Serena Ryder


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.


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


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

SM_Danny Michel

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.

Pro Member Interview – Jay Semko

Jay Semko - SM

Jay Semko is known internationally as singer/bassist with multiple JUNO Award nominees and Western Canadian Music Hall of Fame members The Northern Pikes, and as an award winning music composer for numerous film and TV productions, including the syndicated series, “Due South”. He is considered one of Canada’s premiere singer songwriters, with 10 solo albums released, and has co-written and recorded with many of the best songwriters and musicians in music.

Jay has recently released a new solo album, entitled “Never Sent” – a collection of 10 new songs, and in June 2018 he and the other members of the Northern Pikes were presented with the SOCAN Classic Award for their single “She Ain’t Pretty” receiving over 100,000 plays on Canadian radio. Jay continues to tour across Canada with the Northern Pikes and as a solo acoustic artist, sharing his songs, stories and adventures from his life in music.

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

I really don’t have a set “formula” or “schedule” when songwriting, but there are a few things I’ve learned through experience. When I’m writing alone, I tend to do it in pieces, and generally just over the course of a day or so, getting the raw material down and then finding the spots in the lyrics or music that I want to change/improve/edit, that process can continue right up until a final recording of a song – I’ve become quite adept at self-editing (believe me, it didn’t happen overnight!!!) – I trust my instinct, and if there’s something that doesn’t feel right I know I need to revisit it. I find I start with lyrical ideas more often than musical ideas, but there is a fluidity about that and I never want to limit where the good things come from. The nice thing about co-writing with other songwriters, and that includes working with my pals in the Northern Pikes, is that there are others to assist in the editing/quality control process – it just reduces the amount of time/stress/thought expended in that regard (two or more heads are better than one, usually). There are so many options available with the current technology that exists – I’ve written with people in other countries live via the internet, exchanged musical ideas back and forth through snippets on MP3s, thrown lyrical ideas back and forth over the phone and through emails. However, there’s something that can’t be beat about actually sitting together in a room with another human playing acoustic guitars or plonking on the piano. When you’re physically co-writing, a title or theme to start with can really help to “steer the ship” and be a unifier to keep us on the same road. If I’m co-writing I often use my laptop, but I still really like pen and paper – that little bit of extra time to write things down can be good for adding one more level of reality to what’s happening in the creative process, and I like to record things in real time – that first time can sometimes hold magic.

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

For me, music is like breathing – it’s just something that’s always there as a part of me, and I always seem to have a melody or phrase lurking around in my head. The biggest challenge is taking the time to physically connect and remember whatever is brewing in there. For me, thoughts and ideas fly around pretty fast, and I need a big musical butterfly net to snag them, which means write it down and or hum it/dictate it it into my phone or other recording device. Music, words, inspiration are all around us at all times and if I keep my mind open to whatever the world/universe/my soul can observe and soak in then the songs are there waiting to be written. Now, having said that, I have been in positions where deadlines must be met for film or television productions or for other reasons, and that is not necessarily a bad thing – being forced to execute and commit when writing can really help me to focus and hone in – as the saying goes “necessity is the mother of invention”, and I must admit that I sometimes utilize adrenalin and time stress to my advantage. Inspiration is everywhere and omnipresent; life, love and relationships have always been, and always will be, an endless well of ideas for songs. They’re just there, waiting to be visited and embraced.

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

I haven’t really had any “formal” education in regards to songwriting – I really just learned through trial and error. I played in various “cover bands” as a teenager, and I believe I learned quite a bit about songs and song forms by osmosis – you subconsciously pick up information about structure, hooks, things that work for audiences and listeners, and things you know you like but can’t really say why. The first “serious band I was in was The Idols, which was when I was 18 – we were a “new wave” band with a do-it-yourself work ethic from that era of punk/new wave bands – we played a lot of relatively obscure covers, and began to write our own songs. I wrote a number of songs that really didn’t have anything special happening, and I just kept at it until there was a change in my writing, both musically and lyrically – the songs got better when I began letting my old preconceptions about what songs should be fly out the window – I started writing lyrics about things that were really happening in my world, and about relationships I had (or wished I had) that were real, with real names, places, events, crushes, loves, heartaches – my confidence grew the more I did it – certainly not an immediate thing – the old axiom “practice makes perfect” (or at least “better”) definitely applies. I worked hard at my writing, and I improved, just as simple as that. Now, as time went on I became exposed to experienced writers with excellent ideas at workshops and on panels at industry events – people like Ralph Murphy and Bill Henderson – I was like many young people in music – I needed to stubbornly find my own way, develop humility, and then improve through osmosis, experience, and snippets of education. Songwriting is such an amazing and all-encompassing art form – I still have so much to learn about it, and I’ll never stop learning about it, it is truly a life’s work.

#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.

Pro Member Interview – TiKA


TiKA is an artist, actor, DJ, creator, cultural producer, TV/Online personality, activist, and advocate for the empowerment of female artists and creators. TiKA makes an impression on everyone she encounters and her joy is infectious.

