Pro Member Interview – Kayo

Kayo - SM

Kayo (né Filbert Salton) was born and raised in the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. Inspired by the likes of Bob Marley, The Fugees, Kardinal Offishall, 2Pac, and Jay-Z, Kayo’s sound is a fusion of hip-hop, reggae, and R&B. 

Kayo moved to Canada to study marketing at Saint Mary’s University. While in Halifax, Kayo immersed himself into the local hip-hop scene. It was at this time that Kayo met Classified and after working together under Half Life Records & with EMI Music Canada, Kayo branched off to pursue his love for music independently. He has since released 9 projects, and most recently in April released ‘Winter in St Lucia: An Extended Play By Kayo’. 

Kayo’s music is all about creating a uniquely aggressive and penetrating sound, songs filled with substance and purpose, a little sugar with the medicine.

Below is our interview with Pro Member Kayo:
  • What inspires you to create music?

Life and experiences inspire me the most, whether my own personal experiences or the experiences of those around me. A spark for a song idea can come from anything, from having a conversation with someone, overhearing a conversation on the bus, to seeing a cool meme on instagram. I try to be a vessel and allow even the most seemingly trivial things to have value in my life through the inspiration it brings.

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

My process varies. I jot down lines or phrases during the course of the day in a note on my phone called ‘Random Barz’. Some mornings I ‘free-write’. It doesn’t matter the topic, it doesn’t even matter if it rhymes. I put those in a different note called ‘Free Shmoke’. These notes are the ammo I take into my sessions. When in a session, I like to start by letting the music move me. It doesn’t have to be a fully produced beat. It can be a simple as some chords on a guitar or piano. I then freestyle and mumble different flows and melodies until I find something that moves me. I’d run a voicenote to record this process as to capture any idea that I come up with. I’d also skim through my ‘Random Barz’ and ‘Free Shmoke’ notes in hopes that something in there works or sparks more ideas. Or sometimes, I would record me freestyling over the beat about 2 or 3 times. Most of it would be jibberish but I usually get some good ideas from this process. I’d then go through those records and pick the melodies, flows or lines that I like. I’d then start cutting the parts I like and sequencing it all in the way I think sounds good. I would then take that reference track and ‘trace’ it by writing the lyrics to the jibberish.

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

I moved to Canada from St Lucia in 2008. I studied Marketing at St Mary’s University in Halifax. School was a means to an end. It was my way of moving legitimately to Canada to pursue my career in music. It was there in Halifax that I really got my start in the industry. I would perform at Open Mic at the pub on my Campus. Through that, I met Quake Matthews, and it was through the nurturing of that relationship, I eventually linked up with Classified. Class helped me take things to another level through touring with him and working on music with him through his imprint, Halflife Records.

  • How has your music evolved since you first became a recording/performing artist?

I think I have managed to find my voice. One of my greatest gifts as well as curses has always been my versatility. I think I’ve developed ways of making it all come together. My music is just a diverse and multifaceted as it was before, but there is more balance and cohesion.

Music creators unite! #CreatorsCount #ProsofSAC 
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Pro Member Interview – Quake Matthews

Quake - SM

Quake Matthews is a hip-hop artist who first made a name for himself in the underground battle rap scene in his early teens. Harnessing the raw energy and competitive spirit found in that arena, he was able to transcend into the multi-layered artist he is today. His raspy voice and unfiltered emotion have given him a signature sound, creating a captivating listening experience for his audience. At the age of 28, with the knowledge of a veteran, the ambition of a rookie, and a career that has been on a steady incline, Quake shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. 

Here is our exclusive interview with this energetic music creator:

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

In the early 2000’s a friend of mine taught me the art of freestyle rapping. I enjoyed the fact that you had to be quick on your feet, creative and spontaneous. I worked on my craft for a couple years, then caught wind of Freestyle battles happening in clubs in my city. I was only 16 at the time, so often times I had to sneak in to these events or get special written permission from the liquor commission. I ended up winning a number of battles and my name started buzzing around the city. That led to me wanting to get into a studio and translate my battling skills to songwriting. I got hooked up with a few people that owned studios, and now I’m on my 6th album and haven’t looked back since.

  • How can S.A.C. help you?

