Pro Member Interview – Deric Ruttan

Deric Ruttan is a Grammy-nominated, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and a Canadian country music artist.  The writer of multiple #1 country songs, Deric was raised just outside Bracebridge, Ontario, on land where his great grandfather made moonshine in the 1930’s.  It was the perfect backdrop for the singer/songwriter, who grew up listening to everything from CCR to Gordon Lightfoot to Johnny Cash. 

After touring with several country bar bands, Deric moved to Nashville, where his unique outlook and delivery attracted the attention and praise of songwriters Don Schlitz, Steve Earle, and Steve Bogard.  Deric has had over 70 songs recorded by other artists, including cuts by Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, Eric Church, Tim McGraw, Dierks Bentley, Darius Rucker, Justin Moore and David Nail to name a few.  Bentley’s chart-toppers “What Was I Thinkin’”, (Billboard #1), and “Lot Of Leavin’ Left To Do” (Radio & Records #2) are Ruttan co-writes, as are the Eric Church hits,  “Guys Like Me” and “Hell On The Heart” (Mediabase #8).  Since signing with THiS Music/Warner Chappell, Deric’s songwriting star has continued to rise.  In November 2013, he celebrated a multi-week #1 song when “Mine Would Be You”, recorded by country superstar and The Voice judge Blake Shelton, was a three-week number one (Billboard) for the artist.  “Mine Would Be You” was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Country Song, and an ACM Award for Song Of The Year.  In June 2016 Deric celebrated his second Blake Shelton #1 hit with the introspective “Came Here To Forget”. 

In July 2016, MCA Nashville’s David Nail took the Ruttan summer anthem “Night’s On Fire” to #10 on the Mediabase chart, and in April of 2017 Deric celebrated his 4th #1 country single when Jason Aldean took his song “Any Ol’ Barstool” to the top of both the Billboard and Mediabase country charts.  An ASCAP (8x), SOCAN (10x), CCMA (Canadian Country Music Association) (2x), and CMAO (Country Music Association Of Ontario) (5x) award winner, Deric has headlined 4 of his own coast-to-coast tours in Canada, where he has had 11 Top 10 singles as an artist, and 2 #1 videos on CMT.  He is currently in the studio recording music for a new EP, to be released on his own independent label, Black T Records.  He lives just outside Nashville, TN with his wife Margaret.

  • What inspires you to create music?

Fear of poverty.  No, but seriously…the fact that I have a family to support is my inspiration to work everyday writing songs, recording songs, and trying to get songs recorded. For me, inspiration shows up when I do.  You have to show up, inspired or not, and get to work.  Hopefully, inspiration will show up at some point during the process.

  • Do you have a process to your songwriting or when creating music?

My preferred method is to start with a title that inspires me. Also, coffee. Lots of coffee.  Then, I like to kind of sketch out a storyline of how I see the song unfolding – not literally sketch it out, but have a general idea of how the song is going to go.  This can be in my head if writing alone or something I talk through with a co-writer.  After I have an idea and a general outline that I’m excited about, I pick up a guitar and get to work on melody.

  • How did you get your start as a creator in the industry?

This is a hard question to answer…not sure when the “start” was…but as far as my professional songwriting career goes, I signed my first publishing deal in Nashville in 1996 – a year and a half after moving here.  Music row veteran Jerry Crutchfield signed me to my first publishing deal and paid me to write songs.  He was the first person here to pay me to create.

  • Do you write for other recording/performing artists?

Yes.

  • Do you tend to write for one genre, or do you find your music crosses genre lines?

I’ve certainly written some pop-leaning country songs, but most of my activity (as far as songs I’ve written that have been recorded by others), have been pretty mainstream county sounding songs.

  • What is the most important “tool” you need when creating, eg. GarageBand, google docs, your cell phone, Pro Tools, or a pad of paper?

Cell phone (only because that’s where I write down my titles and ideas), guitar, lap top, online rhyming dictionary.  In that order. Oh, and coffee. Lots of coffee.

  • If the music community could do one thing better what would it be?

Be more united when it comes to facing down those who seek to use our content for free (streaming services, for example).  If we (labels, publishers, artists, songwriters) were better at speaking in one clear, united voice, it would be a great thing.

#ThePROSofSAC #CreatorsCount #MusicCreatorsUnite

Songwriters Association of Canada posts songwriter related news and events as a resource to members. Publishing these posts does not imply that the S.A.C. endorses the teacher, product, service, or company.

