Andreena
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Andreena

Toronto, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2002 | INDIE | AFM

Toronto, Canada | INDIE | AFM
Established on Jan, 2002
Solo R&B Alternative

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Jul
28
Andreena @ Belleeny's Martini Lounge

Vaughan, Ontario, Canada

Vaughan, Ontario, Canada

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Toronto has a hearty heritage when it comes to R&B. Throughout the years, there has always been a plethora of talented R&B singers coming out of The 6, including the likes of Deborah Cox, Melanie Fiona, Keshia Chante and Jully Black. One of the strongest names in the conversation for local R&B dominance is Andreena. Formerly known as Andreena Mill, her voice could be heard on Kardinal Offishal and Drake deep cuts, but she seemed to disappeared from the public eye soon after she was dubbed the "first lady of the ATF" by Drake (ATF was the collective than was then transformed into OVO). Now, after packing up and moving to the West Coast, she's ready to make a bigger mark on music than she ever could have in Toronto.

Andreena’s musical ability was discovered at a young age. Her father, a musician, realized she had a musical gift when she was three years old. He enrolled her in piano lessons the following year, and by the time she was 11, she started recording and writing her own material. The beginning of high school was far from normal for Andreena as she dove head first into the music industry, becoming a member of the Canadian female R&B trio X-Quisite, alongside Nicole Holness and Melanie Fiona, in 2001. One of her career highlights was in 2002, when the group achieved success with the release of two singles, “No Regrets” and “Don’t Say.” The songs resulted in a Canadian Urban Music Award and Juno Award nominations in 2003. The experience was bittersweet for Andreena, as she went through more lows than highs when the politics that come along with the industry reared their ugly head. She dealt with bad deals and bad management, until finally deciding that it was time to try and break out on her own.

Andreena’s pursuit of a solo career began in 2004, and by late 2010 she had signed a publishing deal with Universal Music Publishing in New York, leading to collaborations with artists such as DMX and Drake. Presently, she's buried herself in the woodwork as she perfects her songwriting talent while singing occasionally. She released her latest album Naked last summer, which led to a positive critical reception.

We to spoke to Andreena on the day of her show in Albany, Georgia, about the R&B scene in Toronto, her hatred of the Junos and advice she has for aspiring female R&B singers.
Noisey: You shortened your music name to Andreena as opposed to Andreena Mill. Why did you decide to do that?
Andreena: My last name is Miller, it’s not Mill. And Mill was kind of, a decision that was just made by old management, cause everyone always used to call me Mill. And when I stopped working with that management, I just wanted to do a whole revamp of everything, and just wanted to do things my way. So, I dropped the Mill, cuz it’s not actually my last name, and I wanted to go by Andreena. You know, everyone always gives me nicknames. So, I just wanted people to call me by my actual name.

Describe the R&B scene in Toronto.
There are a lot of R&B singers in Toronto. The R&B scene is actually pretty dope. There’s a lot of people that are doing R&B in Toronto, there’s a lot of producers that do R&B in Toronto. I just feel like its identity as a whole, when it comes to the Canadian industry, is not as accepted as I feel it should be. Especially by now. But there’s a huge R&B scene in Toronto, it’s just taking some time for us to really get it off the ground.

You describe your sound as “Electric Rock’n Soul”. Could you expand on that?
At the end of it all, the root of my sound is soul music. If you listen to my album there are definitely influences and different types of music and sounds that are not necessarily a staple in the R&B world. For me it’s just taking something that is usually standard, piano, drums, guitar, bass, and just expanding on it with different sounds. That’s really what this music is.

Whatever happened to you being the “first lady of the ATF” with Drake?
When we did “Closer To My Dreams,” I was nine months pregnant. When we did “Last Hope,” my daughter was three weeks old. From there, he continued to do what he does and took the bull by the horns. But me, my priority became my daughter. So I stayed in Toronto. And that’s really what I had to focus on. She comes first, she comes first before me being the first lady of anything, you know? She’s my first lady.

