Pro Member Interview – Kayo

Kayo - SM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Music creators unite! #CreatorsCount #ProsofSAC 
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Pro Member Interview – Nat Jay

Nat Jay - SM post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Music creators unite! #CreatorsCount #ProsofSAC 

Pro Member Interview – Colin MacDonald

 

Colin MacDonald - SM

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

  • What inspires you to create music?

Life, love, books, music.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Do you write for other recording/performing artists?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A mind and a point of view.

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

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

  • How can S.A.C. help you?

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

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

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

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

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

Music creators unite! #CreatorsCount #ProsofSAC 

A Conversation With Miranda Mulholland

Bill King was a recent guest on Blair Packham and Bob Reid’s In the Studio radio hour at Newstalk 1010, where Blair introduced him to Miranda Mulholland, a Canadian fiddle player and singer. In this interview Miranda talks about her festival, the Sawdust City Music Festival, and tells us what is upcoming for her this summer.

Read the full FYI Music News interview here!

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It’s never too late! Retired 9 to 5-er launches new career as singer/songwriter

Jim Dorie
Jim Dorie

For many years Jim Dorie was busy raising three children working a full time job in the oil and gas industry in Alberta.  Life was busy.  Although he grew up in Nova Scotia surrounded by music as many do on the East Coast, he barely touched his guitar outside of the occasional kitchen party or jamming with a friend.  With three kids to raise, time was mostly spent between work and chauffeuring his kids to extra curricular activities.  As he approached the opportunity to retire, Jim was advised by a friend to find something to do with the extra 40 to 60 hours he would have every week.  He looked to music as a retirement hobby, a way that he could reconnect with his East Coast roots.

Four years after releasing his first CD, Jim is in the midst of releasing his third album, Drop Forge.  He received an ECMA nomination on his second album, and has a busy touring schedule.  His hobby has turned into a career.

At 64 years old Jim admits he is still learning about the business aspect of the music industry.  Social media doesn’t come naturally to him.  He has also witnessed the rapid evolution of the business.  Four years ago he was able to place his album in local records stores that have now vanished.  Jim recognizes that live performance is now the bread and butter for performing songwriters who want to make a living.

There’s a lot of freedom in his new career.  He is financially secure and could quit at any given moment.  As a result, the only person he is trying to satisfy is himself.  He also has realistic expectations for his career.  He doesn’t expect big time fame or accolades.  Instead, he chooses to focus on what he’s good at – writing songs filled with stories that resonate with his audience.  Songs like “Living in Alberta” about the cost of moving away from home to make a living.

Jim credits Dave Gunning as begin a pivotal figure in the development of his career.  He previously attended Dave’s performances during visits back to Nova Scotia and purchased his CDs.  After retiring, Jim approached Dave for some pointers and thus began an important relationship.  Dave produced Jim’s first and most recent album.  Although Jim writes primarily by himself, Jim has also found a writing partner in producer/songwriter Dave Gunning.  He has two tracks, including “Living in Alberta,” on Dave’s 2014 ECMA Record of the Year – No More Pennies.

Jim may not have a large corporation or millions of dollars behind him, but he has stricken a wonderful partnership with his wife, Jeanne Dorie, who has come onboard as a graphics designer and website manager.  He has received great feedback on all the tour posters, CD graphics and shirts that she makes for Jim’s stage wear.  More recently, Jim has started working with booking agent/publicist Jenny MacDonald – a talented artist in her own right.  This helps him get more time to do what he loves doing – which is songwriting and performing.  In fact, he already has enough material for his next three albums.

All of this is a great reprieve as Jim faced a cancer scare and surgery last year that could have meant a long hiatus from his burgeoning career.  Prior to his surgery, he rushed to finish this latest album for fear it might never get recorded.  He wanted to make sure these songs could be passed on to his kids.  Luckily his oncologist gave him the “all-clear” and he went back to finish the album.

Jim’s success story is sure to be an inspiration to any songwriter stuck behind a cubicle wondering if they will ever find time to pursue their dreams.  Jim’s only advice is to do it for yourself and not for fame or fortune.  As for his own aspirations?  He looks to Willie Nelson and Gordon Lightfoot who are still touring in their 80s.  Jim figures he still has at least 20 years in his new career.

Click Here to visit Jim Dorie’s Songwriter Profile and hear some of his tunes.

 

Vince Degiorgio – Songwriter And Publisher Profile

By Larry LeBlanc 

Vince DegiorgioCanadian Vincent Degiorgio is a neighborhood type of guy with an expansive range of musical influences that have served him well over an impressive four decade career as a DJ, producer, and music publisher.

Today, Degiorgio is the president & CEO of Toronto-based Chapter 2 Productions, which houses the Cymba Music Publishing Company with its roster of songwriters including Davor Vulama, AIleen de la Cruz, Ava Kay, Shawn Zhang, Young Feng, and Hakan Lundberg.

Degiorgio himself has had songs recorded by such formidable international acts as Caro Emerald, Atomic Kitten, Kristine W, Alcazar, Tomomi Kahala, Shakaya, Human Nature, Room 2012, LEAD, Aloha From Hell and others in 11 languages with overall sales surpassing 30 million units.

Chapter 2 Productions has provided music for over 150 television shows including “America’s Next Top Model,” “Degrassi” and “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.”

Degiorgio began his music career as an import buyer for a Sam the Record Man retail outlet in his hometown of Brampton, Ontario. This led to working at the prestigious Toronto music retailer Disco Sound, and spinning records at the Toronto hot spot, Le Tube.

