Nora Toutain
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Nora Toutain

Montréal, Quebec, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2019 | INDIE

Montréal, Quebec, Canada | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2019
Solo R&B Pop



The best kept secret in music


"CentralSauce » Why We Like It: Nora Toutain’s “Bad at Love”"

In today’s age, technology has flooded our lives with content. Caught in the mire are today’s musicians who champion an art form that’s more widely distributed than any other throughout human history. And we, more often than not, overlook the music created by unfamiliar faces because it’s challenging. We’d rather have an easy listen, a known quantity to skim through while we think about something else.

Hearing is easy, but listening is difficult. Welcome to “Why We Like It”, where we rebuke the trends in favor of thoughtful analysis and underknown sounds.

How We Found It

The Moroccan-born, Canadian-raised singer-songwriter, Nora Toutain greatly impressed us with her funky debut single hitting our Submithub inbox. While she may only have a few original songs and covers on her YouTube channel, she is gearing up for her first major release in 2020. The bilingual singer is kicking off the new decade in the best way possible.

Her brand of alternative R&B music can be described as seamlessly moving across genres like pop, neo-soul, funk, and jazz, with hints of afro rhythms — a direct reference to her musical upbringing and early cultural experiences.

Why We Like It

When it comes to pop songs, I want a tune that will get me off my feet and dance across the room. I want to forget whatever and I’m doing and live in the moment of that song. Nora Toutain’s “Bad at Love” does that tremendously. Sonically, it starts off as a cute, breezy song with layered harmonies that get me floating. Heavy doo-wop influences are apparent and caught my ear immediately. Then the bass line starts hitting with the first verse and my shoulders are flying away. As soon as the chorus goes around for round two, I’m soaring and I don’t want to come back down. Her vocals are exuberant and give off a feeling of care-free joy.

Lyrically, the song is adorably clumsy as it expresses its unusual approach to verbalizing love. They love “love” but can’t clearly outright tell the person how they’re the object of their affection. It’s cute and realistic because everyone can’t say sweet nothings without fumbling a few words.

The accompanying video is just as loose and carefree as the song with a dance and sense of community created with the backup dancers. They’re on rooftops and letting the sunshine just as bright as the accompanying track. It’s a colorful and fun easy watch.
The production of this track really shines as the storyteller. It never lets itself rest. It goes from the doo-wop that initially starts the track to the horn-filled main beat to another shift that takes the song to the next level for me. At the 3:16 mark, just when I thought the song was ending, it instead elevated itself to the stratosphere to become something more. The beat sees the sun itself and catches fire to explode with distortion and layering the vocals into the hi-hats until the song finally lands to earth to cool down in the ocean. Instead of floating on air, I’m floating on the water, relaxed, refreshed and oddly enough, ready for another crack at love. I enjoyed every second of it and had the repeat button already set to experience it all over again.

From The Artist

Basically, “Bad at Love” was my first love song, in a sense that it was the first song I was able to talk about love and express the feeling of love. For some reason, it was always hard to talk about love from past experiences. It was not easy [to talk about love], so it was hard to tune in and let go of the fear. So I put aside love lyrics for a long time and I knew eventually I would write a love song because I would fall in love. And it happened and I’m still with that partner. So I was talking with Chris [the producer and co-writer] that we need to have a love song. Every project has a love song. So we decided to dive into the unknown and write. But our pages were blank after 5 minutes, even though we’re both in relationships. So I was like “okay perfect, this is what the song will be about”. It’s gonna be about breaking this myth and demystifying this notion of having to smoothly express yourself. Some people are clumsy. Some people don’t know the right words. This is a call for authenticity and to support intentions versus the package. What is it really about deep down? Your true intention, your feelings, your motive.” – Nora Toutain for CentralSauce - CentralSauce Collective

"Nora Toutain: "Bad At Love""

What inspires your music?

Life experiences, and other music!

My music is directly inspired from experiences I live, that make me feel things. When these feelings are so strong, they trigger a sonic mood in my mind/body. When I have the chance of being close to a piano, I use that to start working on the idea. If I’m not, I use my iPhone voice memo or note book app, and write key words, sing some melodies, or even beatbox an idea for a beat. I try to give as much information to my future self to develop an idea into a song.

Another source of inspiration is music itself! When I hear a great song or discover a new artist that I like, it inspires me a lot creatively.

How did you come up with this song?

This song has a pretty funny story. I co-wrote it with my producer, Chris Vincent.