Are you still in contact with Drake?
Yeah, him and I are still cool. But at the end of the day I feel like, everybody has their journey, and everybody has their path. For me, I don’t want to do anything anybody else’s way. He definitely has created an amazing blueprint for anybody coming out of the city. For me it’s like, now that my daughter is much older, I’m able to take the time and really refine my craft. And do what I do, and do it the way that I wanna do it, you know?
The visuals for “As Deep As Your Love” have gotten a lot of love on YouTube. How gratifying is it to know that the video has reached so many people?
I think it’s great. Working with BLKDMNDS (the video media company), they’re the ones who released the album. Rez, the director, we came up with the concept together based on the lyrics of the song. And I feel like it’s something that people really need to see. I feel like R&B now, there is no realness behind what love is and what heartbreak is. It’s kinda just like, “Whatever, you hurt me. Whatever, I don’t care.” But these things happen, these types of situations happen. And I feel like sometimes it’s just better to be honest, so that people can actually relate to it. So I’m definitely happy that people are watching it. And it will grow, and people can kind of see that things like this, you don’t have to be ashamed to know that you go through things like this.

You released your debut album Naked last summer. What has the response been like?
It’s been great. Naked was the first record that I put out, separate from my old management and from everything I was doing before. It was definitely an album that took me a year to create. I was really going through a rough time when I began creating Naked, so to hear the great responses after it came out is a blessing, when you put so much effort and work into something, and then you’re not sure if people are actually gonna like it. And people actually do like it. It’s really amazing. It’s been amazing. It’s kinda hard to put into words sometimes.

You have collaborated with a slew of big name artists in the past. Do you have any upcoming projects with other artists?
I kinda have a few things up my sleeve. But, for the most part, I’m working on another album, and I’m mainly focusing on songwriting. I’m just trying to get in the studio and write for other artists. But in regards to collaborations, on the hip-hop side, not really. I really wanna expand to different worlds. Get into the house world, the EDM world, and all that kinda stuff. I’m kinda straying slowly away from the hip-hop, even though I love it. I’ve done it so much. I’ve done a lot of it.

What did you think of the nominees, and the winner of the award for R&B at the Juno Awards?
I don’t know who won the Juno Award, but fuck the Junos! Straight up.

Why do you say that?
Cause they don’t care, they don’t care when it comes to the R&B scene, and they don’t care when it comes to the hip-hop scene! They don’t care! Fuck the Junos, straight up! They don’t care. I’m not gonna play nice and be like, “Oh, well congratulations to the winner.” I don’t even know who won, cause I didn’t watch that shit! It’s all bullshit! I don’t care about the Junos. They use people, they pretend that they wanna expose great talent when they don’t. That’s why the R&B and hip-hop scene in Canada struggles. Cause they don’t accept, they don’t really pay attention to who’s really working. They don’t really pay attention to what’s really going on in the industry. Fuck the Junos! I don’t even wanna talk about them.

What advice would you give to a young woman who is thinking about pursuing a career as an R&B singer?
As an R&B singer, I would definitely tell young woman to keep their integrity. Always stay creative, try to break the boundaries when it comes to R&B. I think sometimes people think that there's a certain type of sound that needs to stay pure. I feel like it can be expanded. So for a female, it doesn’t always have to be about sexuality and showing what you have. If you really say something, and stand for something more than just that, you'll be fine. - Noisey : Music By Vice


When Toronto native Andreena was small, she hated the sound of her own voice. She expressed herself through childlike raps until her father, a professional reggae musician, said: “We all know you can sing. Just sing.”

In her hometown, some think she is the most slept-on R&B act in the city. Andreena’s latest album, Naked, demonstrates why: Over an hour of pure R&B, Andreena creates an uncompromising longform confession with her wildly capable voice. It includes a breakup, a move back to Toronto from Los Angeles, explicit sex, and an ode to simple adult pleasure (“Mary”).

