Graph Nobel
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Graph Nobel

| INDIE | AFM

| INDIE | AFM
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The best kept secret in music

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"T-DOT'S HARD-ROCKING B-GIRL KEEPS PEOPLE GUESSING"

GRAPH NOBEL
For a 23-year-old whose recent gigs have looked more like record-industry conventions than midweek shows, Toronto singer Graph Nobel seems unsettlingly relaxed. She's already won North By Northeast's Galaxie Rising Award for best new artist, and inspired the peculiar sight of Sony chief Denise Donlon standing on her toes in an over-packed Holy Joe's to see the tiny singer onstage, even though she hasn't released a note. Graph -- born Christa Gonzales -- is lounging in a corner booth in a Queen West café, picking at a salad and trying to understand what all the fuss is about.
"It's nice that people are interested," she smiles. That's an understatement.
The label-weasel-per-square-foot count at the series of showcases Graph did at Holy Joe's this spring was incredible. In addition to Donlon, the heads of at least two other major labels were fighting for floor space with every A&R rep in town and what seemed like the entire staff of one label, while a handful of curious observers stood on the bar trying to see what all the fuss was about.

Onstage, the deceptively diminutive Graph Nobel is a tsunami, skipping between soulful singing and smooth rhyming. The amount of energy kicked up is impressive, but what also gets necks snapping is the way Graph effortlessly slips between hiphop, pop and rock.

It's very raw, but right now at least that's what's most interesting about it. A suburban b-girl who grew up listening to hiphop and pop and is plugged directly into the Toronto hiphop underground -- with connections to producers like Doc (Esthero/Res), Da Grassroots and 2Rude and singer/MC K-OS -- Graph has made the most of Toronto's uncommon openness to music, where a handful of styles can rub up against each other and purists don't get shifty.

Nobel likes to confound expectations about what kind of performer people think she should be. Those expecting something in line with the hiphop-flavoured elements of Doc's earlier projects are in for a shock.

"People see me and think, "Black chick -- she must be an R&B singer,'" she snorts, peering out the window of the Tequila Bookworm as a car full of Leafs fans drives by. "I like to take that and twist it around." Club-goers can see what that means when she plays the Bamboo Saturday (June 1) and the Rivoli as part of NXNE on June 7.

"I was really drawn to Graph in part because you don't see a lot of black people in the industry, and especially black women, who are really open to making different kinds of music," Doc says later, sipping on a Ting. "Because of how you look, you get put into a box before you even begin.

"Someone like Nelly Furtado can come out and do all these different things and be considered a genius, but people get freaked out when a black musician does the rock thing or the folk thing."

To some, the constant switching between styles comes off as amateurish, and to a degree it is. For all her overwhelming confidence and obvious potential, Christa Gonzales is still trying to figure out who she wants Graph Nobel to be.

The scary part is that her showcases were packed with people eager to mould her into the next Furtado or (yikes) Amanda Marshall.

In response, Graph hopes that when she does finally sign a deal, a record will be finished before anyone can get his or her hands in the mix.

"Record people always say after the show, "That was great. Do you know what direction you're going to go in?,'" she laughs. "I just want to answer, "All of them.' As soon as you narrow it down, it loses something.

"To me, it's just pop music, whether it's Jay-Z or Limp Bizkit or Moby. Before, these would have all been separated into different genres. Now, our generation can accept things being mixed up.

"I have a short attention span, and everyone listens to everything."

It was her initial collaborations with K-OS and a brief stint working in New York that first helped Graph establish her open-ended approach.

"I've been making music since I was a kid, but I didn't really take it seriously until I started working with K-OS and some other cats," she explains. "We were in a little rap group called Emissary, recorded two songs and then went our separate ways -- K-OS and the others got deals and I went to New York.

"I'd never been there before, but that city's such a huge influence on hiphop that I just had to go. Another girl and I had a little rap group, and she had some connections in New York, so we went down and did the rounds. It was crazy."

