Isabelle Banos

Isabelle Banos

Isabelle Banos is a Montreal-based producer, songwriter and a founding member of thealternative pop band Caveboy, in which she plays bass and synthesizers. She has performed across Canada, showcased throughout the U.S., and participated in major music conferences all over the world.

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

I mostly work on music that falls somewhere under the “Pop” umbrella. I love creating songs that as many people as possible can connect with, and hopefully find some joy in. I really love bending and blending within the pop genre as much as I can. My sessions often involve some kind of sonic visit to past decades, creating wacky samples, superimposing beats, and just generally pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

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

I don’t have any formal music education and for a long time I used that as an excuse to hide out, I never really put myself out there. I always lacked the confidence to join the “boys club” that was the local music scene at the time. I would spend countless hours alone taking in free resources from the web; tutorial videos, blogs, podcasts, and everything in between. From there I started applying for every possible mentorship program that was available to me. I’ve had the privilege of working with some incredibly talented and generous people who not only supported my technical development, but who also helped foster the self-confidence I needed to finally realize “Hey I’m good at this and I have something special to offer!”

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

I do! I’ve written and produced music for tons of really cool and inspiring projects. I really enjoy getting a creative brief that outlines exactly what the director is looking for. It’s such a fun challenge trying to figure out how to create something completely new and unique based off of a very specific song reference. Then to actually hear your music in the film or show is such a cool feeling!

#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.

Jessie T

Whether performing live or virtually, Jessie T leaves it all on the stage. With the mind of a songwriter and the heart of a performer, her music takes you through love, heartache and everything in between. Jessie T’s voice blends country sweetness with a “pop-infused edge” raves Coral Andrews of the Waterloo Regional Record.

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

My introduction & love for music started from an early age in a super organic way – even though neither were career musicians, my Dad played guitar & my Mom loved to sing. Our house was always filled with music, from neighbour guitar nights to Charley Prides’ greatest hits playing through our house on vinyl.  

When I was 8, my parents put me in piano lessons. I always leaned towards playing popular music (Elton John’s ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight’ was a personal favourite) but through pursuing conservatory grading, I lost the initial spark. I was moved into vocal lessons at the same music school & picked up playing the guitar on the side. My Dad taught me my first 4 chords – after that I was hooked. I started writing wrongs, met my producer in Kitchener & then moved to playing gigs locally in downtown Kingston. 

After high school, I also attended college for one year for a Music & Digital media course. It focused on skills that can assist with building a career in music – photoshop, photography, music history, ear training, etc.  

My relationship with music has very much been built through formal & informal ways. I think embracing both has helped shape my musicianship & love for the craft.

  • Do you have a process to songwriting or when creating music? How did you get your start as a creator in the industry?

Songwriting has always been something I’ve been highly fascinated by, even as a creator. Quite often I’ll look back at songs I’ve written and think “how cool is that!” that certain lyrical ideas or melodies just found their way into that moment.

I have always been a pen to paper kind of girl, until the convenience of Google Docs came to be for co-writes. The songs I write usually come from topics I hear in conversations – talking to a friend or ones overhead in everyday life. Another common place I draw inspiration from are conversations or situations I play through in my head- reliving moments to find little details or rehaving conversations to say things left unsaid. I find it super therapeutic to write about those things.

I started seriously creating after meeting my producer Rick Hutt at 15. My Dad & I started writing and the first one we finished was called Shadows. It was about one of his friends who lost his son to cancer- “A shadow over my shoulder but no one at my side”.

The rest of my career as a creator/artist/performer has embracing opportunities and people that have come in to my path. Never be afraid to have a conversation or ask questions.

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

As stated above, my biggest piece of advice would be to network. The longer I’m in this industry, the more I recognize how small ‘the circle’ is & how connected everyone is to one another. There are so many creators out there for you to work with, try new things!

Collaborate with people who inspire you: Create a list of dream collaborations & send people messages – social media is a great thing for that! Make sure you have a solid/clean product to send & reach out.

Invest in your craft: If you’re not willing to invest in it, why would anyone else? Put the time in to learning your instrument or researching different writing techniques. The same as any business, you need to put in the work.

Embrace opportunities: Never take advantage of people or situations that come in to your path, but be ready to embrace opportunities when they come your way. People like to work with people who work hard, create good product & have a vision. Take time to learn what makes you authentically you & follow that.

Most of all, have fun: Follow paths that make you excited- excitement will generate better product! Everyone in any career is allowed to have tough days but make sure you’re enjoying your journey.

#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.

Nick Fowler (FWLR)


While maintaining a successful career in music for TV and Film, Nick Fowler needed an outlet that was solely focused on him. In 2013 FWLR was born. Born free to pursue art. Free to take risks and free from concerns of judgement.The goal was to be authentic and earn respect as a true artist rather than as a product; a slow genuine burn as opposed to a flash-in-the-pan short-lived success. Stylistically he is fluid. Flowing from one genre to the next he connects the dots with his signature production and sound. Drawing influence from artists such as The Aphex Twin, Noisia, and BT, his music could be described as sexy, complex, dark and intelligent. An education in Electronics Engineering gave him the understanding to create his own unique brand of electronica and while continuing to grow and learn, FWLR is leaving his mark on modern music.