“Sometimes when I sit back and listen to it, I think, Why did I say that?!” she says. “But I know there are women who can connect to my music, so I feel I have the responsibility to be open about all aspects, whether it’s love, sex, hate—you have to be able to relate.”

Outside Canada, Andreena might still be most widely known as the owner of the killer pipes on “Closer” and “The Last Hope” from Drake’s smash 2007 mixtape, Comeback Season. But she was discovered years before, in middle school, by a supply teacher who gave her a detention and noticed her writing a song in her notebook. He asked if she sang. Soon after, with the blessing of her parents, he would invite her to become a member of Toronto’s answer to TLC: A poppy urban trio called X-Quisite, which also included a young Melanie Fiona. Andreena balanced her commitments to the group with school, often putting on her makeup in the cafeteria before doing a performance for television.
After X-Quisite broke up in 2005, Andreena worked intensively with Canadian rap names Saukrates, Boi 1da, and Kardinal Offishall. They helped mold the young singer into a songwriter-producer triple threat, teaching her that when creating, “everything is a feeling,” and that “if you can’t move to it, go on to the next song.”

After Andreena’s first mixtape, Ready To Fly, came out in 2009, she scored a deal with Universal Publishing and moved to LA, where she wrote for and performed with people like DMX. But the LA stories proved too true, and Andreena watched the exploitation that happened by others when hunger gave way to desperation. She says her Toronto music-biz foundation gave her a protective shell of self-belief.
The majority of Naked was written and co-produced by Andreena, a process that she says required being somewhere she could be herself—at home in Toronto. “An album like Naked could not have been written anywhere else.” - AUX


Andreena Mill is ready for her close-up. For years, the Toronto R&B singer-songwriter has been steadily working her way into the public eye—first as a member of an ill-fated R&B trio then through a number of singles and cameo appearances, most notably as a head-turning voice on Drake’s early material.

Now, with the release of her debut album, All Eyes On Me, Mill is moving to centre stage. When I speak with Mill, she’s in Toronto. But these days, she’s often in Los Angeles or New York working on opportunities that her Universal Music Publishing deal has provided her, like writing songs for R&B stars Keyshia Cole and Trey Songz, and collaborating with acclaimed songwriters like Brian Michael Cox who has worked with Mariah Carey, Usher and Mary J. Blige. Despite aligning with heavy hitters, Mill doesn’t seem intimidated or worried about the fate of her songs. “Sometimes they keep them, sometimes they don’t,” she says. “But you never know.”

If one thing’s for sure though, it’s that Mill’s songwriting and musical prowess was cultivated at a young age by influences such as Stevie Wonder and her reggae musician father who enrolled her in piano lessons at age four and had her songwriting by 10. “He’s been the influence when it came to me singing because I was so shy as a child and he always encouraged me,” she says. “He also showed me how to use the piano and how to start putting together songs.” While studying at the Etobicoke School of the Arts, Mill joined R&B trio X-Quisite, with Melanie Fiona and Nicole Holness, who went on to become a Grammy-nominated singer and MTV Canada host, respectively. Mill was the first member to leave, but still counts Holness and Fiona as friends.

Another artist with whom Mill formed a strong bond was Drake. On his 2007 Comeback Season mixtape, she appeared twice: “I think we share the same passion when it comes to music,” Mill, who believes they will work together again, says. “The constant discipline of being in the booth, always writing and expressing emotion, I think that’s what made us so close.” However, it was the momentum of You and Tomorrow, her collaboration with Saukrates, which made Mill take the mixtape route. After the single’s buzz, she worked with DJ Lissa Monet on 2009’s free release Ready to Fly. Soon after, Mill signed her publishing deal, widening her opportunities to write for others.