I would definitely like to be apart of more songwriting camps. I find them very beneficial to my career. I love building relationships with new artists.

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

I can mostly only speak on the hip hop community but I’m sure what I’m about to say applies to all genres across the board. I think we have to focus on building each other up and working together more. We have to learn to pull each other up instead of trying to walk over people to get ahead. If we work together and support each other more it would push the culture forward, and evolution is key to survival.

Music creators unite! #CreatorsCount #ProsofSAC 

Pro Member Interview – Nat Jay

Nat Jay - SM post

Nat Jay took her first steps in her parents’ music school and continues to land on her feet in the world of music today. Her songs have been placed on networks around the world, including ABC, MTV, The CW, Nickelodeon, Freeform, Hallmark, CBC, Syfy, Showcase, and Lifetime. Her debut full-length, All I Think When I Wake Up, was nominated for Pop Album of the Year at the 2015 Western Canadian Music Awards, named in the Top 10 Pop Albums of 2014 on PopDose, and awarded $10,000 for the lead single, “Can’t Getcha Out,” which was named Best of BC by Shore 104. She then released a follow-up EP, Quiet Dreams, and was awarded second place in LG 104.3FM’s VanCOVER contest for her cover of Sting’s “Every Breath You Take.” In December 2016, she collaborated with electronic production duo, Cookie Cartel, to release the highly acclaimed EP, Stoke the Fire, which Exclaim! described as “what it might sound like if the Postal Service were to make a Christmas EP,” and CBC Music added to its coveted holiday playlist. Nat Jay has earned a nomination for SOCAN Songwriter of the Year at the BCCMAs, been a featured songwriter at the Vancouver Folk Festival, and a guest on CBC Radio 2’s Canada Live. The songstress is currently in the studio recording her next full-length album with multi-
award-winning European producer, Ovi Bistriceanu.

After studying music at the University of British Columbia, Nat Jay released her debut EP, Lights Across the Sky, to a sold out room. Since then, she has been compared with powerful performers like Joni Mitchell, Patsy Cline, Alanis Morissette, and the Dixie Chicks. She has shared the stage with such esteemed songwriters as Canada’s own Juno award winner Dan Mangan, Matthew Barber, Oh Susanna, and Justin Rutledge, as well as NYC’s Jay Brannan and Australia’s Angus & Julia Stone.

Besides the success she’s had with her own music, in 2014 Nat Jay scored a co-writing credit with the legendary Stephen Bishop for the song “Loveless” from his album Be Here Then. An advocate of her industry, she sat on the Board of Directors of the Music BC Industry Association for four years and was a committee member for six. She is also a private consultant through one-on-one and group mentoring, facilitating seminars on sync licensing, grant writing, and album release for her peers. Nat Jay has been
asked to speak on panels for Canadian Music Week, BreakOut West, SOCAN, and Music BC, and is a guest lecturer at Nimbus School of Recording & Media, the Pacific Audio Visual Institute, and Langara College.

Complimented by a strong business head on her shoulders, Nat Jay’s compelling and highly accomplished vocal delivery will certainly turn heads in a noisy club, but it is her emotive songwriting ability that will steal the hearts of each and every audience member. What does she have to say? Check below:

  • If you could collaborate with any other music creator, who would that be? 

Chris Martin from Coldplay because he has a really great way of combining popular styles with more meaningful lyrics that really move people. He combines those poppy elements with really emotional, personal topics that people can relate to. And it comes through in his live performances, as he’s a very engaging performer. Also Ryan Tedder, the lead singer of One Republic. He writes amazing stuff for himself and others. He has his finger on the pulse of today’s music and always sounds unique, but still makes great songs for radio. He’s a modern day songwriting genius.

  • Do you ever compose for film/tv/video games? 

I haven’t specifically written for TV or film, but I have had a lot of success with songs I’ve created being placed in films and TV shows over the last 10 years. It’s one of the most amazing feelings and it never gets old. It’s cool that something you’ve created in your apartment and made into a piece of art can fit into someone else’s piece of art and compliment it so well. The success I’ve had in licensing has been very important to me as an artist as it’s been one of the main reasons I’ve been able to make a career in music. And because of that success, I’ve been able to develop a seminar where I teach other artists how to license their music to film and TV. So it’s been great for me on a creative level and in bringing in an income as an artist, but also has allowed me to engage with my community and become recognized within the music industry.

