How Polaris-winning musician Debby Friday spends a day off in Toronto
Including reformer Pilates, “boba walks” with bubble tea and Japanese food on Dundas
When Debby Friday’s debut album, Good Luck, won the Polaris Music Prize last month, it was the first time she’d won anything—ever. “It was pretty surreal,” she says. “For the first 48 hours, I just felt afraid. I was worried it was all a dream.” Since then, the Montreal-raised, Toronto-based electronic musician has been reaping the rewards of her win, which mostly means having more work than ever. “I didn’t even know that was possible.” Most of her days are packed with grant-application writing, photo shoots and preparing for her international tour, which kicks off in November, but there are also rare occasions when she takes a full day to herself (spoiler: she still does a little bit of work). When that precious day off arrives, here’s how she spends it.
I usually sleep in, which for me means getting up between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. I like to have a slow start to the day. After that, I make my tea—a special blend of mushroom powder, collagen, honey and lemon. I like how it tastes, and it has all these health benefits. It’s kind of crunchy, but it’s my way of taking care of myself and my health.
Then I’ll sit on the couch in my home office, which is right at the back of my apartment, and write whatever I feel like for 45 minutes or so. I have a daily writing practice. Usually I’m either journalling or script writing. I’ve been working on a script for a full-length feature movie. It’s a surreal quasi-sci-fi story about two women with some camp thrown in. It’s almost done.
After that, I’ll shower and get dressed. When I dress to be on stage, I want to feel powerful and sensual, so I tend to opt for lots of black, leotards, leather and silver jewellery. My day-to-day style is very utilitarian. I’ll throw on a pair of leggings and a plain T-shirt, but then I’ll add a belt or a hat or a cool bag. I also love a knee-high boot, so I wear those a lot.
I try to hit a Pilates class a few times a week, so that’ll often be next on the agenda. I used to go to the gym all the time, but I got a bit bored of it. Pilates feels like a good combination of strength training and improving my flexibility. I’ve been going to Muse Movement, which is near Trinity Bellwoods. They do reformer Pilates, which involves these machines that help you work out.
After that, I like to take walks around the city with my friends. I call them my “boba walks” because I’ll usually pick up a bubble tea on the way. I’m obsessed with bubble tea—I got really into it while I was living in Vancouver, doing an MFA at Simon Fraser University. In Toronto, I really like Royaltea on Dundas West. My favourite flavour is grapefruit green tea with grass jelly and aloe vera. Cactus on Bloor Street does Vietnamese bubble tea, which is also great.
I’ve recently started collecting magazines, mostly big fashion and art ones. I’ve been finding great ones at Soop Soop on Dundas West, so I’ll walk down there and browse their rotating selection. I also like Issues, which is just down the street. They have great music magazines. I’m starting to amass a pretty big stack of them, so my next project is trying to figure out how to display them.
I listen to music every single day, usually when I’m walking by myself. I see it as a way to soundtrack my life. I made this playlist on Spotify called Debby’s Hot Picks. If I find a song I like, I’ll play it to death. I’ve been really into Teezo Touchdown’s new album, How Do You Sleep at Night?, and Amaarae, especially her song “Angels in Tibet.” Lana Del Ray is always in heavy rotation.
At some point, my boyfriend or I will make a light lunch at home. We both like to cook. Dinner is kind of my big meal, and aside from that I prefer to snack during the day. Lunch might be something like a soup, but regardless of what we make, we keep it pretty simple.
Even on my days off, I like to work on my music. I would consider myself a workaholic. I love what I do, so I rarely feel like I should take a break—the exception being after a tour, when I usually need about a week to recuperate. Aside from that, I’m essentially working all the time. I have a little studio in my office with a mic and some speakers, so I’ll sit down at my computer and tinker with different things, playing around to see if I can make anything I like.
When I’m done making music, I’ll sit down and watch some Desperate Housewives. I’m on season four at the moment, and it’s my first time watching it. I think I was a bit too young for it when it first aired. I love it—it’s so campy. It’s like a soap opera but funny.
For dinner, I’ll go out somewhere with my boyfriend or some friends. I mostly go to restaurants that I already love. My favourite right now is Imanishi on Dundas. It’s got a Japanese-inspired menu, and it’s all so delicious. They have this great karaage corn, which is like deep-fried corn. The number-one for me is their cucumber dish—it has the perfect seasoning. I could honestly order two or three of those.
These days, I’m a huge homebody, so I head home after dinner. If I’m not seeing my friends, I’m probably home alone. I’ll wind down from the day by watching more Desperate Housewives, or I’ll play a movie on my projector set-up. I recently watched Taxi Driver—somehow I’d never seen it, even though I’m a big Paul Schrader fan. I’ll also do some reading. I just finished The Pregnant Virgin by Marion Woodman. It’s about the transformation of the female psyche. She’s an incredible writer and a fantastic psychologist. A lot of psychology books can be super dense, but she’s very poetic.
Before bed, I have a light skin-care routine. It’s pretty simple—I just use a CeraVe face wash. Though recently I bought a red-light machine from Amazon. It’s basically a box with all these little red light bulbs attached to it, and you just hold it up to your face. It’s supposed to promote healing and regeneration, so you can use it for acne scars, wrinkles and signs of aging. I bought it before the Polaris award ceremony because I wanted to have perfect skin for that day. I’m not sure if it’s just a placebo effect or if it’s the real thing, but I’m going to say that it works. After that, I’m asleep by 1 a.m. so I’m ready to get back to work.