The songs Mill has written for herself on All Eyes On Me, like the single Key to Your Heart, can explore oft-unspoken vulnerabilities and frailties. “Honesty,” she says when defining the essence of her songwriting process. “Being very honest with my emotions, being honest with the things that I would say. Or trying to [create] records to make people say, ‘Yeah, I really love someone that way’ or ‘I really can’t stand someone that way.’” With Mill’s narrative writing style, it’s no wonder she focuses on words, even during live shows. “I like to switch things up so people can really hear what’s being said or catch the emotion of the song rather than just the beat.”

That, however, doesn’t mean she is averse to working with skilled beat makers. The album features various Toronto producers such as Boi-1da, Tone Mason, her main collaborator Snaz and Mill herself. “I wanted the album to be based on the sound that’s from this city,” Mill says. “That’s why I chose to collab’ with a lot of the producers from here.” It’s also Mill’s way of ensuring that despite the growing demand for her talents and time across the border, home remains a focal point. “I grew up on reggae music and jazz, and a lot of people around me did as well,” she says. “They are who I work with, so you just kind of take everything and mould it together and it becomes this. It’s the sound of Toronto. It’s loud! It’s fresh!” - Sway Magazine


"Slick"; it's the word that pops to mind when absorbing Toronto, on-based Andreena's new body of work. A fixture on the T.O. R&B/soul scene (likely known by most for 2011 synth-pop single "Key 2 Your Heart"), with Naked, Andreena looks at "telling it like it is" from a love perspective, via the singer-songwriter and pianist's vividly personal experiences. This independent release features shimmering production (Hit-Boy, Bass Line, Spinz and Rich Kidd) and a glossy lyrical take on contemporary R&B. At 22 tracks (including skits and interludes), the free-to-download LP feels a bit heavy, but maintains a coherent vibe throughout. The playful "My Boo" comes off a bit trendy, but tracks like "As Deep As Your Love," "That's What Love Will Do," "Anything" and "The Ones" (which leverages a nicely used "Souls of Mischief by way of Billy Cobham" hip-hop sample) display Andreena in her modern R&B element — soulful, truthful, ethereal. "Song Cry" best represents the project as a whole; it features a sprightly, "ride with me" urban sound reminiscent of a Keyshia Cole, only on a more lyrically skilled and vocally talented level. (Independent) - Exclaim! Magazine


Discography

Andreena
DISCOGRAPHY (released music)

X-Quisite - "X-Quisite" (Album) 2002
Gary Beals - "Sunny Days" (writer additional vocals) 2005

Gary Beals - "I've Changed" (writer additional vocals) 2005

Saukrates Feat Kardinal Offishall & Andreena - "Doin it"
(single feature) 2002
Andreena "Rewind" (single) 2006

Drake Feat Andreena Mill - "Closer To My Dreams" (single feature) 2008
Drake Feat Andreena Mill & Kardinal Offishall - "Last Hope" (single feature) 2008
Theology3 Feat Andreena Mill & Tona - "How I Flow" (single feature) 2008
Andreena Mill Feat Saukrates - "You and Tomorrow" (single) 2008


Drake Feat Andreena Mill - "Closer To My Dreams" (single feature) 2008
Drake Feat Andreena Mill & Kardinal Offishall - "Last Hope" (single feature) 2008
Theology3 Feat Andreena Mill & Tona - "How I Flow" (single feature) 2008
Andreena Mill Feat Saukrates - "You and Tomorrow" (single) 2008

Andreena Mill & DJ Lissa Monet Present: Ready To Fly (Album) 2009

Saukrates-FadesAwayfeat Andreena.KingReign&Drake2 009
French Montana - Raining In Harlem Feat Dame Grease and Andreena
(single feature/co producer) 2009

Andreena Mill - "La La La" (single) 2010
Saukrates - "Hot Like Summer" (single feature) 2010
Andreena Mill - "Key To Your Heart" (single
Andreena Mill - "All Eyes On Me" (Album) 2011

