Christina Martin says, “I Can Too”!

Christina Martin’s “Two Hearts,” is the newly featured video on our website (www.songwriters.ca).

Christina’s is about to launch her new CD, “I Can Too,” on September 7th, 2010, and recently secured distribution with EMI.  With a storm of activity impending, Christina took some time to answer some questions, share her experiences and give some tips to fellow songwriters.

1.  Congratulations on securing distribution with EMI.  What advice can you give fellow songwriters about seeking and securing distribution. Building any good relationship takes time.  I encourage anyone to focus on making the kind of music you want to make, and then taking opportunities of as many conferences and opportunities to showcase your music live to interested parties.  Its always a good idea to research WHO you want to work with, as there are many options out there, and then to personally invite key people to your live performances.  Introduce yourself but don’t be too pushy or annoying.  Just be yourself (hopefully you are not naturally pushy or annoying).

2.  What’s your favourite track on this  new album, and why?  My favourite track on the album is I Can Too. Its definitely my favourite song to play live because things get really rock’n towards the end of the song.  There’s anger, attitude and confusion at the heart of this song, but the message is meant to be clear and empowering for others.

3.  This is your third CD release (according to your website).  What did you learn from making the first two CDs that you applied to making “I Can Too”

  • Don’t be scared to speak up in the studio.
  • Keep it real and simple.
  • Don’t waste peoples time.
  • Don’t waste MY money!
  • Be sensitive to others when you are communicating that you don’t like what they are doing with your songs.
  • Work with people who have similar tastes in music and style and who are far more talented than you are.
  • Don’t be scared to try new things… but trust your gut in the end.

4.  What is the story behind the title track of the album? “I Can Too” was written years ago.  I recorded a demo of the song with two friends (Andrew Sisk, Daniel Ledwell) and then began performing the song live with a band.  After about a year or so the song evolved sonically.

"I Can Too" CD Cover

I think for most of my life I have had a strong sense of needing to prove something to someone, hence the title I CAN TOO.  My father was the same way.  I can think of many different scenarios where I felt I was being told that I could not do something, someone was being disrespectful or abusive verbally/emotionally, I felt taken advantage of or was angered by someone else being taken advantage of, hurt by family or friends or by situations I found myself in around the world, struggling with feeling out of control.  There were plenty of times in my life that I convinced myself I was not capable or good enough to follow a path with more heart, my own decisions influenced by subtle or strong ‘messages’ from loved ones and/or society, or by me just being confused. I think the 20’s can be a really confusing time for people. As you get older you can really grow tired of beating down the things that feel so natural to you and that make you happy, only to live up to someone else’s expectations.  I got tired of trying to live up to what I thought others expected of me. I grew tired of working for everyone else and feeling like I had nothing to hold onto at the end of each day. I was tired of being disappointed in relationships.  Everything was making me unhappy and depressed. Its obvious to me now that even when I wrote this song 5-6 years ago I didn’t even have the confidence to sing the song to anyone. I just wasn’t there yet.

I decided to call the album I Can Too because I believe this song  carries many simple and powerful messages, and reflects where I feel I am at today in my personal and professional life.  The song dances around the themes of confusion and struggling with multiple messages in a big and sometimes very confusing dying planet. It is a song that I hope encourages people to move from a place of disappointment to a place where they can find meaning and purpose in life.    Its about ultimately getting to a point in your life through trial and error where you have the confidence to do what you feel is the right thing to do, and having key people in your life who are supportive.

5.  How long did it take to put this album together?  Any major hurdles along the way? We spent about one month in the studio recording and mixing. I don’t believe in taking too much time in the studio to record a project. The only major hurdle was having to re-record the bass and drums for I Can Too three times.  The first time the ‘feel’ was wrong when we listened back to the track. The second time there was a technical error and we could not retrieve the tracks to work with. The third time (and this was cutting close to our deadline) things worked out!  It was almost comical as we started with this song in the studio, we were the MOST excited to record this title track, and had a clear vision for the song. However it ended up being the last track for us to finish recording.

6.  What role has the Halifax music scene played in your development and growth as an artist. The Halifax music scene continues to be extremely supportive of everything I have done musically since the release of Two Hearts in May 2008.   It wasn’t until I was more open to what the music industry had to offer me that things started to really develop and grow in all areas. I feel lucky to have worked with many of the best musicians in Canada in the studio and on the stage (Dale Murray, Adam Baldwin, Rose Cousins, Jason Vautour, Brian Murray, Kris Pope, Andrew Sisk, Daniel Ledwell, & Matt Charlton to name a few) and they have shaped my music as well.

