by Natalie Nguyen, Artscape Intern
Meet 19-year-old Kiduse Gezahegn, otherwise known as Ducey, an up and coming R&B singer from Toronto, who has already caught the eye of singer, songwriter, Jessie Reyez. He’s also one of 12 participants in the 2019 Ada Slaight Youth Arts Mentorship Program, at Daniels Spectrum in Regent Park. The program, supported by the Ada Slaight Foundation, pairs youth participants with mentors and provides them with knowledge and insight into their respective art forms, bringing in guest speakers to share their experiences and expertise, and exposing participants to various aspects of their creative fields.
Here, Ducey spills about his start in the music industry, his influences, what being in the program is really like and how it’s pushing him forward.
What has been your music journey so far? How have you gotten to where you are now?
I first started making Instagram covers when the videos used to be 15-seconds on Instagram. I posted my first cover and a lot of people liked it, so I kept going. Then I posted one cover that blew [up], it got 29,000 views and I was just like, “Oh wow, a lot of people actually like me”. So I started making songs and wrote my own music and a lot of people liked that. And I’m here now, I just dropped my 5th single.
That’s incredible, congrats on the viral video! What kind of attention did you get from it?
That’s when I got Jessie Reyez’s attention and that’s when I met her as well, it was just crazy. I tagged her in the post for a contest she was running and she liked and commented saying, “Wow, I really want to meet you.” So we met up and it was so dope. How she is online is how she is in real life; she’s amazing!
What are your main influences when it comes to your music?
I always look at the OG’s like Usher, Chris Brown, and I go back to soul/ballads like John legend. I also try to be in the same room as people who have the same vision as me. The circle I’m in now pushed me to be a better Ducey, that’s what I always wanna be.
So, your latest single, Fallin, came out in February. Tell me about how it came about and what’s it about?
Well obviously it’s about a girl. Every song I make I tell a story to fit into the project I’m making. It’s a true story with true emotions, about when you first fall in love. I wrote about where I was in that state of my life.
How was your mentorship experience?
Its funny, because we’ve only met once–we had more conference calls. Yesterday, was literally our first time meeting and we had a jam session. She’s helped me more on the business side and it’s really cool to see what she’s done [in her career]. She’s helped me learn how to distance myself from the business and the artistry.
How has the program influenced you and your music career?
It’s opened me, for sure. Like I know what I have to do to get to the place I want be. Before, I was kinda lost, but now I have a plan. My mentor has helped me understand that there’s more than just singing when it comes to this business.
What has been your biggest obstacle or challenge in your career so far?
Something that has been hindering me is marketing. I guess its kind of frustrating because you keep putting all your efforts into it, then its like, “Oh, 4000 views cool”. That’s why I’m in marketing at George Brown, to see what marketing strategies we can use to help my manager.
What do you feel is the most valuable part of the program?
It literally depends how much effort you put into it, because the benefits that come out of it is the connections to the people who came. Like now I have the guest facilitators on social media, so I can always connect with them, all because of the relationships I built through the program. You really reap the benefits after the program is done.
What was the best piece of advice you were given during your mentorship?
It was last week from a guest facilitator, Brock, who runs the Remix program. He said what you need to do to be successful is to try to see how you can fill a void in music. You’ll see your numbers grow because you’re filling something that people can relate to. It really changed my perspective.
What do you hope to achieve in the future or any dream projects?
I mean, baby steps, like I just wanna grow as an artist, I’m still trying to find my sound. Once I find my sound, I know everything will come into place.
Ducey performed live on May 24th, at Juven-essence – the Ada Slaight Youth Arts Mentorship Program showcase at Daniels Spectrum. Check out his latest music video here.