“If innocence got in a car with recklessness and they fought for control of the wheel" is how Toronto-based artist Akarri describes her new music. It’s an original blend of darker electro pop, soul and industrial influences that is both electronic (synths and sequencers) and organic (arena-rock drums), all punctuated by her unique contralto voice.
“For the first time, the sound I'm creating is truly me,” explains Akarri. “It’s from the perspective of a female tiger that’s been unleashed on the world. In her cage there are rules, structure, mundane existence; outside there is temptation, love, hate and chaos.”
In fact, escape is a recurring source of inspiration, including on the track “Freedom”. “It’s about leaving without thought or care about the consequences when you know you must do something important for yourself,” explains Akarri. Then there’s “I Am Wild”, which addresses her natural urge to follow her own path, stand out and escape the routine and predictability of everyday life. Akarri also explores the themes of despair and addiction on the ballad “Forever”.
“Akarri is an artist that caught my attention because of the interesting range of her voice. There's something violent about her vocals that forces your attention to the lyrics,” said Zambah, a local music blog, in naming her among the “7 Female R&B Artists From Toronto That You Need To Know About” in March 2015.
She got her start writing and performing in an all-girl group, in 2008. In 2009 Akarri joined a writing team called "The Noise" which was formed by producer Kashif “Kash” Majeed and Abel Tesfaye (The Weeknd). Artistically unsatisfied in a secondary role, Akarri decided to strike out on her own when the group eventually disbanded. Her five- song solo debut "The EP", which features tracks like “Rolling Stone” and “We On Top”, was independently released in November 2014.
Akarri was raised in government-funded housing. Here she spent majority of her time indoors devoting herself to music as a means to avoid the feelings of isolation and as motivation to escape the environment. “I am deeply rooted in who I am,” says Akarri. “And music is it.”
Photographer: Rami Accoumeh