If you were a teen during the early 00s, then you probably remember how insane music was.
The early-00s featured a myriad of genres and unexpected hit singles racing up the charts. Groups like B2K dropped seductive bangers, Timbaland and Nelly Furtado’s “Promiscuous” was in everyone’s head, and rock and indie bands were everywhere.
Unfortunately, if you were a fan of the latter, Black artists in mainstream rock and indie music were nearly non-existent. TV on the Radio and Lenny Kravitz had hits, and Kimya Dawson and Fefe Dobson had very brief moments. Thankfully, today that’s changed as Black artists like Brittany Howard of the Alabama Shakes, Gary Clark Jr., and Bayli, Reef, and Kaya McKeithan of New York’s The Skins become more and more popular.
Troi Irons is the latest addition. Like artists in other genres — Lil Uzi Vert, Kelela, NAO — Troi has blended influences to create her own sound.
Speaking with ESSENCE, the singer rattles off bands and artists like Evanescence, System of a Down, and Sufjan Stevens as influences, recognizing one issue, “No one looked like me.”
And, like any Black person who doesn’t fit stereotypical ideas of blackness, Troi regularly dealt with comments like, “Oh, you’re so white.”
“They were just ignorant. But there’s a level of not knowing, like, yeah, Lenny Kravitz, you know. Jimi Hendrix, the founder of distortion, before the Beatles used distortion. The Beatles covered a lot of Chuck Berry’s songs. I’m not listening to white music and doing white things. There’s a cross pollination. It’s just an ignorant, a lack of knowledge, on influences.”
You can hear those influences in Troi’s latest EP Turbulence, which includes the track “Today.”
“I was in a crap mood when I wrote the song. I was talking to another artist about this, but the way that you see your own work transforms with time. Your song is like a year ahead of you because it’s like REM, when you’re in REM and you’re dreaming, writing the songs is the same way for me. I reach something that I haven’t reached in my conscious yet. Then a year later, I figure out what it means.”
So, a year later, Troi dropped a video for the single, which includes butterflies and transformation.
“I realized that it wasn’t much just me moping. It was about transformation and me actually venting this, exercising this stuff so that I could get to the other side.”
Up next for the singer is a video for her song “Call Me” and, hopefully, a chance to hit the road.
“I feel like now is the time for me to really go on the road and engage with people one-on-one because I feel like a lot of people online have heard the project. We’ve really only played seven, eight shows at this point. I’m trying to play 100 at least. My plan is to go on the road and then release another single that’s not on the EP, release a new song in maybe three months, then gauge around that. Maybe drop a new song in three months. Then release the album.”
She adds about performing, “It’s fun for me because being in the middle of music is really the only thing that matters.”