This Toronto-based musician is absolutely one to keep an eye on. At the age of eighteen, Ngoni entered the music industry as a writer and in order to further his own musical career, he needed to create a solo project. At the beginning of 2015, he released his first EP titled You Kill Slowly. It didn't receive too much attention. Along with that, his SoundCloud plays remain quite low. You'll understand why that's ridiculous when you hear him. Eclectic in instrumentals but powerfully simple in vocals, you can tell James Bond is an influence and why Ngoni should be a shoo-in opener for Prince. Below, read WTS' conversation with Ngoni and enjoy his music.
What The Sound: When did you release You Kill Slowly EP?
Ngoni: At the beginning of the year, in January.
WTS: What have you been up to since?
I’ve been working on my second EP, organizing myself for 2016 and prepping for the music video for Mountains.
WTS: You started off as a writer in the music industry, tell me about that.
Basically, I was working with a bunch of different record producers in the industry developing songs which would be shopped out to various labels and managers. I had a few placements that for one reason or another ended up falling through. After that my interests shifted more towards developing myself as a solo artist, so I started working on You Kill Slowly.
WTS: How did you originally get connected with those producers?
There’s a producer based in Vancouver who’s a top producer over here and I called him to pitch song idea’s. We ended up having a conversation about the origins of my name and then he advised to stay in Toronto instead of going to him there and that I would be able to collaborate with people of his caliber. He referred me to bunch of people and that’s how I kind of broke in.
WTS: What is the origin of your name?
It’s from Africa, it came from the Zulu people.
WTS: It sounds like that was an exciting time when you got linked up with the top hit maker from Vancouver. How did you know that you were good at writing?
That’s funny that you ask, I actually had no idea that I was good at writing. It was pointed out to me by the first record producer I worked with and then a bunch of other people in the industry started to point it out, so I eventually believed them.
WTS: In terms of you singing, had you taken vocal lessons when you were younger? How did you believe in yourself to pursue a solo career from a musical standpoint?
No, I didn’t take any vocal lessons until much later. You know how most singers start singing since they were, like, 2? I was the opposite, I started singing around 18 which is pretty late. I wouldn’t even say I believed in myself when I first started, I just felt a very strong and natural pull towards making music, so I just went with it.
WTS: Have you performed live yet in Toronto or in the area?
I’ve done a couple impromptu shows at the Painted Lady but I will be focusing more on live shows in 2016.
WTS: You're a solo artist, so will you be solo in the live setting or will you have a backing band?
I definitely won’t be solo. I’ll have some kind of back-up. I haven’t decided how I’m going to execute that yet.
WTS: What do you think about the Toronto music scene? Is there anything that's really cool about it? Any overruling genre?
It’s cool. Anything rock or rock-related has and still continues to overrule. Urban music over here is now getting more attention due to the likes of Drake and The Weeknd making the Toronto-sound more popular. The thing I think that’s cool about it is that Toronto’s version of Hip-hop and R&B are finally getting the credit it deserves.
WTS: On social media, you've been adding #NYC following your Canada-oriented hashtags. Why have you been including "NYC"?
I frequent there, so it’s just something I throw into any music-related post.
WTS: Are there any venues in Toronto or New York City that you hope to play at in the near future?
In Toronto, I will definitely be returning to The Painted Lady and I would love to play The Village Underground in New York. I love that venue. The vibe is incredible and the singers that perform are always amazing! I also love the audience, their very passionate about music and go there strictly for that. They’re not buried in their phones texting and instagramming which is refreshing.
WTS: Where does your sound originate from? Do you have any overwhelming influences that the general ear may not be able to pick up on?
My sound is very 60’s inspired, some UK influences along with the likes of Tony Bennett, Nina Simone, James Brown, Etta James...people like that.
WTS: What was the biggest challenge in making this EP?
This EP was my very first step as solo performer, so I would say the biggest challenge was trusting my talents and that it was going to work out and everything will sound as they should. Along with getting the right people involved and making schedules work.
WTS: Do you play any instruments?
No, I hope to learn the piano at some point in time though.
WTS: Can you touch on your upcoming EP? How will it differ from You Kill Slowly?
It will have more of a modern sound to it. There’s more of a hip-hop influence and it will also be a bit more thematically and sonically adventurous.
WTS: Are there any bands or artists that you hope to collaborate with or share a show with in the future?
It’s a bit far-fetched...But life would be complete if I could collaborate with Prince.