Toronto’s GNA talks her come up, single with Friyie, touring & more
Toronto’s own GNA brought down the house this past Friday night during her opening set at the Mod Club Theatre for Tink’s Pain & Pleasure tour.
Showcasing not just her vocal abilities, GNA’s performance included flawless choreographed dance routines executed by fired up dancers who complimented her presence and confidence on stage.
For those who might not know GNA, she’s a product of Toronto’s Eglinton neighbourhoods and has partnered on tracks, with the likes of Tory Lanez, Memphis Bleek, Friyie and former Crime Mobb member, Diamond.
I had a chance to sit down with GNA before her performance to talk about her come up, her latest release featuring Friyie, and what’s next for the bubbling-artist.
Check out the Q&A below and listen to “Finga” via Spotify.
HipHopCanada: How did you originally get started in music and who put the mic in your hand for the very first time?
GNA: I got started young, so I would assume it would be my mom. It was really just singing around the house; I really didn’t get serious about it till I was about 11 when, just by fluke, I decided to go with my cousin and younger aunt to audition for a part in The Lion King on Broadway. I ended up getting the part I wanted, so Broadway was my introduction to music.
HipHopCanada: Who were and are some of your biggest influences when it comes to song writing?
GNA: For song writing, to be honest, I don’t think I can think of my biggest influencer at the moment because for right now I’m trying to go based off of writing as true as I can to my own personal experiences, or people I know.
That’s where I’m deriving all my topics from but, in terms of just artistry in general, my biggest influence and who really made me fall in love with the art are from the 90s era. People like Missy Elliot, Michael Jackson, R. Kelly, and that’s with their visuals on top of their music.
HipHopCanada: I had a chance to take in your latest release “Finga” featuring Friyie. What was your approach for the track and how did the feature come to be?
GNA: Um, pretty much on all my projects, ever since I’ve been putting out music, I’ve always had a Caribbean vibe because part of my background is Caribbean.
But I realized that I’ve never touched on the African part – I’m also part Nigerian – me and T came up being part of the African culture, so we both said it would be really dope to touch base on that and we did. Friyie just happened to be in the studio at the same time and he was messing with the vibe. I asked him if he could put a little bit of flavour on it and that’s how that feature came about. It was along time coming and it just happened.
HipHopCanada: As a Canadian-based artist, what are some of the challenges you’ve dealt with while on the come up?
GNA: Um, my biggest challenge… for artists period, whether it’s a guy or female from the US or Canada… of course being an aspiring artist is one of the hardest things, its easier to get into the NBA or NFL. Obviously its really hard in music, but as a Canadian however, I feel as if you have to put in double the effort.
Everyone knows even though Canada has this big light on it you still have to have that over the border acceptance. Years ago, me and Nyce packed our bags and moved to the U.S. and not being a citizen in the U.S. is a lot harder.
Let’s say you want to get a job to grind and maintain that grind, it was really difficult. I feel like that’s one of the biggest things. A lot of these people hustling out there have part time jobs, and me, I was dirt broke and couldn’t help it.
HipHopCanada: With the rise of more female urban artists such as Cardi B, or Kehlani, Ella Mai and Tink how does your sound stand out from the rest?
GNA: I like to think of myself of a combination of that crazy, sexy, cool vibe. It’s funny, Kehlani having an album called Crazy, Sexy, Cool but to be honest we’re a completely different… vibe. I think overall one thing I do have compared to those those artists you mentioned is the culture. It’s a blessing that I do have that mixture… Canadian, Caribbean, that afro… all of that put together gives me another perspective.
HipHopCanada: What can the hip-hop community in Canada expect from GNA?
GNA: You can expect a lot. To be honest, I’ve been moving a lot. I have my EP that’s going to be coming out, its titled The Score and it has Finga on it and a couple of other tracks. So I’m excited about that, the EP is the first thing and of course visuals for these singles I’ve been putting out.
You can follow @Just_GNA on Instagram.