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 – Deric Ruttan

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

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

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

  • What inspires you to create music?

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

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

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

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

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

  • Do you write for other recording/performing artists?


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

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

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

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

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

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

#ThePROSofSAC #CreatorsCount #MusicCreatorsUnite

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

Pro Member Interview – Steve Smith

Steve Smith - SM

As a partner in the SA TrackWorks and Brkthbeat teams, Steve has co-written, produced and mixed songs for acts signed to the world’s leading labels, including J Records, Universal, Sony, Atlantic, Warner, Jive, Capitol/EMI, and Avex. 

With albums sales over 17 million world wide, he has had songs that have been recorded by such international artists as: Loverboy (Canada), Stacie Orrico (USA), Rouge (Brasil), Tohoshinki (Japan) and Namie Amuro (Asia) as well as having multiple top 10 hits in Canada. 

Their award winning #1 song “Surrender” by Altantic Recording Artist, Laura Pausini was at the time the most radio played song written by Canadians and performed by a foreign artist and reached U.S. Billboard Number One. They have had their songs featured in films and TV including: YTV – The Next Star, Disney’s – Austin And Ally, and American Idol. SA Trackworks also wrote and produced a single for the mega U.S. group Smash Mouth of “All Star” fame and most recently; Meghan Patrick recorded their co-written song, “Forever Ain’t Enough Time”, with guest vocals by the legend Vince Gill. 

This year, Steve, known as Steve In The Mix on his social networks, has started a YouTube channel to guide up and coming songwriters, singers, rappers, and producers on the come up. We have created our very own Youtube playlist featuring all of Steve’s videos. Go check it out!


  • Do you write for other recording/performing artists?

Writing and producing for other recording artist is mostly what I do. You wouldn’t want to hear me sing. I do know what an excellent performance sounds like and I feel like I can recognize when a song is unique and compelling. Working with an artist who is able to make a song come alive is a privilege. 

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

It was a mix of both. I started as a musician, went to college to study music performance and had my eyes opened to the high level of musicianship that makes a world-class performer. My informal training, but perhaps higher level training, happened as I found myself in the room when master producers and songwriters were at work. The recording studio always fascinated me, and I was lucky enough to learn the craft of songwriting from people who were professionals. I learned about the apparent things like structure, chord changes, approach to lyric writing, but the magic happened when great songwriters used the tools to create emotion. I’m still a student of songwriting, producing and mixing. I love that aspect of it. 

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

Collaboration is key. Learning to collaborate is a skill in itself. It’s a great recipe for staying fresh. So many times a crazy idea is just one adjustment away from being a brilliant idea. Be brave enough to throw all ideas into the room. Sometimes they bounce back in ways that are incredible.


#thePROSofSAC #CreatorsCount #MusicCreatorsUnite 

How to Choose the Right Equipment for Home Recording

How to Choose the Right Equipment for Home Recording

By Cassandra Largo


Photo by John Hult on Unsplash


Home recording as a beginner songwriter can be a daunting prospect. You may be a master lyricist, but when you want to produce a record, you will have to get your head around complicated recording equipment. This can put writers off taking a concept and turning it into a finished product. However, there is plenty of help available for those just starting out. With the right tips, you’ll have a professional quality home studio in no time. Read on to find out how to get started with choosing the right equipment.

Keep It Simple

With professional recording studios in decline and the cost of home equipment coming down, it is a better time than any to create a home studio. If you wish to have unlimited access to your own personal recording space, then building your own is a great idea. However, the most important thing when starting out is to not do too much too quickly.

In order to make the investment worth it, keep everything as simple as possible. You want to be putting in the minimum time and effort. Otherwise, you will likely become overwhelmed and feel discouraged. Start with the basic necessities, then you can experiment with more complicated equipment as you build confidence and experience.


The computer will probably be the most expensive piece of equipment used in the recording process. If you are aiming to make recording as quick and easy as possible, then you want a powerful laptop, such as the latest Macbook.

