Photo by: Lizzie O'Donnell

Toronto's Taya Marquis consistently delivers a pop, R&B and hip-hop fusion with songs that are strong in both sound and substance. Marquis uses her music as an avenue for mental health advocacy and enforces the value of self-discovery and #positiviTAY through her vulnerable lyricism.

This talented singer-songwriter is also an ambitious entrepreneur who has co-wrote with Ke$ha, opened for Tinashe and had in-studio mentorship sessions with Young Guru (Jay-Z's audio engineer) for her EP i’mperfect.

In her newest single and music video for "Strive," Marquis tells a powerful story about battling with inner demons and the strength to overcome them, urging listeners to be the best versions of themselves. Marquis explains: 

“I wrote “Strive” because in hard times I’ve let my demons get the best of me. And I think a lot of us beg our demons to let us go. I want people to feel empowered to pursue their purpose of why they are here on this planet Earth, and STRIVE for it!” 

With i'mperfect, Marquis strives to bring depth, positivity and empowerment to the world through her fierce and bold musical stylings. In times of darkness, Marquis' music and message work together to create a bright future  for herself as an artist and her fans. 

Q: Tell us about the inspiration behind your single and music video for  "Strive"?

After I went through a lot of dark times and hit rock bottom, I felt I had no other inspiration but to write about striving for better, for something greater, and searching for the reasons why. In "Strive", I'm writing to myself, and to my lover, expressing my brokenness, and preparing to expose my pain. It’s about not abandoning my darkness, but pushing through it and going through it to become a better version of myself.​ ​ In the music video, I really wanted to portray this struggle; through the colours and the movement – the dancers represent my inner demons and we see how I “battle” them from scene to scene.

Q: What can you tell us about your EP i’mperfect? Your creative process? Influences? Collaborations?

When you listen to my EP i'mperfect, you'll feel like you caught me right in the middle of searching – for myself, the truth, the world's truth and purpose. My major influence with this project was really rooted in uncovering my truths and discovering my purpose in the world.​ ​ I don't necessarily have a set creative process for "Chosen" and "Strive," I sat at the piano and the whole song just spilled out of me because I was really going through those emotions at the time. For "Be Who U Are" and "Get Going," I was in the studio with the writers and they asked me what I wanted to talk about and then we all worked on the ideas together. For "Good Girl," I wrote it with my co-writer while she was plucking at her guitar. "Million People" came to me in my shower (as so many creative moments do!) – the melody and lyrics presented itself to me and I brought it to my producer to build the production around the acappella. When writing, it's very different every time, and I try to stay as open as possible to catch the inspiration ball whenever the universe throws it my way!

Q: Do you have a favourite track from the project?

I love all my babies the same buttt if I had to choose, I'd say "Strive," "Chosen" and "Good Girl" – only because they're all songs I can still relate to today at this very moment in my life.

Q: How was it working with Young Guru?

He's a literal angel. Like, God-sent. I'm incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to work with him. My producer, Neo Tempus, and I booked a session with him while he was in NY for only a short period of time. Neo and I jumped into a rental car and drove down to NY from Toronto in the peak of winter. I remember on our way back, we got caught in this huge snow storm and I had to call in late for work LOL. But yeah, it was all so worth it for that one session with Guru where he broke down every song on the EP, giving notes on exactly what we needed to fix on each one.

Q: In times of uncertainty and isolation – such as the current state we're all in, what are some tips on staying healthy and well?

Well, in Canada, we are so blessed to have the government's help. We can apply for so many different types of benefits. Having that financial aid coming in has been a blessing, and I’m using these extra hours in the day to do things I love and never felt I had time to do. It can feel difficult, but I've been trying my best to work on my mental and physical health with some meditation and fitness apps. Also, I’ve been spending quality time with my family while being on lockdown with them. Some tips I’d say is to not be afraid to dream right now, and even maybe start your side hustle or business, explore cooking some new dishes, finish some books, the list goes on! There’s good in anything bad, and I think we just have to choose to look at this situation from that perspective.

Q: You use your music as an avenue for mental health advocacy, messages of self-discovery and positivity – which is very admirable and essential to many. Why is utilizing your platform to convey these messages so important to you?

You know, art can be a great tool for introspection and personal therapy, which I absolutely use it for. But art is also meant, in my opinion, to connect us as humans. As a person, I feel really empowered when I know I’m helping people; I’ve discovered that is one of my purposes in life, so I’ve let that purpose seep into my songwriting. I really do want people to experience my music and walk away feeling something, whether it’s added motivation to pursue a dream, or a relief from stress after singing and dancing; that’s purposeful.

Q: Already having an impressive career from co-writing with Ke$ha to opening for Tinashe, what are some of your future aspirations?

Thank you! Yeah, those were definitely milestones! In this next chapter of my career, I’d really like to go on tour with either Shawn Mendes, Camilla Cabello, Rihanna (wow!), Jessie Reyez, Lennon Stella, Emotional Oranges or Lucky Daye. These artists are INCREDIBLE! I’m also aiming to secure a publishing deal as a songwriter – I want to be in a position to write for artists from different genres and be part of their own development.

Q: Anything else you would like to add?

I want to wish every artist (especially the independent ones!) the best of success in their careers and goals. This is such a cool time for music and entertainment, and I believe your entire success is in the palm of your hands. I tell myself this every day: stop making excuses, stop living behind your fears and go fricken get it. Stop looking for handouts and make your own money moves. Educate yourself on the business of music, work on bettering your craft, and collab with other artists. And ultimately, invest in yourself. Thanks so much for chatting with me, SoundZine! Love you, Taya.

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