Each week, Essentials allows Canadian musicians to share the things that have helped get through through the pandemic, and why they still can’t live without them.
Toronto singer/songwriter AHI (pronounced “eye”) recently released his latest single Until You, a gorgeous finger picked ballad that once again shows how his soul-infused approach to folk music has put him in a class by himself when it comes to Canadian troubadours.
Although he has earned an impressive share of accolades here at home, including a Juno nomination for his 2018 album In Our Time, since signing with Nashville-based distribution/management company Thirty Tigers, AHI’s international profile has been raised significantly. He’s yet to officially announce the follow-up to In Our Time, but if Until You is a first taste, the new album should see him poised for a commercial breakthrough.
It all began for Ahkinoah Izarh back in 2013 when a video of he and his young daughter singing Bob Marley’s No Woman No Cry received over 300,000 views and elicited a personal note of thanks from Marley’s widow Rita. From there, he continued to release a handful of EPs before recording his 2017 debut album We Made It Through The Wreckage in Nashville with producer Eric Masse, sessions that resulted from a simple cold call.
In Our Time further refined AHI’s sound through the touch of Alabama Shakes producer Andrija Tokic, while helping to launch him onto international stages. He’s got his biggest hometown date yet lined up for Oct. 29 at the Danforth Music Hall, a night with Coeur de Pirate that promises to validate his unwavering belief in an audience for his sound and message. Find out more at ahimusic.com.
Essential Song: Mustafa, Stay Alive (on When Smoke Rises, Regent Park Songs, 2021)
Right now, this song has really gotten my attention. Not only is it beautifully written, but the video is stunning and absolutely stopped me in my tracks when I first saw it. It’s very rare for me to be like “whoa” when I hear a new song or see a new video, but the message, the performance, and the overall sentiment of the song is everything we need in music nowadays.
Essential Podcast: Dave Chappelle’s Midnight Miracle with Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) and Talib Kweli
This is probably the best “podcast” I’ve heard in ages. It’s not really a podcast in the traditional sense, it’s more of an auditory experience—an evolved podcast. It’s very produced and thought-out, but in no way is it contrived. There’s nothing like it out there. I appreciate its honesty, sense of humanity, and how down to earth it is. And I forgot to mention how hilarious it is! It’s not for everyone because it really stimulates the brain in ways that you’re not used to or expecting. But it’s brilliant in so many ways.
Essential TV: Dragon’s Den (CBC) / Shark Tank (ABC)
To be honest, I don’t even own a TV and haven’t had one in over a decade. With that said, I still watch a lot of stuff online. The Internet is the new TV for me, and my show of choice would be Shark Tank/Dragon’s Den. As an independent artist and entrepreneur, I enjoy watching people’s businesses get ripped apart or praised for being extraordinary. I’m fascinated by how we perceive our own value versus how others perceive our value. And Shark Tank does it by the number. It’s one of the few shows I let my children watch outside of NBA basketball. (We The North!!)
Essential Movie: Moneyball (2011)
I was just saying to myself the other day, I can’t think of the last time I was able to even watch a new movie. Movies take a major time commitment; everything is over two-and-a-half hours now, so I’ve really been into re-watching movies to see if I can learn anything new from them. Moneyball with Brad Pitt is not my favourite movie, but I was shocked at how much I enjoyed watching it the second time. I’m not a huge baseball fan, but the message I got from that movie goes back to what I like about Shark Tank: Perceived value versus real value. I come into every situation as an underdog, always going against the odds to prove myself, so this movie really resonates.