By Keysha Fanfair
When talking about the Toronto music industry, you’re most likely speaking about artistes, with little to no mention of the “industry” itself, and it has been this way for quite some time. When we look to south of the border in this regard, we are completely in tune with the Sean Combs and the Shawn Carters, The Sylvia Rhones, and the L.A Reids, the movers and the shakers, but why don’t we have those kinds of names here in the Toronto music scene?
Toronto is filled with talented artistes, with American labels coming here to scout our fresh goods. Wu-Tang Clan’s Raekwon remarked, “I’ve always thought that Toronto has a New York-style atmosphere when it comes to rap. The two cities are almost like cousins — both really heavy on talent”.
With this sudden new peak in the urban music scene in Toronto, it was inevitable that a fresh new face would emerge to take the behind the scenes role and master it.
Kiana Eastmond, a 25-year-old entrepreneur out of Scarborough, is one such person, and has really made a name for herself these past 2 years.
Kiana (her friends affectionately refer to her as Rookz), had a difficult time finding her place in her teenage years, resulting in her dropping out of high school.
A natural go-getter by nature, Kiana decided that she would become a community leader and give back. Graduating from Centennial Colleges summer program “Hype” founded by United Way, Kiana was the valedictorian of her class, graduating in business administration.
Kiana is currently the owner and director of Sandbox Studios, a recording studio in the heart of Toronto. Sandbox has been operational for just under a year and has already gained accolades amongst some of the biggest names in music in the city, including Kardinal Offishal, Luu Breeze, Shi Wisdom, and more. Home to R&B newcomer Leila Dey, who is also managed by Kiana, Sandbox caters specifically to the urban genre, delivering a sound well above industry standards. So far for 2013, Sandbox has hosted artistes such as Raekwon, Jadakiss, Deniro Ferrar, Director X and Kid Ink to name a few. “It’s getting so busy!” remarked Myles Keenan, the manager at Sandbox.
Kiana served as a board member at the East Metro youth services for 4 years, was part of the program staff at the Christie Ossington Neighborhood Center for a little under a year, was on the youth advisory board for the Nuclear Waste Management organization for two years, a writer for The Stud Magazine for a year, operations manager for Chips, a company that created custom wood pieces, for a year and a half, a grant reviewer for ArtReach, and a Brand and human development manager at Nia Center for the Arts.
She is currently working with the Toronto Foundation for Student Success, and For Youth Initiative, helping to keep kids on the right paths, all while running a studio, managing artistes and doing artist development and branding.
At this rate, Kiana is quickly becoming a force to reckon with, and with only a few years experience under her belt, those around her are constantly praising her on her consistency and her perseverance. Kiana remains humble, and is always looking to gain knowledge from women who are veterans in the position she takes on in the industry, and tweets every now and then to Sylvia Rhone (former president of Universal Motown) that she would love to be mentored by her one day.