back to my time in LA, and you can feel the carefree vibes of SoCal.
“Ours To Know”
This dreamy song represents the feeling of discovering someone for the first time – being completely enamoured and in lust with one another in a place of your own. Innocent love, we all know it.
I self-produced this track, and it really reflects the feelings I had while making this album. The song touches on the intense feelings of new love, moreso than any other track. It’s about me – and anyone else for that matter – losing oneself in another person yet not being able to feel close enough.
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