Trying to break out in the New York hiphop underground was an intense experience, as well as an expensive one -- "I charged it all on my credit card, and just paid off the last two years of my life last month," she laughs.

The MC's return from New York initiated a trend that has continued in her short career. Graph, in her own words, "checked into the studio and decided that I was tired of rhyming." Instead, she began creating music that veered from hard rock and straight-up pop to hiphop-flavoured folk and beyond.

A major step in that process was Graph's collaboration with Toronto-via-Minneapolis producer Doc. As head of the independent Black Corners imprint and a producer for Esthero, Res and Kelis, Doc has kept Graph's sonic options as wide open as possible, encouraging her to bruise eardrums at one incredibly loud show and play acoustically the next.

"That's my fault," Doc laughs. "Part of the thing about recording a song is that you hear it so many times and in so many ways. We start on one thing and then we'll hear a different side to it, and that completely changes the character of the song."

"I started working at a skateboard shop, and my ears were opened to a lot of different sounds," Graph adds. "I wasn't afraid to say I liked No Doubt. People in hiphop don't listen to anything else but hiphop, and I wasn't into that.

"This was also the perfect place for me. In the States, you've got to commit to one style of music. I'm still experimenting with what I'm doing. I do rock shows because I like to rock out, I like electronic songs and I like to do hiphop tracks, too."mattg@nowtoronto.com
- NOW Magazine-Matt Galloway


"Graph Nobel: Songs With True Grit"

Graph Nobel always knew she was destined to be an artist. Growing up in the outskirts of Toronto, Nobel began writing and performing her own rap songs at the age of 11. "I'd write rhymes and bang on the side of a garbage can," she says, laughing. Since her first foray into the studio at 17, Nobel has been building a steady fan base and garnering a significant amount of media interest and enthusiasm. And last summer, she won the award for best new artist at Toronto's North by Northeast festival and had record labels clamouring to sign her up.

Born in Canada in 1978 to Trinidadian and Spanish parents, Nobel has consistently defied categorization. Her music is catchy and rhythmic, combining rap and guitar riffs with lyrics that speak of real ideas. "When it comes to music," says Nobel, "I'm not afraid of mixing things." Like her hybrid roots, she takes her influences wherever she can get them; her music resonates with pop, hip-hop, reggae and jazz undertones, and she recognizes that the only way to grow as an artist is to listen to everything. Her influences include No Doubt, Garbage, Nas, Mos Def, Jay-Z, Blondie, Billy Joel, Bob Marley, Wu-Tang Clan, Carole King and the Squirrel Nut Zippers.

Though she insists she's shy, Nobel has a phenomenal amount of presence, both on and off stage. She speaks with confidence, and there's a clarity and self-assuredness about her, a kind of wisdom that contrasts with her youth and energy. Nobel doesn't want to be just another pop princess. She's got her own ideas about music and is prepared to work for what she believes in. For her, writing is still the most important aspect of the music-making process. "I have a thing for words," she says. She credits her producer, Doc (who has worked with esthero and Res), and her management team, Black Corners, for encouraging her to focus on the lyrics when songwriting. "Doc taught me that it had better be a great song before you add the other stuff. That's the only way to make music that's special."

Describing herself as cynical, Nobel creates songs that investigate relationships and urban existence with a gritty, grounded clarity. As a young black woman, she finds herself constantly playing against the stereotypes. "I don't feel any connection with the images of black women that I see. Mainstream black music has a tendency to be about romance and partying - I'm doing something different. I want to create a new image of a black woman performer."

With her debut album, In the Darkest Corner, due out this fall on Black Corners/Sony Canada, there is little reason to doubt that Nobel will manage to do just that. When asked about her future plans, however, Nobel admits she doesn't want to think about it too much. "I love my life," she says happily, "and right now, I just don't want to disturb it."

