“I’m a superstar, that’s just what it is,” Surauchie says confidently over the phone. There’s a certain kind of assurance that all upcoming artists need to have to see themselves through the rigamarole of “making it big” and Surauchie has an ample supply. One of the main takeaways Surauchie wants is for her listeners to know that she’ll always deliver authentically transparent and honest music. The Toronto-based vocalist is taking intensely relatable experiences that come with growing pains and crafting them into infectiously melodic and soulful R&B records.
Born Brandi Surauchie Fernandes, the 22-year old was raised in North York, a region in the north part of Toronto. She was the daughter of a young mother and ended up being raised by her grandmother. “I was always with my grandma for a majority of the time and she’d always buy me a whole bunch of Beyonce CDs, Ashanti CDs, the old Aaliyah,” she tells me. “She played them in the house and in the car so I just feel like I gravitated towards that.” Between performing at school talent shows and listening to her CDs, Surauchie had always been about music and even spent quite a bit of time transcribing the lyrics of her favourite records, by hand, into a songbook—but as a young woman, she’s set on penning her own path.
In 2016, Surauchie created her own record label Forwxrd Records, where she released her first project, Misguided. The Misguided EP is a collection of vulnerable and catchy records as the artist’s vocals effortlessly glide atop its production. Tracks like “Everyday” shows her ability to create soul-baring lyrics, while others, like “Do Better” and “Addicted”, pay homage to the artist’s affinity for R&B. (The songs respectively nod to Aaliyah’s “Come Over” and Ashanti’s “Baby”). The project, produced by the Toronto-based Angel Milan, was a big stepping stone for Surauchie, someone who, she says, invested a considerable amount of energy and time into helping her. “He grew me from the ground up, he invested into studio time, he believed in me 100%. We basically just grew together. He produced my last project that released last April and he’s just been making my beats ever since then.”
Misguided allowed her listeners to see what she had to offer and became the catalyst for her discovery by Public Records, a joint label partnership with Universal Music Canada, established by Remix Project co-founder, Gavin Sheppard. Since she’s linked with them, Surauchie turned to her Caribbean roots to create a fiery remix for her single, “TIME”, assisted by Jamaican songstress Ishawna, a tropical blend of R&B and dancehall. Now she wants to be part of the renaissance of R&B artists coming from Toronto and is keen on channeling the quality of her peers to be a success. “I feel like Jessie Reyez, DVSN and Daniel Caesar have been making that real connection between them and their fans through what they’ve been through and I try to make music that’s super relatable,” she says. “It’s stuff that I’ve been through in life that I feel like other people have been through.”
Her down-to-earth and charming personality is brought to life through unreleased records like “Chicken Wings and French Fries.” She shares that she performed the single at a recent performance saying, “I have a song called ‘Chicken Wings and French Fries’ and it’s basically talking about how I’m a regular-'schmegular' person. I’ve seen the reaction that the crowd had to this, you know, the real, raw me and I think that’s what I can bring to the table.”
Surauchie’s talent and undeniable ambition is what will take her to the next level but her balance of confidence while staying grounded is what will attract more fans. She tells me of her own aspirations, “I’m just super raw. I’m super real and I feel like I can make good music overall. I have the sauce and I really get excited for the rest of the world and the rest of Toronto to see it.” Now we can with the visual for her most recent single, “Sometimes”. The Mitch Bax-directed video follows the artist into a laundry mat with people who are visibly going through it (relatable content!!) as she belts out her need for close things and people to comfort her.
Sharine is a Toronto-based writer. Follow her on Twitter.