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

My process usually begins with me experimenting with sounds. I am a massive synth and sound design nerd at heart so a lot of my time is spent messing around trying to discover new sonic possibilities. I tend to separate sound design from writing, but usually when I stumble across a noise that catches my ear it inspires me to write. I like to write small sketches and stock pile them for opportunities like songwriters camps or Television spots. This has really come in handy over the years as both songwriters camps and TV are extremely time-sensitive situations. Having these sketches started really fast-tracks the creative process.

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

I have made my living writing for TV shows since 2012 when I stepped away from my full-time job to focus solely on music. I never intended on getting into the world of sync and licensing but playing in a band and securing our first couple sync deals back in 2010 really opened my eyes. As I focused more on the television side of the music industry I started to gain a huge respect for all the work that went into those productions. I have since written the theme songs for The Social on CTV, Daily Planet on Discovery, and all the shows on BNN as well as hundreds of library tracks for shows such as etalk, Canada AM, CTV News, Marilyn Denis and many more. I’ve had sync placements with shows such as Letterkenny, Degrassi, Rookie Blue, The Next Step, and Lost and Found. I’ve also dabbled in ads (McDonald’s, ViewSonic, Maybelline) and have had some of my songs used in games such as Rocket League, Xenon Racer and more. Hearing your music being used to reinforce a visual narrative is a really incredible feeling as the result is greater than the sum of the music or the visual on their own.

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

Be yourself and don’t take shortcuts. Everyone is able to see it when someone isn’t being genuine. Art is supposed to be a creative expression of who you are and what you believe in. When people try to create art with ulterior motives (such as to become successful or make money) the audience picks up on that. It takes time to grow an organic fan-base of people who truly connect with you. Don’t rush that. Create good art and the success will come.


#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.


Victoria Banks

Victoria Banks - social Media

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

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

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

“This is an artist you absolutely need to pay attention to. Recommended without reservation.” – Robert Oermann, MusicRow
“A powerful singer…a very impressive songwriter…definitely a name to look out for.” – Maverick Magazine (UK)


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

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

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

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

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

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


#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.



It’s with her magnetic voice that singer, songwriter KARLI captures the attention of everyone around her. The 24 year old Hamiltonian who grew up surrounded by many musical influences, began to show an interest in writing and performing very early on. “Writing songs for me, is like my personal form of therapy” she explains. In the fall of 2017, KARLI released her very first feature with DJ Miss Shelton titled “When the Lights go Out” which made it straight to Canadian radio and onto Stingray Music. Close behind was her duet with TOITO, produced by East Coast’s Famba, “Space” generating over 2M streams collectively. KARLI debuted her very first single, “Needy” in August of 2018, followed by “Enough” with Los Angeles producer Oscar Olivo in May of this year. She has since been writing and collaborating with a number of artists and producers including Montreal’s Midsplit in their latest release “I Do”. KARLI has been working on the development of her E.P. and looks forward to release her next single in the fall of 2019.

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

Not really. And I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to the songwriting process. Sometimes you can start with a hook or lyrics or maybe just an idea, but then it goes from there. I think it has a lot to do with feeling and what feels right. What show off your emotions the best. I just love songwriting and i’ve been writing since i was 16 but it was hard to get my music out there.

One new approach to the songwriting process that i took recently was going to SAC’s songwriter workshops. It was a huge challenge for me because i was in a room with people that i didn’t know and i had to co-write with them. Although, being put out of my comfort zone co-writing witth these amazing songwriters and professionals really
helped me find out my true capabilities and being surrounded by these professionals who you can bounce ideas off of and who really understand you, where you're coming from and the process was very valuable. It was the best experience i’ve ever had and I would recommend it to any songwriter.

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

My music has definitely evolved a lot since i started. I come from a very musical family as my dads in a rock band and my mom is a singer. So, growing up, i used to be very poppy and a lot more girly. As i mentioned, i was like 16 and writing songs about boys, you know? Even my first single was pretty poppy. But now, I really want to use my music as an outlet to say things that can help people by giving them something to relate to.

For example, I wrote my song Vicious Circle about a close friend of mine who was in an abusive relationship. Abuse of any kind is not okay and that’s what that song talks about.
Songs like that touch a lot of people and it doesn’t have to be that exact situation they are experience but there is a connection mentally and physically and I want to bring that to the forefront of my music.

Also, i wanna try to explore more genres moving forward. I’m definitely opening up to co-writing with different artist who bring a different vibe and contribute to the song in that case.

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

Definitely make connections. social media is such a huge part of our lives now and huge amongst the music world so defiantly using that to your advantage. Reach out to those people that you admire or are interested in because even though you may think they will never reach back, they usually do and the result is amazing. I worked with a producer from LA for my last single, someone i never physically met btw, and that lead to me having a billboard on times square.

You never really know what can happen and its important to take a chance.
I mean also yes, have your guard up to a point but theres a lot of people out there that are great and are on the same page as you and if you can find those people – the reward is magical. Try to self-manage yourself too if you can. When i started taking things into my own hands, it was the best thing for my career.