Track record:
* Nobel has no formal musical training, but as she puts it, "I study music - it's my teacher."
* She earned her name during high school: Graph for "graffiti" and Nobel after the prize of the same name (earned because of her bookish smarts).
* She has performed and recorded with Hawksley Workman, esthero, 2Rude, K-OS and G. Love, among others.






  





- Words & Sound Magazine-Meredith Dault


"Graph Nobel Movin' On Up"

We could have told you over a year ago that Graph Nobel was going to be a star. Not that we like to brag or anything — OK, yes we do, but is that really such a crime? In any case, if you head back in time to our ChartAttack report cards from NXNE 2002, you’ll notice that Graph scored pretty high for her show at the Rivoli in Toronto in June 2002. As her report card shows, Graph earned a rather respectable 85 and we noted that she was progressing well towards world domination. Then, on her Canadian Music Week report card (http://chartattack.com/DAMN/2003/02/2829.cfm), we evaluated Ms. Nobel again, presenting her with another A. So you see, we knew she had star power all along.

And pretty soon the rest of Canada is going to realize that too, since Graph Nobel just signed a deal with Columbia/Sony Music Canada. Nobel’s also bringing her entire production/management team, Black Corners Entertainment, along for the ride as BCE has decided to join forces with Sony. Aww... it’s just a big, happy corporate family.

Prior to signing with the majors, Nobel had already carved out a name for herself in the indie circuit. She earned the CBC Galaxie Rising Stars Award in 2002 and, in addition to her stints at CMW, NXNE and Edgefest, Graph has opened for such notable Canadian favorites as Sam Roberts, The Roots and Cody Chestnutt. In addition, her song "Love" appeared on the War Child benefit compilation Peace Songs.

Nobel is set to begin recording her debut album this month, though a potential release date has not yet been announced. In the meantime, her collaboration with Hawksley Workman on the track "Smoke Baby," will appear on Workman’s upcoming album, which is due out in Canada on September 9.
- Chart Attack-Megan O’Toole


"Graphic artistry"

BY ERROL NAZARETH
Graph Nobel laughs when I list the titles of the songs on a CD sent to me by her people. Taken in context -- the songs were written about two years ago, she says -- the laugh is understandable. See, when you're an omnivorous talent who's all over the map musically, you're likely to shy away from tunes you wrote two years, or even two weeks, back.
Given this, I surmise that the process of recording and releasing music can be frustrating for the diminutive Toronto performer.
"Yes, definitely," Nobel says. "Our camp has so many influences. We're into new things and we try to find weird stuff that pleases us, so by the time we record a new song we're ready to move to a different sound. That's frustrating because if you put a record out, you have to keep playing a song that you may not necessarily like or a song that you feel doesn't represent who you are right now.
"And if you're with a record company, they may take to something that you don't, so there's a whole lot of issues involved in putting out music," Nobel adds. "It's a timing thing, 'cause your opinion of music evolves as well as your opinion of yourself. The timing has to be right -- you've got to be comfortable and happy with what you put out."
As she learns to navigate her way around the industry, Nobel's also getting an appreciation of how tough it is to write "songs that will sound good five years from now.
"It's a process that frustrates everybody and you realize that it's longer than you thought," she says with a sigh. "Before I started making music, I had no conception of the blood and sweat that goes into writing songs. I mean, there's a lot of work behind it. I was talking with a couple of friends about the Talib Kweli record and someone said, 'I'm not feeling it,' and I was like, 'How can you not feel it? Do you know how hard that man has worked just to get his music out?' Now, I have that understanding."
It would be unfair to make comparisons between Nobel's sound and any of her contemporaries, only because she and producer Doc are musical alchemists who dig soulful pop, hip-hop, electronica and rock equally and juxtapose these styles convincingly.
"Do U Even" is a perfect example of a Nobel jam that swims in the cranium long after you've heard it. The atmospheric, psychedelic opening is reminiscent of something you'd find on an album by The Verve.
"I can see why you say that," Nobel says. "The Verve have a lot of sweet melodies and their music -- I'm gonna describe it in colours now -- is like a darker shade of blue, not too dark. Kinda like after the sun sets and before it turns to evening, you know that purplish haze, indigo kind of blue?
"It's one of few songs I've written that's fictitious," she adds. "Most of what I write comes out of an experience or how I feel about something, but for this one I had to envision what it would be like to be in a relationship that I wanted to get out of. I haven't experienced that, and at the time I was writing it I was listening to The Cure a lot. I love them, they're my favourite band, and one of my favourite songs of theirs is 'Boys Don't Cry.' It's very simple, it's very A-B-C, 1-2-3, but the melody's great and you get it. So, I started to simplify my words and not be so poetic and out-there."
That Nobel is playing two CMW gigs this weekend in two different settings -- the first at the Horseshoe Feb. 27, the second at the Bluebird North songwriter showcase at Hugh's Room Feb. 28 -- is a testament to her musical ingenuity.
"I'll be with a band at the Horseshoe and I'm excited about that 'cause it's a classic-rock stage and I want to rock out when I'm there," she says. "The gig at Hugh's Room is going to be more intimate and the songs will sound different 'cause I won't be with a band. It's going be a storyteller-type thing where I talk about the songs I've chosen to sing.
"But, I'm a shy girl and I don't always like to talk," she says with a self-deprecating laugh. "I'm new to this, so I don't really know how to reach out and hug my audience and bring them into my world."