After a stint at overseeing promotion in Southern, Ontario for Montreal-based Unidisc Records in the mid 80’s, Degiorgio formed Power Records, which released over 250 12-inch singles over 8 years.

While helming Power, Degiorgio began producing and composing music, including Tapps’  “My Forbidden Lover,” and Eria Fachin’s “Savin’ Myself.”

After winding down Power Records, Degiorgio was hired as a dance music and marketing consultant at BMG Music Canada, where he developed a handful of best-selling dance compilation brands.

While International A&R VP at RCA, Degiorgio signed N Sync for North America.

In 2001, Degiorgio parted ways with RCA to focus on the production and the writing careers of his growing roster at Chapter 2 Productions, as well as his own bustling career as a songwriter and producer.

What is it about pop music that appeals to you?
I just think that it’s in the blood. When my father came to Canada from Malta in ’59, he was crazy about Frankie Laine, Dean Martin, and Nat “King” Cole. I just grew into it (pop music). You could almost say that I became obsessive about pop when my father took me to see Johnny Mathis at the O’Keefe Centre in Toronto. It was my first concert. I was 6 or 7. I may have remembered one of two songs. Fast forward to now, and I have seen Johnny Mathis perform eight times. As I was always the kid on the outside. I was just obsessed with pop music.

When did you begin writing songs?
I started to write in the early ‘80s. I wish, in hindsight, that I had written more, and that there was a base for a kid like me (in the Canadian music industry). It wasn’t exactly conventional. I just wish that back when I started in dance music that I had gotten into a studio with one of the rock guys who were published so I could have contributed to a hit song.

Why didn’t that happen?
Back in those days, they (major labels in Canada) never went to the dance people to say, “Can you write a song for Chantal Candor because she had left (the Canadian female disco duo) Voggue? You’re the idiot who played the hell out of ‘”Dancin’ the Night Away.” She was on Columbia Records, and they went to Sony/ATV, picked a rock song, and gave (American producer) John Luongo a lot of money to remix it to make it sound like it was presentable (for the clubs).

Did you play an instrument as a kid?
My father had me to take piano lessons when I was 6 years old. I took three lessons, and I decided I was bored. I didn’t take music in high school. Later on, I found that could write a lyric with lightning speed. My melodic base has such a point of reference that it’s easy (to write).

What is your strength as a songwriter?
I think that I come in with a complete opposite idea from most lyricists. There’s the memory bank of what I have in that I can hear and reflect on the past five decades when I step into a room. I don’t want to write something generic. I want to twist a person’s brain when they listen to my music. I want them to feel what they are hearing.

What are the biggest misconceptions faced by new songwriters these days?
Probably that they think success is automatic. The other thing is just because they have a song on their local radio station that they are a star. At the same time, it’s wonderful seeing people from different genres collaborating today. I didn’t grow up in that society, but I’m doing everything I can to foster that change.

What mistakes in songwriting do newer writers tend to make?
The normal thing is that they are trying to jam a square peg into a round hole. They shouldn’t be writing against their type. I grew up, and I stayed true to who I am as a musician, and as a writer. I don’t think you have to change anymore to make somebody happy. I’ve heard so many people say, “I want to do the dance thing.” The next day they are doing (performing in) a country coffee house. Songwriters trying to change their point of view because someone told they should is the biggest mistake that they can make.

Music-related talent shows on TV sell stardom. Not the idea that an artist still needs a support system around them.
Those shows have ruined the A&R process in one regard because people are walking in saying, “Yeah, I’m a singer/songwriter.” They do the show, and they get signed to a label. Suddenly, they are cutting 10 songs of someone else’s. So they aren’t really being true to themselves like I said.

I also think that the A&R world got really lousy when “Pop Idol” in the UK hit, and then “American Idol” came along. Suddenly record companies were hesitant to put records out because they didn’t want to compete (with TV-based artists) on the same release day. People were also signing all of the cast-offs from the shows. If people wonder why we don’t have a qualitative approach to the artists that we are signing, that’s a big reason. Do you really want to sign a cast-off from a show because that kid did all of the work for you, and you don’t have to do anything but some plug in? To me, that’s heartbreaking.

A few years ago, producer/engineer Al Schmitt and I talked about how many singers of the ‘50s and ‘60s were performers who worked in nightclubs; and they learned their craft there. As a result, singers like Rosemary Clooney, Nancy Wilson, and Ella Fitzgerald had unbelievable microphone technique. I don’t think we have that today.
It’s so true. I was recently listening to “The Nancy Wilson Show!” (a 1965 live album recorded at the Coconut Grove nightclub in Los Angeles). I heard the greatest singer I have ever heard, and there ain’t nobody who’s going to be able to do what she does today because she went through the university and college for a Masters degree in the musical way that you just mentioned.

Sam Cooke’s “Shake” (1965) was the first album that I was given by my father. It’s still one of my all-time favorite records by one of my all-time favorite singers. R. Kelly has wanted to be Sam Cooke on every record he’s done, but Sam Cooke wrote way better songs.

As the say goes, it all starts with a song.
Having a singular intention for your mission as your writer is possibly the best thing that you can have. You’ve got to wake up. If you want to be a writer then you have to be a writer. If you decide to be an artist down the road it’s because your writing was good enough that your songs almost sang themselves.

What project are you currently involved with?
I’m writing songs for Laura Fygi (former member of member of the popular Dutch girl band, Centerfold). She is one of my favorite jazz crooners who was on Verve/Universal Netherlands for 20 years. I’m also going to be working with a couple of Canadian artists which I haven’t done in many years.