However, most people already have laptops which are powerful enough for beginner recording artists. If you already have a decent laptop running off Intel Core i3 or higher, then this is probably all you need. Don’t buy a new laptop just yet, but instead invest that money in other equipment.

Digital Audio Workstation

After a laptop, your most important piece of equipment will be the digital audio workstation (DAW). A DAW is the system used for recording and editing audio. Getting the cheapest equipment will lead to poor quality, but you can save money by getting a DAW and audio interface combo. An audio interface for home studio recording is the hardware which connects your recording gear to your computer. By getting these two items combined, you’ll save both time and cash.

Once you have these two expensive items, you can purchase a microphone and whatever else is needed regarding the instruments you are using. Remember, keep it as simple as possible. Ease yourself into the process, while reminding yourself that every musician finds this process complicated and confusing. By taking baby steps, you’ll eventually be recording professional quality music from your own home.

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.

The Best Ways to Promote Your Debut Album

The Best Ways to Promote Your Debut Album

By Cassandra Largo


Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to produce and distribute songs through online databases and sharing platforms. No matter how great your music might be, however, it will never gain notoriety without a solid marketing strategy. There are multiple avenues through which new artists can promote their album and launch a successful career in the music industry.

Live Promotion

Even though the Internet is becoming one of the primary stages for new musicians, it still can’t compare to the personal touch. A live event offers unique marketing opportunities that you simply don’t have in an online forum. You can promote a new song before it’s been officially released, or sell merchandise with your band name on it.

If you’re an emerging artist, you can schedule to open for bigger names to gain exposure. Not only will this bring in a bit of extra cash flow, but you’ll also reach fans that are already into your genre of music. You can grow fan bases in other cities by scheduling out-of-state tours.

Social Media

Websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more can be an invaluable tool when connecting with fans. You can make social posts about new music and upcoming shows that your fans can share to help spread the word about your music. Social media sites are also a good way to keep up with other musicians so that you can work on building a professional network.

A Personal Website

While building a website may sound like a daunting endeavor, it’s actually easier than you might think. Sites like WordPress and GoDaddy make it simple for even the tech-illiterate to set up a website where their fans can visit to get the latest news and updates. You can include samples of your music, bios about you and your bandmates, and even landing pages to help you create an email signup list.


Collaborating with other musicians is not only a great way to improve your skills, but it can also expose you to an entirely new fan base. It’s best to work with bands of a similar genre, as their fans are already likely to enjoy the style of your pieces. You can release mash-ups on your album or through channels such as YouTube. Collaborating doesn’t have to mean writing a song together, however–you can always simply agree to share and follow each other on social media for more exposure.

It’s not easy to get your name out there as a new artist. By promoting yourself online and in person, though, you can work to build your brand and successfully sell your debut album.



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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.

Why Avoid DIY Mastering? (Even if you know your way around compressors and EQ’s)

Mixerby:  Karl Machat

Can you think of any process, artistic or otherwise, that hasn’t yet been digitized?  Desktop publishing, graphics, website creation, photo editing. Some of these you can even do online – for free!  The temptation can be overwhelming for some people. Especially when you consider the quality you can get.  It’s almost as if you were missing out for not coming onboard the DIY route.

Digital democratization has brought high level professional tools into more hands than ever before. The Mastering process is no exception.  But this blog is not about analog vs. digital or hardware vs. software. And it’s not about whether you may or may not have the qualifications to use those tools.  This is about why you should hire a mastering engineer to master your music instead of going the DIY route.  And I’ll spare you the quips about it like ‘doing your own dentistry’, or ‘being your own lawyer’!

Ever play a mix for friends or colleagues you did yourself and thought was ‘finished’, then suddenly hear glaringly obvious mistakes?! Were you suddenly providing a running commentary of excuses?  It’s similar to writing an article. You double and triple-check, only to have someone point out a spelling mistake, or ask what this sentence means?  Why do we miss those things one time that suddenly seem blatantly obvious later?