  - EYE Weekly


"Metric, Tangiers, Graph Nobel and Shawn Hewitt dig up their Toronto roots for Canadian Music Week"

Sure, we can blame Conan. For all the great cultural leaps Toronto made in 2003 -- whether establishing itself as an international indie-music hotbed, or electing a genuinely progressive mayor -- all it took to break our stride was four nights of a visiting American talk-show host cracking hack-rate hoser 'n' hockey jokes at our expense (figuratively and literally), advertising a Toronto that doesn't actually exist beyond the celluloid confines of Strange Brew.

But it's not like the Canadian music industry (and its accomplices at commercial radio and MuchMusic) has done a more effective job of showing the masses what's really going on in this city. The four stars of eye's 2004 CMW showcase can attest to that. Collectively, they represent the depth and breadth of Toronto's music community, and their individual paths to success have bypassed the traditional Canadian music-industry routes.

Art-popsters Metric relocated to LA to record their 2003 indie hit,Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?, which recently landed them in the pages of Rolling Stone and SPIN; campus-radio kings Tangiers will release their second offering of cerebral jangle-punk in a year, Never Bring You Pleasure, this April on Hamilton's venerable Sonic Unyon imprint; genre-jumping soul singer Graph Nobel is currently labouring away on her debut album for her new stateside bosses at Columbia Records; while hotly tipped prog-rock crooner Shawn Hewitt is deciding whether to entertain lucrative label offers or stick to his trusty DIY game plan.

But whether they hail from the suburbs or the inner city, whether they've followed their muses to the States or simply their basements, they each have turned their individual urban experiences into singular sounds that just go to show the only stereotype Toronto lives up to is our refusal to play to one. Here, they present the real stories of this city, this country, this industry. And they won't cost you a single tax dollar.

EMILY HAINES OF METRIC
Your sound: Muhammad Ali, not Blondie.

Your roots: I grew up in a small town two hours north of Toronto. I moved to Toronto when I was 15 to go to the Etobicoke School of the Arts.

The Toronto effect: I was able to get such a good musical education here, and everyone that I've since collaborated with also had an exceptional music program in their schools. And the fact that as a child I was able to go to the doctor without my parents having to fork over $300 the way they do in America also helped my general health and well-being.

Your experience with the Canadian music industry: To be honest, for the most part it was really negative. All the bands that I know in Toronto encountered this huge gap between what was really happening in the smaller clubs and people's home studios and what the labels in Canada seem to acknowledge and get behind. I learned from first-hand experience that a lot of it has to do with people being too comfortable, too tenured in their positions at the major labels and answering to their US counterparts, like not really having the power to get behind anything except what has already been proven to sell in America.

