Artist to watch: TRS

When TRS (Triss) was wrapping up the tracklist for her EP, hand-picking “Respectfully” as the lead single was a subconscious choice. “Respectfully feels like an introduction of sorts”, she says. “It’s the world’s introduction to me, and a reintroduction to myself”.

To this young Ethiopian-Canadian singer-songwriter, the self-growth reflected in her artistry rests on independence.  Thriving as an independent artist in the current Vancouver scene takes a village. It’s especially harder when those around you don’t look and sound like you. “Growing up in a neighborhood where I was the only black person in almost every space made it so difficult to appreciate my blackness”. TRS partnered with director Andrea Nazarian to remind us not to confuse self-empowerment with isolation. Her video celebrates the homies, and more specifically, the Black woman that cradled her artfulness. As her lyricism captures the turbulence induced by personal growth, her buttery vocals remain silky smooth. 

We spoke to TRS and gathered insights from Andrea about how “Respectfully” marks a new step in TRS’ evolution. Welcome to TRS’ world. 

Why choose ‘Respectfully’ as the first single from your EP?

TRS: It represents a version of me that doesn’t compromise her truth regardless of how anyone may feel about it. I had the tendency to cater to the feelings and comfort of others at my own expense for a long time, and that’s something I’m slowly but surely learning to let go of. Right now, my truth is that nothing and no one will come before my loved ones, my art, and building sustainable, lasting wealth for myself and my family. 

Can you tell us about the thought process behind the video? From inception, execution to conclusion.  

TRS: I’m blessed with talented, skilled, radiant friends, some of which I’ve known for most of my life. It was important that the kin I mentioned in my lyrics were represented, on and off screen. I wanted to include the themes mentioned in the lyrics as much as possible in the creation of the video, which starts with the team. The lyrics and delivery are carefree and unapologetic, which is another element I wanted to translate into the visuals. That’s where the B roll of us just chilling and being ourselves comes into play. I also have a profound love for the landscapes the city that raised me has to offer, so we had to take advantage. Andrea did a phenomenal job scouting some of the breathtaking views BC has to offer.

ANDREA: This is TRS’ first major music video and we collaborated closely in the post-production process. TRS and I had several sessions in the editing room with our post production team Red Willow, picking out the perfect clips and moments that would bring together performance, aesthetics, storytelling and sisterhood in one cohesive package that spoke to both her and also myself and here is the result!

We have the privilege of living in beautiful British Columbia and wanted to incorporate the incredible nature we have at our fingertips in this video. We chose a remote beach outside Vancouver to act as the opening scene, setting up TRS as the mysterious, confident performer that she is. To counterbalance the outdoor beauty, we also found a gorgeous, architectural location with stained glass windows – and used this space as an opportunity to showcase TRS in an otherworldly light, with coloured reflections dancing across her face and TRS’ bold makeup and wardrobe giving her a kind of alter-ego.

What was your favourite part of the filming process?

TRS: Honestly… Every part. But I might have to say the first shoot, where we got the shots of us driving through the valley in Pitt Meadows. It was all so new and exciting; we had no idea where this process would take us. Everyone involved was on set that day, and the energy was amazing. It was also the girls’ first time being on camera in that way, so watching them go from nervous to fully comfortable and embracing their inner vixen was amazing to watch.

You mentioned that the video was an ode to Black sisterhood. How central has Black sisterhood been in shaping your artistry?

TRS: Not to be dramatic but black sisterhood saved me. I was fortunate enough to belong to a tight knit Ethiopian, Eritrean community in Vancouver and be able to exist in a space where I was understood without having to explain myself. That’s where and how these lifelong friendships were formed. These girls have been in my life through so much. Honestly, I think having (at least a few) friends that look like you is a necessary lifeline.

What other themes do you explore in the EP’s four other singles? 

TRS: After the intro, a love story unfolds. It embraces the transitions between emotions of infatuation, intimacy, heartbreak, detachment, and healing that accompany going through a relationship. I also explore how love and loss can teach us about ourselves and contribute to our personal growth. It ends with another type of declaration – one that’s essentially about choosing yourself, no matter how much love you have for the other person.

How would you describe the Vancouver music scene and its influence on your art?

TRS: The Vancouver scene is fresh, innovative, and a collaborative effort. I think this new wave of artists is gonna put Vancouver on the map in a way that it hasn’t been in a long time. R&B and Hip Hop aren’t genres that Vancouver has been widely recognized for. Vancouver is filled with talent and always has been, but I have a feeling that this generation of artists and creatives are more united than ever and because of that, will make history. And that’s inspired me so much.   

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