The Funding Programs offered through Nova Scotia have been essential to my growth in recording and touring, as well as my growth in international markets.  You don’t need money to write songs, but money and support have allowed me to focus entirely on my company and growing as an artist.

7.  What’s your favourite part about doing what you do? I get to do all the things I love doing every day if I choose:  Make people Laugh, Make people cry, Travel, Be Alone, Write, Organize, Manage, Be Social, Run, Swim, Have Coffee With a Friend, Write a letter to someone….  I get to live out my dreams. I have never been this happy!

8.  What do you dislike the most about doing what you do? My least favourite thing is grant writing and spending too much time on administrative tasks, which unfortunately takes up a large portion of each and every day.  But I’d rather work for myself than do administrative tasks for anyone else.

9.  Any words of advice to aspiring songwriters who have yet to complete an album and tour as you have? Try not to be scared and be prepared to work your ass off!  Figure out what you want to accomplish (i.e MAKE A PLAN) and every day work towards achieving your goals… one day at a time… every day! AND you are NEVER too young or too old to start doing what you love to do!

To read more about Christina Martin, visit her S.A.C. profile:
http://songwriters.ca/member/ChristinaMartin

The S.A.C. at the TIMAs.

by:  Peter Linseman & Lily C

VIP Ticket Winner Michael Sonier and Guest.

The 5th Toronto Independent Music Awards (TIMA) were held on Friday, July 23rd at The Phoenix Concert Theater, with almost 1000 people in attendance.  The evening featured a broad spectrum of the most talented artists across many genres.

Congratulations to Michael SonierDavid Shaida, and Nilima Chowdhury for winning our draw for 2 VIP tickets to the show.  (We caught Michael enjoying the show with his guest.)

Peter Linseman and Lily C

When TIMA creator Daniela Oliva asked Peter Linseman to get involved, he jumped at the opportunity to support the Toronto Independent Music Scene.   As a result, the Best Young Songwriters Award was sponsored and presented by S.A.C.’s Toronto Regional Writers Group hosts, Lily C and Peter Linseman. The S.A.C. awarded the winner with a one year free membership and Music Mentor Productions provided a $250 voucher of recording time.

The nominees for Best Young Songwriter(s) were:

Medicine Dog,
Emberlight,
TJ Whitelaw,
Tomorrow Depends,
Avoiding the Afterlife.
…and the winner was:

TJ Whitelaw http://www.tjwhitelaw.com/.

Lily and Peter accepted the award on behalf of TJ, who was not able to attend due to a prior booking.

Make sure you visit the S.A.C.’s Toronto Regional Writers Group on Facebook.

Sierra Noble is looking forward to all the Possibilities…

Sierra Noble has garnered a few prestigious gigs lately including Lilith Fair in Calgary, opening for Bon Jovi and Kid Rock, and she played for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth (for the second time) during the Queen’s recent visit to Winnipeg.  The title track of her recently released EP entitled “Possibilities,” has already started charting on the Top 20 Countdown on CMT (Country Music Television) which was also her debut music video.  She took time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions…

1. What is the inspiration behind your newest album? The inspiration behind the “Possibilities” EP was quite simple…record my favourite of the very few songs I had written at that point.  The inspiration behind the album that I’ve been working on this year has a little more to it. In the past 6 months or so I’ve finally felt like I have some grasp on the art of songwriting and I also think I’ve finally been figuring out who I am as a songwriter.

I’ve been learning how to write about anything I want, or need to…it’s been a very therapeutic thing for me really as I think it is for most writers. I’ve been through a lot (good, bad, ugly, and beautiful) in my short 20 years of life…and I’m finally finding ways to write about it. I’m hoping that those special songs rise from the ashes and present themselves with little force for the new album. There will also be an instrumental album released shortly after the new vocal record…and probably an instrumental track or two.

2. Who has been your biggest supporter over the years? Definitely my mom. She’s an angel. Single mom of 3 girls, and did everything in her power to make sure every one of our dreams came true. She’s been there for me from the very beginning from driving me across the city to my violin (and dance) lessons when I was little, driving across the country to fiddle contests, flying around the world with me to festivals, and helping me make the really big important decisions of this crazy thing we call life through the whirlwind of the music industry…not to mention putting up with me, haha! Hard to imagine what I would do without her. I love you so much, Mama.

