Skye Sweetnam

Skye - Social Media
Skye has released two full-length solo records to date, “Noise From The Basement” on Capitol Records (2004) and “Sound Soldier” on EMI (2007). Skye’s current musical endeavor is Sumo Cyco, a project mixing her unique pop/punk sensibilities with a metal band. Sumo Cyco released has released two albums, “Lost in Cyco City” (2014) and “Opus Mar”(2017). Skye also appears on over 30 album compilations worldwide, with total sales in the millions.

Some highlights of Skye’s musical career include, opening for Britney Spears on her Onyx Hotel Tour on 50 dates throughout Europe and North America, as well as preforming as the “singing” voice of Barbie in Mattel’s “The Barbie Diaries.” Skye has performed live before over two million people in over 25 countries worldwide as well as being a featured performer on the Jay Leno and Craig Kilborne Shows. Her band Sumo Cyco has recently opened for acts such as, Coal Chamber, Nonpoint, Fozzy, Butcher Babies and Mushroomhead. They have played festivals such as Warped Tour, NXNE, Sound of Music, CMW and in 2013 won Toronto’s Indie Week.

Skye has written and performed songs featured in various films, T.V. shows and video games, such as Laguna Beach, Nickelodeon’s Wayside School, Radio Free Roscoe, Hotel for Dogs, Super Monkey Ball and The Sims Pets.

Skye was signed to a publishing contract at the tender age of fourteen, at the time she was the youngest person to be signed to EMI publishing in Canadian history. Skye is currently a Sony/ATV published songwriter with over 15 years of experience, she has worked with some of the most celebrated hit makers of the decade, such as The Matrix (Lauren Christy, Scott Spock, Graham Edwards) (Avril Lavinge, Hilary Duff, Korn), Greg Kurstin (Adele, Lily Allen) and Max Martin (Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears). Skye also wrote extensively with punk rock legend Tim Armstrong from Rancid and was featured on the hit “Into Action” This was the number one requested song on KROQ in LA in 2007.

Complimenting her musical career, is Skye’s love of nurturing a very active online community. Skye has made a multitude of music videos to promote herself on her YouTube channel, now close to 10 million views and Sumo Cyco’s channel with an extra 3.8 million. To capitalize on this talent, Skye has directed music videos, EPK’s, behind the scenes footage, creative online content and animated videos. Her clients include CMT, country pop stars Leah Daniels, Meredith Shaw, YTV’s The Next Star Winners Charlie and
Brooklyn Roebuck, Slaight Music Artists as well as pop up- and -comers such as Stacey Kay and Jillea.

Skye continues to be creative in all aspects of her multi-faceted career, and constantly evolves as an artist, songwriter and filmmaker.

 

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

I find that I do have my ‘best practises’ but I always try to open myself up to new pathways of creating. Straying from the trusted path can be a great way to get a new perspective and potentially find new ways to produce your best work. When I first started writing music I had a hard time opening up to potential collaborators. As we creators know, writing can be a very personal process. I would always prefer to take home a copy of the music, write the lyrics and melody alone, then regroup once I felt I had the best ideas to put forward. As I grew as I writer, and was thrust into more collaborations and situations. I grew to feel more confident in sharing the first ideas that popped into my head. Sometimes, I give myself challenges. For instance, writing a verse as fast as possible or holding to a specific predetermined lyrical theme. These can be exciting ways to prove to myself that even within “the box” some of the best work can be produced because I’m focused rather than floating around with too many limitless options.

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

I started writing at a very young age. I remember making a 3-piece girl group at age 9 and performing our songs “Friends Forever”, and “I Love the Beach” to my entire class at school. My infatuation with boy bands and groups like the Spice Girls faded into a need to rebel. I started working with a young songwriter/producer named James Robertson who was a very talented guitar player who opened me up to all guitar based music when I was 13. I began to write angsty lyrics about skipping school, parents expectations and how immature boys were, all backed by pop-punk guitar riffs. It was a few years later when I reached 20 that I told myself I had to loose the “teen” sound and find a musical style that I could grow into as an adult. I fell in love with a Dancehall Metal band based in UK named Skindred. It was aggressive, yet fun and I loved the fact that I wanted to head-bang and dance at the same time. I told my friend/guitarist Matt Drake that I wanted to start a band with a similar feel. My current project Sumo Cyco was born. Cool thing is, Benji the lead singer of Skindred is featured on our song “Move Mountains” from our last album. Dreams come true and full circle at that!

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

I’ve had experience as a priority artist at Capitol Records in Hollywood and I’ve been working as an independent artist for the last 10 years. I’ve seen both sides of the coin as far as what it’s like with lots of funding to zero funding. A few things come to mind that apply to both. Always be the captain of your ship. In this industry there’s some sort of perception that someone or some company will “discover” you and all the pieces of the puzzle will fall into place. This is not true. Even if you find a great team member or members that believe in the project, it does not mean that the work is done; in fact it’s just the beginning. No one will have your best interests as heart more than you will for yourself. So be your best advocate, toot your own horn, put yourself in the situations that can breed success. You have to know where you want your ship to sail or else the current may take it it in an entirely different direction.

 

#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.

ISIS SALAM

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ISIS SALAM is an ever so versatile chameleon. Not only an emcee , dj , vocalist , and a self- proclaimed dance floor diva;  she is also now being recognized by her peers as a producer in her own right.

Bringing boundless amounts of energy on stage and already boasting  a formidable list of artist collaborations including legends such as Tyree Cooper (Godfather of hip-house) , Junky XL (Producer behind Batman Vs Superman, Mad Max Fury Road scores) as well as some of the hottest features with Pharell (N.E.R.D) , Sub-ann and LeftWing & Kody.

