Interview - Calgary Is Awesome

Up Close & Personal with Joanna Borromeo

Written by Shaleen Ladha | April 13, 2014

Joanna Borromeo is a local Calgary musician, who is up and coming in the soul/jazz music scene. She is currently in the CBC Searchlight competition where CBC Music and CBC Radio One are looking for Canada’s next musical genius. The winner will receive $20,000 worth of music equipment from Yamaha Canada Music, a professional recording with CBC Music and a chance to work with Calgarians Tegan and Sara, as well as Spoon at the CBCMusic.ca festival in Vancouver. Joanna’s album “Kaleidoscope,” was also nominated in the 2014 Juno Awards for “R&B/Soul Recording of the Year” I had the chance to interview this talented young woman this week to get a little insight into her journey through music, as well as her thoughts about our fantastic city.

1) What made you want to start singing?

I guess Paula Abdul, when she came out with her first record, the one with “Opposites Attract.” I was super in love with her as a young girl, back when there were minus one tapes.  I would crawl onto my parents coffee table, play her karaoke machine tracks and I would pretend I was her, singing and dancing on the table, holding a microphone. Mariah Carey was the next one. I started writing songs when I was 15.  I loved listening to pop, r&b, hip-hop, and soul and I produced my first song with a 16-track sequencer. When I was 16, I entered my high school’s talent show and performed my own original.  It made me think I could do this professionally one day and since then I’ve been like, “AHH MUSIC!”

2) Who were/are your biggest musical inspirations growing up? Have they changed?

It started with Paula Abdul and Mariah Carey.  And then Erykah Badu, as well as D’Angelo. Those are my two big ones. And Amel Larrieux. I really loved her energy. They heavily influenced me when I was in high school and college.

3) What genre of music would you classify your music to fall under?

Indie Soul

4) What is your favoruite album of all time?

Of all time!? WOW! I would have to say Ahmad’s Blues by a jazz pianist named Ahmad Jamal, and D’Angelo’s Voodoo.

5) If you could work with any musician, dead or alive, who would it be?

I would actually work with two producers: Robin Hannibal and Jeremy Most. Jeremy is a guitar player and also a really mean ‘keyboard drums’ player.  He produces records for Emily King. It’s the same for Hannibal – I love the style of his production.

6) How has living in Calgary contributed to your musical success?

The city has given me the room to stretch out. That’s the cool thing about Calgary for people who have a vision. You can do it here. It’s an amazing thing.

7) We heard about your Juno Nomination. Congrats! How did you feel when you heard the great news?

I was elated! I was like, “YEAH!” It was cool, it was something I wanted. I even wrote it on my mirror – “I want a Juno nomination”.  When you want something, write it down. When I got it, I couldn’t believe it worked. So now I do it all the time with the things I want, my goals and the lessons I want to learn.

8) Your album Kaleidoscope did very well. How do you think you can top this album?

Thank you! I think I can top it for sure. I know myself as a musician and artist. I’m constantly wanting to evolve. With the next record, I think I’m maturing as a songwriter and being more bold with my musical tastes.

9) Can you give some advice to other up and coming local talent?

YES! The key to success is persistence. And then practice. Practice your butt off! Music FIRST! Also, don’t pay attention to what other people are doing and don’t compare yourself to others. Its super important to not compare your journey to other people’s journey.

10) Tell us a little bit about your experience so far with CBC Searchlight?

I really like their format. I think its very “Canadian” of them to make sure we are searching for other talent and voting every day for multiple people competing against us. I’ve got the chance to connect with some great bands from all corners of Canada, and its been a very great way to motivate me to be more active on social media, get my name out there and make videos. It has also been a good platform to tell the world about upcoming projects.  I’ve got a video single coming out in a couple weeks that I’m super excited about!

11) Last but not least, what do you think makes Calgary so awesome?

I think what makes Calgary so awesome is the potential it has. It’s full of nice people and it’s got a really great sense of community. It’s a big city and has a chance to not make the same “big city” mistakes as other big cities.  That’s what makes it awesome!