Toronto Blue Jays - 2011 Season Commercial Series (Music Producer)
Andreena Mill - "All Eyes On Me" (Japan album re-release) 2012
Meek Mill - "Traumatized" (additional vocals)(single) 2012

DMX Feat Andreena Mill - "Cold World" (single feature/co producer) 2012

DMX Feat Andreena Mill - "Last Hope" (single feature) 2012
DMX Feat Andreena Mill - "No Love" (single/co producer) 2012
Saigon Feat - Andreena Mill - "When Will You Love Me" (single feature) 2012
Andreena - Boss Chick (single) 2012

Andreena - Naked (Album) 2013

The Airplane Boys - "T.I.D.E.S" (single feature) 2013
Maurice Feat Andreena - "Rollercoaster" (single feature) 2014
Son Real - "All" feat Andreena (single feature) 2014

Tre Mission - "Money Make Her" feat Andreena (single feature) 2014
Tre Mission "Real Grind" feat Andreena 2014 (single feature/co producer)
Wiley - "Born In The Cold" Feat Andreena (single feature) 2014
Andreena - Do It All Again (Single) 2014

Down With Webstar - "Going Nowhere" (co-writer/co producer)

Andreena - #TheReverse (Mixtape) 2015

Andreena - Ammo (single) 2015

Andreena - Greatest Love (single) 2015

Tass Nata - Flight Path Featuring Andreena (single feature) 2015

Future - Like I Never Left Documentary "Honest" (acoustic piano remake) 2015
Future - "No Basic" (acoustic piano remake for @1future social media campaign) 2015
Future - "Real and True" (acoustic piano remake with @1future social media campaign) 2015
Alldayyo Kayyo - Trials Feat. Andreena (single feature) 2016

) 2011

Peter Jackson - "Good Chick" Featuring Andreena and P. Dollas (single feature) 2016
Future -"Summer 16 Tour Introduction" (production) 2016

KeysNKrates X KRANE Feat Andreena - Right Here (Single) 2017

Demetria McKinney - All or Nothing (Single) (writer) 2017
Andreena - Acoustic Covers Vol. 3 (mixtape) 2017
Edidon - "Love Will Do" (co producer) 2017

The Outlawz - God's Plan (co producer) 2017
Andreena - I.F.O (single)

Andreena - Catch Me (Single) 2017 


Photos

Bio

When it comes to music there isn’t anything Andreena a native of Toronto Canada is afraid of trying. The singer songwriter producer and DJ has collaborated with many of the industry's brightest stars such as Drake, DMX, Future and has had the opportunity to work with and study under fellow Toronto Grammy award winning producers Matthew “Boi 1Da” Samuels and Noah “40” Shebib. The raspy spoken pianist is a writer for Universal Music Publishing Group who has had her music placed in feature films, TV shows and commercials. Being able to contort her abilities she has landed several Juno awards nominations and is also producing music for other artist, and scoring documentaries.

Over the years Andreena’s sound has evolved from the “bright and upbeat r&b/pop ballads” to what she calls “Dark/Soul”. “BLK LT$” (pronounced Black Lotus) her production moniker continues to shed light on the gritty side of her personality. With raw in your face lyrics, sensual melodies, she finds a way to marry bone rattling basslines and head knocking drums beats to sonically hypnotic, futuristic yet nostalgic instrumentation.

“With Love…” the self written and produced album is slated for a fall 2017 release. This album is her ‘ode to love, lust and loss’. With the bottom heavy lead single "Catch Me" produced by OSRS Andreena is taking risks, digging deeper and continuing to paint raw pictures through her music . Collaborating with EDM group Keys N Krates and DJ/Producer KRNE on "Riding With You" at the top of 2017 and the intimate visuals for "I.F.O" Andreena is finally allowing BLK LT$ to display to the world, how she has finally bloomed.

Band Members