  • If the music community could do one thing better what would it be/What do see in the future of Song writing and music creators like yourself?

The music community could better at accepting less traditional careers paths. There’s always been a traditional trajectory of getting signed and having a marketing plan involving traditional publicity and radio. But these days, with the internet and technologies like streaming, there are so many different opportunities for artists to gain recognition. I think the music industry should embrace different kinds of artists and who have different career paths instead of trying to fit a square peg into a tired round hole.

Leading into the future – I see that more for new artists. I see some artists excelling at live performance, some getting tons of sync placements, others doing really well with playlisting on YouTube and Spotify, and they’re all building a brand and generating an income in different ways.  I’ve been fortunate enough that I love performing live and I’ve been successful at it, but I’ve also been successful getting sync placements while staying home and building an international fan base through that. There’s room in the future for songwriters and music creators to find a niche that works for them, generate an income, and build a career in music in a way that is unique and fitting to what they do.

Music creators unite! #CreatorsCount #ProsofSAC 

Pro Member Interview – Colin MacDonald

 

Colin MacDonald - SM

Bursting onto the scene in 2004 with their hit single “Not Ready To Go”, which became the most played song on Canadian rock radio that year, highly acclaimed, east coast bred rockers the Trews – consisting of founding members Colin MacDonald, John-Angus MacDonald & Jack Syperek – have since become a staple of the Canadian music scene and abroad. With 17 top ten rock singles to their name (two of which reached number one), 4 gold certifications and support slots for the likes of the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Robert Plant, KISS, Guns’n’Roses, Aerosmith, Kid Rock and Weezer, the veteran rockers are showing no signs of slowing down with the release of their 2018 single “the New US” which takes on the current state of politics and the media. Widely considered one of Canada’s best live bands, the Trews are not to be missed in a concert hall near you!

  • What inspires you to create music?

Life, love, books, music.

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

Writing all the time. I keep a journal and I always look over them for good starting points for tunes. I often find great song titles in newspapers and magazines.

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

High school cover band that became my real band for the last 21 years.

  • How has your music evolved since you first became a recording/performing artist?

I think it’s gotten better as I got more interested in the process of writing and recording music. I’ve become better and more patient in the studio. My lyric writing has gotten better and I wrote most of the words on my own now, in the past I’ve had a couple of co writers.

  • Do you write for other recording/performing artists?

Yes I’ve written with many artists. Sun k, T Thomason, Brett from the glorious suns to name a few. I love co writing!

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

I don’t think I’m terms of genres when I write but it can be interesting to set some.

  • Have you faced any major economic, social or political hurdles as a music creator?

I’ve been fortunate to make a living off of songwriting and touring. I’m very grateful for that, the obvious hurdle has been making head way south of the border. My career in Canada has been really great!

  • Do you have any musical influences who have influenced your style, or who you give a “nod” to whenever possible?

Yes! I’m influenced by everything I hear and see. I love great music so any chance I get to hear or see it I go for it. It always rubs off in great ways! It’s important to stay inspired and excited!

  • If you could collaborate with any other music creator, who would that be?

I’m not sure. I’d be too freaked out to write with my heroes, I wouldn’t be able to come up with anything. I really like writing with young artists who are just finding their way, often times they come up with the most interesting and out of the box ideas.

  • How did you learn your craft – was it a “formal” or “informal” music education?

Totally self-taught with a group of fearless freaks and misfits.

  • Do you have any advice for upcoming songwriters and creators who are looking to break further into the creative scene?

Write and work! It’s all about the work. You can do all the networking in the world but it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have the goods. You have to devote your whole life to it, because you’re up against people who have given up everything to do this job. Good luck and surround yourself with good people who believe in you.

  • What is your fondest musical memory or favourite piece of music you’ve written?

Highway of heroes. I wrote it over the phone in 15 minutes with Gordie Johnson. It’s had more impact on people than anything else I’ve written. It’s got some kind of magic to it.

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

A mind and a point of view.

  • Do you ever compose for film/tv/video games? What’s that like?

