Most of what we’ve heard about Toronto’s hip-hop and R&B scene has centered on someone who may or may not be dating Rihanna. Meanwhile, the experiential and genre-defying 88 Days Of Fortune collective has been building its own scene in the 6ix from the underground up since 2009. The AGO caught up with 88 Days of Fortune founder and collective member Ayo Leilana—AKA Witch Prophet—ahead of the group’s First Thursday performance on November 3 (Be Magik), to learn more about the music they are currently making and what keeps her inspired in Toronto.
AGO: How would describe the music of 88 Days of Fortune and Witch Prophet to someone who has never heard of them before?
Witch Prophet: To describe 88 Days of Fortune to someone, I would first have to explain that it is a youth focused, Toronto-based, multimedia collective/ DIY record label with 14 active members. We support and provide platforms for our members to share their skills and talents. On the music side, we have everything from soul, dub, hip hop, experimental, punk, jazz, dance, electro and rap. It’s an eclectic mix of musicians, all with their own style and own projects, something for everyone. We have members in Toronto, Seattle, D.C, New York, and L.A.
Witch Prophet is my solo project. My sound would be described best as “operatic soul with hip hop elements”. Vocal layers, loops, harmonies and effects. Beats that bump with lyrics and melodies that are hypnotic and ethereal.
AGO: How has the Toronto music scene changed since 88 Days of Fortune was founded?
Witch Prophet: 88 Days Of Fortune was founded in 2009, and back then the integration and mixing of the downtown scenes (specifically the urban straight and queer scenes) was not prevalent. Our parties, events, and collective members were really leading the way to mixing crowds and creating spaces where everyone (regardless of gender/sexual orientation) was free to be who they were. Now seven years later, we truly see the change in the scene and the growth from the music community in the ability to collaborate with different promoters/DJs etc.
As well, the number of youth-run collectives, organizations and showcases in the city has tripled since 88 Days started, and we like to think that we were the ball that got everything rolling.
AGO: What inspires you about the Toronto and/or global music, art, performance scene right now?
Witch Prophet: The youth have always and will always inspire me when it comes to art and the performance scene. Their energy, drive, ambition, and true love of the craft is what inspires me. Seeing the recognition and the spotlight finally on the scene we have been building on for so long inspires me.
AGO: Who are some of your favourite local up and coming local acts, artists, and/or bands/musicians right now?
Witch Prophet: This is probably one of the hardest questions, not because I don’t have any – but because I have too many! For the sake of time and space I’ll only post a few (in no particular order)
- Tee Fergus – @iamnatt33
- Yasmine – @fucckyassy
- I.BLUE – @MyyNameIsMIBLUE
- Dey – @deyinthelife
- Sydanie – @_sydanie
- OBUXUM – @OBUXUM
AGO: Do you believe in magic? If so what’s the most magical spot in Toronto in your opinion?
Witch Prophet: Other than music, magic is my whole life. I believe in more than just magic; I believe in the ability to create what I want by just a thought. Shifting dimensions, tapping into energy, speaking to spirits, seeing the past, present and future… all of these things I believe in, all of these things I do, hence my name Witch Prophet.
I guess the most magical spot in Toronto in my opinion would have to be the Toronto Island: lots of magic, spirits, ancestors roaming around, and lots of energy to tap into.