Toy Connor is the Queen on her throne starring in her self-produced and directed new music video ‘They Don’t Even Know’. The Brooklyn-born musician and actress bursts onto the Urban Pop and Caribbean Dancehall scene with her unique, flamboyant style. Connor captured the eye of Motown legend Berry Gordy which led to her dance hit ‘Be In Love Tonight’ being on the ‘NOW That’s What I Call Music’ compilation alongside Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, Usher and Katy Perry. Berry Gordy became Toy’s mentor and put her to work writing lyrics for artists on his roster. With Toy’s music being featured on TV shows as well as starring in them (her breakout role was in the Emmy award-winning series ‘The Corner’), Toy Connor has made the transition from actress to music artist and DJ effortlessly. Influenced by her Caribbean-American heritage to fuse her own style of urban pop, dancehall and reggae, is the world ready for such an inspirational, vibrant diva?
‘They Don’t Even Know’ is the lead single and titular track of Toy’s forthcoming EP out this summer. Featuring influencer Landon Moss in a supermarket skit where Landon says she’s on her way to stardom, the music video launches into Toy striding down the street with her long blonde, pink-tipped hair and jauntily placed crown. ‘They Don’t Even Know’ is effervescent dancehall at his best; it’s bass-first and full throttle. Toy’s rasping voice smoulders over punchy, powerful lyrics which she says show “the true meaning of strength, self-empowerment and pride.” The rumbling bass kicks hold court with a catchy melody which explodes into a club-ready beat. Toy proves she has her own style as an electric powerhouse.
“You don’t know me so why you are acting like I am familiar, got my picture with my autograph, I’ve never seen ya, what I’m saying, I can’t complain see I moved up on the food chain, and I’m hungry man.”
Neon Music delved into the mind of this talented musician and actress to find out more about her new video, upcoming EP, influences and so much more.
Take it away, Toy Connor and “let’s make history“:
How would you describe your sound to new listeners?
I would tell them to imagine if Nicki Minaj and Rihanna had a baby. Imagine what that would sound like. I’ve been told mi sound is uniquely dominant for a female. Probably because mi voice is raspy and most people are shocked when they hear a low rough voice from mi petite body. But it’s mi own thing. Can’t wait to share it with the Universe.
Tell me about your new music video ‘They Don’t Even Know’
It was produced and directed by me. The video symbolizes my ability to rise above those who have created obstacles in an effort to prevent me from being successful. The storyline plays out with me holding court from my throne. The concept behind the onlookers with slurs on their naked backsides is that these are people who were in my circle with bad intentions. People don’t usually express their true intentions. Their exposed bodies symbolize who they really are underneath their garments and smiling face.
The words represent their true selves; what lies within them, and is showcased for the world to see because the truth has come to the light. In the video, these people are the ones who have been exposed and are regretfully witnessing my success, no matter their attempt to tear me down.
The “They Don’t Even Know” music video is quite moving as it shows the true meaning of strength, self-empowerment and pride. There is also a feature by (social media influencer) Landon Moss. Lastly, the video has a bit of a nostalgic vibe (with the jewelry and clothing) which represents a time stamp that these events occurred before the scales fell from mi eyes and I was blessed to identify mi oppressors.
What do you enjoy most about making a music video?
Physically, I’d say I enjoy dressing up and getting into character. Conceptually, I like witnessing the storyline come alive on video.
Is there an overall theme of your new EP?
Yes, overall, it shows me in the Queen’s position as a symbol of having succeeded. And holding court against those who tried to oppress me, who are now witnessing my glow up (aka my rise to success).
Who / what inspires you?
Life inspires me, my mother inspires me, my experiences inspire me. Babies, animals, people of this world and the things they go through in life, inspire me. Mi own personal experiences inspire me. And of course, poetry, stories, and music inspire me.
What has surprised you most about being in the music industry?
Nothing surprises me in the industry of entertainment. Remember a true artist has a VERY open mind, and what the masses perceive as surprising, strange, weird, off, touched, and/or creepy, we may see as genius, because being open breeds the necessary elements to create something extraordinary and to be extraordinary.