AND JOIN SAC! Seriously! I’m a huge advocate of what you guys do. I think Greg Johnston is absolutely great and the team that’s been put together and the vision behind the organisation means a lot – especially as a songwriter. I would recommend it to any up and coming songwriter to join SAC and truly take advantage of all the services and
events you put 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.



STORRY is a seasoned artist trained in classical music who performs Mozart arias with as much confidence as hip hop, R&B, and gospel. Fierce and multifaceted, she writes and produces all her music. STORRY’s voice quality is second to none, and she uses and enhances her incredible sonorous gifts with prophecies witty, raw, and life-changing.

She preaches from experience. Lots of it. Her songs offer an honest portrait of life as a woman: it’s an image everybody can recognize, even if they don’t want to. Her poetic and musical creativity is unapologetic and fearless. In releasing her first single, STORRY is leaving the shadows and showing us the result of decades of artistic work.

  • What inspires you to create music?

I think music and art in general, is a way to impact the world and culture. And so, I create music to be impactful. To make people feel, to make people think, to make people leave changed. I really do believe that art is not only a reflection of our world but can also push culture forward and change the world.

  • Have you faced any major economic, social, or political hurdle(s) as a music creator?

Economically, I would say, music is an industry where there isn’t a lot of funding behind it. It’s quite expensive. Although these days it has gotten a little bit better, you know, by being able to record at home and such. But to get a real platform for your music to be heard is quite hard when you don’t have a marketing budget, or a team, or a label behind you. So, economically it can be hard for people that don’t have a lot of money.

And on a political/social level, I would say that being a woman, is a difficult part I think of being in any industry, but particularly in the entertainment industry. I’ve often been the only woman in a lot of studio settings, in a room full of men. More often than not, women are not seen as equally valuable… I’m usually mansplained a lot. I kind of have to bite my tongue, because there’s this kind of hierarchy that exists. So, its a very interesting landscape to try and navigate, and my feeling is that we really need to empower women; To be producers, play instruments, and be given equal opportunity to do those things in these environments.

  • Do you see any change in today’s music industry?

I have been seeing a shift – it’s slowly changing, but I think its been more surface-level than I would like. There’s been a lot of hashtags, like the #MeToo movement (which has been very important). But I think that this has allowed people to – especially men in the industry, who are misogynistic, or whatever – to hide under that guise of being ‘feminist’. ‘I follow this movement’ or ‘I stand behind strong women’, but they don’t actually act on those ideals. It’s a pretence – it’s trendy. And then it has a gaslighting effect on women. A lot of talk, and very little integrity or follow-through behind those words. So, I very much appreciate being here writing at the SAC ProSongWorks because it’s been a very balanced and respectful environment to create. 

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

I initially started teaching myself how to sing and write from childhood. I taught myself how to play a bit of piano and guitar as well. I later ended up going to school for a couple years in classical voice and studied opera. It was a very interesting way to utilize my voice in a different way and I really enjoyed that. I didn’t finish university but it was a very fun experience for me. So having both sides of the spectrum – knowing how to jam and also knowing the theory and technique behind it, and knowing how to combine the two worlds.

  • Would you recommend this to other artists – to have a bit more background/education about the music?

I would. I think it’s important to have both. Some things in music cannot be taught theoretically. They’re internal vibrations and emotions. But knowing how to utilize your instrument(s) so you have multiple tools and options in your back pocket just adds to what you can accomplish when you’re in the right vibrations with the right collaborators. Then you can really finesse and polish the work to be exactly what you hear in your head. If, for example, if you’re vocal range is smaller, then often that will change what melodies you might come up with because there are certain limitations or boundaries you must work inside of. Studying or perfecting your craft or instrument can remove a lot of these limitations. 

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

I’ve been thinking a lot about this actually.. ’cause I think there’s a lot of things that could be better. For one, me being an artist trying to release music on my own, I find it very difficult to navigate all the bits and pieces of the industry. Everything is scattered and there’s no blueprint. It’s like, if I were to open up a restaurant, there are certain things that need to be in place; you need to get certain permits, safety, understand the space’s capacity, there’s a framework.. but there’s no framework for the music industry per se. It’s kind of the wild west, and because of that, there’s no real regulations. With no real regulations, there can be a lot of corruption happening. So I think there needs to be some sort of way to regulate, to allow people to feel safe in these working spaces – to know that there is an entity holding people accountable if something goes wrong.

#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.

Skye Sweetnam

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


#ThePROSofSAC #CreatorsCount #MusicCreatorsUnite

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



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

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

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

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

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

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


  • What inspires you to create music?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Do you write for other recording/performing artists? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Laptop, DAW, lots of RAM + WAVES plugins.

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

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

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

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


#ThePROSofSAC #CreatorsCount #MusicCreatorsUnite

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

Ari Rhodes


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

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

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

  • What inspires you to create music?

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

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

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

#ThePROSofSAC #CreatorsCount #MusicCreatorsUnite

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

Serena Ryder


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.