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Inspiration can come from many sources and for Toronto-born singer FJØRA, her exposure to music at a young age had a lasting impact. Raised in a house with a music professor father, FJØRA, real name Alexandra Petkovski, began studying music at a young age. With an early interest in jazz and film scoring, FJØRA eventually relocated to Nashville to study music composition.
It was in Nashville that FJØRA teamed up with producer Josh Hawkins, with the two crafting FJØRA’s latest single “Zodiac.”
Premiering today on Much, “Zodiac” is a synth-infused pop earworm with FJØRA’s sultry vocal whisper giving us Ellie Goulding vibes. The track’s lyrics delve into the back and forth of romantic relationships, with FJØRA trying to decipher her lover’s intentions when the message keeps changing.
FJØRA changes up her delivery throughout the track to keep the listener glued to the song, with a soaring chorus that brings the cinematic “Zodiac” together.
Splitting her time between Toronto and Nashville means that FJØRA is an expert when it comes to acting as a tour guide for the two musical cities.
We asked FJØRA to give us her recommendations for Toronto and Nashville, including where to eat, where to discover new artists, and the best spot to pick up some sweet tunes. Check them out below and prepare for some serious wanderlust.
Nashville: “Bakersfield Tacos and/or Taco Mamacita. The first time I was in Nashville I actually went to a Chuy’s with my sisters and being Canadian I had never been to one before. It sort of became a tradition to go there ever since, more for the margaritas than for the tacos.”
Toronto: “I would have to say La Carnita or El Trompo for some real good taco eats in Toronto. I also went to Burrito Boyz a lot throughout high school. This is also mildly embarrassing, but when I was a child growing up in the GTA, my dad would always pick up Taco Bell for my sisters and I, so now I have this positive taco association with it.”
Nashville: “My three favourite burger places in Nashville would have to be Burger Up, Burger Republic, and The Pharmacy Burger Parlour.”
Toronto: “A couple years ago I tried this place called Big Smoke Burger which just about blew my mind. They do these really impressive gourmet burgers with house made sauces and you can just taste the amount of love and effort that went into the making of the meal. For some solid “nights out” burger eats, The Burgers Priest, hands down. Not related to burgers at all but to great food, one of my favourite places to eat shawarma is Lazeez. They have this white special sauce that they put over french fries or rice with shawarma meat and it’s called Lazeez on the Rocks and I pretty much get it whenever I’m back home.”
Nashville: “If you’re looking for really cool Nashville vibes I’d recommend Barista Parlor, Frothy Monkey or Proper Bagel. It’s got good coffee, but it’s the bagels and the incredible selection of cream cheeses and spreads which make it a must to stop.”
Toronto: “This is going to sound pathetic because obviously in Canada it’s not really a huge deal, but Tim Hortons! When you live abroad in the U.S. for years you just don’t get the chance to drink some good old fashioned Canadian brew. And it’s awesome.”
Nashville: “There are many cool little boutique places in Nashville that I have discovered over the years. Hillsboro Village has a cute little pocket of coffee places, book stores, and encompasses a great variety of shops to choose from. One of my favourite shops in Hillsboro Village is Pangea, which contains eclectic, authentic, and fun clothes, knick-knacks, and jewelry to mix and match with. They also carry a lot of skull memorabilia.”
Toronto: “Toronto shopping is probably one of the most diverse places a person can explore. I think if you narrow your search down to more eclectic and unique items, Kensington Market is always a really good choice, or the Black Market, which can be really sketchy looking at first, but trust me, you can find some really weird, cool things there.”
Nashville: “Nashville plays host to so many amazing live music venues. There’s the classic Ryman Auditorium, the reverent Grand Ol’ Opry, the massive Bridgestone Arena. I myself have been lucky enough to have performed at a handful of awesome venues, inlcuding the High Watt, the Basement, and the Bluebird Café, but it’s really the artists and audiences that makes each live music venue special. One of the elements about Nashville music venues that I realized right away was the level of respect and appreciation generated between performers and listeners. There is an almost unspoken rule of thumb in Nashville when it comes to live music, a sacredness surrounding the art of live music itself. This is what makes the Nashville music venue scene so unique. The setting is shaped by the artist and listener.”
Toronto: “Similar to Nashville, the Toronto live music venue scene is diverse and widespread. I’ve performed kind of across the spectrum, from smaller, more intimate venues like the Central, to stadium sized arenas like the Air Canada Centre and Rogers Centre. I really liked performing at the Mod Club, which is a sort of “in-between” in terms of audience size. I think some of my personal faves for live music would be the Cameron House, the Drake Hotel, Lee’s Palace, and the Rex, where you can pretty much bet on listening to some form of jazz music.”
Nashville: “From busking performances on the street to open mic nights at the Commodore, one cannot ever truly know where they might hear the “next huge thing.” That being said, I will go to the Bluebird Cafe to hear impressive artists and songwriters emerge with their work, especially on Sunday nights, where songwriting rounds take place.”
Toronto: “I would say the same thing that I said regarding Nashville – you don’t really ever know where you’re going to hear the next best new artist. I have heard some great emerging new artists at “house concerts,” which is actually a concept that I discovered in the Toronto music scene. To save on costs, people (usually various fellow artists) will host intimate songwriting rounds in their homes, where performers from all over will drive in to sing and play at. I actually met the now lead guitarist for Alessia Cara at a Toronto house concert many years ago and now he’s killing it in the music industry, currently touring with JoJo.”
Nashville: “You can get a nice array of people to watch in 12 South, which is an up and coming pocket in Nashville. This is where Bartaco, Husk, and Sprinkles are located, so in addition to watching everyday people, tourists, and students, you might also spot a celebrity or two.”
Toronto: “My sister has a place off of Charles Street in Toronto, right by the University of Toronto, and I really like to just sit out on her balcony and stare below at the street of people passing by. Directly across from her building on the opposite side of the street is this beige, ritzy condominium complex and it always has Porsches, Maserati’s, and Range Rovers driving in and out its front gates. It’s one of those, “you can’t look away but it hurts to look because you’re so envious” type deals.”
Nashville: “I get most creatively inspired in Nashville when I’m driving to and from writing and recording sessions, or driving to friends’ places, or just driving in general. Once you get out of the Green Hills area of Nashville and onto back roads towards Brentwood or Franklin or even Belle Meade something incredible happens. The roads open up and the sky suddenly becomes a massive backdrop. There are trees and hills and lush greenery everywhere.”
Toronto: “I think Toronto itself is creative inspiration. Go outside. Walk along the pavement. Stare up at the glass reflections against sky scrapers. Walk through the grassy parks. Take a ride on the subway, look at the people living their lives. Listen to the constant bustle of people, the different languages from different cultures everywhere. It is a plethora of discovery. It is almost impossible not to be inspired.”
Nashville: “The bottom floor of Acme, Motown Mondays at the Five Spot, or outside in the fountains at Live on the Green, where I spent this past year dancing to a free concert of Band of Horses and Muse, are all some personal faves of mine. Also, just dancing in the streets of Nashville generally. The one thing you can count on in Nashville is that no matter where you are, there is always music to dance to.”
Toronto: “I really like the Dance Cave located above Lee’s Palace, which usually plays retro and indie rock and has cartoon murals on the walls.”
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