My first five years of being a young adult musician in Toronto involved playing shows at places like The Rivoli and having people talk about a buzz and a bidding war and having all these crusty fuckin' reps come out -- and what I remember most is watching them all leave all of my shows through a small window at the back of the door at the Rivoli.

Your definition of success: I really want to play concerts, not bars -- real stages where there's amazing history in the venues, with wonderful sound systems and the crowd is comfortable and happy. Also, I still feel like I'm not able to put out all the music that I'm making. I'd like for the infrastructure in my career to allow me to put out more music.

Favourite place in Toronto: The first thing I was going to say is the downtown YMCA. And Bacchus Roti. And Moti Mahal is an amazing Indian restaurant on Gerrard. And I love Allen Gardens, and Spadina Gardens at night. There's so many special places in Toronto.

Your Canadian idol: My brother, Tim Haines. He's a record store owner -- Bluestreet Records in Peterborough. He's one of the few people in the world I know whose morals and politics are actually lined up with their actions. He has no guilt because he's actually made tangible the things he wants to represent and doesn't partake in shit he doesn't want to. And he rides his bike everywhere.

Favourite Canadian album: It's probably fuckin' Neil Young's Harvest or some shit.

JOSH REICHMANN OF TANGIERS
Your sound: Where rock could be heading if you paid attention to the past properly.

Your roots: I grew up downtown in the east end, and then I went to school in Kensington Market.

The Toronto effect: It's all about the menu of foods and becoming really used to the idea that people function with many languages all around them, and it works. That's a musical quality of existence ... even though people in Toronto don't talk to each other that much.

Your experience with the Canadian music industry: Luckily, we've been fortunate to be part of the indie community; the bigger [labels] just seems like an extension of the States, the satellite companies. But the whole idea of grants is amazing, and if you pay attention and put the proper work into things here, a label or individual artist can really have a leg up. Unfortunately, there's just not that many cities in Canada, and if the same system was in place in the States, bands there would probably be able to exist much more independently. The difference is we have a lot of those things [like grants], but there's just not a huge forum here. But the scene -- not the actual industry -- is starting to understand that's the best we can do: pay attention to each other and feed off one another instead of being a micro-version of the States, with that competitiveness. It's just not going to happen.

Your ideal level of success: Having someone pay for us to put out one or two records a year, having them sell enough that I can have an apartment and take a vacation every year and always have beer and food at shows and a big guest list.

Favourite place in Toronto: Kensington Market.

Your Canadian idol: Leonard Cohen.

Favourite Canadian album: On the Beach by Neil Young.

GRAPH NOBEL
Your sound: It's pop with a mixture of rock and urban. It's a melting pot... oh no, I should say it's a mosaic, right?

Your roots: I grew up all over: in Scarborough and then I lived in Markham and in Richmond Hill, and I worked downtown in my teenage years.

The Toronto effect: When I left Scarborough, it was a big scar on my life. Scarborough has a cool thing to it, so when I left there seven years ago -- I was 16 turning 17 -- I went to Richmond Hill, which is very, very different. I was so afraid to go there, just because of the lack of cultural differences that existed at the time. I just ended up staying inside more and working on music, so it actually benefited me, but at the time I was really pissed off about the move. If I was still in Scarborough, I would've hung out so much, I probably wouldn't have gotten to where I am now.

The beauty of Toronto is the way we live as people: whatever you want, you can have it. There's all these cultures, we all get along, and you can hear it in the music.

Your experience with the Canadian music industry: Lucky and surprising. When I first started doing music I was a rapper and I never ever thought I would be recognized in Toronto or Canada -- there was a lack of diversity in the industry. Now, it's starting to develop and show more of its talent, and more of its newer sounds. We did really well in 2003, I'm so happy to be a part of it with Hawksley Workman and Hot Hot Heat and Billy Talent. Canada right now, and Toronto especially, is really cool. I just want people to recognize this city because we are really developing at a great pace. It's cooler than LA, it's cooler than Montreal; even New York's kinda boring now.

