Urban Pop Artist, Toy Connor Talks New EP & Silencing Doubters
From a very early age, native New Yorker, Toy Connor, always had an insatiable appetite for the arts. Acting in commercials since the tender age of 9, Connor would eventually go on to score an opportune to audition for HBO’s Emmy-Award winning mini drama series, ‘The Corner,’ ultimately landing her the breakout role of “Tyreeka Freamon.” After securing the gig, Toy then relocated from the Big Apple to sunny Southern California, L.A. to be exact, where fate would step in yet again, as she was graciously provided ample opportunity of meeting none other than iconic veteran industry impresario and Motown legend, Mr. Berry Gordy. The rest as it is said, is history… still in the making.
We caught up with Toy Connor to discuss her past, present and future in this business. Check out the full interview here…
Parlé Mag: Tell me your whole inception into music. When did you first become interested in it? And, how did it all begin for Toy Connor?
Toy Connor: My parents were my first musical influences. I’m in love with the sound of my father’s acoustic guitar, because I’ve been listening to it since I was a baby and I used to sing and dance with him while he played. Probably why I’ve been singing since age 3. My mother used to sing as well. Not professionally, but because it made her happy. As cheesy as this may sound, we would have impromptu family jam sessions. *giggles*
Parlé Mag: Now where exactly do you hail from? And growing up there, who all did/do you consider to be your strongest musical influences?
Toy Connor: I was born in New York. Spent my primary years in Trinidad and traveled abroad a lot with my parents, because my father used to fix airplanes. But every summer, my mom would send my to New York to stay with my family, and ultimately I relocated there for my artistry. I have an eclectic taste in music. I have always loved all types of music. I’d say my strongest influences are Biggie, Macy Gray, Shaggy, Tracy Chapman, Tina Turner, Lauryn Hill, Akon, Drake. Seriously inspired by Tupac and Kendrick Lamar though.
Parlé Mag: At what point in time, specifically, did you even opt to pursue music on a professional level?
Toy Connor: I was always encouraged by my parents, since I was a little girl. They saw my gift. They always cheered my on. I grew up loving music. It was just a matter of linking with the right situation to push the button on my music career.
Parlé Mag: With that being said, how do you classify your overall sound and/or style?
Toy Connor: My genre is Urban Pop. I’ve been told my sound is dominant for a female. Probably because my voice is raspy, and most people are shocked when they hear a low rough voice from my petite body. *more giggles*
Parlé Mag: In having said that, when you sit down to pen your lyrics where do you draw your inspiration(s) from?
Toy Connor: Mostly just life. My life experiences and the experiences of others.
Parlé Mag: What particular string of events actually led to you initially linking up with legendary Motown founder Berry Gordy?
Toy Connor: I actually met his son first at an art gallery opening, and he recognized me from my 1st TV show, ‘The Corner,’ and put forth the effort to stay in contact. He ultimately asked if I could sing, and I said yes. He invited me over to sing while he played the piano, and was like, “you really are talented.” He then asked if I write as well, and I told him yes. He listened to my original songs, then went on to tell me that he wanted to introduce me to his father who had an artist he was coming out of retirement to work with. I then met Mr. Gordy, and he saw my talent as well, and I was invited over to write for his artist, and the rest is history from there. He is a genius… he began sharing his knowledge and it just became an amazing, fun experience. He’s extremely down to earth, has an amazing personality, and I feel blessed to have been at that art gallery opening that day. God is good.
Parlé Mag: How much actual input/involvement does Berry have when it comes to the overall hands on experience with you and your music?
Toy Connor: I wrote this particular EP, but he has given me invaluable jewels of knowledge while working with and for him, which I have applied to my own work ethic. Thankfully, he found me to be talented and respects artists enough to allow them the space to be creative beings. Through him, I learned not to rush the creative process; I learned that it is important to take your time and make your record great, even if you need to do 140 takes or mixes… and I’m not kidding! I learned that you only have one time to impress, and the concept is to create a record with legs; meaning a smash that can be remade or played again and again, in years to come, and be appreciated. I must say, he is a great sounding board during the creative process.
Parlé Mag: Your latest single is entitled “They Don’t Even Know”. Tell me about this particular composition; how did it even come to fruition?