We wanted to write a love song, but quickly realized that neither of us were coming up with anything good, which I thought that was hilarious, because we’re both in healthy committed long term relationships. I realized and admitted to myself that I wasn’t very good at sentimental, gushy public declarations of love. I decided that that was a great theme to explore. Embracing my own unique way of expressing love, and embracing the clumsy awkwardness that can arise from that place. What matters is the intention and the genuineness of our feelings, however we can express it.

What is your genre of music?

Alternative RnB, Soul, Indie Pop, with hints of Jazz and other Afrocentric style.

How do you describe success?

To me, success is living from your art, without compromise. Artistic and creative freedom, paired with financial independence and prosperity.

It’s also being at peace and aligned with myself, my choices, and my surroundings. Another aspect of success to me is having a devoted and passionate team behind me, who believe and support my vision while bringing their expertise and talent.

What can we expect from you in 2020?

A lot of exiting things! :) I’ll be dropping two more singles and Volume I of my debut album! The rest is a surprise :) - Big Sound Blog

"Five Questions With Nora Toutain"

Montreal, QC-based French-Moroccan artist, Nora Toutain has unveiled her debut music video and single, “Bad at Love” on November 29, 2019, which was produced by Busty and the Bass member, Chris Vincent. The release is off of her upcoming album, Grounding Place Vol. 1 which is set for release in Spring 2020.

Check out the video for “Bad at Love” below and find out more about Nora via our Five Questions With segment.

Care to introduce yourself to our readers.

Hey! I’m Nora Toutain, a singer, songwriter, and performer from Morocco/France, based in Montreal.

Tell us a bit about your music and writing style.

My music is an expression of my eclectic cultural background and influences. I was born and raised in Morocco, but I also lived in India for three years before moving to Canada to study at McGill.
I grew up listening to all styles of music, like soul, blues and jazz, but also western classical music, traditional Arabic, African and Indian music, reggae, and rock, just to name a few.

My writing style is very intuitive and organic. My ideas always stem from life experiences, that can inspire a melody or a chord progression, and I usually feel a rhythm or groove that sets the mood for what can potentially become a song.

Do you have any upcoming shows? For someone who has yet to see you live, how would you explain your live performance?

I do actually! My next show on Dec 14th, at Quai des Brumes, and it’ll be an acoustic version of my usual set.

When I play live, I want to be authentic and create an experience for the audience, with my sound, my message, and the energy emitting from the band. It’s a sacred moment that is shared on stage among us, that we communicate to the audience, who in turn participate and play a crucial role in the process!

If you were asked to suggest only one of your songs for someone to hear, which would it be?

It would be Grounding Place, because of the message it carries.
I wrote this at a time when I had doubts and fears in my life, and this song came to me as an antidote to these feelings we all have at some point or another.

This song was created therapeutically, for myself, but now I realize how powerful a message it can be to everyone.

Canadian Beats is all about Canadian music, so who are your current favourite Canadian bands/ artists?

Good question!

Shay Lia, Kaytranada, Daniel Caesar, Anomalie, Busty and the Bass, Charlotte Day Wilson, Mallika Tirolien…

Connect with Nora Toutain:

Instagram - Canadian Beats Magazine

"Meet Nora Toutain"

The Montreal-based vocalist initially started out by lending her wide array of talents to Canada’s largest improv collective, Kalmunity while studying at McGill University. In terms of her sound, Toutain incorporates elements of pop, Neo-soul, funk, jazz as well as afro rhythms influenced by her musical upbringing and cultural experiences. Following the release of her debut single “Bad at Love” last month, Toutain is due to release her first full length record, Grounding Place Vol I, in spring 2020. I caught up with her to get a sense of what to expect from the record.

Why did you choose to release “Bad at Love” as your first single

I chose Bad at Love because it has this kind of catchy, feel good dance vibe, and I thought it would make a great coming out party as my first single. I feel like it’s a great opening statement for me because I really love that whole energy and it kind of speaks to my personality in a general sense.

You’ve played in several Montreal-based collectives in the past, which ones/who have you played with?

I started out with the Kalmunity Vibe Collective, and I still perform with them on a somewhat regular basis. They’ve been really important to my growth as an artist, and my involvement with them created some beautiful opportunities, like playing at the Montreal Jazz Festival. I’ve also hosted Le Cypher with Urban Science, which is another collective of great musicians I’m proud to call my friends and bandmates. I also occasionally sing back vocals for Franky Selector and Ilam.

You play various instruments and include elements from your musical upbringing into your music, are you from a musical background?