Funny to be so busy after so many years.
Who would think that I would have the biggest hit of my life at 50? “You’re A Superstar” the Love Inc. song that I wrote eclipsed and ended selling 7 million copies and it became an evergreen in England four years after it was a hit in Canada, South Africa, and Spain. I just looked at myself, and went, “You know what? It’s not luck. If you put in the work, someone is just going to give you a hug one day.” And they have been hugging me for about four years.

[Vince Degiorgio’s career escalated internationally in 2002 with re-interest in Canadian dance trio Love Inc.( DJ/remixer/producers Chris Sheppard and Brad Daymond, with Simone Denny on vocals) Top 40/dance crossover 1998 hit of his song “You’re A Superstar.” Four years later, with support of BMG UK’s associated label NuLife, “Superstar” became a smash hit single in Ireland and England, spending 4 weeks at #7 on the UK Singles Chart in 2002.]

You went on to successfully collaborate with a slew of international songwriters.
Of course, but I had already had quite a few of international records. Tapps really traveled. They have sold millions of records in Mexico, and were a big hit in the Netherlands and other places. When I was doing Inner City (with Kevin Saunderson) I had a #2 record (on the Billboard Dance chart) with “Follow Your Heart” for this great techno act.

I just bounced around an awful lot but I always made friends along the way.

Peter Swartling (SRVP A&R) at BMG Sweden at the time said, “I’m doing a record with the Swedish Eurodance group Alcazar.” I played him “Baby Come Back” and they ended up cutting it (for the group’s debut “Casino” album). Peter played it for (Swedish producer) Alexander Bard, and then he reframed it (re-arranged it) a little bit. Suddenly, I was on a really important record. I also ended up A&Ring (the TV soundtrack) “Queer As Folk,” and I put them on the record as well..

Is it true that the smash Caro Emerald hit “Back It Up” was originally written to be pitched to an artist in Japan? And after Caro recorded it, the song was pitched to labels without any takers
Robin Veldman and Jan van Wieringen did a track, and (songwriter) David Schreurs and I worked on the top line. Wrote it about 1 A.M. in the morning. We had written it for a demo. Namie Amuro was looking for songs. She’s a huge pop artist in Japan. She had done some kind of retro EP, and I thought the song would be perfect for her. So I drank two beers, and I imitated Billy Holiday (on the demo). The next thing you know the first demo singer doesn’t show up. This other girl shows up and it’s Jan’s friend Caroline. We heard her, and Just looked at David and said, “Oh my God, this is something.”

[“Back It Up” became the debut single for Dutch jazz singer Caro Emerald. It was released in July, 2009, and listed in the Dutch Top 40 for 12 weeks, peaking at #12. The follow-up single, “A Night Like This,” also reached #1 in The Netherlands.

It wasn’t obvious that “Back It Up” was a potential hit?
It sat on the shelf for two months. David kept mixing and remixing it. For two months, we were talking to each other, “What are we going to do with this?” He’d say, “We really have to work on the chorus.” We debated the chorus for two months. I argued that no one knows the second line of a hit at a wedding. He finally gave in. That’s the (original demo) version of the song. That’s me doing background vocals on the chorus.

A year later, after Caro got the chance to perform “Back It Up” on TV station AT5 in Amsterdam, viewers called and e-mailed about her performance.
Yeah, she did the TV show, and the phones blew up. I’m a distance away from all this. I’m back in Canada.

In the Fall 2008, David flew to Toronto to write 7 songs for Caro’s album with you. A regime of eat, watch YouTube, write, eat, watch TV, and laugh a lot?
Mike Myers and “Austin Powers” have become folklore in our friendship. We never had a writer’s block. We were too busy laughing. This was really first time I heard my own voice. If you do three-way co-writes, and you do it with people who play instruments, and there three people are in the room, your original intention ends up taking a different route.

With David, he just looks at me, and if he feels it, he just goes with what I come up with. He doesn’t correct a lyric. He doesn’t say anything. We’ll nitpick if something is really bothering us. It was just hysterical the people I was imitating on that record. I wish Eartha Kitt was still I alive I could write an entire album for her in about 20 minutes. A couple of songs were written with her in mind.

[Caro Emerald’s debut album “Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor” was released in The Netherlands Jan, 2010, entering the Dutch chart at #1. It went on to chart throughout Europe. In 2012, Emerald won two prestigious German awards: a Goldene Kamera for Best Musik International, and an Echo Award for Best Newcomer International. In 2013, Emerald’s follow-up album, “The Shocking Miss Emerald,” reached #1 on the UK album chart.

A career surprise having your songs with Caro reach #1 in so many territories?
It humbled the hell out of me. I was wondering if it was at all possible after hanging around like I did for so many years, and having had successes for so many other people. I always knew that one day (mega-success might happen) because of ‘N Sync. But seeing them move to Jive (Jive Entertainment in 1999) really broke my heart. I lost working with them. For me, it wasn’t a monetary thing, but it changed the course of my career. Now I can look back and say that it was part of the journey.

I don’t know if I would have been as confident (with success) then. I think what we did with Caro was that we stuck to our beliefs as a team. A lot of what I learned at BMG got infused into that. Making sure that Caro could be a star first at home so she would always have a base to fall back. That was the BMG International philosophy.