Toy Connor: “They Don’t Even Know” is the 1st Single to be released from my five (5) Song EP. I am a singer, but this record leans more toward the Hip-Hop genre. It’s about excelling no matter what naysayers – a.k.a. haters or non-supporters – have to say about it. Personally for me, the naysayers were low-key competitors disguised as friends, lovers and even so-called managers, who claimed to have my back, but their actions proved to be contradicting, as they discouraged me, used my talents to help their own cause or needs, then attempted to write me off when I decide to get focused and really push my music career, at which point they downplayed my abilities to my face and to others in an attempt to disillusion and create road blocks. But THEM DON’T KNOW, God brought all of their trickery to the light, and the record represents the sentiment that I will supersede my oppressors and God will prepare a table for me and those same people will watch me eat despite their negative intent.
…The sad part is that I am a lover, and would love for us to all be at that table together; Eating. Smiling. And saying, “WE DID IT TOGETHER!” And regarding those short-sighted people, I say, “THEY DON’T EVEN KNOW” that my inner drive, my work ethic and my passion, will continue to manifest great things.
Parlé Mag: “They Don’t Even Know” comes courtesy of your upcoming EP of the same name. Conceptually, what does that title represent both to and for you?
Toy Connor: With it being my first single and EP, it represents that those who doubted me have no idea what I’m capable of and have no idea what God has in store for me with my music; with my life.
Parlé Mag: What do you want people to get from your music?
Toy Connor: To experience a new sound, experience a new perspective, to relate of course, to have fun and also be inspired.
Parlé Mag: If you could collaborate with any one artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Toy Connor: Tory Lanez ’cause I’ve been feeling the vibes of his music prior to him ever releasing an album and we have similar heritage, so I feel we could catch a vibe and create something dope. Chris Brown because he’s melodically dope, his pen game is sick and I think our combined swag would be a wicked collab. Beyoncé is amazing; I’m a lifelong fan and we are so sonically different that I think we could create Epic-ness, plus my work ethic is right there with hers; do it till it’s perfect. Would also love to work with Kendrick Lamar; he’s soooo dope! DJ Khaled, Drake, David Guetta, Major Lazer, Pitbull, and, last but not least, Sia, who is my all-time favorite songwriter, and I wholeheartedly know we would make nothing short of magic together.
Parlé Mag: If you could play any venue in the world, which one would you choose and why?
Toy Connor: Madison Square Garden. It’s just an epic arena that so many A-listers have done. I think it will be a great barometer to measure my success.
Parlé Mag: In terms of longevity, what do you feel it is that will continue to sustain you in this grueling industry?
Toy Connor: Consistency, passion, keeping an open mind as music changes through the years, and collaborations.
Parlé Mag: Do you have any other outside/additional future aspirations, maybe even completely away from music?
Toy Connor: No, not really. I’m sure I will do more acting though; like movies, yah mon. But my primary passion is being a recording artist. I put acting on the back-burner to focus on my music. I believe to be successful at anything, it will need your undivided attention. I am definitely open to all acting offers though. If it makes sense, yah gal there.
Parlé Mag: On a more serious note, are you happy with the current state of music?
Toy Connor: For the most part, yes.
…Outside of the copycat artists who haven’t found their own unique voice yet, there are some artists that are actually creating really good music.
Parlé Mag: To date, what has been your biggest career moment, at least thus far anyway?
Toy Connor: Music-wise, I’d say when I got my 1st gold record for a dance song I wrote entitled, “Be In Love Tonight.”
Parlé Mag: Looking ahead, say five or maybe even ten years from now, where do you see yourself?
Toy Connor: Working on my 5th or 10th studio album, as well as bringing up hot young talented artists that are just as passionate as I am.
Parlé Mag: As for the immediate, what’s next for you, Toy?
Toy Connor: After I’m done working da ‘They Don’t Even Know’ EP, my plan to release a 2nd EP, while working on my debut album.
Parlé Mag: Any “closing” thought(s) for our readers?
Toy Connor: Readers can follow me and turn on notifications at:
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: www.Toyconnor.com
Images by Bobby Quillard
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