Well, not in the sense that either of my parents are musicians, because they’re not, but they’re both huge music lovers and because of that, my upbringing was definitely musical. I think their love of music was very influential in fact, considering that both my brother and sister are also very musical and love to play guitar, sing, and listen to good music. It’s fair to say that the environment in my home growing up, and to this day, is very musical.

Do you recall your earliest musical memory?

I do! It was in solfège class, I think I must have been five or so. The teacher was teaching us how to sing a lullaby, and I remember being in my bubble, and instead of singing with the other kids, I held this long note that was fitting throughout the entire song, and the teacher stopped everyone and said “Nora!” was so scared because I thought I was in trouble for not singing the right part, but she asked me to repeat what I had done because she was pleasantly surprised. I was way too embarrassed and shy to do it, being put on the spot like that.

How did you come about collaborating with Chris Vincent(Busty and the Bass)?

I met Chris through a mutual friend, Stu Wershof, who put this band together called Freak Motif (they’re based in Calgary now, and still killing). Chris played trombone in that band and we used to harmonise melodies together, and we just became friends from then on.

You’re a classically trained violinist, will we be hearing some of the violin in this record?

No, not this time around, but it’s a thought in the back of my mind for future projects.

Are there any new instruments you’d like to explore?
I’d like to dive deeper in the world of the piano, and incorporate it into my live performance. As far as a new instrument I have no experience at all with, I think the next one to explore is the electric bass.

Anyone you’d like to collaborate with in the future?

I recently discovered and met a local artist named Hanorah, and I really like her. I love her sound, and she’s a great songwriter, as well as a wonderful person. It would be really cool to work with her on something.

What are some of the themes that your record explores?

One of the most obvious ones is identity. I have a song that explores cultural identity, which is something that is very relevant and present in my life. I also have a song which I wrote from the perspective of my identity as a woman, and is an expression of the empowerment that comes from being a woman. The rest of the record explores other themes like spirituality and human relationships.

Describe this upcoming record in a few words.
This record is the sound of a young woman searching and discovering herself, and expressing it.

What are some of your current favourite records.

I really like Mahalia’s latest record, “Love and Compromise”. Also “Juicebox” and “Something to Feel” by Mac Ayers. Lately I’ve been obsessed with Jared Brady’s single “Enjoy Your Life”. That song has a bounce that I really love, and it actually reminds me of the vibe of “Bad at Love.”

To keep up with all things Nora Toutain click here.

Watch the video for “Bad at Love” below: - For the Record Blog

"Nora Toutain -- Bad at Love [Pop RnB] (2019)"

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"Nora Toutain - "Bad at Love""

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Still working on that hot first release.



NORA (Nora Toutain) has left a lasting impression on Montreal’s music scene since 2017 and she shows no signs of slowing down. The r&b singer-songwriter released her debut pop single and music video for “Bad at Love” on November 29th, 2019 to an incredible response from fans, fellow musicians, radio and music publications around the world.

NORA is set to release a double album in 2020 in two parts: Grounding Place Vol. I in the spring and Vol. II later in the year.

Born and raised in Morocco, Nora Toutain lived in India before she made her way to Canada at the age of 18. Music was always around her from a young age and by her teens she was classically trained on the violin. She went on to develop her voice, learn the guitar and began to play and write music on the piano.

Her brand of alternative r&b music seamlessly moves across genres like pop, neo-soul, funk and jazz and has hints of afro rhythms -- a direct reference to her musical upbringing and early cultural experiences. The synth-driven aspects of her sound also elevate her music towards newer music genres like future bass.

Things really begin to take shape for NORA when she moved to Montreal and began studying at McGill University. It was there that she found a home in Kalmunity, Canada’s largest music improv collective known for attracting a diverse range of musicians from all over the world, who go on to make up the fabric of Canada's music scene. She went on to further her studies at the University of Montreal studying Jazz Performance and credits these experiences to the development of her sound.

Kalmunity introduced Nora to her team of collaborators for Grounding Place Vol. I. She met producer Chris Vincent (Busty and the Bass) and musicians Thomas Sauvé La-France (Les Louanges, Dear Criminals, Common Holly), Frank O’Sullivan (KALLITECHNIS, Samito, Nomadic Massive), Emile Farley (The Liquor Store, Charlotte Cardin, Dead Obies), David Osei Afrifa (Urban Science, Justin Saladino, Krystal), and Caulder Nash (Sara Diamond, KALLITECHNIS, Jonathan Roy), all of which who contributed to the music on Grounding Place Vol. I & II.

Keep an eye out for Grounding Place Vol. I, set for release in May of 2020!