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Pro Member Interview – Darryl James

Darryl James - SM
http://songwriters.ca/member/DarrylJames

Darryl James has been writing and touring with the Strumbellas for the past 9 years and has seen one of his co-written songs “Spirits” become an international hit going “Double Platinum” in Canada, “Gold” in the USA and “Gold” in Germany. “Spirits” also have over 120 million Spotify streams and over 54 million Youtube streams worldwide, so Darryl understands what it takes to write a hit single! 

Over the past 2 years, Darryl has made songwriting one of his main priorities with the goal of writing songs with for other artists. In the last 6-12 months, Darryl is now co-writing with grammy nominated artists and producers regularly, signed a recent publishing deal with Kobalt Music Publishing, and has judged for both SOCAN and CARAS for various industry awards. 

  • What inspires you to create music?
I love creating music that connects with people and what they’re going through in their lives. When fans tell me that my music relates to them in any way, it means the world to me and inspires me to write more!
  • Do you have a process to your songwriting or when creating music?
Yes. First, I create the melody and chords in a voice memo. From there, I try to write another melody to connect the two or co-write with someone to create something unique. I generally work on lyrics last.
  • How did you get your start as a creator in the industry?
I’m an original member in the band, The Strumbellas. It was my first band, and first time experiencing the industry.
  • How has your music evolved since you first became a recording/performing artist?
In The Strumbellas, we try to work with a new producer every record and push our sound to something new, and exciting. Each of us in the band is always trying to find new music that inspires us and then build from in our own projects.

  • Do you write for other recording/performing artists?
Yes. I am signed to a publisher called, Kobalt Music Publishing. I pitch songs to other artists and for sync opportunities.
  • Do you tend to write for one genre, or do you find your music crosses genre lines?
I enjoy writing for other genres, but feel most comfortable in writing folk/country songs.
  • Have you faced any major economic, social or political hurdles as a music creator?
Economically, the first 8 years of being in The Strumbellas was a struggle. I ran my own consulting business on the side, just to make enough money to support being in the band, and supporting my family.
  • Do you have any musical influences who have influenced your style, or who you give a “nod” to whenever possible?
Our lead writer in The Strumbellas, Simon Ward. He writes “Huge” hooks and is always working to write better songs. It has been inspiring to learn from him throughout the last 10 years, and he’s influenced my work ethic and style for songwriting.
  • If you could collaborate with any other music creator, who would that be?
To be honest, I love collaborating with anyone. I find the experience so memorable and inspiring.
  • How did you learn your craft – was it a “formal” or “informal” music education?
It was very informal. I played guitar around the camp fire and then transitioned to bass guitar and song writing, but that wasn’t until I was in my 20’s. Therefore, never be worried about when and how you start writing your first songs. It can happen anytime.
  • Do you have any advice for upcoming songwriters and creators who are looking to break further into the creative scene?
Write as many songs as you can, and don’t be scared to co-write with other creators.
  • What is your fondest musical memory or favourite piece of music you’ve written?
My fondest memory is when our song, “Spirits” climbed the USA alternative charts and reached #1 for 3 weeks. The excitement and opportunities that song presented over the last few years were life changing and inspired much of my current work.
  • What is the most important “tool” you need when creating, eg. GarageBand, google docs, your cell phone, Pro Tools, or a pad of paper?
I’d say a voice recorder and a note pad. When you feel inspired or even when you don’t feel inspired, write some melodies and lyrics at any time of the day, and go back and listen every month or so.
  • Do you ever compose for film/tv/video games? What’s that like?
I’ve started to write songs to pitch to film and television and in The Strumbellas, we’ve had a lot of sync placements with our last record. Overall, it is an amazing experience to hear a song you’ve co-written in a film, commercial or video game. And, even more rewarding when fans/friends come up to you and tell you about those placements!
  • How can S.A.C. help you?
I’d love to use the S.A.C to build my songwriter’s professional network by going to songwriting camps and connecting with other writer’s.
  • If the music community could do one thing better what would it be?
For the industry to be more inclusive of females and minority groups in leadership roles along with equalling out the opportunities for females/minority groups in the recording/production, and live music scenes.
  • What do you see in the future for songwriting and music creators like yourself? 
With the internet, and the ability to put your songs out into the world within seconds, I feel like the opportunities are endless. 15 years ago that really wasn’t possible, and I’ve seen first hand how a songwriter can be found from a song on a SoundCloud link or Youtube video.
#ThePROSofSAC #CreatorsCount #MusicCreatorsUnite

S.A.C. International Women’s Day Focus: Salome Bey

Salome Bey_ International Women's Day March 8, 2019 (IG) (4)

She’s won awards for her stage work – singing, acting, and writing. She toured the U.S. with her brother and sister, billed as Andy and the Bey Sisters. The sibling act also toured Europe. Touring brought Salome Bey to her soon-to-be-adopted country, Canada, in 1961. She would settle here permanently some five years later.

