There is a musical force from up north that is taking the indie scene by storm, and her name is Dinah Thorpe. Think of the music of Grace Jones, Bowie, and Feist but with a good sprinkling of trip-hop, orchestral, and techno. Add in words that flow like poetry and spell out truths, and we have music that is both compelling and earth-shaking.
The Toronto-based artist recently released her fifth album entitled For the Birds and it is poised to be the one that will herald her arrival on the broader scene.
Dinah’s love affair with music started at an early age back in her hometown of London, Ontario. But just like most love stories, this one ended in heartbreak.
“I sang in my high school choir until I got kicked out,” Dinah said in an interview over Zoom.” I got kicked out because I forgot my scarf that went with the choir outfit and there was like a choir vote, and they kicked me out.”
This experience, even though she calls traumatic, eventually lead her to better things.
“The good news is that it gave me more time for sports, which was actually how I preferred to make use of my time back then.”
But once a musician will always be a musician. So, not long after that, she started taking guitar lessons and sang at coffee houses with her sister covering songs by the Indigo Girls and the likes.
Dinah designated Mondays and Tuesdays as her “creative days,” which she spends mostly in her studio listening and writing songs.
“I try to keep them (creative days) safe from the other demands of life,” Dinah said.” Then I will sneak in her at other times in the week that I can find.”
This work ethic is based on a piece of advice she received that emphasized the importance of “keeping the muscles warm,” and to show up and try not to flee when it is not going well.
Dinah is engaged in activism, and she does not see any separation between her life as a musician and her personal commitment to various causes. She takes to the streets, when necessary, but she also participates in more subtle ways of getting involved such as making pollinator spaces and delivering food to the less fortunate.
In terms of being a visibly queer person or visible member of the LGBTQ+ community, Dinah admits that it is something that has taken her some time to figure out and that there are challenges that she still needs to face.
“When young people seem to have a ‘ring of keys’ moment with me–like ring of keys from Alison Bechdel–younger people seeing me and thinking: ‘oh, interesting, there’s a different way to be.’” Dinah said. “That is super important, and that can be uncomfortable for me, when people sometimes stare at me for a really long time and obviously other gender confirming folks have that similar experience and I think you just have to sit with them and assume it curiosity and not hostility.”
If such behavior is hostile, Dinah has a way to respond.
“My approach in those instances is just to be really kind,” Dinah said.
Watch the rest of the interview.
Dinah’s album The Body Wants is available through APM Music. Check it out.