How different is it from being an actress?
Less lines, lol.
Is there a smooth transition from one to the other?
Yes, I do believe that me being an actress for so many years has definitely influenced and subconsciously groomed me as a confident stage performer.
Is there a lyric or track that is particularly meaningful to you and why?
I think I have a catch phrase or two in every record I write. Of course, they’re all meaningful to me, but here’s one from mi “WALK” record… “Homie you don’t know me, so why you feelin so hurt, Step your game up, I’m done, now run along, yah!!! If they walk, then they Walk, they Just Walk. Cause they Talk, and they Talk, and they Talk. Don’t let them drive you Crazy, Can’t let the small sh*t phase me. If they walk, then they walk, they just walk.”
The sentiment of those lines speaks to people that HATE on you when they don’t even know you, nor do they know your struggle, or what you’ve had to endure to receive the blessings you have…
Which artists inspired you while growing up?
Shelly thunder, Allison hinds, Patra, lady saw, Shaggy, Tupac, Erika Badu, Biggie,
Jay-Z, Tina Turner, Tracy Chapman, Andre 3000.
What keeps you awake at night?
Mi brain. It won’t stop thinking, lol. Literally, it keeps me up to daybreak some nights
Planning how to crack the code on success, coming up with new melodies, new lyrics, new concepts, new marketing ideas, listening to new tracks, it won’t let me rest.
Yah gal insane.
Do you collect anything?
I just collect music, because I am also a DJ. Mi DJ persona is “DJ ILL NANA”. I don’t collect objects or anything though. Probably because I don’t like clutter. Mi friends think I’m OCD, but I’m not. Lol.
Who is on your playlist at the moment?
Well as a DJ, I have everyone on the Billboard Top 100, lol. But I’m personally loving Kendrick Lamar’s new DAMN album right now.
Describe a typical day for Toy Connor?
(sings) Work, work, work, work, work, work.
Well, makeup and hair is a big part of it, mostly because I do photos shoots almost daily to ensure I have enough up to date content. Outside of that, music ideas just hit me at any time of the day (kind of like a good sex flashback) it just comes out of nowhere. I do sing like most people during mi daily showers, which is where I naturally create melodies and sometimes in the middle of the night, mi just wake up with what I like to think are brilliant ideas and I write them down or sing them into mi iPhone recorder.
Acting is something I’ve always done since childhood. It is also a career that came to mi organically, and when I have to prepare for a role, I read the script, take a moment to absorb mi character, then I link with one of mi actor friends or coach to run mi scenes and work out the kinks before shooting ever begins.
DJing is an extension of mi love for music. It is usually a scheduled event (in the USA or Abroad) and booked through mi team at Blackskirt Entertainment. It’s that thing that drives me and keeps me sewn into pop and urban culture, and enables me to identify and create relevant music as a Recording Artist. As DJ “ILL NANA”, I have to listen to and play the hottest music, which enables me to see first handed what moves people and test mi own records while I’m at it. That is a powerful realization. Once you figure that out, you can win over the masses, and from there, one DJ performance begets a Stage performance, and so on and so forth. At least in my life, thankful to the most high.
Kendrick Lamar, Chris Brown, Nicki Minaj, Beyoncé, Tory Lanez, Sia, Dr. Dre and so many more.
Eating junk food, haha! Yea I’m supposed to be training, but some days I just fall off.
If you could go back in time, where would you go?
I would go hang out with mi father. He passed away a few years ago, and I still call out to him and wish I could just talk to him. I was a Daddy’s girl. He always spoke positive words into mi life, and believed in me. I wanted him to be alive to see me become super successful. I have always envisioned him and mi mother sitting in the audience watching me receive mi Grammys. He was the first to tell me I was a Star.
Tell us a secret
If I told you, it wouldn’t be a secret, lol. I tatted myself when I was 12 years old.
What’s next for Toy Connor?
NEXT UP will be mi second EP, which I’m equally proud of. Just putting the final touches on it before hitting the studio to work on mi very first album.
Toy Connor’s EP ‘They Don’t Even Know’ will be released Summer 2017.