Juno Award nominee Storry on leaving sex industry behind for music

When you’ve lived as many lives as singer-songwriter Storry, there’s a reason to split each pivotal experience into its own dramatic chapter.

That’s why the musician, who heads to the Juno Awards this weekend with her first nomination, has decided there’s value in revealing herself in layers.

Her debut album marks a third part of sorts, called Ch III: The Come Up, picking up with her life story in progress, as she looks to a career outside the world of strip clubs and in the music industry, which she describes as “equally misogynistic and problematic.”

“A lot of people were like, ‘Don’t tell your story, it’s going to seem gimmicky,’” explains the performer while sitting in her living room on the outskirts of Toronto.

“Trying to hide it would almost be impossible. It’s in every thread of my life; it’s part of who I am.”

Most of her life she’s faced incredible personal challenges, which range from what she describes as recovering from an abusive ex, to repairing family relationships, and working as a stripper.

With her album, she hopes to challenge stereotypes and sweeping generalizations of the sex industry, and squash any notions that sex workers’ lives aren’t as nuanced as everyone else.

Storry’s album lands in the midst of a mainstream re-examination of how women in the sex industry are portrayed and received. Last year, Jennifer Lopez brought humanity to a complicated character in the film Hustlers, while rapper Cardi B has relentlessly pushed against the notion that strippers are one-note wonders.

“Cardi B enabled us to be seen as a mom, an artist… and that’s my intention behind this album, to add more to these dimensions of strippers and sex workers,” she added.

Born in Toronto as Dina Koutsouflakis, Storry spent her formative years in the Mississauga, Ont., area before moving to Montreal where she studied vocal jazz at Vanier College. She returned to Toronto to take opera at a local university before deciding she found greater passion in writing original songs.

Around that time, she met a music producer online, fell in love, and embarked on her first romantic relationship, one that she says gradually saw her lose control over her own life choices. She describes being totally blindsided by the shift in power, at least partly because of sheer inexperience.

“I’m over the moon and then five months later I’m in a strip club, he’s taking all of my money, and that was my life for many years,” she said.

“Anyone who met me in school, all my aunts, everybody would say to you I was a confident, very wise person. I was always giving other people advice… telling people to leave abusive relationships, so nobody would’ve ever thought that I would get into a relationship like that. The stars just align sometimes and it’s no one’s fault.”

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