R&B singer LOONY grew up in Scarborough, in the Northeast end of Toronto, where she taught herself how to sing as a kid, attended rock music summer camp, and released her first mixtape in high school.

“In Scarborough, people feel a little distant from the [downtown] core,” says LOONY, 26. “There’s not much to do here but create – and get in trouble.” Before she left to study English Literature at McGill University in Montréal, LOONY says she was “acting in a careless, reckless kind of way.” When she moved home, she found herself returning to her old ways.

On her sophomore EP JOYRiDE, released in April 2020, she explores her relationship with her old neighbourhood, while reckoning with past experiences and bad relationships.  “Going for a joyride is a crime, but I also thought of it as a vehicle to turn these feelings into something else that I can control,” she says.

The EP mixes neo-soul and R&B, with LOONY’s intimate, emotional voice anchoring each song. She worked closely with producers Akeel Henry – a former apprentice of Drake producer Noah “40” Shebib –  and Adam Ponang, to develop her experimental, genre-blurring sound.

LOONY started writing lyrics when she was back in Scarborough, but her time in Montréal greatly impacted her songwriting. At McGill, she fell in love with James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Virginia Woolf, and T.S. Eliot. “I would skip a lot of classes, but I remember going one day when we were talking about the poem ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ by T.S. Eliot,” she says. “It blew my mind. I was like, ‘Oh, this is what I’m missing out on? Because this is fire.’”

With her upcoming concerts postponed, LOONY’s spending her days hanging out in nature and writing new songs. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that there are so many amazing artists in the East end,” she says. “There’s more green space, and more room to figure out what you want to do.”