TiKA the Creator (a.k.a. TiKA Simone) admits that talking about her feelings can be difficult at times. So instead, she chooses to sing about them.

The Toronto R&B artist first began writing music when she was 14, and even though it wasn’t encouraged – a middle-school talent show judge once told her that she “didn’t think singing was for me” – it remained an integral part of her life. Throughout the years, Simone has been an avid supporter of the city’s thriving music scene, working as a curator and promoter. But, when a bout of depression hit her, her love of music took a different form.

“Music was the vehicle for learning how to describe my trauma, dissociation, depression and overall mental illness,” she explains. “I find it less embarrassing to sing about my pain in a language that everyone can understand, versus being misunderstood in regular conversation.”

That cathartic process is “free-flow” for Simone, who also meditates when she records. As a result, her melodies often manifest as airy and light, emanating a positive sensibility. She doesn’t shy away from her heavy experience, but delivers it with levity, soothing listeners like a much-needed balm in a sometimes overwhelming world. So far, it’s earned fans, and opening slots for the likes of John Legend, Ne-Yo and SonReal. Soon, she’ll be heading out on tour in Europe.

“Music is powerful,” says Simone. “As a person, I strive to live in the light because there have been far too many instances where I could have died and didn’t… While it’s important to be real, it’s also important to elevate past what I know, and my childhood pathologies. I hope listeners find peace within themselves.”

In addition to the tour, Simone is looking forward to releasing a debut full-length album with an accompanying short film this year. She excitedly adds, “There are many firsts I’ve never done, that I’m about to do.”