Borelson is Making Waves
“Through music and relatable lyrics, let's feel less lonely and more united,” proposed the artist Borelson as he set out to create his debut full length album. Released in 2020, As Far As Eye Can See is a bold hip hop album that features heavy beats and production that draws on various musical influences. Borelson’s raspy and assertive voice delivers a unifying message of his journey and drive.
Created with the help of Toronto Arts Council’s Music Creation and Audio Recording funding program, the album was one of his first artistic achievements after moving to Toronto. “It was my debut project here in Toronto, so it felt like being embraced by my new city, that I made the right choice to move here,” said Borelson who noted that the grant helped “open doors” for his artistic career.
Borelson grew up in Gabon and Congo, lived in France, and eventually moved to Canada by himself. Before moving to Toronto, he could sense the city’s strong creative energy. “What's unique about Toronto's arts and music scene is the multiculturalism and the influences coming from everywhere, which creates an interesting environment where everybody can be themselves and bring their own perspective,” he says.
Being himself and honouring his varied experiences and influences is something that Borelson brings to his art. His music is mainly hip hop, but draws on other genres including afrofusion, jazz, gospel, and occasionally features spoken word. He also works in film. Around the same time as the release of As Far As Eye Can See, Borelson created a docu series entitled ThisFAR of 32 mini episodes featuring immigrants and first generation Canadians and their success stories; a kind of ode to the creative community who helped him when he first arrived in Canada. Currently, Borelson is completing his first feature documentary about the impact of the Covid pandemic on marginalized communities and sectors, and the resilience they had to develop throughout, in order to survive. His debut album and ThisFAR were both inspired by the motto “I didn’t come this far to only come this far,” which he sings in the chorus of a track with the same title.
Borelson’s drive is something that has helped him build his artistic network and form exciting collaborations, particularly when he sought to make his debut album in a new city. “Even if people barely knew me, they understood my drive, passion and vision. I'm grateful for their trust and what we were able to create,” he says of that experience.
Now, also with the support of a TAC grant, Borelson is taking his passion for growth to new levels. After receiving a Newcomer and Refugee Artist Mentorship grant, he teamed up with Polaris Prize short-listed artist Junia-T to hone artistic skills like songwriting and composing as well as business acumen in marketing, networking and more. “It's really a blessing to be mentored by someone who is wise, well respected in the game, and who tapped into multiple sides of his creativity (rapping, producing, DJing, etc.) just like I am trying to do,” says Borelson, who notes that the experience is also helping him navigate the music industry with better clarity.
In the fall of 2021, Borelson released his sophomore album, Building Bridges. The album builds on his signature ambitious, innovative and positive approach with tracks that are already getting national attention. CBC Music’s The Block has given the track “Fearless” airtime and even featured it in a promo ad. “The plate is full. I can't complain and remain grateful, and energized for the future!” says Borelson.
Follow Borelson by visiting his website: www.borelson.com