Your ideal level of success: I've already achieved it: I'm working with my favourite producer in the world [Doc], I've had great experiences, I've been able to travel, I've gotten a bit of the spotlight on me, I've made good money. So you put that all together on one plate -- that's success right there. I mean, I would like a couple of Junos and Grammys. If I get any, they're going to my mom's house, because they're kinda ugly, man.

Favourite place in Toronto: Queen Street -- I can't get away from it.

Your Canadian idol: I love Metric -- I love Emily a lot.

Your favourite Canadian album: Well, right now I listen to Metric all the time. And I also like The Dears' last record [No Cities Left].

SHAWN HEWITT
Your sound: Blue-collar soul that has teeth and a heroic heart.

Your roots: Scarborough.

The Toronto effect: It definitely fuelled my music for sure, by being involved in different scenes, being around it all at once, like a shared melting pot. Scarborough was more like the urban, hip-hop side of the spectrum, while downtown there's the whole indie scene, so I had both worlds colliding all at once.

Favourite place in Toronto: Parkdale and Scarborough -- they're both really working-class communities filled with a lot of artists.

Your experience with the Canadian music industry: It's a really sexy game of snakes and ladders. But I have a lot more hope. There are flirtations of being offered assistance or deals, but I'm really focused on making the best final product I can. It's always exciting when the prospect of reaching a bigger audience is presented to you. But obviously the main thing is keeping the integrity of what I do first and foremost.

Your ideal level of success: Having these songs chart the growth of me as a person, and being able to reach an audience that will grow along with the music as well. I've been playing my own songs for about a year and a half, so I'm still at the nurturing stage.

Your Canadian idol: Jack Layton. I'd love to hear his rendition of Neil Young's "Rocking in the Free World."

Favourite Canadian album: This will be a two-part answer: whenever I finish making mine, and Orchestral Pop Noir Romantique by The Dears.

 
- EYE Weekly-STUART BERMAN


"Canadian Music Week 2003"

Starting off quietly with an acoustic-style duet, Graph Nobel and her band worked up slowly to an almost frantic pace. Her perfectly crafted full-circle pop songs echoed elements of hip-hop, soul and blues, and placed her vocals right where they should be: front and centre. Carrying on in a sultry groove, Graph seemed almost in a trance as she peered through the crowd, urging show goers to move along — her voice was smooth, full and lascivious even when simply speaking. - Exclaim! Magazine-SDT


"Graph plots her own course"

No matter how great your weekend was, Graph Nobel’s was better. The local singer spent Saturday night opening for Philly hip-hop heroes The Roots at a more-than-sold-out show at Kool Haus.
“It’s crazy,” laughs Graph, a.k.a Christa Gonzales, over the line from her T-dot home. “I’ve been listening to them for ten years, and six years ago I met them and had my little poster signed and everything, and now I get to open up for them—that’s an incredible thing for me. So yeah, it was really exciting.”
Excitement seems to have been following Nobel ever since she burst onto the scene over a year ago. The protégé of producer Doc (Esthero), she’s already graced the cover of NOW Magazine, won the award for best new artist at the North by Northeast festival, and has every record label in town vying to sign her to a contract—all before even releasing an album.
And now she’s got the premier hip-hop crew in the land inviting her out on tour (“We were asked to play not only that show, but all of Canada. But we have some work to do, so we can’t leave and go on tour, unfortunately”). It’d all be too charmed, if it weren’t for that darn uptight Toronto audience.
“They were a little scared and didn’t want to get into it, which is fine,” Nobel said. “We have a kind of set audience that’s used to what we do, and they’re totally cool with it, and I’m sure they were in the crowd as well, but the general urban audience is not entirely receptive to it, which can be fun, too.”
The Kool Haus crowd aside, Graph has been busy making new fans show-by-show, tirelessly working the local club scene. Despite all the buzz surrounding her, she insists she’s ready and willing to pay her dues.
“You gotta work for your audience, and that means putting in years, and that’s just a part of it, so it’s cool,” she says. “We don’t even have a record out or a single out, so I think people are unfamiliar just in general—it’s just a part of how it goes. I like playing small rooms—I like to be able to jump out into the crowd or be at the same level. The audience is just an arm’s stretch away, as opposed to a big crowd where you can’t really see all the faces, and it’s hard to communicate because everyone’s so far. I like club shows—the energy is better, it’s cozy. Even though everybody may not know each other, the vibe is really cool.”
- The Varsity (U.Of T)-Tabassum Siddiqui