Now TiKA’s love and passion for culture and music has led to the release of 2 EP’s, “Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid” + “Carry On.” With features in Complex, Elle, Ebony, Revolt, Noisey, MILK, Afropunk, Saint Heron, The Fader, CBC, The Source, among others, TiKA is receiving critical acclaim for her voice, her energy, her love. Her music. She has opened for major R&B heavyweights like John Legend + NAO and is being coined as an incredible performance artist + visual hypnotist. Complex Magazine listed TiKA as “One of the most prolific creatives in Toronto.”

In late 2015, TiKA spoke openly about her struggles with trauma & depression and created a body of work to encourage others going through the same. The “Carry On” EP was released in late 2016. “Carry On” serves as a spiritual soundscape for anyone going through a healing process. The unexpected offering garnered TiKA an amass of critical accolades from all over the world. The first single “OHMYGOD” is an 80’s inspired gospel record featuring international producer, Harrison and rapper/ producer Clairmont The Second. The record garnered high numbers on Spotify and iTunes and continues to feed many spiritually.

TiKA’s debut full album + short film will be released in Fall of 2018. Aptly titled “Anywhere But Here,” it serves as a brilliant indication of her unique voice, as well as her distinctive resonance and personality as a developed artist. Completely produced by Redbulll Montreal graduate + 24 year old multi- instrumentalist & musical phenomenon Casey MQ, the album is an 80’s inspired synth pop sound. “No matter what I am going through, I always want to convey love + light in my music. My lyrics are dark because my reality has been dark. My sound stays in the light. I want people to know that the light is always attainable.”

The vulnerable 8-track album is more of a score, with Casey MQ providing a rollercoaster ride of sounds cleverly mixed with TiKA’s raspy emotional vocals.

While her vocation as an ambassador and creator of music has been well established, her image and sound as a new artist is being unleashed to make a very durable impression in order to gracefully provide what this generation has been missing musically.

  • What inspires you to create music?

Life experiences, shifts in my consciousness, the idea that I can create something more beautiful than the last song I created. I love to be challenged, so music in general is inspiring and having a great team of musicians that understand me is so important.

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

When I initially started doing music, I would try to fit it in after work or attempted to fit it in whenever I had time. I found that that intention didn’t work because I was receiving the same amount of attention that I was putting in. I believe whatever you put into the universe is what you receive. I received producers and engineers who rushed through the process with me. And that wasn’t a good feeling at all. I felt rushed and misunderstood and felt like I was simply a money grab. I ended up doubting my abilities as a musician and sitting in that doubt for awhile. Eventually, I realized that in order for me to do music, I would have to commit to the intention of making it. I quit my job and immersed myself in music. It was so healing and therapeutic. Because I committed and set an intention, I believe that is what helped me to craft my voice and sound. As far as my process to songwriting, I meditate and free flow as much as possible. I treat music like therapy so I try not to rush and I take my time. Being as comfortable as possible is important. Working with someone who is as vulnerable and transparent as you and cares about YOU as a person is equally as important because you can’t make music (which is vulnerable) unless you’re comfortable. Art is also not ego so it’s imperative to work with someone who has an open mind and open heart to the process. Patience is an absolute MUST.

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

Commit to the process of music. It might be hard to but try to really learn as much about yourself as possible. You are equally as important as the music itself. Meditate. It’s a great way to encourage the sound to come forward without having to think about it. I also firmly believe that art is not ego. So learn how to remove all negative thoughts from your mind to develop a positive outlook on your singing and songwriting capabilities. In your darkest moments, don’t be afraid to create during that time. It’s when you’re most vulnerable. You’ll be surprised at what light comes from darkness.

#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.

Pro Member Interview – Susan Passmore

Sue Passmore is a co-founder and member of the Canadian band, Good Lovelies. In her 12-year professional career as a songwriter and performer with the Good Lovelies, she has won a Juno and four Canadian Folk Music Awards. The Good Lovelies have toured all over the world: in the US, Canada, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom; the band has also recorded 5 full-length albums, 2 EPs and 1 live album. The Good Lovelies’ most recent album Shapeshifters (2018), saw its first single, “I See Gold”, reach #1 on the CBC Music charts, earning the band a SOCAN Music Award, while their Canadian release tour kicked off at the legendary Massey Hall stage in Toronto. “I See Gold” also made CBC’s Top 100 list for 2018, and received a nomination for “Best Song” at the International Folk Music Awards.

Over the course of their career, the Good Lovelies have written, recorded and performed with many notable Canadians including: Stuart McLean (Vinyl Café), Kathleen Edwards, Fred Penner, Jill Barber, Royal Wood, Robyn Dell’Unto, Lily Frost, Peter Katz and Emma-Lee.

After conducting countless harmony workshops with the Good Lovelies, Passmore has teamed up with choir director Marie Anderson (formerly of La Jeunesse Northumberland Girls’ Choir), and has created a songwriting workshop for Anderson’ new youth choral program: Sounds of the Next Generation (SONG). The workshop was a great success and is currently in its second year.