A few trews songs have ended up in tv and on video games. I don’t try to do that but I love when it happens. If it’s organic it’s cool.

  • How can S.A.C. help you?

Any initiative that supports creators and protects intellectual property helps me immensely.

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

Make sure talented people are compensated for their efforts. Great singers and songwriters should be able to afford a good life, they bring a lot of good into the world. I don’t think the general public understands to toll it takes on the psyche and the finances.

  • What do you see in the future for songwriting and music creators like yourself?

Writing and collaboration. We need to figure out how to make the work more valuable again. If artists can’t afford to make their art then culture suffers. It’ll be a race to the bottom chasing fleeting and ephemeral chart success and YouTube hits. I mean some songs get billions of views on YouTube but so does guy’s body slamming each other off their garage roof and cute videos of kittens. It’s no gage of artistic merit or success. Surely we can do better.

Music creators unite! #CreatorsCount #ProsofSAC 

Pro Member Interview – Ian Thornley

Ian Thornley - SM

Born and raised in Toronto, Ian Thornley studied jazz music at Boston’s Berklee College of Music in the 1990s, and formed the band Big Wreck in 1993 with classmates David Henning, Brian Doherty, and Forrest Williams. They soon relocated from Boston to Toronto and eventually signed a US record deal with Atlantic Records. Their 1997 debut album, In Loving Memory Of…, was a significant hit that year on rock radio in both Canada and the United States. His album “Albatross” debuted at No.5 on the Canadian Albums chart and “Ghosts” debuted at #4 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart. Here is our interview with this outstanding music creator:

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

 I tend to just write songs to be good songs overall, instead of writing for a genre specifically. However it comes out is however it comes out, it could have a bit more of this flavour or that flavour, but I’d rather have the song tell me what it wants. I avoid trying to force the song into a specific box. If the song impacts you, it will likely impact others as well.

  • Do you have any musical influences who have influenced your style, or who you give a “nod” to whenever possible?

 I try to give a nod to all of my influences whenever possible, and I never think of it as plagiarism or stealing; I think of it as a cheeky tip of the hat. Hopefully the listener will get that I am getting that I am saying “here is an obvious Led Zeppelin-ism” or “here is an obvious Tom Petty-ism”.

  • 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 actually use an app on my cellphone to record all of my ideas on the fly, and it probably has about 400 new ideas sitting on it. It’s what I go to when recording a new record to tap into all my ideas and riffs.

 

Thank you for being a member of the Songwriters Association of Canada, Ian! 

 

Roveena lets her love light the way

RoveenaAfter her father was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma cancer, Roveena set out on a mission to raise awareness by becoming the brand ambassador for Lymphoma Canada.  Roveena recently released Love Will Light The Way (2015) – Lymphoma Cancer edition proceeds of which will be helping individuals who have been diagnosed and/or living with Lymphoma. Net proceeds from the sale and streaming of Love Will Light The Way will be donated to Lymphoma Canada! The songwriters,Andrea England, Luke McMaster and Liz Rodrigues, are 100% supportive of this initiative!   We asked Roveena a few questions about this project and her recent journey.

1.  How has your father’s cancer diagnosis impacted your craft and path as an artist?
I was in the middle writing and recording my 2nd album when my dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. I was left feeling heartbroken and speechless. While in the studio, my producer James Bryan, formerly from The Philosopher Kings, told me to really harvest those emotions and put them into songs. In doing so, it was a great release for me – I was feeling empowered and my skill of songwriting had improved. I slowly started to see that my path as an artist became a lot more clearer.

2.  What should people know about lymphoma?
Lymphoma is the 5th most common cancer is Canada. It can really impact any age, race, gender but more importantly it can go undiagnosed/misdiagnosed for years. Many people have never heard of Lymphoma and my plan is to change that and really bring awareness to the forefront.

3.  How did your partnership with Lymphoma Canada come to be?
When we received my dad’s diagnosis, I had no idea what was Lymphoma was. Lymphoma Canada is a non-profit organization that provides tons of information along with support groups for anyone newly diagnosed. I decided to reach out to them because I wanted to help anyone else going through the same situation my family was experiencing. My goal is to raise awareness about this type of cancer. I didn’t want anyone else to be blindsided by a diagnosis of Lymphoma, but more importantly I wanted people to be informed about this type of cancer. Information is power and the more you know the more control you will have when you fight this disease.

