Welcome to the 405's Ones to Watch rundown, 2016. In an attempt to hammer home the 'quality over quantity' adage, this year's selection is slightly smaller at just seven artists, but we're confident you'll find someone to fall in love with this week.

Jayd Ink wants to empower the love song. The Toronto-based sultry singer-songwriter's smooth blend of classic R&B, particular on her latest EP Invitation Only, delivered this past fall, aims to look on the positive side of the romantic spectrum and bring R&B back to its love-based roots.

Soulful ballads and playful melodies dance off Jayd's tongue. Her stories are written openly from experience. And she delivers the full package on stage, in a burst of choreographed energy. In the process of empowering the love song, she might just make you fall for her and that's precisely why Jayd Ink is one to watch.

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You never considered doing music until a friend challenged you to do a song. What was that song and how did that moment change you moving forward?

The song was called 'Raw'. My friend knew that I could sing and he invited me over to do the hook for his song. I wasn't too crazy about the song. I just freestyled it and changed up the melodies a little bit on the spot. It was interesting, I didn't know that I could do that. He challenged me to write music but at that time I was already writing poetry. It wasn't a big switch to implement it with the lyrics. I felt like I could try it out for a bit. It was nothing that I was too serious about it. It was kind of a hobby. But then it just expanded into my outlet.

You went on to making solo music. Recently this fall, you finished your EP Invitation Only. You've said it's an introduction to your style and your perspective on love and relationships. How would you define that style?

I think it's still being defined as I grow as an artist. It's very soulful and intimate. It's really based on my experiences that I've been through as an artist and as an individual. Invitation Only is a combination of a few things. There's not really a storyline from beginning to end. I'm just giving you moods and melodies and a vibe. It's good to set you up for what to expect or what not to expect.

The R&B scene in Toronto has really flourished immensely and continues to, because it's so diverse. How does Toronto and your Caribbean roots impact your flavour of R&B?

Toronto is based in West-Indian traditions. We all talk with slang of like Jamaican or Barbadian or wherever out background is from. It's important that we add parts of our background into our music. The R&B scene has definitely been growing. It's great to see. It's no wonder Toronto has been getting a lot of looks right now.

Your work is very sultry and very relationship based. Currently, what relationship in your life influences your music the most?

It was based on a relationship that I was in at the time. It's also based on my friends and their relationships. I have girls' nights and we sit around and have conversations and those conversations can lead into lyrics and are made into music. We just get to talking. I think it's based on everything, growing up, my friends, my surroundings and my partner.

For an artist that relies heavily on romantic subject matter, sometimes the drama of romance can impact your music creatively but it isn't so good for us. Love can be bipolar. For you, what constitutes a healthy relationship as an artist?

In my music, I don't like to write about being upset or hating this man, or whatnot. I try to write about the positive aspects of it. I try to influence love as much as possible, even if I'm going through a particular thing. I try and look at the positive aspects, because things can be so negative. I try not to put it into my music. A record like this is about boosting someone's ego but not for you to take it to your ego but to your mind and body. Feel it in a more spiritual way. Of course, you want to tell the truth and be personal, but I also want to show love. When I got to certain artists, I know what I'm going to get, I don't want to say male-bashing but they've been torn and they feel a certain way. I want to make it even. I want a balance.

You want to empower the love song.

I do. Very much so.

What are your thoughts on the current landscape of R&B and where do you see yourself fitting into it?

R&B is definitely in a good place. Everybody always talks about the '90s era. And I love the '90s era. I base a lot of my music and my sound around the era but I feel like it's a great place right now. We have artists like Bryson Tiller and Kehlani coming up. It's like a dark era. Sonically, it's very dark. I always have records that are dark as well. They're more personal. I want to make light out of the situation too. I want to separate myself from the dark era, even though that's what everyone is feeling right now. I'm trying to stand out. I want to make my place and just enjoy what I do.

You tweeted last week, "There's no such thing as an overnight success. Don't believe the hype." What does an underground grind look like to you?

It's a lot of patience. It's a lot of waiting. It's finding your craft and believing in it. You have to convince people that your craft is what it is. It's about finding yourself and finding the right people to work with you and get you to that level. For many artists, it's a grind. You have to go through the rough patches before you get to the glory. It's never just a blink of the eye. I've been doing this for a while and for me just releasing my first EP after doing it for a while, it's a weight off my shoulders. Finally it's happening, but it took time to get to this place, because I had to learn, I had to grow and I had to find the right people that could elevate my music and be in a good place.

You put out your EP this fall, you had your first headlining show in Toronto, what's next for you now?

I have a couple features in Atlanta that I'm getting ready to do. I'm going to do a few videos over there as well. I'm always writing and creating so I'm getting ready to release some things in the New Year. I'm preparing.

How are you ending this year as a different artist than you started it as?

I like to try and grow and look at things a little bit different in terms of how I can release better music and how I can engage with my fans better than I did before. I'm not going to conform to what people like. I'm going to stick to what I believe in and hopefully it will catch on and expand it as much as I can.


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