Age has been on STORRY’s mind lately.
Years after learning to adapt to the world of seedy strip clubs, STORRY feels she is clawing back against time.
“Clocks on walls, time keeps ticking, days unfold, time keeps slipping, fears of silver strands that glisten, proof that we done smiled,” says STORRY, reciting the poetry of her latest song “Worth.”
“We live in a world where new is better and what becomes old is an increasingly shorter window,” says STORRY about the concept of the song.
Youth inextricably tied to this idea of self-worth.
Her debut album, CH III: The Come Up, didn’t do as well commercially as she would have liked. A former exotic dancer, she slowly began transitioning into a music career.
The career change was not some spur-of-the-moment decision. No, STORRY had been a classically trained musician schooled in opera before an abusive boyfriend came into the picture. Music was a lifelong dream.
“I was singing my ABCs into the microphone from the age of two,” recalls STORRY.
STORRY suffered physical, emotional, and verbal abuse in the relationship. She wasn’t allowed to perform, she wasn’t allowed to read books, or even go on social media. Her boyfriend coerced her into stripping and then took all the money. For eight years, she had no creative outlet. After a visit to a Jackson Pollock exhibit, she turned to oil painting to escape.
Like Pollock, STORRY creates her art from a raw emotional place. Her debut album was part memoir, detailing her leaving sex work and bound in a co-dependent relationship.
Life had been hard.
Raised in the high-need Toronto neighbourhood of Rexdale, STORRY’s family often fought over money. A chaotic household, her parents eventually split. STORRY says her mother was the rock in the family her entire life. It formed a bit of her codependency, she admits.
"Everyone started saying to me I was too old to start. That I better hurry. That no matter how talented I was, I better hurry. I better hurry. And so I hurried."
Her parents had always encouraged her art and her singing. Particularly, her mother had been supportive of STORRYs artistic career.
But they would fight a lot as her mother knew she was hiding something.
“I thought my family would disown me if they found out that I was a stripper,” says STORRY. “During the time I was in an abusive relationship, she sensed that something was wrong. But she didn’t know what it was."
Once the relationship ended, STORRY embarked on a journey of self-discovery in India. A three-month retreat, kicking off with her mother joining her for the first three weeks, she headed for the beach.
“I went into the water, and then the waves smacked me into the ground face-first. I went right into the sand. I got up, and I started laughing,” says STORRY.
A fit of laughter induced by years of repressed emotions.
“I ran up back to my mom with tears in my eyes laughing. I hugged her and told her how much I loved her. And I realized that I hadn’t laughed in eight years. All those years that I was abused by my ex-boyfriend... I hadn’t laughed,” recounts STORRY.
This seems strange for an artist as gifted a writer as STORRY. Those familiar with her music know she infuses humour into her songwriting with a caustic wit.
“Laughter is healing,” she explains.
At first, she had no plans to return to music. Instead, she had begun planning to open a vegan restaurant with her aunt upon returning to Canada.
After receiving what she believed to be omens in India, she’s since made up for lost time.
Reflecting on her time as an exotic dancer, STORRY tells me she learned how to be more secure with herself. How she noticed that personality came into play. How the ability to make someone comfortable was key. While other girls around her were getting plastic surgery, STORRY was secure with her body.
That changed when she went into the music industry.
“I never considered botox until the last couple years trying to break into this industry.”
As a woman in the industry, STORRY has had to put up with a lot. Her abusive ex-boyfriend had been a small-time music producer that lured her in with broken promises and false hopes.
While there have been some efforts to address the music industry’s misogyny with the rise of the #metoo movement, predators are still prevalent throughout.
STORRY explains a range of experiences:
“I had people invite me to ‘meetings’ at their house at 11 o’clock at night that turn into them trying to get me into bed. Then when I’m nicely declining and trying to leave and trying not to hurt this person’s ego—to never hearing from them again [sic].”
“They know their position can make or break what I’m doing in the industry,” adds STORRY.
It goes from the obvious to something a bit more subtle.
“This one guy, and he was young…. I really respected his music, and I really wanted to work with him. He was like, ‘Yeah, let’s get together.’ He goes, ‘Okay, let’s meet up.’ I think it was 10 o’clock at night or something. I’m like, ‘Okay, sure. Let’s grab a late drink.’ So we’re chatting and I open up to him about a lot of things I’m trying to do with my music and….he goes in to kiss me,” says STORRY.
After politely declining the guy’s advances, she was no longer invited to an industry event the next day.
It’s hard not to think youth and beauty are not somehow tied to success in the industry.
“Everyone started saying to me I was too old to start. That I better hurry. That no matter how talented I was, I better hurry. I better hurry. And so I hurried. I worked so hard. I tried networking. I used every dollar that I made from dancing—to just try to do everything I could have to make this dream a reality.”
STORRY is not alone in feeling that arrested development may be beneficial. The creeping of age bears down at us all. But STORRY has a bright future.
She’s already been nominated for a JUNO award and has taught herself how to produce. Her video for “Up,” a claymation short, won the award for Best Editing at the Montreal International Wreath Film Festival and Best Animated Music Video at jellyFEST in L.A.
Her art has resonated with artists like Junia-T and Jessie Reyez. With a voice like Amy Lee and songwriting abilities similar to Frank Ocean, it’s no wonder.
As time goes on, she will only be more recognized for her brilliance.