ISIS SALAM has come a long way since her budding days as the other half of Canadian electro duo THUNDERHEIST. After taking home the prize for best video at 2009’s SXSW festival with their critically acclaimed debut single “Jerk it” , ISIS SALAM went on to grace the curveted live stage on the hit Jimmy Kimmel show with hip hops porto rican prince himself NORE (aka NOREAGA). Proving to the world she was a force to be reckoned with. ISIS SALAM began exploring her solo career and after hearing nothing but praise from her friend feminist icon PEACHES; ISIS SALAM  went on her own pilgrimage to the artist mecca Berlin and like her predecessors she fell immediately in love.

After her soft more release “Let Go”  with deep house label Exploited Records ( also home to Claptone) ISIS SALAM continued exciting the crowds at some of Europe’s top music festivals (MELT festival , SONAR , ADE, BREAD& BUTTER ). As she Continues to share her passion she continues to find her way into the heart of the Berlin underground.

ISIS SALAM’s voice harkens back to the days of smokey jazz rooms and late night disco’s ; raspy, deep and powerful. Her wordplay is often underpinned by understated honesty. ISIS SALAM’s live set is a pure on-stage evolution: opening with deep-breathing, bass- heavy house; it morphs into sexified nu-disco before growing into a full-blown dance party.Pulling from Afro-house, Deep disco cuts and soulful to Gutterhouse. Whether its a DJ set or live performance; ISIS SALAM is always tirelessly working to create the perfect environment for lovers of the classics and dreamers of an analog future, providing you with everything you could ask for and just that little bit more.

With recent releases already heating up the charts and sitting pretty in Germany’s top 10 club tracks, ISIS SALAM seems to have only just begun.

 

  • What inspires you to create music?

It depends on what I’m making . Sometimes i write stuff just to amuse myself , sometimes i’m seeking a more cathartic experience and other times my aim might be to convince everyone on the dance floor to get naked and touch some body ….. with consent of course.

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

My ideal environment is a small well treated studio and and endless supply of four trade ethically traded coffee . From there i usually start with the melody and bass line if I’m composing something for myself . When i have a sense of the “vibe” I’m going for by i’ll build a really simple drum pattern which informs the style and vocal approach i might take . I come from the old freestyle rapper school , so when it comes to writing lyrics i tend to start free styling around the “vibe” which then forms the topic act …. as i explain it , it seems like i have a plan but when I’m actually working i look probably more like a ferrel animal at my desk .

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

I started by attending open mics. I later started invited myself into freestyle circles and sneaking into clubs ( i don’t condone sneaking into places … i just did .. so yeah) From there i was able to network with people . My main approach wasn’t really thought out , i was just really “hungry” and its that drive that not only gets you into the industry but also KEEPs you in , give or take a mental break down or two.

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

The main evolution i think would be mainly me. As I’ve gotten older i’ve learned new skills and coincidentally expanded my repertoire. I started as a poet or a writer now i like to think i’m a little woman army or at the very least an ideal team member during the inevitable Z- apocalypse.

  • Do you write for other recording/performing artists? 

Lets just say depending on the artist i would consider it .

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

One of the percs of my ADHD is a natural leaning to diversity and randomness. I love music, all type of music. I low key make a punk record because i could. Music is the universal communicator i see genre’s and just different languages.

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

Im a black , queer nigerian woman . So without being too redundant, racism , classism , sexism and micro aggressions be out here ya’ll. Stay woke.

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

This question i always feel is like the “whats your fav colour question”. As you get older it changes, no? Right now Nina Simone, and whatever is currently bumping on my spotify playlist.

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

Do we have the ability to reanimate people ? if so — Prince , Marvin Gaye, Nina Simone and alive …. I’m currently obsessed and willing to meet whenever they are available – Grace Jones and Quincy Jones….

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

I was always a weird kid so the arts is usually where we end up if we’re lucky enough to be talented. It began with informal and later formal. As for my production I’ve shadowed people and approached it more like an apprenticeship. I like to think you never stop with your education so I’m still learning.

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

If your aim is to be famous cool… There’s an app for that . The industry is constantly evolving as I’m not a doctor i don’t feel good giving industry advice, but for creatives. Appreciate your craft, have patience for yourself, savour those “ i’m my own boss” moments , travel and live somewhere else where you have to learn the language (if possible), taxes….. and organize your folders .. like with labels and stuff. Focus on WHY you do IT , if it becomes just for the money , get a real job … they usually cover dental.

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

Playing with Madlib and hugging Ghostface for an inappropriately long time.

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

Laptop, DAW, lots of RAM + WAVES plugins.

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

Involve more women of colour on all levels and diversify the hip hop community.

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

10 yrs and we will be replaced by AI .. but before artist platforms will include a 1 stop shop approach i.e. Distro/Website/Social Media/Streaming. Monthly ownership vs individual track/album sales. Live concerts will continue to be the bread and butter.

 

#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.

Ari Rhodes

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Ari Rhodes is a Juno-nominated songwriter, composer, and producer based in Toronto, Canada. Originally from Rhodes, Greece, Ari began his career at the age of 14 as a house music DJ before moving to Canada to study audio production. Between his love for old analogue gear, obsessive editing skills, and, passion for collaborating with new and inspiring artists, Ari most likely will never grow up and get a real job.

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

Tool as in Tool, Tool? Hah, well, great equipment and toys do make a difference. I love vintage analog synths, effects, tube microphones, and instruments. They make music more tactile and engaging. And, I just really love the sound. Of course, a laptop, a stable DAW, and a soundcard are necessary to do the work–but all of these tools really mean nothing if your mind isn’t clear. So, I would say that my peace of mind and some good food are my most important tools for creating. You can be in a multi-million-dollar studio and still make something that sounds, well, mediocre if you are not in the right headspace.

  • What inspires you to create music?

I walk a lot in Toronto, so places and movement inspires me. I record hundreds of voice memos of ideas and sounds while I walk. Life inspires me. I grew up in a small tourist resort in Rhodes, Greece, which was one of the most popular tourist destinations for young British partiers in the 90s. The music and the clubs were unbelievable at that time. There was so much energy and it was really exciting and inspiring to 13-year-old me, sitting on a subwoofer, learning how to DJ. When I moved to Canada a few years later, I met many people and heard so many new styles of music. In that way, learning new things and hearing new sounds always inspires me to push myself creatively and to refine my craft. Most importantly, though, people inspire me.

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

The most important advice I’ve received is to work hard, do your thing well, and to not be afraid to do it all the way. People often want to jump on trends, and can be successful doing this for a while, but there is something differently fulfilling about making something unique, something new. It is hard. But, you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable, to let your imagination go, and to even encourage a little play in your practice. I guess, always look forward, work hard, and join SAC!

#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.

Serena Ryder

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Just for the record, you could easily be staring a Serena Ryder triple album in the face right now.

It might have taken four-and-a-half years for this celebrated Toronto singer/songwriter to gift us with a follow-up to 2012’s expectation-defying critical and commercial hit, Harmony, but a lack of new material was definitely not the hold-up.

No, just as she did for the last record, the prolific Ryder amassed something like 65 or 70 songs during the run-up to her star-solidifying new platter, Utopia. The challenge wasn’t coming up with new material; the challenge was whittling it all down to fit an album-sized package. Ryder was so flush with good stuff heading into Utopia, in fact, that she briefly toyed with releasing her own equivalent of the Clash’s Sandinista! or George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass – a triple LP composed of songs that she envisioned divided amongst moods of “light,” “dark” and the “grey” area in between.

In the end, she chose to compress the full spectrum of emotions into a more manageable, but no less ambitious package that wouldn’t necessarily require booking a day off work to properly absorb in one sitting. But you’ve been warned: there is definitely more to come.

“I still have all those songs and, to me, they’re all good and they’re all good for a record so I don’t know,” she laughs. “I might have three more records.”

Hey, why turn it off when it comes easily? Some people need plans and deadlines and discipline to get anything done, some people just do what they do naturally and effortlessly. Serena Ryder does what she does naturally and effortlessly, and has done what she does naturally and effortlessly since she was a young girl. This girl was performing by the age of eight, cut her first record at 16 and could boast of being a major-label artist with a gold-selling album, 2006’s If Your Memory Serves You Well and a gold-selling single, the lingeringly knee-weakening “Weak in the Knees,” all before she’d even turned 25. And yet it took a debilitating bout with depression and artistic self-doubt brought on by her premature pigeonholing as just another “sensitive Canadian folk chick with an acoustic guitar” for her to finally let it all come out truly naturally and effortlessly on Harmony, the album where Ryder found her voice and discovered that the best formula for her success is … no formula at all.

You can still hear the results of the “letting go” that allowed Harmony – a genre-oblivious sleeper hit that went on to notch platinum sales in Ryder’s native Canada – to happen living and breathing on the radio to this day, since that record’s signature single, “Stompa” (triple-platinum and counting north of the 49th parallel), and its anthemic follow-up, “What I Wouldn’t Do,” haven’t left the airwaves since.

Now you can hear the further results of Ryder’s ongoing liberation from what she described in 2012 as a burdensome “idea of who I thought I was” on Utopia, which extrapolates upon its predecessor’s “anything goes” template with even more confidence and joy.

Utopia’s sassy soul-pop romp and lead single “Got Your Number”, hatched spontaneously during an exploratory early writing session that found Ryder once again casting aside her guitar and “just goofing around on the drums, just kind of rapping and rhyming and singing weird jazzy stuff” in search of new musical avenues to explore, is but a tantalizing taste of the surprises Serena Ryder has to offer on her new record.

There’s low-slung, electro-groovy sexiness orbiting the sweet spot between Prince and Of Montreal on “Electric Love” and “Me and You”; Winehouse-esque R&B with a swaggering hip- hop cadence on “Firewater” and “Killing Time”; smoulderingly futuristic downtempo balladry cooked up with Weeknd producer Doc McKinney on “Wild and Free”; a couple of pulse- quickening attempts at epic, Arcade Fire-worthy arena fodder (“Because who wouldn’t want that, really?” shrugs Ryder) on “Hands” and “Ice Age”; and, for those who’ve been along for the ride since her folky 1999 indie debut Falling Out, a couple of stirring ballads in the classic, confessional Ryder mould in the form of “Sanctuary” and the sweet-natured love song “It’s No Mistake”. And then there’s that voice. Heard Serena Ryder sing lately? She should register that instrument as a weapon. It’s nuts.

There was no grand design to Utopia. A loose theme derived from the First Nations parable of the Two Wolves – which states that we have all have two wolves inside us, one light and one dark, that fight for dominance as they are fed in either direction – applied itself in hindsight, as Ryder saw those two sides of her own personality playing out in the song writing and wondered what would happen “if you fed both wolves instead of just one of them, so that neither of them are hungry?”

“I found in a lot of the songs there was that dynamic when I looked back,” she says. “So many people, when they put out a record, it’s all dark or it’s all light and happy. But on this record there’s a lot of juxtaposition of both those things – the light and the dark. I was wondering what if you married the two. I wanted to write an album that had some sense of balance. But I have no fucking idea if it happened.”

Find thematic threads where you will, then. Utopia is a collection of winning songs written on the fly in Los Angeles, London, Nashville, Los Angeles and Toronto with such friendly collaborators as Simon Wilcox, Thomas “Tawgs” Salter, John Grant, Todd Clark and Derek Furnham with one goal in mind- to enjoy the moments that make up the process of creating music.

“A lot of the songs on this record are basically just experimentation and me hanging out with friends and having a good time and just kind of writing in that way,” says Ryder, who still considers herself a student of her peers. “When I go into a writing session, I’m there with these awesome, talented people I just assume that everybody else knows 10 billion times more than I do. I just start ranting and raving and running around and making weird noises and eventually looking for a melody because I have no knowledge of any sort of theory – I don’t know the names of any of the chords that I play, I never learned any of that.

“Most of the time, I really feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve been doing this since I was straight out of high school – touring, writing, performing – and I still feel like I’m brand- spankin’ new. I don’t know what kind of songs I’m going to write or what kind of record I’m going to put out. I don’t have a set-in-stone identity when it comes to being a musician. It’s a mystery, even to me; a good one. It’s nice to be able to live within that mystery.” Utopia to be released Spring 2017.

Awards:

  • 2014 JUNO Awards for Songwriter of The Year and Artist of The Year
  • 2014 MuchMusic Video Award for Rock/Alternative Video of The Year (“Stompa”)
  • 2014 Canadian Film Award for Original Song (“It’s No Mistake”) featured in the film, Right Kind Of Wrong
  • 2013 Adult Alternative Album of The Year
  • 2010 Video of The Year (“Little Bit of Red”)
  • 2009 Adult Alternative Album of The Year (Is It O.K.) 
  • 2008 New Artist of The Year

Certifications:

  • Single “Stompa – 3x Platinum Single
  • “What I Wouldn’t Do”– Platinum Single
  • “Weak In The Knees”– Gold Single
  • “Got Your Number” – Gold Album
  • Is it O.K. (2009) – Gold Album
  • If Your Memory Serves You Well (2007) – Gold Album
  • Harmony (2012) – 2x Platinum

Highlights:

  • Shared the Pan Am stage with Kanye West and Pitbull
  • Late Night TV performance on Jay Leno
  • Original song “Sing Sing” was the soundtrack for Music Monday, special event to highlight music education in Canada which saw nearly two million Canadian schoolchildren singing the song in class
  • Performed the Canadian National Anthem at the 2014 NBA All Star Game
  • “Stompa” was featured on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy
  • Performed on CBC TV’s “Quietest Concert Ever” on the Ocean Floor which took place during low tide at Fundy National Park in New Brunswick Canada

 

  • Do you write for other recording/performing artists?

After writing all of the lyrics and melodies for my album “Harmony” i realized that i had a lot more to say…since then i’ve been writing with and for other artists regularly…i find it even more satisfying discovering gems walking in other peoples shoes.

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

I think the music community needs to let the kids out there know that its actually much braver AND way cooler to live a sober life. Theres so much bullshit out there promoting how cool it is to get fucked up…what’s actually cool, is how brave it is to deal head on with your issues and feel all your feelings instead of numbing them out. (not to mention how much sobriety hightens your art, your feelings, and gives the opportunity to hone your craft.We need more sober artists setting a good example to show how being healthy IS REVOLUTIONARY.

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

My most important tool is my graph paper mole-skin book and my Japanese Hi-TEC-C pen.

Tour Dates:

  • June 28: Kirkland Lake Community Complex – Kirkland, ON
  • July 05-06: Niagara-on-the-lake, ON
  • July 25: Butchart Gardens – Brentwood Bay, BC
  • July 26: Squamish Constellation Festival – Squamish, BC
  • July 27: Sun Peaks Resort – Sun Peaks, BC
  • Aug 9: Kingsville Folk Festival – Kingsville
  • Aug 17: St. Jean Balloon Festival – Saint-Blaise-sur-Richelieu
  • Sept 28: Get Loud for SickKids – Toronto, ON

#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.

Shawnee Talbot

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Two Spirit singer songwriter and powerhouse artist making medicine with music. Shawnee is a Mohawk music artist  Billboard has named one of their ‘Top Gender Bending Artists” for her work in the community as a Two Spirit person.

Shawnee is driven by passion to create empowering strength using her music in the same way music was their for her as a young person giving her hope and strength. A soulful voice she carries blended with a unique power that shines through her songs.

Her work with Kids Help Phone and We Matter Campaign as well as Youth Songwriting Workshops is a big part of her music career and support for LGBTQ2+ and Aboriginal communities.

  • What inspires you to create music?

The power of healing, inspiration, love and passion through music. Feeling it, giving it, and experiences it with other people gives me life to create and continue to grow as a creator in music.

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

My process always starts to same. What is inspiring me in the moment and I go with this. Lucky for me I never feel short of  a thought process. My brain and heart is always running on high gear.

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

I started young. I was writing song at the age even 6, its something I have always found love in. But when it came time to move my career forward to began the process of knowing what it means to be a songwriter. It comes with a lot of power in a way i think. There is so much you can do for the world with it and for yourself even.

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

My writing and music continues to evolve and I think always and forever will as long as I am creating and growing.  I meant and said different things when I was in my young twenties compared to now. But it always comes down to  knowing my roots and coming back to that strength, knowledge and comfort.

  • Do you write for other recording/performing artists?

I have written for other artists and have pitched songs to major recording artist’s and for me its always a dream come true no matter the level of artist or situation.

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

As far as genre goes I am all over the map and that sums up my personality. I enjoy all aspects of music and  to be boxed in any genre feels limiting. There’s so much good to explore in blues and rock, country and pop, soul and classical.

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

I think.. if you are in the arts then at some point you have faced a hurtle in some way. I have faced political, economic and social hurtles in my career. Each and every one I have faced has made me a stronger, wiser and better human/artist today.

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

My musical influences are also all over the map. But I can say that I grew up listening to Melissa Etherdige, Yanni and some other classical players. A lot of people think this is weird but for me its what was available and spoke to my spirit. Got me through what I needed to get through.

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

Melissa Etherdige a thousand times .. or just once would be everything

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

Most of my learning as been informal this allowed room to explore what worked for me and what I felt driven towards.

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

My advice to a creator looking to break further into the scene is to get yourself out there any and all ways. Create and never stop.  No matter what anyone makes you feel like success is not the determining factor of your talent and gifts. Create because you
want to and because you love to. Create what you want because you love it and you want it.

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

I am still working on my own personal musical creative favourites. There is still so much I want to accomplish. My favourite musical memory is always taking my music that I have created to the live world and sharing it with people.  Letting them take it away from there and experience it how they want.

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

The most important tool you need when writing in your heart and anything that will capture what comes from there for you to remember.

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

The music community growing as a unified entity is something that holds power and strength.

#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.

 

Danny Michel

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The only good thing about not shopping in record stores anymore is you won’t have to figure out what genre to look for Danny under. If that were the case, you could try looking under, rock, pop, folk, world or (recently) even classical. His own self-described musical A.D.D. has kept his music fresh for decades. His thoughtful lyrics & charming performances have earned a devoted fan base, multiple nominations for Junos, The Polaris Prize, CBC’s “Heart Of Gold”, and most recently winning the CFMA’s “Producer of the year” and “Oliver Schroder Pushing the Boundaries” Awards.

But Danny considers his career highlights to be the unique real life moments like performing for Jane Goodall’s 85th birthday party, touring with Stuart Mclean and working with charities close to his heart. “When I was eleven, I spent a month living in Khartoum, Sudan. It was there I was exposed to a very different world…and music beyond Rock & Roll”

In 2015, his adventurous spirit took him to the country of Belize where he tracked down one of his favourite Belizean bands; The Garifuna Collective (a unique Afro-Amerindian cultural group) and convinced them to create an album together. That album (“Black Birds Are Dancing Over Me”) was called “One of the finest musical works of our time” by Billboard’s Larry Leblanc, landed Danny’s 3rd Juno nomination (World Music Album Of The Year), and a sold out summer tour of North America with The Garifuna Collective. While in Belize, Danny also founded the DM Ocean Academy Fund that helps raise scholarships for a small non-profit community high school. To date, Danny & his fans have raised over $90k for the school. In 2016, Danny returned to Canada to record “Matadora,” his most deeply humanist album to date. This ten-song collection explores the environmentalist, pacifist, romanticist, archivist, and space enthusiast in Danny.

Then it was off to the Canadian high Arctic where Danny recorded “Khlebnikov” (possibly the most northern album ever recorded/above 80°) aboard the legendary Soviet-era Russian ice-breaker, Kapitan Khlebnikov during an 18-day arctic expedition curated by Col. Chris Hadfield. Once home, Danny’s recordings were arranged for brass and strings by film composer Rob Carli. The result is a suite of atmospheric and haunting songs about the Arctic, our planet, and our place in it. When he’s not performing he’s fighting for musicians’ rights, the environment, making short films, producing, running his studio or filming “Dan’s Space Van” Danny is currently staring at a blank white board pondering his next musical adventure. 

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

I’d hope my music has become more focused over the years. My early albums are frantic and all over the map. I still learn lessons after every album. I’m constantly being reminded that less is more. I’m also trying my best to make a connection. If I can get the listener to think about a lyric or ask themselves a question that’s very rewarding.

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

I’ve always joked I have musical A.D.D. I love so many genres of music I couldn’t imagine playing just one style my whole life. I’ve made rock, folk & even world music albums. While the style might be different I hope there’s a thread that runs through them all that still sounds like me. The songs are still the same style of writing, just dressed up in different clothes.

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

I had no formal training. In high school I worked at my cousins chiropractor clinic as a janitor in exchange for a guitar. I learnt to play on my own with chord/tab charts. I was never a strong singer either. But I loved music too much to let that stop me.

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

For me, I’ve been an indie artist much of my career. It’s a ton of hard work but rewarding and pays off on many levels. I’m a manager, travel agent, driver, roadie, merch person and more. I still lick stamps, hand-write each envelope & stand in line at the post office twice a week to ship merchandise orders. I love it.

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

One of my most fondest memories would be performing for Dr. Jane Goodall at her 85th birthday party recently. It’s moments like that, where my music crosses paths with incredible people making a difference in this world that mean the most to me.

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

For me it’s the memo app on my phone. It’s loaded with dozens of 20 second song ideas I get. They’re the seedlings of songs.

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

I’m concerned for songwriters in this modern age who are no longer compensated (fairly) for the music they create. Especially those starting out. I’m not sure how something can be sustainable when it has no value. I hope the conversation continues & gets louder.

#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.

Damhnait Doyle

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“Liquor Store Flowers” is the first solo oeuvre from Newfoundlander Damhnait Doyle in 11 years; Doyle was working with The Heartbroken, doing film work, and participating on Boards of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Association of Canada, and SOCAN. At a music industry conference in Mexico City earlier this year, she spoke on gender equity in music.

Damhnait Doyle was born December 9, 1975, in Labrador City and grew up in St. John’s, Newfoundland. 17 years later, she found herself recording in Toronto, fresh out of high school and on her way to  multiple awards from SOCAN, the ECMAs as well as a couple of JUNO nominations. Having grown up singing and playing guitar and clarinet, Doyle released her first album in 1996, called “Shadows Wake Me”. The debut included “A List Of Things” which was nominated for a JUNO.

Her 2000 follow up, “Hyperdramatic” garnered a couple of East Coast Music Awards. In 2003 she released “Davnet” (the phonetic spelling of Doyle’s first name) and began releasing albums as part of the band Shaye, starting with “The Bride” that same year.   

As a shy young performer, Doyle found drinking helped ease performing jitters, and joined the legions of musicians who like a drink or three. Playing alcohol-selling venues like bars and clubs made it seem more natural to drink on the job, as it were. Liquor-free for eight months now, Doyle says many of her fellow musicians have quit drinking, and she wants to support their initiative by linking them with like-minded performers who still work mostly in bars.

Over the course of a few drinks and decades, Doyle has released eight albums, including with the award-winning Shaye, and, starting in 2009, The Heartbroken. Their single “A List of Things,” cracked the Canadian Top 10.

While touring the country she has shared stages with Steve Earle, Willie Nelson, and Serena Ryder, recruited for a guest spot on Doyle’s new release. “Liquor Store Flowers” has a couple of accompanying videos online, for the title track and for “That’s What You Get.”  Doyle will be opening for Serena Ryder this summer as well as playing other dates.

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.

Don’t forget to check out these Damhnait Doyle songs as part of our new Spotify playlist episode  – https://spoti.fi/2wzTB5b

Spotify Ep. 10 - S.A.C. Board, Past & Present.png

1. Liquor Store Flowers
Performed and written by: Damhnait Doyle
Produced by: John Dinsmore
Album: Liquor Store Flowers
Source: Sheri Jones Entertainment

2. A List Of Things
Performed by: Damhnait Doyle
Written by: Damhnait Doyle, Tim Welch
Produced by: Ken Myhr
Album: Shadows Wake Me
Source: EMI Music Canada

3. Never Too Late
Performed by: Damhnait Doyle
Written by: Creighton Doane, Damhnait Doyle
Produced by: Dave Hodge
Album: Hyperdramatic
Source: EMI Music Canada

4. That’s What You Get
Performed by: Damhnait Doyle
Written by: Damhnait Doyle, Emily Reid, Robyn Dell’Unto
Produced by: Damhnait Doyle, John Dinsmore
Album: Liquor Store Flowers
Source: Sheri Jones Entertainment

5. Tattooed
Performed by: Damhnait Doyle
Written by: Christopher Ward, Damhnait Doyle
Produced by: David Hodge
Album: Hyperdramatic
Source: EMI Music Canada

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.

Shari Ulrich

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Long before her induction to the British Columbia Entertainment Hall of Fame, Californian-Canadian Shari Ulrich entered the world in San Rafael, California on October 17, 1951.

At the age of 19 she “ran away” to British Columbia up the coast. It was 1969, and the coffeehouse singer-songwriter scene was still going strong. She was just re-acquainting herself with her grade school violin skills when she joined forces with Rick Scott and Joe Mock. The group they formed was Pied Pumkin, in 1973.

In the early days of the Canadian music business, the arrival of major labels’ regional offices had many a performer optimistic about their music possibly getting heard beyond their immediate stomping grounds in our vast country.

Of course, the major labels didn’t regard Canada as a major country, as Americans sold more records to the Japanese and British than they moved north of their border. When there was a multitude of Canadian record labels, some artists could carve out decent careers, but it was a hard slog.  

Others, feeling left out of the party they’d supposedly been invited to when they first signed a record contract, realized they could release their music independently. Perth County Conspiracy, who released two albums on Columbia, ended up self-releasing their music. Of course, those albums are hard to find now, but they weren’t the only Canadian band that figured keeping the money from a few sales wouldn’t be worse than receiving a pittance and feeling controlled by a huge record label.

Out west, there was the afore-mentioned Pied Pumkin. Forming their own “pumkin” related label, Squash Records; the band managed to sell some 30 thousand copies of their first two records. Their first album, ”The Pied Pumkin String Ensemble” came out in 1974. The album was recorded at Simon Fraser University from a truck outside. Ulrich played dulcimer, saxophone, flute, mandolin, and violin.

Pied Pumkin records were financed by charging fans 5 bucks each- before the record was made. Crowd funding before the Internet, or even touch tone telephones. The band played out west, mostly in B.C. and Alberta with some treks to Ontario.

Ulrich left Pied Pumkin to back fellow west coast singer Valdy in The Hometown Band in 1976. Valdy toured more expansively and Ulrich found herself on stages across the country. In Toronto over the years, she has played stages from living rooms to Massey Hall to Maple Leaf Gardens. Ulrich signed with 2 major labels before reverting to controlling her music independently. She appears on “The Pear of Pied Pumkin,” recorded by the “Pear” – the remaining two members of Pied Pumkin, courtesy of A&M Records. This is almost certainly the first Canadian record with a song questioning the wisdom of Canada hosting the Olympics.

The Hometown Band won a Juno in 1978 for Most Promising Group of the Year. Nonetheless, they folded soon after their second album was released, when A&M cancelled their the Ontario leg of their US tour hours before their Juno award win for Most Promising New Group in another up and down moment with a big record label.

Ulrich recorded two solo l.p’s of original songs for A&M, “Long Nights” and “One Step Ahead.” Unfortunately, a deal involving MCA in the U.S. and a purge at therein found her newly recorded third solo album, “Talk Around Town,” lost in the shuffle on the eve of it’s US release. While lacking any American distribution, Ulrich won the Most Promising Female Vocalist Juno Award in 1981.

Ulrich moved to Bowen Island in 1993 with her then-husband David Graff to raise their 3 year old daughter Julia. Ulrich and Graff are no longer married, but, always a lover of nature, she remains on Bowen Island. Reflecting on divorce, she comments in-concert, while introducing “You Know I Would,” that a divorce is indicative of a successful marriage that ran it’s course, rather than as a failed effort.

Always fond of collaboration, Shari joined forces with Bill Henderson and Roy Forbes (UHF) in 1989; with Barney Bentall & Tom Taylor (BTU) in 2008, and in 2010, Ulrich joined the bluegrass band The High Bar Gang with Bentall and Colin Nairne.

In the intervening years, Ulrich has continued to release music independently, and make songwriting her focus and now has some 25 solo and group records to her credit and  2014 CFMA for English Songwriter of the Year. Pied Pumkin has played sporadic reunions since 1999, and in 2016 The Hometown Band reunited and toured with Valdy.

Away from microphones and instruments, Ulrich has taught at Humber, UBC, the VSO School of Music and continues to host the Songwriters Association of Canada SongBird North Series in Vancouver as she has for 23 years. Ulrich is now releasing her ninth solo album, her second back with a record label – Borealis. Her daughter, now a busy sound engineer, producer and music editor in film & television has engineered  and co-produced her last 3 albums and tours with Shari regularly as a multi-instrumentalist. She will be releasing “Back to Shore” on June 18 at the Centennial Theatre in North Vancouver, but will be coming to Ontario and the Maritmes later in the summer.

  • July 20-21 Perth
  • August 6 Toronto
  • August 7 Halifax

http://www.shariulrich.com

 

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.

Don’t forget to check out these Shari Ulrich songs as part of our new Spotify playlist episode  – https://spoti.fi/2wzTB5b

Spotify Ep. 10 - S.A.C. Board, Past & Present.png

1. Everywhere I Go
Album: Everywhere I Go
Performed by: Shari Ulrich
Written by: Shari Ulrich
Source: Discogs

2. One Sky
Album: Everywhere I Go
Performed by: Shari Ulrich
Written by: Shari Ulrich
Source: Discogs

3. Find Our Way
Album: Find Our Way
Performed by: Shari Ulrich
Written by: Shari Ulrich
Source: Discogs

4. Life Goes On
Album: Find Our Way
Performed by: Shari Ulrich
Written by: Shari Ulrich
Source: 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.

Patrick Ballantyne

Patrick Ballantyne
Photo by: Ian Albert

Patrick Ballantyne is a busy man. The singer-songwriter’s other occupations include C.E.O. of the Registered Insurance Brokers of Ontario, as well as Board Chair at the Songwriters Association of Canada.

Raised in Windsor on a steady sonic diet of legendary AM station CKLW, Patrick the kid picked up a guitar and started teaching himself in his teens before joining forces with his friend Gordie Johnson to write songs together. Ballantyne cites prog sounds in general and The Beatles in particular as lifelong influences.

Ballantyne and Johnson went their separate ways before Big Sugar happened, with Johnson pursuing music as a career  and Ballantyne becoming a lawyer. The pair still continued to write songs together over the years. Patrick’s connection to music and background in law brings both the tenacity and a heartfelt interest in seeing songwriters get their due.

When  Ballantyne’s family life and career allowed, he wrote with Wide Mouth Mason, ECMA Award winner Tim Chaisson (“Beat This Heart”), The Trews, and other Canadian songwriters.

In 2008, Ballantyne’s self titled debut album was released. “Days of Rain” came a few years later in 2014. Ballantyne regularly tinkers in his home studio, developing new songs. 2014 also saw him win Now Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards for Songwriter of the Year. “I’m not sure how NOT to make music!” is how he explained it to the S.A.C.

Ballantyne’s process, he explained, is basically riffing on his acoustic guitar until a melody comes to him, and then, once the music is laid out, he’ll “scramble for words that fit.”

When asked about writing for specific genres of popular music, Ballantyne, ever the home studio guy, maintains “I write what I feel… the rest is production.”

In 2016, Ballantyne accelerated this method to compose and record a song a month. This yielded the album “Calendar,” the following year.

His new album, “Sky’” mixes both older and newer songs, and the instrumentation branches out across different styles. Still, the songs work together to create an album, rather than a collection of new-to-one’s-audience songs. “The album was very much conceived as a single unit, to be digested in a single listening,” he explains.

Advocating for songwriters’ royalties and rights, Ballantyne believes the music industry, as a whole, should, “whenever possible, speak with a unified voice.”

With respect to the Songwriters Association of Canada, Ballantyne is ready to “fight to ensure we are fairly compensated for the obvious and significant value of our songs.”

“Sky,” Ballantyne’s fourth release, launches tonight at The Moonshine Café in Oakville, Ontario.

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.

Don’t forget to check out these Patrick Ballantyne songs as part of our new Spotify playlist episode  – https://spoti.fi/2wzTB5b

Spotify Ep. 10 - S.A.C. Board, Past & Present.png

1. My Favourite Way to Turn You On
Album: Calendar
Performed by: Patrick Ballantyne
Written by: Patrick Ballantyne
Source: Northwood Records

2. The Look of You Gone
Album: Calendar
Performed by: Patrick Ballantyne
Written by: Patrick Ballantyne
Source: Northwood Records

3. Someone You Should Know
Album: Calendar
Performed by: Patrick Ballantyne
Written by: Patrick Ballantyne
Source: Northwood Records

4. What’s a Girl to Do
Album: Calendar
Performed by: Patrick Ballantyne
Written by: Patrick Ballantyne
Source: Northwood Records

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.

S.A.C. Pro Member, Lennie Gallant, Inducted Into The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame

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A song taking on its own life is surely among the most gratifying of events in the life of a songwriter. As “Peter’s Dream” turns 25 years old and its author and singer Lennie Gallant prepared to commemorate the song at a special ceremony in Charlottetown during the East Coast Music Awards, the hard topic of the song must seem an ironic sentiment to celebrate. The song appeared on Gallant’s album “The Open Window” in 1994 and has been recorded on a number of live projects since then. The ceremony itself is to induct the song into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. Gallant says he is deeply honoured to have his song chosen and be part of a national collection of songs by his songwriting heroes.

The enduring popularity of a song about the collapse of the east coast fishery that left tens of thousands unemployed in a long unstable regional economy, a song that remains sadly topical 25 years later, must come with some pangs of frustration with Maritime living standards.

Lennie Gallant was born in Rustico, Prince Edward Island, the eldest of six. The family lived in a small apartment above their grandfather’s grocery store in Rustico. Despite having three Francophone grandparents in Acadian-populated Prince Edward Island, there was no French school in Rustico by the time Lennie was a student. The village was surrounded by English communities and the French language had eventually almost completely disappeared. Consequently, he spoke no French as a child but Gallant would, later, pursue the language of his Acadian heritage and eventually even write and record two of his 12 albums in the language of Molière.

In the meantime, young Gallant received a guitar for his thirteenth year Christmas and taught himself to play. His mother played piano by ear, and along with his father, often participated in musical comedy shows in small community halls to raise money for local families in need due to sick kids, accidents, or fires etc. As soon as Lennie learned a few chords on the guitar he was enlisted to join and so began his musical career.

In 1988 he released his first album, “Breakwater.” “Believing in Better” followed in 1992, but his breakthrough came two years after that, with his album “The Open Window” which was released by Sony and contained the soon-to-be Maritime classic “Peter’s Dream.” A number of award winning albums followed and then Gallant was approached by DKD productions in Montreal to record his first French album in 2002. It was a struggle, as he was still wrestling with the language, but the singer was determined to produce a collection of original French songs that wouldn’t be merely competent, or even good (for an Anglo) but rather, a collection of songs French music fans could properly appreciate and enjoy. “Le Vent Boheme” was the result and won him Acadian album of the year at Les Prix Éloizes and a Francophone East Coast Music Award. Years later, in 2009 he’d win another for his second Francophone album “La Coeur Hanté.” He considers himself primarily an Anglophone writer however, and has won 19 East Coast Music Awards for his English efforts along with three Juno nominations. He even found himself being honoured for his work in both languages as a member of the Order of Canada.

Over the years Gallant released several live albums, the latest of which, 2016’s “Searching for Abegweit” was a double CD and contained all the songs from his much celebrated multimedia theatrical hit, “Searching For Abegweit”. Abegweit is the Mi’Kmaq name for Prince Edward Island, “the place cradled by the waves.” The show was supposed to run for one summer but is so popular it has now been extended to five seasons and has been performed over 160 times.

In 2018, Gallant released “Time Travel” which muses on the subject of time, humanity’s place on Earth and the universe in general. He performed one of its most popular songs, “Sequoia,” at the 2019 East Coast Music Awards accompanied by The Atlantic String Machine orchestra to tremendous reception. Gallant’s music has actually previously experienced real space travel, when Canadian astronaut and current Governor-General Julie Payette brought his album, “When We Get There”, to the International Space Station for the crew to enjoy. The Governor General recently presented Gallant with a mounted photo of that crew and his much travelled album embedded in the piece at a reception in Charlottetown. Gallant’s music has been featured in movies and television, and his songs covered by Maritimers as diverse as The Rankins, Matt Minglewood, and Measha Brueggergosman. Jimmy Buffet has recorded Gallant as well, extolled his praises as a songwriter, and even performed with him on stage. After many summers spent crossing the continent, Lennie Gallant will be spending this next summer in PEI where he will again perform his Island love letter, “Searching for Abegweit: The Island Songs and Stories of Lennie Gallant”. Fans will be able to catch him on his home turf, where on a clear night, you can sing Peter’s Dream around a campfire and watch the space station pass by overhead.

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. 9 - CMW

Don’t forget to check out these Lennie Gallant songs as part of our new Spotify playlist episode  – https://spoti.fi/2ZWk8an

1. Time Travel
Album: Time Travel
Performed by: Lennie Gallant
Written by: Lennie Gallant
Source: Discogs

2. What Are You Waiting For
Album: Time Travel
Performed by: Lennie Gallant
Written by: Lennie Gallant
Source: Discogs

3. Sequoia
Album: Time Travel
Performed by: Lennie Gallant
Written by: Lennie Gallant
Source: Discogs

4. Ghosts in This Town
Album: Time Travel
Performed by: Lennie Gallant
Written by: Lennie Gallant
Source: 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.