Tanika Charles refuses to waste another moment dwelling on the past.

The twice Juno-nominated and two-time Polaris Prize-listed Toronto R&B singer’s new song, “Different Morning” is an anthem for anyone casting aside haunting memories as if they were dusty curtains keeping out the dawn. “The majority of folks bask in the funk of being upset about relationships that didn’t go very well,” she says over Zoom ahead of the Complex Canada’s exclusive music video premiere for “Different Morning.” She adds the song (which is a single from her upcoming album) is meant to say: “You know what? Keep it moving. You know things could’ve been better, but it’s the start of a new day, new life, new you.”

Charles captures that sentiment in the video, which finds her undergoing Whitney-worthy wardrobe changes to strut along a shrub-encircled path straight out of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The video was also an exciting chance to connect in-person with the song’s featured artist that she had collaborated with digitally: skyrocketing Toronto MC DijahSB. The rapper sported an eloquent pair of spectacles for the shoot and had Charles mouthing along to some of her rhymes in some scenes. The two later stood side by side, bobbing their heads to the soulful yet bouncing beat that’s bound to straddle both their fanbases’ tastes.

That overlap was apparent to Charles from the moment she heard the track’s vibrant instrumental, courtesy of The Safe Spaceship Records, because she says, “DijahSB raps over some of the illest beats I’ve heard.” She therefore contacted DijahSB on a whim. Charles didn’t expect to hear back, only for the MC to quickly ask her to send the music. Performing together face to face for the video was a victory lap, especially after being isolated from so many fellow musicians and artists during the pandemic, says Charles, who calls DijahSB’s performance in the clip “flawless” and one of many amazing memories from the shoot.

Tanika Charles
Image via May Truong

The lead up to the “Different Morning” video was, however, not so enjoyable—though it was surprisingly in keeping with the song’s themes. A candidly thoughtful interviewee, Charles took one of many ponderous pauses during our chat before beaming a bit bashfully and admitting to some embarrassment. The reason: she dreaded the video shoot after “feeling like I ate myself into a new person” during lockdown. So much so, her then self-conscious thoughts included: “I can’t wear this, or that. But everyone on set was so welcoming and warm that I felt very safe.”

She didn’t know she needed such a cathartic experience, and hopes the video and song will do the same for an equally longing audience. “We’re all dealing with something. So there was no time for me to be a baby about my weight. But I have a tendency to get into my head, because there was time to think about everything while being locked down forever.”

And that links with another reason why Charles was so pleased to invite Canada’s most compellingly introspective MC on the song. “I love Dijah’s music because they pretty much address everything that most artists go through. On top of making just dope music, they’re way more vocal than I could ever be, especially when describing what’s happening with people in their day to day lives.”

dijah sb
Image via Publicist

DijahSB was quick to return such compliments, telling Complex Canada, “Listening to Tanika Charles is like food for the soul. She’s so good—and this is something many artists can be bad at—picking production that fits her voice.”

The rapper didn’t know about Charles’ “new day, new me” aim for the song when receiving the initial music and invitation. But DijahSB just “listened to the song and understood where to go from there. She’s such a strong writer, and that’s how I got the vibe of what to write.”

Considering their shared enthusiasm, mutual admiration and clearly apparent chemistry, let’s hope this is the first of many Tanika Charles and DijahSB collaborations. You can watch the video for “Different Morning” above, and look out for the album this single is leading up to, Papillon de Nuit: The Night Butterfly, out April 8.