Salome Bey was born in Newark, one of nine children, on October 10, 1933. Bey played music from an early age, but didn’t release her own records until 1970, when, perhaps making up for lost time, both CBC and Canadian Talent Library (with Quality Records) each put out eponymous Salome Bey albums. To add to that confusion, some, but not all the cuts appear on both records.

Starting with “Spring Thaw” in Toronto in 1969, Bey performed in stage musicals through much of the 1970’s, bouncing between New York City and Toronto. She recorded vocals on a couple of Horace Silver albums in the early 1970’s. Galt McDermot’s record label, released “Songs from Dude” in 1972. He wrote the songs which Bey sang in her lead role in the Broadway production.

Bey found success on and off Broadway, winning an OBIE (Off-Broadway theatre award) for “Love Me, Love My Children.” On Broadway, “Your Arms Are Too Short To Box With God” resulted in a Grammy nomination for the original cast recording.

In 1978-79, Bey wrote and starred in “Indigo,” a musical production about the history of Black music. She also played a string of European jazz festivals, and some of this material was released by Radio Canada (French CBC) as “Jazz Canada Europe” in 1979. Bey’s voice can also be heard on some live recordings by The Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir.

Continuing to celebrate the history of Black music, Bey, wrote and directed shows featuring Black female blues singers, including Madame Gertrude, about Ma Rainy which starred Jackie Richardson. “Sweetmama” was a staged biography Ethel Waters.

Salome Bey wrote and directed shows that showcased black female blueswomen — a play called “Madame Gertrude” (about Ma Rainey, the mother of the blues, and starred Jackie Richardson), also a play called “Sweetmama” (about the life and times of Ethel Waters)

Dubbed “Canada’s First Lady of the Blues,” Salome Bey received the Order of Canada award in 2005.

Sadly, she began showing signs of dementia in her 60’s, and she will not be able to perform in public again.

Blog post by Erik Twight

Erik Twight is, at present, a Freelance Writer, maintaining a web presence specializing in current affairs, history, photography and music and producing a weekly podcast/radio show arranged thematically and with commentary for fun. Click here to read more.

Spotify Ep. 6

Playlist:

Song: Washed Away
Written and performed by: Salome Bey
Album: I Like Your Company
Source: Duke Street Records

Song: Untitled Love Song
Written and performed by: Salome Bey
Album: I Like Your Company
Source: Duke Street Records

Song: I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart
Written and performed by: Salome Bey
Album: I Like Your Company
Source: Duke Street Records

Song: Young At Heart
Written and performed by: Salome Bey
Album: I Like Your Company
Source: Duke Street Records

Song: Am I Blue
Written and performed by: Salome Bey
Album: I Like Your Company
Source: Duke Street Records

Song: A Kiss To Build A Dream On
Written and performed by: Salome Bey
Album: I Like Your Company
Source: Duke Street Records

Song: Warrior
Performed by: SATE
Written by: Saidah Matthews, Thomas McKay
Produced by: David Click Cox
Album: Red Black & Blue
Release Year: 2016
Source: Discogs

Song: Know My Name
Performed by: SATE
Written by: Saidah Matthews, Hill Kourkoutis
Produced by: David Click Cox
Album: Red Black & Blue
Release Year: 2016
Source: Discogs

Song: Mama Talk To Me
Performed by: SATE
Written by: Saidah Matthews, Thomas McKay
Produced by: David Click Cox
Album: Red Black & Blue
Release Year: 2016
Source: Discogs

Song: The Answer
Performed by: SATE
Written by: Saidah Matthews, W.Mccord
Produced by: David Click Cox
Album: Red Black & Blue
Release Year: 2016
Source: Discogs

Song: Dirty Little Lie
Performed by: SATE
Written by: SATE, Hill Kourkoutis, Merna Bishouty, Ricky Tillo
Produced by: David Click Cox
Album: Dirty Little Lie
Release Year: 2019
Source: YouTube, Discogs

Songwriters Association of Canada posts songwriter related news and events as a resource to members. Publishing these posts does not imply that the S.A.C. endorses the teacher, product, service, or company.