Well not exactly. Storry has been working on a highly personal, provocative, and raw concept album that combines hip-hop and rap with classical vocal technique and sophisticated jazz inflections. She’s been collaborating with her longtime friend, classical pianist, composer, and music professor, Yotam (Tom) Baum, and the results are truly groundbreaking. I had the opportunity to speak with Storry about her upcoming Montreal debut.
Nancy Berman (NB): Tell me about your project.
Storry (S): Where did it all begin? I had come back from India where I had gone through kind of a rebirth. I decided to get back into music and I called Tom when I had the idea to write a concept album about my life. He was the first guy I called. I didn’t know if we were going to be a good match musically because I’m more into R&B and hip hop and Tom is a classical musician, but I knew he was one of my best friends and I knew I could be comfortable telling my story to him. We had zero expectations when we first met to do some writing in June of 2015. It literally started from a little tiny seed to “this could be huge and epic and change the world.” It’s taken a life of it’s own.
NB: How would you describe the musical style?
S: I would say the combination of R&B, hip hop/rap, and classical; a lot of people hear jazz, a little reggae.
NB: How does the musical collaboration between you and Tom work?
S: It usually starts with the lyrics, but the lyrics aren’t generally in a song format. Most of it is free writing, almost like a journal, then we usually just jam out. He might start playing something or I might have a riff or two and we expand on the ideas, jam it out, record it all, and play it back, then refine it from there. It’s a magical process. Sometimes we have to relearn what we did while we were jamming because it’s so good.
NB: Who else will be involved in the production?
S: For the recording we’ll have synthesized beats, drums, bass, other live instruments, and a chamber orchestra. But what’s really interesting is that for the concert Friday, as well as our previous concert in Sherbrooke and our upcoming concert in Toronto, it’s just voice and piano, almost like a classical song concert. In fact, our current tour is taking place in classical venues. Tom and I are alone on stage – voice and piano – yet I’m singing in more of a hip-hop or rap style; there’s even a parental advisory (for explicit content) on the facebook invite!
NB: I got a feeling for your work from the song you recently posted online. It’s extremely personal and raw. How does it feel to make yourself so vulnerable, so exposed?
S: That song is the most PG of all the songs! I’ve been through a lot but I’ve very much owned who I am. I know that my music will have a lot of controversy but I’m being honest and true to myself and I’ve always prided myself on being a decent, good human being. Coming out of my shell took a lot of time and courage, but now I feel like this is more than just about me. It’s about giving a voice to the voiceless, and so I have to be strong.
NB: What has the interest been like in your project?
S: My friends and family are very supportive. Many people in the industry have shown interest, however there have been hurdles as it is a male-dominated industry, and there is a lot of misogyny. This doesn’t discourage me. The biggest battle is myself. Because there’s a constant resistance—the person inside me says, “Who are you to tell your story? Why is your story important?” I have to pull myself back and say, “By telling my story honestly and authentically, without guilt and shame, I’m allowing others to do the same.” I hope this opens up an avenue to allow others to speak, open up a dialogue, and maybe things can change in our society. So many women and men have suffered abuse so I’m sure a lot of people will relate.
NB: How is it changing you to write this material? Is it therapeutic to a certain extent?
S: It has been a very therapeutic experience for me. Every day I learn something new about myself and I find more and more confidence and love for myself and therefore for the rest of the world. It’s been really wonderful. The best year and a half of my life.
Storry performs at the Atelier Lyrique at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal (4750, avenue Henri-Julien) Friday March 11 at 7pm. Tickets $12 through the Conservatoire (514-873-4031 ext. 313) and $13 at www. admission.com. More information here: