Pro Member Interview – Wolf Castle

Wolf Castle - SM

21 year old Wolf Castle is a two-time ECMA Nominated Mi’kmaq Rapper, Singer, Producer and Songwriter from Pabineau First Nation in New Brunswick.

Fresh out of University with a degree in Theatre – Wolf Castle is a natural showman and emcee making waves in the rap world with his unique style of music. Seamlessly blending traditional hip-hop with modern pop swagger. His vision and creative mind doesn’t follow the ordinary and delivers a message and perspective that is honest and original. Always writing music and striving to evolve, he tackles a wide range of musical styles from fun pop-party tracks to dark and brutally honest stories.

Growing up, Wolf Castle was surrounded by a family of artists and creators, his mother and uncle were both Rappers performing under the names “M03” and “Red Suga”. Inspired by the self-made artists in his family, Castle followed in their footsteps and continue the family business of music and artistry. At the age of 17 he decided to start taking music seriously and self-released his first commercial album “TG17” under the name Tristan Grant which was nominated for the “Aboriginal Artist of the Year” award at the East Coast Music Awards. Since then he’s been working under the name Wolf Castle and has released two more albums, 2016’s “Exit Cranium” and 2017’s “The Artificial to Original”.

Wolf Castle’s music can be found on iTunes, Spotify, TIDAL and Soundcloud. Read Wolf Castle’s interview with the S.A.C. below:

  • How did you learn your craft? 

Basically the most informal training you can imagine, zero informal training. The most I ever got was that I took 1 or 2 music classes in high school. It was important, I learned my major and minor skills on piano but that was about it. Other then that, when I started making music I didn’t know how to do anything, I didn’t know how to structure a song, I didn’t know how to play any instruments, I didn’t know how to record myself or write anything. I basically just did it so much that I learned, just from doing it. I got addicted to song writing through the process of just becoming obsessed with it and not willing to be a perfectionist at all. 

  • Do you have a process to songwriting?

My songwriting, instrumentation, and composing method is extremely sporadic and insane and definitely doesn’t have a lot of planning before hand. It’s more of a “figure it out as I go kind of thing”. So basically, most of the time I start writing a song I don’t even know what it’s about yet, I just figure it out. I guess you could compare it to free styling. I’ll listen to music that I really like, that inspires me, and I’ll get a vibe from that and words will just start coming to me. I’ll start free styling over it and sometimes it works and I’ll get a bunch of lines out of it and when I read it over again I’m like “Oh, this could be something”. And then I develop a song from that point. I don’t necessarily sit down and say “Okay, I’m going to write a song about love and the key is going to be “A” and it’s going be this tempo.”  I mostly just write lyrics and create something out of whatever shows up. I write songs sporadically and very quickly. I can’t stop, it’s like an obsession. I write a lot on my phone too, so if I’m waiting somewhere, or if I’m driving I’ll park (and write), basically anytime lyrics pop in my head. Thank god I have a phone with a notepad I can write in, I write in the tub, I write in my car, I write everywhere.

My family is also very musical. My Uncle for a long time a rapper, he went by Red Suga. He operated on the East Coast and he showed me how to make music also. We used to get together over the Christmas break at my Grandparents house and we would make a song every night over the Christmas holidays. He taught me how to not be a perfectionist, just got for it, get in the vibe it, and just create. We would come up with a hook, we’d make a beat, we’d write, we’d rap it, mix it, and put it on SoundCloud that night. 

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

If I could pick anybody on planet earth .. I would totally pick Tyler, The Creator for sure. He’s definitely someone who has influenced my sound. Him, Odd Future, or Mac Miller, anyone who came up independently or from there own clout really inspired me and showed me “Oh, I should do it too!” right. His sound is so awesome, I just love anything he puts out. He’s definitely one of those creators that influences a lot the way I want to approach music, being a rapper, and putting music out as an art form in terms of presentation, cool pictures, good outfits, and all the artistic direction surrounding the music as well as good music. 

#MusicCreatorsUnite #CreatorsCount #thePROSofSAC 

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Pro Member Interview – Aileen de la Cruz

Aileen de la Cruz - SM.png

Aileen de la Cruz is one of Canada’s most prolific songwriters. She has launched one of the most talked about careers as a writer, session vocalist, performer and vocal coach. A classically trained musician who began playing the piano by ear at the tender age of 2. At 10 years old, her dream of singing at Carnegie Hall with the highly touted Amadeus Children’s Choir and the Manhattan Philharmonic Orchestra was fulfilled.

Formerly Signed to Cymba Music Publishing, Vince Degiorgio (Caro Emerald, N-SYNC), Aileen has worked with many Multi- Platinum award winning producers/writers who in turn have worked with the likes of Kelly Rowland, Justin Bieber, Backstreet Boys. Recent collaborations have also seen Aileen working alongside ‘X-Factor’ and ‘The Voice’ winner in the UK, Spain, Portugal and Mexico.

Traveling the world on writing tours, Aileen’s trips have delivered multiple cuts landing worldwide hit songs with artists signed to Sony, Universal, EMI, THE VOICE and X factor Finalists, and Japanese and Korean artists such as Sexy K-pop Group ‘4 Minute’, fronted by megastar Hyuna – who was featured in a version of Psy’s global smash “Gangnam Style”. Recently Aileen is also a Juno nominated songwriter for Canadian “Adult Contemporary Album of the year “ for artist Nuela Charles.

She has also had songs featured on TV Networks BBC, ABC, FOX, HBO, featured on blockbuster movies such as ‘Bad Moms’ and ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’. Her songs have also appeared on TV shows such as ‘The Voice’ (UK), ‘Dancing with the Stars’ (US), ‘Desperate Housewives’, Keeping with the Kardashians and charted on Japan’s itunes Top 10 along with features on numerous commercials for globally iconic brands like ‘Reebok’ and T-Mobile USA.

In addition to her songwriting career, Aileen’s start in the music industry goes back to her roots as a first call session vocalist, vocal arranger and live performer. She has contributed her voice globally on records with international Hip-Hop superstars such as Snoop Dogg and Young Jeezy who have had their tracks graced by Aileen’s harmonies. Aileen is also a first call musician for Disney Cruise Line and a winner of “Best Musician/Band ” for the prestigious fleet. She also tours as backup vocalist for international recording artist Joey Albert.

Enjoy Aileen’s interview with the S.A.C. below:

  • What inspires you to create music?

The feeling you get when you hear a song finished that came from one single idea – inspired by real life situations or the people around you.

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

Yes. I usually start with melody ideas or sit in front of the piano and play around with chord progressions. I then proceed to lyric writing once I have a basic melody structure in place.

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

I was mentored by an up and coming producer named Ron Laxamana in my early teens. I recorded my first originals and Demos with him. I knew after a few sessions in the studio that working in the music industry was going to be my career. A few years later I began doing session work with more established producers and writers and carried on from there.

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

When I was first starting off I really only performed and created Pop/R&B Music. Now I appreciate and write for all genres. It was certainly a learning curve but very important as a writer to explore all kinds of music.

  • Do you write for other recording/performing artists?

Yes. I write for established artists or writers that are passionate about what they do. If they are willing to learn and are motivated and persistent to pursue a serious career in the business than I am willing to work with them.

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

I write all Genres.

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

I’ve been fully working in the music industry for the last 15 years so the challenge of being a self employed musician and writer has its pros and cons. I’ve had to work and wear many hats being a teacher, musician and writer to make ends meet. Also being female has it’s challenges with the way you are treated. But at the end of the day work ethic always speaks for itself and constantly thinking ahead about how you can source new opportunities is key. I think its also important to always think like an entrepreneur. After all, it’s called the music business for a reason.

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

I’m influenced by all styles of music really. If I can hear emotion in an instrument or a voice, thats what really moves me to emulate that in my music.

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

Andrea Bocelli or Beyonce’.

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

It was both. I began playing the piano by ear and my first song played was Chariots of fire after hearing it on TV. At 5 I began learning classical piano and it continued from there.

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

Learn to network. But also learn people. The business is all about building relationships. Opportunities don’t also come right away so it’s important to reach out and be involved in the community and in the meantime keep paying your dues and improve your craft.

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

My fondest memory is performing at Carnegie Hall with the Manhattan Philharmonic. I was only 10 and completely clueless about life. But the energy and sounds on that stage was something else.

  • 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 keyboard, my laptop, apogee and mic and compact audio booth. Virtually a compact studio that I take everywhere or use at home.

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

Yes I have. In a lot of cases you just get a brief of what the agent is looking for. Sometimes the descriptions are very vague and you have no idea what they want. Sometimes it’s hit or miss. I try to pay attention to what I hear on TV so that I know what’s currently being placed.

  • How can S.A.C. help you?

The S.A.C has already been very helpful to me and the community. I’ ve been very fortunate to be involved with One on one mentoring, Panels and the Pro Songwriting Camps. I would love to see this continue on all platforms.

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

Work on improving Gender equality and diversifying who we have on panels and conferences etc.

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

I think it’s a matter of educating yourself and keeping in line with technology and the trends. Some people write through FaceTime or Skype now days. You can record your own music at home without having an expensive studio.

#MusicCreatorsUnite #CreatorsCount #thePROSofSAC 

Pro Member Interview – Luther Mallory (House of Goobata)

Luther Mallory

Who is Luther? According to… Luther!

“Really, I’m a Band Guy.

I have been since about 16 when my best friend Matt handed me his bass and briefly taught me “Christie Road” by Green Day so we could play along with the CD. 

I went to College to learn music production, but really to find band members that would start a real band with me. I found them, we started a band called Crush Luther, and I dropped out of college. 

In Crush Luther we got to tour Canada 5 or 6 times; we got to play 3 times on Warped tour; we got to make 2 records and released them internationally; we got to make 5 videos; and we got to watch a couple of those videos hit number 1 on Much More Music in Canada. 

Crush Luther eventually folded after 8 years. We shut it down because we could see it wasn’t getting bigger. I had a huge vision but I could see it couldn’t happen this way. At the time, I thought it was the fault of our team, or even bad luck, but really, I just didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t get the work-load, the necessary drive, the business, I was busy being a self-righteous artist. 

I moved into business. I started a record label called Daycare Records with a business partner and I started producing and managing artists. I produced a really great record called “Wyatt” with The Danger Bees and I co-wrote, and produced songs with battle rap legend, Kid Twist. 

Meanwhile, post-Crush Luther and mid-business ventures, I started a new band with the guys from Crush Luther and JD Fortune, who used to sing for INXS. JD fronted and I played bass, co-wrote, and produced. I put everything I had into that band for 9 months and then it imploded in perfect VH1: Behind The Music fashion. Classic. 

The whole 9 months was documented and there’s a movie called Chasing Fortune that still plays on Super Channel that I will never watch. It was a weird time for me. 

After Fortune, I officially had no band, no music project of my own, and I was gun-shy about going for it again. It’s tough to restart. 

I had an idea about becoming a performance coach so I started showing up to my friends’ band practices. I asked every band I knew if I could come to their rehearsals and give them feedback about their performance. I just thought I knew enough after 1000 performances on stage to pinpoint some easy things to fix and I wanted to be around bands working because I missed it. 

I was over-confident then. I’d ramble endlessly about passion and energy and precision and I’d be in my head thinking “what the hell am I on about?” But the bands always seemed to dig it. I was motivating them. Being a motivator might still be my best skill. 

I scaled it and started running workshops through management companies and labels, and working privately with bands and artists in their rehearsals. I developed an intense performance workshop called Destroy The Stage from my decade-plus in bands and started to figure out how to really push artists on stage to find energy and intensity in their performances. Now I work with Canada’s Music Incubator, The JUNO Master Class, and many of the Music Industry Associations in Canada. 

But, I’m a band guy since 16. Music is a mosquito lamp for me. It will probably kill me but I don’t care. I’m drawn to it. I’ve got a new pop/edm duo with Chala. We’re called House Of Goobata and it’s my best creative work ever. That’s really what I’m still after, the performance high. Everything else is in support of that dream.”

Read Luther’s interview with the S.A.C. below:

  • What inspires you to create music?

I always thought music was my thing, but I finally realized that moving people is my thing, and music is simply the best way to move people.

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

It’s the same for every artist, I think. You start with perfect sincerity, writing without judgment, because it’s fun and new. Then, you learn about fame, target markets, awards, followers – and the sincerity takes a hit. You start calculating your writing to try and make it fit somewhere. Your songs become shit. The job then becomes finding your way back to sincerity despite the always-present awareness of those elements that can destroy true inspiration .. I learned too much, I lost the sincerity for a time, I clawed my way back, and my reward was wisdom and sincerity, finally working together.

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

I wrote a song for my best friend when he had his second child called Caterpillar Bones. It’s one of my favorite songs because I had a vision of writing one of those semi-morbid, dark lullaby songs for kids like Rockabye Baby. I wanted it to be beautiful and melodic, yet have it feel a little unsettling in the spirit of those creepy old lullaby songs. It was one of the uncommon times when the implementation met exactly in line with the vision from melody to lyrics to delivery to arrangement.

  • 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 clear head. For me, I can’t be my most creative when I get stuck on Thesaurus.com trying to calculate my next move. I do best when I can find the zen state of letting ideas just happen. It’s not always easy to conjure that state, and the craft part of a song always has some root in calculation, but I’ll write a better song singing my guts out randomly over a beat I’m feeling than trying to find a word that rhymes with “baby”.

  • How can S.A.C. help you?

I’m part of the industry as an artist, but also as an educator, so aligning with S.A.C and learning more about the state of the industry will help me as an artist and also allow me to better represent and educate the artists I work with.

#MusicCreatorsUnite #CreatorsCount #thePROSofSAC 

Pro Member Interview – Chala Speciale (House of Goobata)

Chala Speciale

Chala, in her own words:

“I’m a Song Writer, Producer, Visual Artist and Singer in a brand new EDM/Pop duo called House of Goobata with my partner, Luther Mallory. Five years ago, we took a shower together and played a game we made up called “What’s This?” where one of us has to come up with a word or a phrase and the other has to guess what the word or phrase might mean. (We do most of our songwriting in the shower together!) I came up with “House of Goobata” and Luth decided it would be a perfect name for an EDM duo. At the time neither of us listened to or knew anything about the genre. Over the years we always came back to the name “House of Goobata” I always insisted it would be the best possible project to pursue. So, several other music projects later, House of Goobata was finally formed. Sun Runners is our first official release. 

I have an Honors Undergraduate Degree in Law from York University. During my years in school, my focus was on human right’s law, criminal law, women’s rights and indigenous rights. I am also an animal activist and advocate in the animal community rescuing and networking dogs from high-kill shelters across North America. I am also in the beginning stages of fighting OHIP’s healthcare laws here in the province of Ontario on behalf of Canadian citizens. Activism and fighting for change are a big part of my life. 

I am the Co-Founder of a global digital creative agency called Super Social. Luther Mallory and myself created this business back in 2013 after I left the corporate world behind as a way to work for myself and focus my entire life on music and acting. I work with businesses all over the world helping them brand and market themselves online. In addition, I am part of Canada’s Music Incubator’s acclaimed Artist Entrepreneur Program where I teach artists and musicians how to market and brand themselves within the music industry. I have also worked as a mentor through CMI’s Artist Manager Program and their APTN Indigenous Mentorship Program.”

Below is the interview of Chala with the S.A.C.:

  • How can S.A.C. help you?

S.A.C. can help me be a voice for artists across Canada when it comes to fighting for our rights. Being able to have an amazing platform to speak my voice and represent other musicians and artists in the industry is very important to me. As artists nowadays, we put so much work and time into our art and we are lucky if we make a few dollars off of it. I don’t believe this is just. The government needs to step up and take action to protect us artists and see the value of our work. 

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

Yes. My advice to other upcoming songwriters and creators looking to break further into the creative scene would be to respect and focus the marketing and business side of music just as much (if not more) than the creative side of it. I work with a lot of artists who put 100% of their work into creating their art and not enough time is spent learning how to be a business person in order to be able to properly market and get their art in front of the world. Creating art is great, but if you don’t have the skills or abilities to be able to get your art in front of the right people, then you are only ever going to make music for yourself, not the masses. Some artists are content and happy with this, but most of us want some level of success I believe. 

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

I think that the music community needs to become more educated and united when it comes to protecting all of our rights. These rights include copyright laws and equality between males and females within the industry. I myself am a feminist and feel that the music industry still has a long way to go in terms of treating women with respect and as equal to males. Part of the reason why I am learning how to become a producer is because there aren’t enough females at the top level in EDM. I don’t think females are properly represented in this genre and I would like to break this mold and show other females that we can make it to the top level because we are just as talented and driven as men. This is something that I strive to work towards daily through my music and skill building.

#MusicCreatorsUnite #CreatorsCount #StayCreative

Pro Member Interview – Annabelle Chvostek

Annabelle - SM
Annabelle Chvostek is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer. Americana, UK has described her as an artist “whose talent is so exceptional that [she is able] to explore and master any musical genre she wishes”. 

Annabelle released her first self-produced and self-released recordings while pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Fine Arts, specializing in electroacoustic composition. Between 2003 and 2005 she released the jazz-fuelled LP Water and the raw, angst-ridden EP Burned My Ass. 

In 2005 Annabelle joined the Wailin’ Jennys and toured the world with their award-winning album Firecracker, in which she wrote four songs. Upon leaving the Jennys, she released Resilience (2008), co-wrote two songs with Canadian legend Bruce Cockburn on his Juno-winning album A Small Source of Comfort (2011), and put out Rise (2013), which was nominated for a Juno Award. Both Rise and Resilience (Borealis Records) were nominated for Contemporary Album of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards. Her last album, Be the Media (2015), unleashed her inner rocker, playfully navigating the boundaries between folk rock, post punk and the Canadian singer-songwriter tradition. 

Her talent and versatility has also led her to compose music for independent films and dance productions. She has worked with NYC-based dance company Drastic Action for over a decade creating experimental music scores that integrate her interdisciplinary training and background. 

One of her most recent projects is a close collaboration with Toronto’s Echo Women’s Choir, where she has been artist in residence since 2016. She has composed and arranged her own songs for choir and conducted flash mobs and formal concerts. This work has been supported generously by Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts. 

“The ex-Wailin’ Jenny performs with such strength and versatility that it’s hard to find fault … casting light in any direction the roots fuelled artist turns” – Exclaim Magazine, Canada.

Here is Annabelle’s take on the questions below:
  • What inspires you to create music?
  • Do you have a process to songwriting or when creating music?
  • How has your music evolved since you first became a recording/performing artists?

Throughout my life songwriting has proven itself time and again to be an incredibly productive tool towards navigating my own complex emotional landscape. Early on I learned that the more vulnerable I felt presenting a song to the public, the deeper the common connection would be with the audience. I remember, in my twenties, being terrified to present a certain song, and then the vindication of having an audience member come up to me after a show, tears in eyes saying “You just sang my life!” That gave me a lot of confidence in the power of song to not only get me through my things, but to touch on universals and hold space for other people too.

As my personal life became more settled I did find that writing relationship songs became a less urgent pursuit, and began to touch on more socially engaged subject matter. I was brought up in a family of folkies, so there were always rousing examples of songs that held power in a very positive way – worker songs, songs of uprising, songs of overcoming and uniting. I think my songwriting now has settled into a real blend of influences. A good song to me comes from an impulse to solve something, to unveil it, lay it bear, and offer some kind of resolution. I think now most of my songs are a deep intertwining of personal and political.

For example, I have a new song in the works called “I’ll Be Your Refuge”, which I had the chance to arrange and conduct as a choral work. It’s gone through multiple drafts and transformations. The lyrics have evolved with feedback from community. By the time I get to recording it, it will have shifted dramatically from its seed idea. I’m not a quick writer. Sometimes things spill out, but other times songs can take years. While initially I wrote “Refuge” as a kind of expression of welcome to refugees, what made it gel, and what I learned as I wrote, is that it was mostly about my own relationship to my partner who came to Canada as a child with her family, who were political refugees. So it was really about me trying to be ground for the unpacking of that experience out of love, and turning it back inwards is what finally made it work.

I think the beauty of being bold politically in songs is that you can create an atmosphere of feeling, contemplation and thoughtfulness to carry the ideas forward. You don’t have to be didactic or preachy. Good songs pull all the emotional elements of music and lyrics into an alchemical moment of transformation. They create a space in which to solidify ideas that dwell on the periphery of consciousness. They can uplift and affirm a collective humanity. Striving to touch on those ideals now and then is my motivation for making music.

 

Music Creators unite! #CreatorsCount 

Pro Member Interview – Victoria Banks

Victoria Banks - SM

 

Victoria Banks has been nominated for 11 Canadian Country Music Association 
(CCMA) Awards and was named CCMA Female Artist of the Year and Songwriter of the Year in 2010. She has been labeled “one of the best songwriters in the business” by Nashville’s MusicRow magazine. 

In addition to releasing three albums and touring with artists from Reba to 
Wynonna, Banks – who hails from Muskoka, Ontario – has written ASCAP, SOCAN, CCMA and Covenant-award-winning songs for more than 50 artists. 

Her cuts include Jessica Simpson’sBillboard record- breaking single “Come On 
Over,” Sara Evans’ solo-written hit “Saints & Angels” and duet “Can’t Stop Loving You” (featuring Isaac Slade of The Fray), Lauren Alaina’s “Queen of Hearts,” Johnny Reid’s CCMA Song of the Year “Dance With Me”, Doc Walker’s chart-topping “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me”, One More Girl’s BCCMA Song of the Year “When it Ain’t Raining”, and many more. In 2016, Banks performed with the Nashville Ballet as part of their Attitude program, for which several of her songs were choreographed including the program’s title song, “City of Dreams.” 

“This is an artist you absolutely need to pay attention to. Recommended without reservation.” – Robert Oermann,MusicRow.

“A powerful singer…a very impressive songwriter…definitely a name to look out for.” -Maverick Magazine (UK).

Read her interview with the S.A.C. below:
  • How did you get your start as a creator in the industry?

I’ve been a staff songwriter based in Nashville for over twenty years now. I moved south in 1997 after finishing a degree in Zoology at University of Toronto, and after performing at a ton of writers nights around town, was connected with my ASCAP rep, Ralph Murphy. Ralph set me up with some publisher meetings, and from those I was offered my first deal writing for Rick Hall at Fame Music’s Nashville office (affiliated with Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals). Since then I’ve signed with several other companies and have always maintained a writing deal over the years, even when I was touring heavily to support my Canadian record deals. 

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

I studied classical voice and piano until I graduated high school, but pursued science in university. As a teenager I picked up a guitar and taught myself how to play and write contemporary music, but I never had any formal training in songwriting. I just read books on the subject, listened to a zillion songs, and tried to figure out how the writers crafted them to affect the listener the way they do. 

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

I feel a bit like a survivor who is holding on somehow despite the odds. When I signed my first deal in 1998, royalty streams were alive and well. I have seen the decline of record sales and the rise of streaming basically obliterate all other income streams except radio play for commercial songwriters. There are now only 400 people doing what I do professionally in Nashville when there were 4000 twenty years ago. I’ve also had to deal with the lack of radio play for female artists in the country genre. Even though I naturally gravitate toward writing from a female perspective, I have had to learn to focus primarily on writing with and for male artists in order to stay marketable.

Music creators count! #thePROsofSAC 

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