3. What has been the greatest challenge you have overcome thus far? And how did you overcome it? I’ve had many challenges in my life, some so great that I didn’t think I could overcome them period. But given time, you come to realize that it’s the challenges you face and your strength to overcome them that make you truly great. I strongly believe that if anyone looks at almost any hardship that they’ve had to face, no matter how great, there are usually many wonderful things that wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t been faced with that hardship. If you didn’t stub your toe on the crack in the side walk you may have not seen that $20 bill laying there on the ground.

I take everything in stride and try and view things from a wider perspective. I try my best to embrace all of life…but then again I’m only human. Having a shoulder to cry on once in a while helps too.

4. Do you write lyrics, chords, or melody first?It’s always different every time. For a long time I usually wrote chords and melody first. But lately I’ve been writing a lot of lyrics and then going from there. Like I said, I’m still very much discovering myself as a songwriter, and songwriting as an art form…I have a lot of different roads to discover still.

5. What advice do you have to give fellow artists who haven’t yet broken through?I wish I could approach this as an artist who HAS broken though, haha, I’m still trying myself…but I suppose I can offer some advice having been at it a while. Just keep going. Never stop. And don’t let anyones words or actions stop you from accomplishing exactly what you want to do. There are many different roads to get to any given place…even if it means making your own through the middle of a field.

6. Why has it been so important to you to dedicate your self to so many humanitarian causes? I think that as artists we have a great gift to reach people not only through our music about world issues, but even just the fact that we are given the opportunity to get up on a stage in front of a crowd of people who are there to listen to every word we sing, and every word we say. We have that time with those people to give them any message we want to and go home knowing that most of them will leave remembering it. I take that upon myself as a great responsibility as a human being on this earth to do something good with that.

Off stage is another thing though…it’s hard to explain WHY it’s so important to me to dedicate as much time as I can to different causes, but it would be even harder I think to explain why it wouldn’t be. When you see children with nothing and you have something to give, especially when you realize that something as simple as your time and compassion could change someone’s life forever…how could you not.

7. What would you like to see happen in your career in the coming year?Release the new record, tour tour tour, work hard and be ready for whatever else is in store! A good deal with a major label would be nice, and a great manager would really help too 🙂 just to put that out there…

Read more about her and listen to her songs on her S.A.C. profile – Click Here.

Matthew de Zoete on Getting High and Making Music Videos

Matthew De Zoete

Matthew de Zoete is our first member to have his music video featured on the S.A.C. website.  Read about his creative process and what he learned along the way.

1.  How did you come up with the creative concept for this video? In the first meeting I had with the director Rick Hind, he suggested that he’d like to shoot the video in The Staircase Theatre, an independent theatre here in Hamilton.  Since the song talks about looking at pictures of my relatives, the theatre location gave me the idea of playing to an audience of life-sized family photographs.  Then Rick and I fleshed out the particulars and made it happen.

2.  What was the hardest part of making this video? Since this was the first video I’ve made, the hardest part was the editing process – putting everything together to make a cohesive video.  Rick is a lot more experienced than I am, so I relied heavily on him for this part.

3.  Did any crazy things happen in the process? I got a bit high off the fumes from the spray glue I used to glue the blown up pictures to the cardboard backings.  And Rick brought a $10 toy video camera to the shoot ‘just for fun’.  We ended up using quite a few shots from that camera because they looked so different and interesting.

4.  How did you fund this project? I didn’t receive assistance from any grant organizations, so I funded the project myself.  We all know how well-heeled songwriters are, and I have deep pockets.  The total cost was about $1200.

5.  Has this video achieved what you hoped it would, both in terms of creativity and exposure? Creatively, this project was very satisfying.  It was a great introduction to making a music video, and it was an interesting and rewarding challenge to bring the vision Rick and I had in our heads to the screen.  The whole process made me think about this song and songwriting in general from a new angle, and it was a lot of fun to develop and realize visual ideas to go with the music.  In terms of exposure, it hasn’t achieved everything I was hoping for (fame, fortune, etc.), but it has been quite helpful in attracting new fans and giving current fans new material to check out.

6.  What did you learn from making this video that would be helpful for others to know? I learned that I’m lucky to have talented friends who are willing to help out.  And I learned that making a video is a lot more work than I’d originally thought.  It takes a lot of time and effort to get from the initial brainstorming to the finished product.  So I’d like to say a big thank-you to Rick Hind, Gord Pullar, Dave Hind, Dave King, and Paul van Dyk.

7.  What is the best thing that could happen in your music career in the coming year? I’m preparing to record a third album later this year, so the best thing that could happen would be for me to write that one killer song that knocks the new record out of the park – something almost as good as ‘Waterloo Sunset’.

