Making Music and Memories: Daybi Lays Tracks and Finds His Way Back
"You can always come home," Daybi said. He reflected on the places he’s been and what he’s experienced. “I moved back to New York City the day after 9/11. Literally the day after. I was in Montreal, and I had gotten a new place and I moved there 9/12, and I was working in Soho. I smelled everything, I smelled the burning buildings. My son's uncle was cleaning up the mess,” he remembered.
Daybi, a multimedia artist, was born Geoffrey Pranteau, the grandson of dog sled champion Steven Pranteau. Originally from Grand Rapids, Daybi has lived in Montreal for 20 years. He grew up in Winnipeg and moved to Vancouver, California, New York until he found his home. Daybi’s released records with Slangblossom and as a solo artist, produced films and worked in harm reduction. He wants to make sure Indigenous people have access to safe supplies to make sure overdose, or any sort of drug use, is monitored in a way that's healthy for everyone involved.
Daybi started junior high in Manitoba, moved to Vancouver and attended high school there. He got into hip hop describes that time as when he ended up becoming who he was and finding his identity. Daybi went to audio engineering school in Vancouver, periodically traveling to California for music. He chose audio engineering so he could record himself in a studio. Back then, he couldn't record at home. If he wanted to become a recording artist, he had to learn how to use the technology available to him.
From an early age, Daybi was always into music, playing drums in grade two and guitar at the age of twelve. He had an interest in writing, music, and visuals. Daybi made his first money as a music producer in Montreal. A bus trip to New York found him rubbing elbows with the likes of P Diddy, ODB from the Wu-Tang Clan, meeting the owner of Barney’s of New York on Fifth Avenue.
It happens every day, in a New York minute. It's incredible, your dreams do come true quickly there.
After all of these amazing things happened, Daybi shared his advice, “People will doubt you, people don't believe these things happen, people don't think that it's possible. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do it, and don't let anyone tell you that you can't get anywhere, because I am the proof. I am living proof that this stuff happens. If you're a good person, you're kind and you work hard, your dreams will all come true.”
He considers the best advice he ever received to be "be kind and work hard". “No matter what you want to do, you don't have to live the way that people tell you to live. You don't have to have a car, a house, a dog, and two kids. Whatever makes you feel good inside is what you should be doing, but don't hurt other people in the process, and just work hard,” he continued.
Daybi talked about the loneliness of success, sharing, “I know it's quiet, cold, and lonely at times, but you'll pull through it. That's what I've always expressed from that moment that happened to me, because it was also very bittersweet, because when you have such success and no one to share it with,all of these moments were happening and there was no one there to enjoy those moments with me, it was just by myself.”
“We're hunters, we're warriors. Just feed yourself, make sure you have clean clothes, and drink a lot of water. Partying is fun and all that, but you know what? You can do whatever you want in life, as long as you're not hurting someone or yourself.”
He considers the pandemic a perfect example that we don't need to be in the same vicinity anymore to contribute. “Don't be scared of venturing off and checking things out because now it's easier to stay connected with the people you love,” he encouraged. If he could give advice to his younger self it would be to not drink so much and take care of himself.
“If you’ve got a level head, you put in the work, and you do something for yourself every day, you're going to see results.”
Daybi doesn’t beat himself up about things he might have achieved if he worked harder, given the impacts of the trauma he’s experienced. Thinking of the pandemic, he’s lost people, has good days, bad days but feels blessed he has not contracted the virus. He focuses on the next day to keep his mind off his worries for the people in his life.
Ultimately, Daybi knows he’s resilient, for all the places he’s been and the things he’s experienced. Living through the aftermath of 9/11, traveling across the border pursuing musical opportunities, and now making music and film supporting the wellness of Indigenous people in his city, Daybi knew he could always come home, and that’s where he’s grounded.
Thanks to Alison Tedford for authoring this article.
Future Pathways Fireside Chats are a project of TakingITGlobal's Connected North Program.
Funding is generously provided by the RBC Foundation in support of RBC Future Launch, and the Government of Canada's Supports for Student Learning program.