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Burning Desiire

Live performance is back in AGO’s Walker Court, with the R&B stylings of Desiire.

Image of the musician looking straight at the viewer in a red light

Image courtesy of the artist

On Wednesday, August 31, the AGO welcomes back live music to Walker Court in a big way – with an exclusive performance by Toronto-based R&B sensation, Desiire. Since 2020, RBC has provided a platform for emerging Canadian artists to showcase their music and share their story through the First Up with RBCxMusic program. This performance is an opportunity to celebrate one of the program's alumni.

Desiire is a queer, Congolese, Toronto-based singer-songwriter who delivers a unique blend of R&B, Afrobeat, jazz and electronic to create music that is filled with hypnotic instrumentals and moody complexities. Recently, Desiire shared with us  about his process for making music, his love of fashion, and his history with the AGO. 

AGOinsider: Your music blends a number of musical genres. Have you always had eclectic taste in music? Can you describe your process of blending genres together when creating? 

Desiire: Growing up in different parts of the world has allowed me to be free with the genres of music I connect to. Aside from being an artist, I consider myself a huge fan of music in general so incorporating different styles into my sound has always been second-nature. As a queer, African immigrant artist, I am always thinking about how to provide a worldly listening experience and connect the dots between all of my influences. All of these things sit at the back of my mind when I am in the studio creating and writing. It's also always important for my collaborators to share the same musical values. The music industry is one that likes to box and label artists with specific genres so I am looking forward to continuing to challenge this concept with my sonic journey. 

AGOinsider: You have such a dynamic and unique sense of fashion, which appears to be a big part of your artistry. Can you describe your relationship with fashion, and how it contributes to your work as a performer? 

Desiire: I have always been a visual person. Creating a world to accompany the music is one of my favourite parts of the process and I have always found fashion to be a clear way to showcase my personality and give people more of an insight as to who I am as a creator. In the beginning of my career, fashion was instrumental in building up my confidence in my artistry. Ideas that I fail to express in my music are often injected into my visual presentations. All of my favourite icons and artists from Grace Jones to Fela Kuti, Kelis, Andre 3000, etc., have left a strong imprint in the fashion world alongside their music so I hope to follow in their footsteps and continue to do the same with my career.

AGOinsider: Are there any works of art or exhibitions at the AGO that resonate with you? 

Desiire: I am extremely excited to be performing at the AGO. Being able to present my live show in such a beautiful setting is very thrilling and I am looking forward to making this a special experience for the audience. I've always loved all of my visits at the Gallery throughout the years. My favourite visit so far has to be Jean-Michel Basquiat: Now's The Time in 2015. Being able to witness the works of one of the most incredible and celebrated Black visual artists of all time was an experience I will never forget. I remember leaving the Gallery feeling so full of life and creativity and it's stayed with me ever since. Hoping to circle this energy back to my live show.

AGOinsider: What do you have in the works? Any upcoming releases and/or performances you’d like to tell us about? 

Desiire: Currently I’m working on my upcoming album, which has been in the works for a couple years now. I’m looking forward to being able to create and share a body of work that engages all of my influences and digs a little deeper into my background and story. This has been a long time coming and I am excited to get to share my sonic and visual ideas in a new way with this project.

Don’t miss Desiire, live in Walker Court, Wednesday, August 31. He will perform back-to-back sets at 7 and 8 pm. Both performances are included in the  price of admission. 

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