"Hip hop changed her forever"

TWENTY-FIVE years ago the Sugarhill Gang released Rapper's Delight and gave birth to hip hop as we know it today.

Although born in New York City, hip hop's influence is now everywhere -- from movies, to fashion, to the way people speak.

The tentacles of hip hop even reached up here to Toronto and touched a 12-year-old girl, who was never the same again. "When I first saw Eric B & Rakim and A Tribe Called Quest, it just blew my mind," says Krista Gonzales. "To see people who looked like me, being so creative -- I said 'Wow. That's something I want to be.' "

From that moment on, Gonzales worked at becoming a rapper.

"One of my friends had a brother who danced for Maestro," remembers Gonzales. "We used to try and copy his dance moves. One day he heard us rapping and said 'you guys are dope.' From then on he started banging on garbage cans and making us practise."

At age 13 Gonzales also started doing live theatre while continuing to practise her rapping skills. "I didn't let my friends at school know about the theatre stuff because I was embarrassed," says Gonzales. "But it helped me with my rapping because the theatre training exposed me to songwriters and music from a different context. I mean, we were doing show tunes."

By the time Gonzales turned 16 she had quit live theatre and joined a rap group called D4C (Dimension Four Click) where she was given a new moniker. "A friend of mine named everybody in the group. He called me 'Graph,' which is short for 'Graffiti tone.' He said I sounded like spray paint coming out of a can. And he added Nobel, after the Nobel Prize, because I used to get good marks in school."

After high school, Graph spent one year in university before dropping out and going to New York to pursue her rap career.

"I wanted to be near the heart of hip hop," says Graph. "I didn't have a lot of money. My girlfriend and I couch-surfed a lot, but I learned what it takes to make it in this business."

Graph spent three years between New York and Toronto before hooking up with notable Canadian music producer, Doc. Graph is now signed to Sony Music and there's already a lot of buzz on the street about her debut album.

It's scheduled to be released in October. The music is a hybrid of hip hop, techno, soul, jazz and rock and features Graph doing more singing than rapping.

You can check out Graph Nobel this Saturday at the Bad Brains: Afro-Alternative Music Summit at Harbourfront. She'll be part of a panel discussion about some of the new forms of black music coming out of Canada.

Also on the panel are Kim Bingham, Michie Mee, Tuku, Syreeta Neal and others. The discussion will be moderated by music critic Laina Dawes. It gets under way at 3 p.m. in the Brigantine Room.

Free the Cuban Five: Ramon Labanino, Fernando Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero, Gerardo Hernandez and Rene Gonzalez -- five people you've probably never heard about.

They're internationally known as The Cuban Five. In 1998 they were arrested in the United States for conspiracy to commit espionage and of acting as unregistered agents at the service of a foreign government.

Despite many irregularities in their cases, they were found guilty of all charges and have been in jail ever since.

People all over the world have been lobbying for The Cuban Five's freedom.

The Free The Cuban Five Committee - Toronto is holding a fiesta rally on Saturday at noon at Metro Square to raise awareness of their plight.