  • What inspires you to create music?

Finding a way of putting words to music has intrigued me since I was a little kid – and my earliest attempts are pretty entertaining to look back on. I love the moment when all the parts of a song click together at last, that “YESSS!” moment when you feel the song has reached its best version. Finally, when music I have created reaches people, when I hear it has had a positive impact, that inspires me to continue. It’s exciting to know that something I write can make a difference in someone’s day-to-day moments.

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

I tend to get stuck on a nugget I like in the beginning, be it melodic, lyrical and/or chordal, and the songs grow from there. It’s important to me that a song is lyrically interesting, and I spend a fair bit of time circling around lines until they sound right. I like to remain open to change and to outside input, to letting ideas morph along the way; writing is becoming more of a social activity for me vs an insular one, and I’m learning a lot by working with others. Finally, there’s got to be a test audience of 1 – if I’m hesitant about any part of a song in front of an audience of 1, I know I won’t want it heard by the masses.

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

I met many musicians during my time at York University, who influenced my path as a creator, and some who I continue to work with today. Shortly after graduation, I found myself in my first band, called Bluesativa, and that was my initiation to the industry as a professional creator. After a solo album release in 2006, Good Lovelies began quite by accident. Co-founders Caroline Brooks, Kerri Ough and I felt we had potential to succeed as a team of creators and decided to run with it – still running 12 years later!

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

Stylistically, it’s been a bit of a ping pong game, moving from jazz to electro-lounge, indie singer-songwriter to folk-roots and western swing, and most recently I’ve been dipping my toes into the world of pop-folk. My approach to lyrics, arrangements, and vocal delivery have also all evolved over the years. I have learned a lot by working with a variety of producers, musicians and songwriters, and have reached an exciting time in my career where I feel my best work is definitely still to come.

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

As we’ve always done, I imagine that as songwriters and music creators we will continue to seek out our best songs and sounds, to push boundaries, and aim to reach our audiences in new and unexpected ways.

#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.


Pro Member Interview – Karen Kosowski

Karen Kosowki - SM

Producer and songwriter Karen Kosowski has one foot in the pop world and the other foot in the country world. She has produced a US Pop Radio Top 40 (Tryon’s “Somebody To Love Me”), a Billboard AC Radio #4 (Emma-Lee’s “It Won’t Be Christmas”) and a Canadian Country Radio Top 10 (Madeline Merlo’s “Motel Flamingo”) – for which she received a nomination for Producer Of The Year at the 2018 CMAO Awards. As an active songwriter, she has contributed to numerous pop and country hits for Canadian and American artists including most recently Brett Kissel’s Top 10 single “Anthem”. Recent releases include producing/co- writing both albums “Fantasies: Volume I” and “Fantasies: Volume II” from Emma-Lee, and co-writing“What A Song Should Do” and “The Worst Kind feat. Lindsay Ell” from Tim Hicks’s latest record “New Tattoo”.

Having written and produced the music for the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games medal ceremonies, Karen has also landed numerous tv/film placements both on television networks such as HBO Canada, CBS, FX Network, Lifetime Network, TLC, YTV, MuchMusic, NickTeen, Space, and the CW, and in feature films including the award-winning thriller “The Scarehouse” and Wangofilms’ action movie “88” (starring Christopher Lloyd), which garnered her a 2016 Canadian Screen Awards nomination in the category of Achievement in Music – Best Original Song. She also received Producer of the Year nominations at both the 2018 CMAO Awards and in the 2015 NOW Magazine ‘Best of Toronto’ poll.

Karen is currently based out of her own private studio in the exclusive music mecca neighborhood of Berry Hill in Nashville, working with new talent from Liz Rose Music Publishing, Big Deal Music Publishing, BMG Publishing and more.


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

    I’ve been a professional songwriter and record producer for over a decade, but prior to that I actually spent many years as a solo artist. When I first started out writing songs as a teenager, there was a big emphasis in the music industry on singer-songwriter artists who performed their own material (this was the mid-nineties), so I started going out and performing my own songs, and renting gear and producing my own albums, very DIY. But 12 years and several albums later, I realized my true passion was the actual writing and producing, and not the other aspects of being an artist like touring, etc.  I’m grateful for everything I learned from the many years I spent as a solo artist, but I’m much happier helping other artists realize their vision!

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

    I grew up playing acoustic instruments but then got pretty heavily into programming, so I love experimenting with a hybrid of electronic and organic elements, which lands pretty naturally in the pop-country genre… but i sometimes swing full-on pop, or the opposite, to more rootsy country.  It depends on who I’m writing with and what they’re feeling in the mood to do!

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

    I had the opportunity to write a song for the WangoFilms feature film “88” (with my co-writer Peter Katz) starring Christopher Lloyd.  It was a fascinating and emotional way to write, because we were seeing the picture on the screen as we worked out the music.  Technically it was really different too, because the scene required a really fluid piece, with dramatic pauses… we were writing to highlight the emotion of the scene at every moment.  I got to try out some new things in Logic, and made a lot of use of tempo mapping!