Click Here to hear more of his tunes.

The Formula for Producing a “Hit Record”

by Douglas Romanow, Producer/Engineer

Douglas Romanow
Douglas Romanow in his element.

Someone once told me that the formula for producing a ‘hit record’ was easy:  record a hit artist singing a hit song.   And really, it’s not any harder than that.  [Except that finding a “hit artist” with a “hit song” is perhaps not as easy as stated].  But I’d like to begin this blog by stating that after producing records for twenty years, I’ve discovered a textbook truth for myself:   no one really cares who the producer is, who the engineer is, who the drummer / bass player /guitar players are, where the track was recorded or who mixed / mastered it.  The record-buying public cares about one thing only:  that they feel something.  If one can bottle emotional impact, one can bottle the potential for hits.

Emotional impact is best conveyed through two primary elements:  composition and delivery.  Songs and Singers.  The rest of us are involved in facilitating the presentation of these elements to the world.  This Truth [that the song still rules, delivered by an emotionally empowered artist] has focused my approach to record production, where I push for clear emotional delivery, moving artists into their peak performance state.  Should we care about snare drums?  Yes.  Should we care about mix detailing?  Most definitely.  What about time-locked tremolos and reverse samples and vintage instruments?  You bet!  But how much should we care?  Personally, if I had to weight these production elements, I’d give them [a significant] 30%.  The other 70% belongs to  melody, text/subtext and vocal delivery.   This is where music producers can really shine, bringing out the best in each artist and connecting the emotional truth of each song to the listener.   I’ll spend the next few posts looking at “finding truth” for recording artists, from the perspective of composition and performance.

Eddie Schwartz: Canadian copyright reform must be fair to music creators and consumers

By Eddie Schwartz

In recent weeks, the government has revealed details of Bill C-32, its long-anticipated revision to the Canadian Copyright Act. It is a complex piece of legislation and one that, if enacted, would affect all the creative endeavors in which copyright plays a role, such as music, movies, books, photography, and television, among others. The bill’s impact, or lack thereof, on the music industry is the focus of my comments below.

Bill C-32 comes at a time when there has been much talk that Canada is a “rogue” nation—that our current laws are inadequate to stop “piracy” and that we have become a “nation of infringers”.

One of the ways the Bill C-32 seeks to address these concerns is by harmonizing our copyright law with the United States and other World Intellectual Property Organization compliant nations. But WIPO compliance has not restored the music industry to health in the United States or any of the other countries where its provisions have been adopted. In fact, even more draconian measures, such as disconnecting file-sharers from the Internet are being experimented with in a number of European countries that are WIPO compliant. Just as a decade of lawsuits failed to stop or significantly slow the growth of file-sharing in the U.S., these efforts are likely to be counterproductive. File-sharers can easily employ available masking technologies and instead of ending “piracy”, it will simply be driven underground.

Under the proposed legislation it would be illegal to “break” digital locks, also known as technical protection measures or TPMs, used by the entertainment industry to control digital copying. In addition, infringers could be sued for up to $5,000.

Given that currently something in the order of 100 million unique songs without TPMs are already being shared over P2P networks in Canada and around the world, it’s difficult to understand what the government hopes to achieve by “locking the barn after the horses have run off”. Music file-sharing now constitutes well over 90 percent of all the music obtained on wired and wireless networks, and dwarfs all other means of distribution, including iTunes.

The Songwriters Association of Canada has proposed that Bill C-32 be amended to legalize music file-sharing in conjunction with a remuneration system for creators and rights-holders. Consumers who wish to file-share would be asked to pay a reasonable monthly licence fee. The revenue received could be distributed to performers, songwriters, and rights-holders on a transparent, pro-rata basis by one of Canada’s respected music collectives, such as SOCAN.

This one simple measure would not only go a long way toward eliminating the need for “locks and lawsuits”, but would create a new business model that would be fair to consumers and creators alike.

Apparently the government will hold consultations with interested parties later this year with a view to improving Bill C-32. Many of us who write and perform music for a living hope that the government takes a progressive approach to the difficult issues facing our industry, and moves beyond the failed policies of the last 10 years.

Rather than follow other nations down the copyright rabbit hole into a netherworld that makes less and less sense, Canada can lead the world to a forward-thinking approach that gives consumers the unrestricted access to music they want, while at the same time fairly compensating creators.

Eddie Schwartz is a Juno award-winning recording artist and songwriter, the president of the Songwriters Association of Canada, and a director of the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. He represents the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada in Nashville, where he resides with his family.