Another triumph for you was “Lovin’ You” by Kristine W released as the second single from her second RCA album “Stronger” in 2000. The single reached #1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart.
If you ever want drama, that’s Kristine. You know (the book and film) “The Devil Wears Prada?” If you ever did it with a 6-foot tall towering inferno disco diva, and you surrounded her with 50 A&R people–meaning real close connections of fans in the dance community–and then you have a really outside-the-box fire wagon type management team, then you get me sitting at the end of this going, “This is a firestorm. She’s not going to like everything I suggest, but I think that her fans will in the end.”

“Lovin’ You” was one of the last songs written for the record (“Stronger”). Johnny Jam or (aka) Johnny Mosegaard Pedersen, part of the production team Jam & Delgado (with Karsten Dahlgaard), and I wrote the lyrics and melody with Maria Christensen in my apartment. We held Kristine’s hand during the session. Kristine is a wild live performer. Sometimes it’s very hard to contain those kind of people in the studio.

How were you able to capture her performance in the studio?
(Laughing) I warned people, “If you don’t get the first two takes, I’m not going to pay you.” I told that to everybody. So everybody got it down. She ended up cutting the best vocal of her life (on the album) with (writer/producer) Jud Friedman on a song called “Stand In Love” But “Lovin’ You” became a big dance hit, a #1 for her, and for the writers and producers.

“Lovin’ You” was covered by British girl group Atomic Kitten for their third studio album, “Ladies Night” in 2003. How did that come about?
Susan Henderson Tyler, who was working for Ric Wake at W&R Music, published Maria Christensen, and she took the song over to England. The next thing I know Atomic Kitten is cutting it. We ended up selling a million units on it.

Tell me about Cymba Music Publishing Company.
Our writers are Davor Vulama, AIleen de la Cruz, Ava Kay, Shawn Zhang, Young Feng, and Hakan Lundberg. Davor has been with me for 13 years. He was in a group called Starfly. I met Davor after we put an ad in the Georgia Straight (in Vancouver) looking for songwriters. Russell James, who is now the PD at The Bounce (Rogers Radio station 91.7) in Edmonton, opened the office for me in Vancouver. I moved there in 2003 from Los Angeles. I was there for four years and three months.

What was behind your move to Vancouver?
The trials and tribulations of trying to make it as a writer in L.A. and being a publisher with an independent Canadian company, everybody was looking at me like I should be doing A&R again. I had made a bunch of millionaires. I thought, “My luck is horrible here in L.A. It’s never going to get any better unless I refocus. So let’s go home.” So I moved to Vancouver. I moved from a 2,200 foot three-story apartment into a 317 square foot studio, and I was never happier. I left Vancouver in 2008, and returned home to Toronto.

With Cymba you wear your publisher’s hat.
I started Cymba in 2000 because BMG Canada’s mandate was very different than what I thought a music publisher’s mandate should be. You can’t potentially change the rules when you have Americans controlling your (Canadian) office. Basically, the reporting structure there was that it was American-based so they were America led.

But Vincent Degiorgio has been an international music junkie since he’s been 6-year-old old.

So what I did was I bought a around a world (airline) ticket in 1999 when I was still living in New York. I ended up going 13 times around the world. Doing the Star Alliance Round The World thing, 24,000 miles in one direction.

Before I did that I had started separating my writers from the C2 It Music Publishing company, and I called it Cymba. Cymba is an acronym for Crushing Your Music Business Apathy.

The reason that I called it that was because of anything you can do I can do better. My job is to try and find every possible opportunity for myself, or anyone I am associated with. I even ended up getting a couple of dozen Canadian songwriters that weren’t signed to me their first cuts internationally. I don’t like to just publish writers, I like to change their lives and to change their luck.

By 13, you apparently knew you wanted to be in the music business. You were that crazy about music?
I was. I saw being a DJ as one of the ways of moving ahead. Let’s face it, I was living in rocker land (in Brampton, Ontario), and it was killing me.

One of your first jobs at 15 was working at a Sam the Record Man store in Bramalea just outside TorontoI did. I worked for Larry Friendly. He owned the Sam the Record Man franchises in Bramalea, and Bayview Village. He used to call everyone on the staff “schmucksy.” A great guy. He ended up losing the stores back to Roblan’s (Roblan Distributors) . I worked at Sam’s for about 10 months. I was sent to work usually on Friday with a list of things that my father might like to have, which is a tradition that continues to today. I just bought him a Brook Benton double CD from the UK.

You then worked at Disco Sound in Toronto for about four years.
The first time I went in there was in 1978. I bought Patrick Juvet’s “Got a Feeling” album, which you couldn’t get anywhere else. I walked into that store the first time and I almost had a nervous breakdown. I could have spent $400 the first day. I was the kid who watched “Soul Train” and “Ebony Affair” and all of these black music shows (on TV). I opened up the door, and it was like, “Oh my God. They have got everything here.” The funny thing too is that as I stood there—no word of a lie—I also encountered the first two gay people in my life. You realize not only how far it was between Brampton and Toronto, but also how socially and culturally different the cities were.

Disco Sound had all of the imports other stores in town didn’t have.
They had listening stations in the black music stores–that’s what was they were called before they were re-merchandised–and at the disco music stores. They took a page out from the disco stores in Montreal like Downstairs, and Pierre Musique and so many others. It was amazing for me.

When you worked at Disco Sound dance music was starting to take off in Canada, especially in Montreal and Toronto.
There were a couple of stores that I went into including Melvina Records in Malton near the (Toronto) airport which used to get (disco) singles in. Before I went to work at Disco Sound I would occasionally go to Monica’s. My disco history sort of goes from orchestral pop of the ‘50s and ‘60s that my father listened to into soul of the ‘70s. then as it got more soulful and more rhythmic, and the splinter was going to happen toward the end of the ‘70s into the ‘80s with the electronic (music).