The rally will end at 3 p.m. with a symbolic march to the southeast corner of University Ave. and Armoury St. across from the U.S. Consulate.
- Toronto Sun- Nicholas Davis


Discography

esthero- wikked lil grrrls- (warner)
hawksley workman- smoke baby (universal/isadora)
tone mason w/graph nobel/brassmunk/ g.stokes-throwback
peace songs-g.love w/graph nobel-love (sony int)

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Graph Nobel
Hailing from Toronto, Ontario, Graph Nobel (pronounced No-Bell), born Krista Gonzales, knew early on that the arts were her calling; she has performed in theater since her grade school years. The daughter of a Venezuelan mother and Trinidadian father, Graph Nobel grew up on a heavy diet of roots/reggae music. As a teenager she discovered hip-hop and started writing and working with various MC’s and producers. Graph’s musical tastes started shifting as she became a fan of Blondie, Prince, RHCP, Bad Brains and Wu-Tang Clan. Following her dreams to New York gave her a chance to see the diverse musical landscapes of the big city. After returning from New York, she hooked up with the producer who would help her expand her musical boundaries.

Working with multi-instrumentalist, producer/songwriter Martin ‘Doc’ McKinney (esthero/ Res / Sting /Hawksley Workman) has allowed Graph Nobel the room to experiment with various genres, bridging the gap between rock, hip-hop and electronica. The two have written and recorded over the past two years in Toronto, Los Angeles NYC and Atlanta, working on their sound which skillfully combines atmospheric guitars, hip-hop beats, heavy bass lines, samples, string arrangements and innovative programming. In early 2002, Graph Nobel stormed throughout Toronto in her trademark big black boots, gathering raves from the press and raising expectations.

After playing around Toronto she headed back to New York to play CMJ, Black Lilly and a support gig at The Village Underground where the American music industry took notice. Soon after, Graph Nobel would sign with Columbia/Sony Music Canada, with whom her production company Black Corners Entertainment would also become partners.

Graph Noble’s music is hip-hop inspired with punk rock abandon. Her songs are provocative, full of the challenging themes of love, sex, and life’s struggles. Her debut The Darkest Corner is highly creative and gutsy alternative to today’s formula pop as seen on the cautionary new wave disco-pop of “Sex Is a Weapon” where she sings “Hey girls /Sex is a weapon/keep your finger on the trigger I say”, the seductive soul of “Business or Pleasure”, or the psychedelic guitars of “Do You Even” Graph Nobel shows her versitalitaly as an artist. A gifted songwriter, Graph Nobel has written songs and recorded with Res (Geffen) and Esthero (WB). She’s collaborated with sexy rocker Hawksley Workman on “Smoke Baby” from his critically acclaimed Lover/Fighter (Isadora/Universal) album. She has recorded with various artists including G. Love on “Love” on War Child’s Peace Songs-(Sony Canada/BMG Canada), Artists For War Child with fellow Canadians Jully Black, Esthero & Keshia Chante on “Life” from Much Music’s Much Dance 2004 compilation and BrassMunk/Tone Mason/ G. Stokes on “The Throwback”.

The winner of CBC’s Galaxie Rising Stars Award, Graph has built a reputation through her charismatic live shows which started an industry buzz throughout Canada: “She threw out verses in a shotgun, hip-hop fashion, waxed lyrical like Billie Holiday and generally carried on as though limits are for other people” raved Robert Everett-Greene (Globe and Mail). Graph Noble’s dynamic, energy-filled shows have seen her share stages with heroes The Roots, Sam Roberts, Cody Chesnutt and Metric. She has played CMJ, CMW, NXNE, Edgefest, Montreal Pop Festival and the Toronto Urban Music Festival
Graph Nobel’s early press has seen her grace the covers of NOW Magazine and The Ottawa Xpress. She’s been featured in The Fader, Vice, Eye, Chart Attack, Numb, Exclaim!, Peace Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Word and Honey Jam. The Darkest Corner is a fantastic start to a career, and its display of range, talent, and charm suggests Graph Nobel has an endless well of creativity at her disposal and that she is most likely destined for greater things.