The reason is because we get so close focusing on a project at different levels in different degrees that we start to lose sight of that overall important big picture.  Hiring a mastering engineer gives you a professional, experienced, objective point of view.  Think of it like having a proofreader for your work.

A mastering engineer is your insurance that you only put your best foot forward, and are spared embarrassing mistakes.  You’re not paying the mastering engineer for their tools or software collection, either.  You’re paying for their experience in using those tools.

Mastering engineers give an experienced listen on a system they know intimately in terms of translating to other systems. They balance your artistic desires and preferences with what’s commercially acceptable for your particular work in the marketplace. They will listen, consult, advise, revise if necessary, anything that needs to be done to ensure you can share your music confidently with the world! They do so passionately – but objectively.

No tools – software or hardware – can give you that kind of involved human input.  Hiring a mastering engineer gives you a professional, experienced, objective viewpoint for your music. It can protect you from awkward, embarrassing mistakes. That is why it is a necessary and worthwhile investment.

-Karl Machat is an S.A.C. member and a mastering engineer at Mister’s Mastering House.  He has been putting the final touches on artist music projects for more than ten years.

Recording At Home – An Introduction

Michael HollandThe S.A.C. is defined by the passionate members that make up our community.  One of whom has generously offered to let us publish his articles about Recording At Home.  Over the course of the next few months we will sharing his blogs which cover a wide range of important subjects aimed at empowering songwriters to better handle recording tools to support their songwriting.  Michael Holland was a participant in the recent blogging challenge, who is also enthusiastic about recording.  We’ll let him tell you more about himself in this introduction…

By Michael Holland

You love songs.  You write songs.  You want to present your songs in the best possible light with a top-notch recording, but you want to do it at home.

Look no further.  This blog series is for you!

I offer a special welcome to my fellow members of the Songwriters Association of Canada.  Together, we enjoy camaraderie, mutual inspiration and some really great music.   If you are in Canada, and you write songs, I strongly recommend that you join the SAC.   It’s a great organization.  Thanks to the economic realities of our business, songwriters need to stick together now more than ever.

Go to if you’d like to find out more about the SAC.

I assume that you want great results from your recording set-up, and that you are not made of money.   I also assume that you don’t have a handy recording engineer and don’t know anything much about recording.  If I talk to you like an idiot, I apologize in advance, but I do want to be sure the least informed readers are not left behind.  I am well aware that most songwriters don’t want to be an engineer, but knowing how increases your artistic options and helps you to show your work off – and it can save you a great deal of money over the years!

It may surprise you to realize that there are quite a few really simple (and free or low-cost) things that you can do to bring your work to a new realm of audio quality.

I am talking not only about the technical aspects such as where to put a microphone, or how to make the bass LOUD while not muddying up the mix overall, but also about generating the desired emotional responses in your listeners.

Recording studios certainly have mystique but it’s really not that mysterious once you get a few basics squared away.  If you follow my blog for the next two months you will find yourself gaining an understanding of the process from one end to the other, and adding lots of useful tips and tricks to your arsenal, and, I hope, making the best recordings you have ever made at home.

You’re probably wondering about my own background.  I have been recording in various studios professionally (and at home) since the late 1970’s and I have specialized in mastering records since the 1990’s.  I have worked on consoles of all sizes and shapes, such as SSL, Neve, Sony, Mitsubishi, Soundcraft, and others.

I have written, performed, sung, played, tracked, mixed, mastered and gigged in Canada and the UK and I have had the best and the worst of times in many recording studios, from very large and famous multi-room complexes (places like Abbey Road and Battery Studios and The Strongroom) to very small and smelly studios (places I would rather not name) and they all taught me something valuable.

These days, I am in West Vancouver, BC, Canada, and I work as both a mastering engineer and a performing songwriter, which neatly satisfies my love of music, words and science.

I will be covering a wide range of subjects including pre-production, headphone monitoring, microphone types, tracking various instruments, mixing and mastering.  Next week we will be discussing Songwriter Home Recording Workflows.

Click Here to visit Michael’s Songwriters’ Profile.