Disco was a natural extension to the music that I had always listened to. Because I worked at Disco Sound I knew all of the DJs.

Of course, many of the early disco artists, like Gloria Gaynor and KC and the Sunshine Band, came out of soul music of the ‘60s.
Sure, Gypsy Lane, the backing band for the Ritchie Family and all of those Henri Belolo and Jacques Morali productions, were killer. Not to mention producers like (Arthur) Baker, and (Norman) Harris. Norman Harris is like a God to me. Thom Bell is my musical hero.

[Gypsy Lane worked with Jacques Morali and Henri Belolo on Ritchie Family and Village People projects.]

One of the early dance clubs in Toronto was Koutoubia.
Koutoubia was the first disco in Toronto that I ever went to. It was at the Roehampton Hotel. When I went on the dance floor for the first time with this incredibly pretty blond girl, and I heard “From East To West” by Voyage, she says, “I’m Candy.” She was Candy Berthuiame who ended up being the lead singer of Tapps who I worked years later on.

You started at Stars as a backup DJ, and then worked at Le Tube?
Yeah I did. I did the apprenticeship. I wasn’t like today’s modern contemporary DJ who walks in with two hours under his belt and say, “I’m a star.” I started by playing Wednesday nights that were dead. It (Le Tube) was such a hot spot that people would automatically think that I was this great DJ when I was basically the schmo from Brampton who almost finished high school. I got to grade 12. I needed one credit to get my high school diploma.

Le Tube was the premiere dance club in Toronto.
Le Tube was owned by three Portuguese businessmen. I got to Le Tube because I got asked to DJ a birthday party. Apparently, I did such a great job that the next day two of my DJ friends there ended up getting fired, and I got a job. You can imagine the next day at Disco Sound. I’m going to work and two of my best friends show up. They knew it wasn’t me (who got them fired) so I kinda got off the hook a little bit.

At first I apprenticed there. I played a number of different nights on off-peak hours to learn the trade. Later, I would go in at 10 P.M. and I would play music for myself for an hour. At 11 PM when the doors opened, I knew exactly what I wanted to do until I got to leave, whether it would be 3 A.M. or 5 A.M. or 7 A.M. In those days, you couldn’t take a day off from a club. You’d get fired. DJs never took vacations in those days. Today’s 4-hour exclusive sets are laughable to me when I would play 7 hours a night.

[In late the ’70s there were plenty of places to dance in Toronto including Le Tube, Katrina’s, Stages, Peaches on Pears, Koutoubia, Heaven, and Sparkles at the CN Tower.]

There were some great DJs in Toronto in that period including Greg Howlett and Wally MacDonald.
People like Wally MacDonald, Greg Howlett, Gord McMillan and Don Bell were legendary DJs. Wally ended up being my alternate at Le Tube. Wally was one of the most legendary DJ/ remixers. He was an absolute magician with an editing block. When Gary Salter from Inter Global Music came to him and said, “Look we’ve got this record from Germany, what do you want to do with it?” Well, he did 94 edits on “La Bamba” by which turned out to be the Antonia Rodriguez hit. His edit is a masterpiece. It went to #2 on the Billboard dance chart. He did other great things for Plastic Bertrand and Amanda Lear.

[Wally MacDonald also DJed at such Toronto venues as Stages, Sugars, 18 East, The Albany, and Wonder Bar. He passed away from HIV-related complications in the 1990s.] 

While the major labels in Canada then generally didn’t work closely with the disco and dance community, A&M Canada’s senior VP Doug Chappell often hired DJs to re-mix records for the dance community.

Doug knew that any level of acceptance within the disco community was a path to success with some artists. We felt like we were important on those days. One of the greatest days for revenge for me personally was having someone from CHUM (Toronto Top 40 station CHUM-AM) come to Disco Sound to buy a Village People record that they couldn’t buy anywhere else. Those bastards wouldn’t play anything with a beat. That is why Nevin Grant (PD) at CKOC (in Hamilton) will go down in my personal history as the greatest radio guy in the world. He played what was relevant rather than what was programmed.

In 1980, you briefly became a promoter for Denny O’Conor’s 120 Dance Promotions.
I was doing some independent dance promotion for 120 Dance Promotion based in San Francisco and New York. I used to trade records with these people. After that I did some independent promotion for Larry Macrae (National Promo and A&R head) at Quality Records who was working for the legendary John Driscoll.

Then you went to work for Unidisc Records in Montreal, which was a real major jump.
I repped the company in Southern Ontario. That was because (owner) George Cucuzzella had known me since 1975. I ran Unidisc from my apartment. The big cultural difference was that if the record was on Unidisc, (label manager) Nat Merenda always said that the boss had paid big money for it, and I had to break those records first. We had a bit of a difference, Larry. What happens in Montreal because of the support of radio is one thing but they (radio programmers) didn’t give a flying whahoozit about “Native Love” by Divine in Toronto. But I helped that record as well as “Living On Video” by Trans-X become national anthems.

When the A&R difference of what happens in Montreal versus what happens in Toronto reached an impasse in 1982, I basically told Nat and George that I was going to start my own record label. They gave me their distribution deal and I didn’t really like it. Then, Nat fired me.

The first release on Power Records was “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” by Ambience. They were members of the Montreal fusion funk band Something Extra that recorded for Tony Green’s TGO Records label. It was a cover of the 1969 Steam #1 hit.

Why start a label?
Oh, I was 23-year-old I had a really big mouth and I thought I could do better than everybody else. It’s funny how quickly it humbles you because calls came through from Holland from companies wanting to license the Tapps record for all of Europe I broke down in tears and dropped the phone. It was kind of a validation. I had co-written the record (“My Forbidden Lover”). It was probably the first global hit I had. It still sells today.

You eventually lost Tapps.
After Power’s 15th release, which was “Runaway,” the third Tapps’ single, (Canadian distributor) Dominique Zgarka decided to start his own label called Boulevard. Basically, he stole my biggest act. At the point, we were doing single by single deals (with Tapps), and they ended up doing the “Turn It On” album for Boulevard.

So Boulevard wasn’t your label?
No. Not until 1986 when (Toronto entertainment lawyer) Ed Glinert decided that we should merge forces. Then I had both labels until 1989.

You also had the Chateau imprint.
For years, I had three labels of my own. What would house Power was Chateau, a second label. If there was no Power you should have a Blackout. So we had the Blackout label. It distributed all of the Jam Packed Records from (Miami) Florida like Trinere, Pretty Tony and Debbie Deb and Freestyle.

You had some great local talent on Power including Karen Silver, Kim Esty, and Eria Fachin. As well, there were releases by the Pet Shop Boys and Claudja Barry, which you licensed.
We made a ton of international deals. I got a lot of inspiration for that by being in the Unidisc office. George had all of these gold and platinum records from Musart in Mexico, and various international labels. George was a legendary DJ at Limelight, and started the Downstairs store, and he’s a great entrepreneur. He really knew his shit. I figured people that I admired or idolized or befriended or worked for, they went through their lousy records to get to their good ones. So I figured I would do it anyway.

Basically, I was I trying to go into the individual markets where music was being misrepresented or not presented at all. (Canadian) radio stations were playing American records that were potentially rhythmic. You mentioned the Pet Shop Boys. I licensed that from Unidisc because they didn’t care that “West End Girls,” the Bobby Orlando version, was the first big hit that they could have had in Eastern Canada. They didn’t care about it. Then I released Fonda Rae’s “Tuch Me (All Night Long)” which ended up being reframed (re-recorded) by Cathy Dennis, like (Canadian singer) Alyssa Reid had happen with “Alone Now” (A different version with Jump Smokers became a major hit in parts of Europe, peaking at #2 in the UK).

Cathy Dennis had a #2 (Billboard pop hit) record with it. I had sold 14,000 Fonda Rae 12-inch singles with no radio play. Then they (Canadian radio) played the Cathy Dennis record like ours didn’t exist.

People have to understand how modern rhythmic creators are these days. They (Canadian radio programmers) wouldn’t play anything of ours unless we had a machine gun in our hand.

What I was trying to do with Power Records was to try and represent disenfranchised communities. Gray matters that’s me. My family is from Malta. Everybody looks at my name and thinks I’m Italian. You have a pink triangle. The gay community was a huge backbone globally for our records. Either we would release records for them and all of the DJs and the gay clubs would break them first before or they would crossover. It was like (Toronto radio station) CFNY to clubs. Gay clubs to straight clubs to mobile.

At the same time, Canada was more receptive to international hits than America.
Canadians live in a very multicultural society. We weren’t dictated to growing up. I think when a lot of labels came into Canada, they were using our mentality that they had to get a record out in the United States. I think that’s when the business changed in Canada.

Canada’s openness to international hits was certainly true in the ‘70s when European recordings like “Fly, Robin, Fly” by Silver Convention first gained traction in Canada prior to breaking in America.
Supertramp, and Crowded House had the same fate in Canada as well. I think what it was because our doors were opened in different ways. There was a real relationship with the global world because of the multicultural diasporas of Quebec and elsewhere in Canada. Anything was possible because we were a true melting pot.

Backstreet Boys broke out of Quebec.
Donna Summers’ “Love to Love You Baby” broke in Montreal during the Olympics there.

After disco crashed in 1979, dance music fragmented over the next decade. People were confused as to where club music was going. It led to the beginning of a new era, and new attitudes.

In 1989, you ceased the creative A&R operations of Power Records, launched Chapter 2 Productions, and you were hired as a dance music and marketing Consultant at BMG Music Canada in 1991.
I could finally look at a mirror and say, “This is the best thing that ever happened to me because I don’t have to spend my own money anymore.”

I had had my kick at the can as a producer with Eria Fachin, god rest her soul, with “Savin Myself,” which peaked at #54 in the Billboard Hot 100. We also had a really big hit with Holiday Rap by M C Miker “G” and DJ Sven.

However, with (Dominique Zgarka’s) Rhythms Distribution (later renamed Electric Distribution) handling Power, it was much more a distributor than a marketer. Even though they tried, I just figured that there was nothing more to do. I went to New York to work with Andrew (“Komix”) Komis for 6 months..

Meanwhile, (BMG Canada A&R head) David Bendeth was calling Andrew about remixing this act which eventually became Love & Sas. I went home to Toronto in March 1991. Then my friend Danielle Tremblay from CITY-TV helped me put a resume together. I was going to do something I was never going to do, which was work for the majors. I didn’t get them, and they didn’t get me. But time had passed and David Bendeth was there. I knew (national promotion head) Larry Macrae. I met Larry and (VP of marketing) Carol Wright. I was shaking like a leaf. Carol held my hand, and I went into a meeting with (BMG Canada President) Bob Jamieson. The next thing I was in the office making $100 a week. My first desk was a filing cabinet.

You had considerable clout at the company.
I had a singular responsibility for the first time in my life. I had this amazing team of people around me who thought that I was completely out of my mind. I was never a BMG employee. I was a consultant. Bertelsmann gave head counts to everybody in those days. So they (BMG Canada) couldn’t hire everybody that they wanted to (as an employee)

You stayed there for over a decade.
For 11 years. I was suddenly being called into marketing meetings. “We’ve got this record coming out by these two girls, Lovena (Fox) and Saskia (Garel), what should we do? I asked “What is the song called. It was “I don’t Need Yo Kiss.” “Okay, put it on red vinyl, get a pair of lips and put a circle around it and put a strike through it. That’s exactly what they did.” It was euphoria for me (working with Canadian R&B-funk and rap-influenced pop duo). For a decade, you weren’t allowed to be rhythmic in Canada. You weren’t allowed to be colored. Anything like that in Canada.

Being with a major international company, you now had a big canvas to work on.
It was a fantastic puddle jump from being a 6 year old kid getting shiny PolyGram Germany imports for my father to going to be an independent to suddenly bouncing over to a major company and people saying, “You can do anything that you want here. As long as your team, the seniors above you, see progress, they are going to let you run with this.”

That’s when I invented the Club Cutz (compilation) franchise and (BMG Canada marketing executive) Val Lapp came up with the name for Groove Station (compilation series), and I ran with that.

(At BMG) I had a chance to correct every mistake that I made as an independent. That really meant a lot to me. Any person in this business who doesn’t think that they have succeeded due to a potential number of second chances, they are insane. I had a chance to engage like minded people. They would give me things here and there, like remixing Vicki Sue Robinson’s “Turn the Beat Around.” When I started to connect with our German company, suddenly I realized that these were records for us in Canada, meaning Montreal, Toronto and Edmonton — the core cities that I would look at (for dance records).

BMG Canada broke records by Real McCoy, Haddaway, Snap for North America.
We ended up breaking every one of those records.

(Eurodance group) La Bouche was a massive hit in Canada beforehand. God bless Melanie (Thornton) what a tragedy that was (American singer Melanie Thornton, who fronted La Bouche, died in a plane crash near Bassersdorf, Switzerland in 2001).

There was the Captain Hollywood Project that came out on Imago. We had 7 #1 records on that album.

There was (British producer/songwriter) Herbie Crichlow who did the best live to track show I’d ever seen.

The big one was Snap. The “Rhythm is Dancer” lyric just makes no sense. When we got that record, and I put it on once in a club in Montreal, and I went “This is not just a hit it’s a revolution.” People were just not losing it, but within three months everybody was sounding like it, including “What Is Love” by Haddaway, which we also broke.

A lot of these records had to start in Canada (rather than in the U.S.). We were far smaller. We were far more multicultural.

You saw ‘N Sync in Budapest and signed them to RCA.
I really wanted to do something that I could make my mark with. Still with the dance pop legacy I had built, when I went to the States there were quite a few people that I worked with at RCA that didn’t think I knew anything. I was just one of Bob’s people from Canada.

Many Americans didn’t get Eurodance, Euro-NRG or Euro-House.
The problem is that there are a lot of people who think that rhythmic music and boy and girl bands are cyclical. It is only cyclical in the U.S. because they kill the genre. I was recently in L.A. I couldn’t listen to KISS for more than an hour. Dance music culture, for the most part, got ghettoized to stay in the gay community. Then you also had the dub culture. The Billboard dance chart in the ‘90s was such an unmitigated disaster. It had nothing to do with anything. We’re not talking about the ‘70s here. We are talking about the ‘90s, right?

Both Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync broke first in Europe. Arista’s Clive Davis released Whitney Houston’s self-titled debut album in Europe, and then in Canada before its release in the U.S.
Europe was almost like a breeding ground in a lot of ways. When I went to Budapest to see ’N Sync, who was the third act on the bill, I swear it was like a night out of “Twin Peaks.” I remember calling Dave Novik (Sr. VP, International A&R, RCA Records) saying, “Dave we have to put this record out.” He said, “Let’s go for it.” That night I said “If they let me put this record out, I’m not only going to have a hit with it, we’re also going to do a Christmas record.”

The Backstreet Boys hadn’t done one (a Christmas album) at that point. I did the first Backstreet Club show in Montreal for the Quebec (BMG) branch at a club called Fuzzy in Laval. They were great but I really wanted to see what I could do with my boys.

[In 1998, ‘N Sync released the holiday album, “Home for Christmas” The album peaked at #7 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and sold over 4 million copies worldwide.]

You signed as a writer with BMG Music Publishing in 1993.
Bob Jamieson gave me a publishing deal. I had sold about 8 million records as a writer by that point. The problem was that I didn’t play guitar, and I wasn’t in a band. The fantastic thing about Terry O’Brien was that he liked playing the fringes a little bit. I had “Tell Me You Love Me” with Carol Medina on one of the dance mix compilations. It’s something that I had hacked out chords for because, as I told you, I don’t play an instrument. It ended up selling a million compilation albums for Quality Music.

Your family is from Malta, but you weren’t born there?
No. I recently was in Malta, and I saw the apartment my parents were living in before they came to Canada. They arrived on January, 30th, 1959. When my parents came here, I was a surprise.

What work did your father do?
My father worked on the docks in Malta. He was a machinist. When he came to Canada, he worked at Brampton Brick and then Canadian Monorail until he went to work for Chubb, where he finished his career.

As a kid, you went to record stores with your father?
We started going when I was 6. We’d go to a Sayvette (discount) department store. I always went with my father when he went record shopping. He would go to (local) radio stations. My dad still has all of the black and whites (promo copies) of Nat “King” Cole, Fats Domino, Brook Benton, Diana Washington and all of the people. He has them all in frames.

For me, music was a connection. At the time, I had three sisters. So it was a way for me to be a bit different. I was as statistical as my father was. I started reading Billboard when I was 8. My dad was a subscriber. When he bought an album he would get the Billboard magazines and he would cut the color print of the cover out of Billboard, put in on a piece of paper, and type it out in these small binders so he knew what he had. I can remember going to G &S Television in Georgetown where my father bought one of the first Phillips cassette recorders ever made. So his influence was enormous. I fell in love with imports because I found him a copy of “Instrumentals Forever” (1966) by James Last.

Your father had a substantial record collection?
Yeah, and it grew into the thousands. The funny thing was I was not allowed to touch them. My father has the most pristine record collection you have ever seen. The funny thing is now I am buying all of the things that he didn’t. Like, my dad never liked Nancy Wilson. Nancy Wilson is probably my all-time favorite singer.

Did you have your own record collection growing up?
I was starting. Until 1970, my dad didn’t let me buy my own records. He was always buying things for me. It was almost like he wanted to protect my taste.

Did you collect 45s?
I did. The first 45 I ever bought was “Mississippi Queen” by Mountain in 1970. God bless Leslie West, and Felix Pappalardi.

One of your long-terms goals is to record a big orchestral record.
Oh yeah. I would like to find (American jazz trombonist, keyboardist and arranger) Don Sebesky, and make a huge pop record. I want to work with someone who will share with me the reasons why they are so good at what they do. I want to work with him or someone from the golden era of arrangers. People like Glenn Osser and Claus Ogerman and others. I have always been amazed at what such talented people hear in their heads. People like Tony Hatch, Nelson Riddle and Billy May just amaze me.

[Don Sebesky has worked with Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Michael Bublé, Liza Minnelli, Seal, Prince, and others.]

-Larry LeBlanc is widely recognized as one of the leading music industry journalists in the world. Before joining CelebrityAccess in 2008 as senior editor, he was the Canadian bureau chief of Billboard from 1991-2007 and Canadian editor of Record World from 1970-89. He was also a co-founder of the late Canadian music trade, The Record.

Larry is the recipient of the 2013 Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award, recognizing individuals who have made an impact on the Canadian music industry.

He has been quoted on music industry issues in hundreds of publications including Time, Forbes, and the London Times. He is co-author of the book “Music From Far And Wide.”                

One of Vince’s international hits…

From 11-year-old Dreamer to World Travelling Musician – The Path of a Songwriter

Ross Douglasby Ross Douglas

The desire to write songs hit me almost as soon I first heard the Beatles –I started swiping their melodies and putting my own words on top. My  first work that I remember  “ I Hate Her -yeah yeah yeah!” (a response to young love spurned and obviously a lost masterpiece)  borrowed heavily from the early work of misters Lennon and McCartney . As bad as it was, I was putting words to music, being careful to make them rhyme and adding a bit of 11 year old sarcasm.  The bug had bitten.

And there was a great by product.  I had taken piano lessons as a 7-8 year old with limited interest, but to learn the Beatles tunes I got serious  . I pecked away by ear and learned quite a few of them .   To this day I play the instruments I do primarily to aid in the learning and writing of songs.

I moved to Toronto in the mid 70’s – I met Des McAnuff who needed a piano player for some shows and ended up working with and observing a keen genius and great songwriter.  A couple of years later, another stroke of luck gave me the opportunity to become the piano player for John Gray’s “Billy Bishop goes to War” and toured a lot of the world  for about 3 years.  A groundbreaking   show, and more great songs to perform and songwriting brilliance to observe and soak up.  And of course, through travelling I experienced much to delight and inspire me.

All that happened because at age 11 I realized I wanted to be a songwriter. It brought out the musician in me.

I’ve written a lot of songs for historical theatre – songs that at their best have revealed aspects of a character and a time period in a way that only a song can. That requires research  – and in doing it I often find a turn of phrase or nugget of information that sparked me into the  zone where I  knew I’m on to something  good in a place I’ve never been before.  I love that –songs that bring out the detective in me and take me some place new.  To serve that purpose I learned bit of mandolin and ukulele and knowing a bit on those instruments has gotten me work as a performer in other shows.  Once again, an extra payoff.

I tend to be eclectic. I like the variety of style and substance. Performing solo I like stringing together my straight ahead tunes, humor, character tunes, narratives and things that are just plain silly into an evening that takes people a few places. That’s my thing. And I see people who just rip my heart out or have me helpless with laughter doing theirs. Through other songwriters , I am constantly re-inspired by language , melody and personality.

Songwriting has expanded my horizons in every way.  It led me into a career in theatre and music. It has taken me to wonderful parts of the world and introduced me to people of great creativity, heart and soul.  I’ve made a bit of a living. I have 3 albums. People around the world have contacted me to tell me my music has really meant something to them. That’s very gratifying

The most recent thing I was reminded of as a songwriter is that you’re never beyond a good tip from someone else.  I was asked to share some of what I’ve learned over the years . I confessed to Lily Cheng that I was finding it hard to start the flow of ideas. She offered me some excellent starting  points- So thank you Lily-one songwriter to another.   Here’s to us all!

Click Here to visit Ross Douglas’ Songwriter Profile