The Best 6 in the 6ix: XofiaFLY

Growing up in Toronto, Sofia Fly was entrenched in an evangelical Christian community without any queer representation to aid her in finding her identity. Now 28, Fly is almost two years into her transition and living what feels like a second life.

“I moved to the gay area of Toronto and surrounded myself with more queer people,” says Fly. “I had to get the f*ck out of the church and get the f*ck out of the male dominated world I was in.”

“I feel a lot younger than 28 because I’m going through a second adolescence where I’m finding myself again. I lived a whole straight dude life.”

Photo by @thecanvas.jpg

Spending her most influential years in a homophobic and transphobic community, Fly was raised with the views of the church, resulting in a self-hatred that she had to train herself out of. She now questions her choices, asking why she didn’t do anything sooner.

“Why did I doubt myself?” she asks. Nonetheless, she recognizes that her upbringing had an impact, saying that it “did some brainwashing.”

Since her family was deeply religious, Fly was surrounded with music as a child. Singing in church choirs and her father teaching her the piano, she found herself turning to music to express herself and simply have fun. She says she was always playing music; whether it be piano, creating beats on her computer or recording her own radio show using a cassette.

“It was always music,” she says. “It was the only thing that made me want to work.”

Photo by Maxholio

Born and raised in and around Toronto, the queer community in this multicultural city has changed her life. She believes it is one of the only music hubs in which she could have begun her career, and she appreciates the base of support Canada offers up and coming artists.

“Here, there’s a real effort to support the arts,” says Fly. “People in Toronto want a sense of individuality. They don’t want to be the bootleg America or wannabe New York. We’re always wanting to support artists.”

Defining her sound as a mix of hip-hop, trap and reggaeton, Fly is currently posting beats on SoundCloud under her perfoming name, XofiAFLY. Her end goal is to DJ, rap and produce a live show, combining all three roles by simultaneously mixing and being able to pick up the mic and rap.

She hasn’t released music as Sofia Fly, yet, as she says her music “has to transition too” to reflect her personal journey. “The music I used to make isn’t quite who I am anymore,” she says.

As a trans woman, Fly has experienced the music scene in Toronto from different perspectives. Moving through the scene as a straight, male rapper, networking came easily. Now, past events or contacts she had are no longer accessible. The male-dominated areas of the scene, according to Fly, are the areas with the most money, so male hip-hop artists are provided with more opportunities.

“It’s harder to navigate the space now,” she says. “It’s like you have to be twice as good if you aren’t a straight male.”

Photo by Sofia Fly

Nonetheless, she loves the city and its music scene.

“I’m happy to be trans in Toronto in 2018; I am grateful that I get to live in this city, in this decade,” she says. “I think there are a decent amount of people in Toronto who are tired of seeing the same straight, male dominated music scene, who want to hear other stories.”

You can check out Sofia Fly here or at the Buddies in Bad Times theatre on New Year’s Eve.