4.  Who chose the song “Love Will Light The Way” for the campaign? 
Lymphoma Canada heard this song and instantly fell in love with the message. Lymphoma doesn’t just affect the individuals that have been diagnosed – it also affects their loved ones just as much. This song provides hope and knowing that the affected are not alone and they have full support surrounding them.

5.  The song is written by Andrea England, Luke McMaster and Liz Rodrigues.  How did this song land on your album Perfect World?
I have had the pleasure of working and knowing Andrea for a few years now! As a veteran songwriter and artist, I am blessed that she has been a mentor to me. She pitched the song to me when I first started recording my debut EP and I fell in love with it. It just fit well with the campaign we have for Lymphoma Canada. We decided to release this version of the song as Love Will Light The Way (2015) – Lymphoma Cancer Edition. All net proceeds from the sale and streaming of this single will be donated to Lymphoma Canada.

6.  What are you goals as a songwriter and as an artist in 2016?
I have been working with James Bryan (The Philosopher Kings) for the better part of 2015. We have written 5 new songs and they will all be featured in a new EP set to be released in the new year! My goal for 2016 is to have these songs placed as syncs and as a artist to be able to tour and open for other like-minded artists!

Visit Roveena’s Songwriters’ Profile.

Itunes: http://smarturl.it/LoveWillLightTheWay
Spotify: http://smarturl.it/LoveWillLightStream

The story behind the song “Answers” by Jesse Weeks

Jesse Weeks

by Jesse Weeks

This song was inspired by the TV show LOST. I was a huge fan of the show and it was during the 5th season when I had the idea to write a song to the castaways from the viewers perspective. I wanted it to be filled with the hope they would one day have their questions answered.

The first line of the song – “Live together or die alone” – is a common phrase repeated by main characters throughout the various seasons. It seemed like a good place to start. The repetition of “Don’t lose your hope” in the chorus also worked well given that the characters faced so many obstacles and failures. I wanted to convey my earnest desire to see their tension resolved.

My favourite line of the song is “tarnished souls conflict with righteous minds”. This line summed up a lot of the interpersonal and ethical dilemma’s that characters found themselves in.

The song was beautifully produced by Ron Lopata. Ron was great to work with and helped me achieve my vision of having the song’s tempo speed up throughout the song. It’s hardly noticeable but at 2 or 3 points in the song, the tempo increases slightly. This makes the build more exciting and I was pleased that it worked so subtly.

The video was the brainchild of director Jeff Hammond of Hammond Cheeze Films. Jeff came up with the touching story which he captured with creativity and originality. My favourite shots are the flashbacks at the theme park. These were taken at the CNE where the colours are so rich and vibrantly engaging. I also liked that Jeff kept the storyline vague as it left the viewer open to interpret meaning. The female role is played by my wife, Laura Miyata. She did an amazing job portraying the mixed emotions we all feel at various times within our relationships. Given the theme of the music video, we thought it only fitting to pay respects to our heroes from the Canadian Forces by added a dedication at the end. Another notable topic is that I created 2nd version of this video which includes clips from the show LOST. I promoted the LOST version on YouTube during the series finale and was able to generate some buzz.

Given it’s inspirational and sincere message, “Answers” found a place on Canadian Christian radio and is still being played on many of these stations including Galaxie station “The Light”. I am very grateful for the airplay as the royalties have helped pay for some of the expenses associated with the production of the song and video.

Since “Answers” I’ve been writing a lot and am assisting a few up-and-coming artists. My goal is to write with/for artists that are either signed to labels or who I feel have the potential to be signed. I continue to write for myself but I often conclude that my songs may work better if performed by other artists. I also continue to work with new producers as I find it’s a great way to stay fresh and learn new tricks . Given that my strengths are melody and lyrics, I have found I work well with multi-instrumentalists and programmers. Some of my new demo’s can be heard at www.soundcloud.com/jesseweeks and I also have a blog at www.jesseweeks.com which I update from time to time. Thanks for listening 🙂

Visit Jesse’s Songwriter Profile:  http://songwriters.ca/member/jesseweeks

Here is the Lost version of the video: