Skip to main content
Open this photo in gallery:

Nigerian-born Toronto DJ has released her first album Good Luck, building on two previous EP releases and her experiences DJing in European clubs.Handout

Debby Friday was DJing through Europe a few years ago, navigating its club scenes, when she was in the midst, she says, of “a whole breakdown of my life.” The musician often refers to this as a transitional period, navigating mental-health and relationship issues. But as she traversed the continent in 2017, she also had revelations: about music, and the value of musical communities, “and just, essentially, the idea of hybridity.”

It is not uncommon, in the kinds of cities she visited, such as Berlin, to weave through clubs and be exposed to new sounds in each room – hard techno giving way to pop remixes, acid house to ambient. Toronto-based Friday was already a child of the internet age, of a generation where genre means little, of influences smashing together ad infinitum. The revelations stuck with her.

It was also in this moment that she began studying how to use Logic Pro software for music production with great fervour, throwing her whole being at it. “If I find something that I’m very interested in,” Friday says, “that’s the only thing. I can be a very hyper-focused person.”

Friday’s debut album, Good Luck, puts that same intense focus on the hybridity she embraced back in 2017. It sounds like a trip through a throbbing club. Industrial clashes and throbbing house transmute into pop hooks; songs about searching for oneself (So Hard to Tell) make way for the sound of self-assurance (I Got It). Even the record company releasing Good Luck on March 24, Sub Pop, brings an intertextual touch: It’s the Seattle-based label that blew up Nirvana, a rock-world mainstay, acknowledging a new generation of adventurous artistry.

Friday was born in Nigeria; her family immigrated to Montreal when she was a child. She left Montreal around the same time as her breakdown, and though she still loves the city, she says it “just didn’t have what I needed any more.” She moved to Vancouver for school and began trying her hand at production and songwriting.

Her first release, 2018′s Bitchpunk EP, embraced the abrasion of industrial music as she rapped with an intensity that sometimes verged on screaming. It was little surprise, then, that her second EP, Death Drive, was released the next year by Deathbomb Arc – the American label that has supported formative releases by artists such as Jpegmafia and Death Grips, who have long worked at hip hop’s most creative, chaotic edges.

In Vancouver, however, Friday felt stuck inside herself. She felt like she was in an “opaque kind of place,” shrouding herself rather than opening herself to vulnerability and new ideas as a song writer. After four years, decided to give Toronto a try.

Soon, Friday’s song Neight Fictive had received a remix by the producer Jonathan Snipes, while Friday jumped on a new version of his band clipping.’s song Back Up. As it happens, the group had also released music on Deathbomb Arc and then signed to Sub Pop, which had already been supportive of Friday’s work. As she shopped the album that would become Good Luck around, she says they were the only label that felt like the right fit. (Arts & Crafts is distributing the record in Canada.)

The processes of making the new album and moving to Toronto brought some welcome clarity to Friday. “I’m a lot more vulnerable, and a lot more open,” she says. “I want to feel like I’m the one saying something – I never want to feel like it’s somebody else’s voice that’s in front of mine. … I’m not shrouding things any more.”

It was this attitude that brought her to write So Hard to Tell, the first single from Good Luck and an unexpected pop song that co-exists alongside the skittering bass of songs such as Hot Love and the organized chaos of Wake Up. Hybridity remains the key to Good Luck.

“I made the skeleton of the beat, and from there, I opened my mouth and started to sing – ‘You’re just a young girl,’ ” Friday says of So Hard to Tell. She became a musician by taking a chance in a dark moment; her least-expected single came by chance at a moment when things started feeling brighter. “I don’t even know where that came from, but I had it inside of me.”