The truth may set you free, but sometimes telling it, especially when you know it can potentially offend the recipient is hard. You know what else is sometimes hard? Making people laugh. But somehow, Tika Simone manages to do both. At once.
I first noticed Tika when she appeared on the The Hills Aftershow on MTV Canada. She stood out from the rest of the panelists because she she walked the perfect line between being sweet and outspoken. She seemed at ease on set yet I got the sense that she was a well-seasoned comedienne. Tika’s since moved on to other ventures which included blogger, singer, brand marketer and of course, Creator of The Known Unknown. She’s nursed and nurtured numerous local talents kind of like a house mother and now she’s set her sights on New York and Los Angeles.
Tika will tell you how it is – no holds barred- but it comes from a place of genuine concern. She’s often heard telling people to “flourish” because when you love yourself, you love others. And Tika’s one of the loveliest of them all.
The following interview was conducted late last year and has not been edited or condensed from its original content. So won’t you please join us in the following conversation?
Bad Perm: How did you come up with the concept of The Known Unknown and how has it changed since it’s inception?
Tika Simone: Well, when The Known Unknown first started, it actually wasn’t called “The Known Unknown.” We were called Intimate & Interactive initially. The idea started because I noticed a void in the Toronto music scene in reference to showcases, more importantly consistent showcases. I wanted to do something and I had media connections and I had just finished doing MTV. I was like, ‘I need something to do and I really think that there is a void here so I think this could be a really cool way of incorporating my love for hosting and my love for music and getting all these people on one stage to support one another,’ just to start something.
It started off as a weekly and that was a little too overwhelming for me. I was like, ‘Oh, this is a lot,’ and I was also running out of talent. I felt like I was recycling a lot of the talent that I was seeing. We transitioned into The Known Unknown after I had taken a break and done ‘Da Kink in My Hair. I decided to rebrand with my graphic designer and friend, WolF J McFarlane. We decided to rebrand and call it ‘The Known Unknown’ and focus on more talent that was underground and try to connect those people to one another. Since then, since its inception it has changed a lot. Now it’s a monthly event series. It’s also a lifestyle blog and we focus on obviously underground music, and we also focus on underground fashion and anything underground is pretty much under one roof. We try to do our due diligence to really showcase at least 60% of Toronto-based music and culture.
Right now, we are on a hiatus to rebrand the website and we’ll be starting to do seasonal series events in different places. We’ve expanded to New York. That’s why I’m here. I want to be able to bring Toronto artists out of Toronto and into different cities while still continuing to do The Known Unknown in Toronto seasonally as opposed to monthly.
BP: With this project, I find that you’ve become a nurturer of artists – artists who wouldn’t have otherwise gotten exposure. How do you balance nurturing your own career along with giving others their head start?
TS: I’ve only started focusing on myself in the past year. In order for other people to grow, I have to grow too. It took me kind of a long time to just kind of take a step back and realize that. It’s kind of tough when you’re kind of like a mother to many people, because people have expectations, they have their dreams, they have their drive, but ultimately I just had to come to grips with the fact that they’ll be okay and I may not be okay so I gotta focus on me. That’s pretty much what I’m doing.
The Known Unknown is my immediate baby. That’s my baby and I’ll take care of it until the day I die. It’s like, latched to me, so to speak. I feel like the more that I build my brand and that I build the name, I’m able to come up with more creative ideas by being in a creative space. I think that a lot of good things will come out of it and I’ll be able to do a lot more as opposed to only being able to help on a regional level.
BP: You decided to take it across the border. What inspired that decision? What’s the overall experience been like so far?
TS: So far, the reception has been extremely great. Since the emergence of Drake, The Weeknd, Melanie Fiona, Shi Wisdom and Andreena, Sean Leon – all of these really cool artists, people across the border are just more receptive. The door is wide open as far as I’m concerned. I kind of have to take advantage of the fact that the door is wide open and try to just kind of kick it down a little bit more. That is what I would like to do. I’ve never been a small thinker. I’ve never been able to think on such a small level. Everything in Toronto to me is very contained. I just want everyone to be able to soar. I just don’t think small. It’s not my way, it’s never been my way. People have tried to contain me. For such a long time, they’ve tried to contain me and tried to contain my dreams and my ideas and I just don’t allow it. As a result of it, people have kind of followed suit and joined the ranks along with my little Known Unknown team. It’s really cool. It’s really great to see something that you believe in, especially seeing something as small as a mustard seed come to fruition. It’s dope to know that people believe in your vision and believe in you. I kind of needed to take a break from Toronto, all puns intended, and just kind of be in a space that’s a little overwhelming so that I can be inspired to work much harder. There are a lot of really great things that are going to be happening in the 2014 year and I’m pretty elated about it.
BP: People say that Toronto doesn’t have it’s own unique regional sound or industry, that it’s more of just a scene. You briefly touched on this. Can you elaborate on that a little more?
TS: I disagree completely. I feel like we definitely have a sound. I feel like our sound has evolved and has shifted into it’s own thing. I think that you know, back in the day with the Jully Black’s and the Kardinal Offishall’s and the Black Jay’s, The Choclair’s, The Maestro’s, you know the Melanie Durrant’s and whoever else at the time, the Solitaire’s and whatnot, they had their sound. They had a vision. I think that a lot of the music back then was simply just well before its time. I think that I can listen to a Melanie Durrant record and be like, ‘This would bump right now.’ It’s so weird, a lot of the stuff it’s just – it’s just that people weren’t ready to receive. Now people are a lot more open. They respect it, they’re open, they’re open-minded, they give a shit. I think it’s great. I don’t think that anybody should stop trying. If you’re an artist from “back in the day,” don’t even attempt to stop. Continue to try. The door is wide open, just try to break through it. It is what it is. Everybody deserves a fair shot. Everybody.
Read Part 2 of Tika’s interview here
Interview by Sandra Stanisa | Words by Mehek Seyid