When it comes to Toronto, a certain sound and image comes to mind almost immediately. With a cold, airy approach to rap and R&B, the Toronto sound has become so oversaturated that even Drake has started to abandon it in favor of everything from dancehall and bounce, to Atlanta trap and Memphis rap. Young duo MONEYPHONE, just like the infallible MorMor before them, hope to help redefine Toronto's musical image.
Comprised of high-school friends Enoch and David, MONEYPHONE blend rap with off-kilter bedroom pop while switching duties between each other. It's a collaborative effort through and through, and as Enoch, who was born in Zimbabwe before immigrating to Canada in 2005, explains, it's beneficial to their creative process. "We're always teaching each other new stuff so there's really no set roles."
Their music sits somewhere between the charming homebrewed pop of Clairo and the adventurous rap of Brockhampton, and they do it while retaining an identity that's defined by their Canadian surroundings. With their latest track, "On Lock," they've found a sweet spot. After working on a number of projects together, they're showing off how developed their chemistry already is, leaving us eagerly anticipating their forthcoming second EP, Athletes.
Watch the premiere of the "On Lock" video below, and read our interview with MONEYPHONE below.
How did you two meet?
Enoch: Me and David have been friends for seven years now, we met in high school. We used to skate together and eat pizza in my moms basement. We stayed friends through high school and moved in together when we both moved to Toronto.
David: We both grew up in a very small town just north of Toronto. There was never really much to do there if you didn’t play hockey or some other sport, so it was pretty hard to make friends. I think that’s what made us gravitate towards one another so early on and is the same thing that allows us to make music together now.
Did it take a while to form the sound you were going for, or was it pretty immediate when you came together?
Enoch: I’m going to say immediate because we’ve known each other for so long, and we didn’t have time for it to not be. When we wrote Athletes, the project that "On Lock" is on, we gave ourselves a two week deadline for that and four other songs.
We set out to make a pop project, but knew traditional pop music wasn’t for us. To us pop isn’t really a genre, it’s just a really high level of communication—so all MONEYPHONE is about is combining all of our favorite ideas and inspirations and processing them in a way where we can share them with everybody.
David: We knew each other for years before ever deciding to make music together. Before MONEYPHONE, we were both heavily invested in a career as individual artists while also being roommates. We would collaborate here and there but never had anything concrete as the two of us. Once we started working together, everything just made sense. The sound came together really quick because we each had an understanding of how the other person works and the type of music they like.
Do you hope to show people a different side of Toronto?
David: We moved to Toronto about three years ago. Since then, we’ve been involved with music through a bunch of different groups. We spent time performing under our own individual names, as a collective, as a band, then finally arrived at MONEYPHONE. Throughout our time we’ve seen how homogeneous and insular music in this city can be and we want to change that.
Enoch: It was kind of frustrating because it felt like you had to either be in an indie band or OVO-sounding to be noticed. Me and David never really fell into those categories. That’s why we chose to label ourselves as pop. I feel as if there's been a reclaiming of that label, taking it away from its corporate overtones and into something way more personal, something for everybody to feel as if they belong. We feel like it’s been missing in the city, and we want to help bring it here.
I heard about you guys via Ryan Hemsworth, so how does it feel to already have some established fans? How was he aware of what you were doing, too?
Enoch: It’s tight because we never planned for anything like that. MONEYPHONE was an experiment we started for fun last summer and it’s been cool having people enjoy it in real life. Ryan caught wind of our stuff through our friend Devon Little, who liked our first EP, Tolerance.
What are your thoughts on the current musical landscape, and what do you hope to bring to it?
David: It’s been cool seeing the reintroduction of pop happen in real time. It just represents the fact that labels and genre don’t really matter but you can still make something personal that’s for everyone. We look at acts like London O'Connor, MorMor and Superorganism as great contemporaries who are pushing and redefining what it means to make pop. I hope we bring that same energy and challenge people's notions of what exactly pop music is while still challenging ourselves.
One of the most important things we work towards is creating songs that are distinct. No MONEYPHONE song sounds the same as another because we are always blending new genres and ideas to put into our own perspective without being repetitive.
Enoch: "On Lock" was made at the same time as a G-Funk song that didn’t make the EP. It’s all pop to us.
Tell me more about "On Lock."
Enoch: "On Lock" is about a girl I used to love. That being said, once Jonah wrote and sang on the song, it became less about a person and more about friendship. One of me and David’s oldest friends sings alongside us on the first verse, he’s the first voice you hear. I feel like working on the video cemented this, just because we had to shoot it remotely as we live in different cities at the current moment. It never really felt like a chore, it felt like combining clips from old home movies and putting them together. I got to watch clips David would send me, smile and think about home.
David: This song is really important to me because of how stripped back it is. We usually gravitate towards layering track after track when we make music. It’s nice to take a step back and create something that is simple while still being meaningful. I think the video reflects that. It’s pretty and thought-out but it was all shot with an iPhone, something nearly everyone has.
Listen to MONEYPHONE's debut EP Recovery below.