Pro Member Interview – Jenn Grant

jenn grant - sm

Jenn Grant is a multi award-winning artist. Her latest record Paradise was
the third highest selling and streamed new album in Canada week of
release. Paradise is the follow up to her 2015 Compostela, which earned
Jenn two Juno nominations for both Songwriter as well as Contemporary
Album of the Year.

Below is our interview with Jenn Grant:

  • What inspires you to create music?

My inspiration comes from Discovery. Whether it’s music I hear from other bands or songwriters, going to see a live show, or having the opportunity to dig into dig into an album on our record player. If I didn’t have access to other people’s art I think I would still make music, but it would be a very different experience. Hearing music that I find exciting or moving in some way just makes me want to write until I get a similar kind of feeling. the potential to make something that will resonate with peoples hearts is what I am all about. 

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

I don’t like to confine myself to genres. I never felt the need to be put into a certain box, and in that way I think it was hard for people to categorize me. But as an artist it has given me a real sense of freedom, and become part of my story. If music is good and authentic it’s worth exploring. For me music is often about taking artistic risks and I would really miss that element of the creative process if I felt confined to one genre. I do like to dip into elements of folk, pop, rock and country and I feel comfortable floating between all of those ‘genres’ to create my own type of sound. 

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

I started writing songs when I was a kid. From about age 8 onwards I would write songs in my diary and just sing them out loud by myself somewhere outside where and when I knew I’d be completely alone. I took a few guitar lessons at the age of 12 which really gave me a sense of freedom and discovery, however there wasn’t a lot of guitar training as the teacher liked my voice and kept asking me to sign Anne Murray songs as he played guitar. I eventually just learned the basic chords and did it on my own. I started writing lots of songs on the guitar but kept it hidden for a decade. I felt shy and nervous about it and that stage fright was a really daunting thing for me until I was ready to perform for an audience. 

I never had any formal education in music except for a few voice lessons, which was about vocal health, and not about style at all. My teacher knew I was concerned about losing my voice as I had pre vocal modules and we worked together for one year alongside an ENT Doctor to get me back in good health. I think every singer should learn about vocal health and the techniques to keep them singing without harm. 

I still want to take piano lessons as I’ve been writing a lot on the piano over the last few years, but formal teaching and schools never really worked for me. I have always been very eager to learn, and very visual, and have found my own path to being able to create without training. But I still have a lot to learn and someday maybe I’ll find the right teacher!

#MusicCreatorsUnite #CreatorsCount #thePROSofSAC

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Pro Member Interview – Tara MacLean

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Tara MacLean is a singer, songwriter, and award winning recording and touring artist. From break-out pop hits (“If I Fall”) to country-crossover (“Happy Baby”) her style is reflective of her deep roots in Gospel and the Folk Music of her East Coast Canadian upbringing. She has been signed with Nettwerk, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Capitol Records and EMI Canada (with her band Shaye). Her three solo albums were released to high acclaim, garnering extensive film and television placements, as well international touring and radio play. 

Tara shares her time between her home on the West Coast of Canada on Salt Spring Island, BC, and her home province of Prince Edward Island, on the East Coast. During the summer months, she brings her family to PEI to perform in her hit show, Atlantic Blue- A Celebration of East Coast Songwriters, which she wrote, produces, directs and stars in. Look for her new album release Spring of 2019. 

  • What inspires you to create music?

Life, heart ache, love, acts of kindness, sorrow.

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

Just feeling and then turning it into a tune.

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

I was discovered in 1995 by Sony Music Publishing and Nettwerk Records.

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

Absolutely! It’s been 25 years so I def have evolved!

  • Do you write for other recording/performing artists?

Sometimes I go to Nashville/LA to write for my publishing company.

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

Writing definitely crosses genres.

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

Yes. Being a songwriter in Canada is not the easiest way to make a living. Thank goodness for SOCAN!

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

Peter Gabriel, Dan Lanois, Leonard Cohen, Tori Amos, Sarah of course.

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

Dan Lanois.

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

 I am self-taught, though I grew up around songwriters so I watched carefully.

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

Write from your heart. It’s the only thing that will make you stand out.

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

Writing with Gordie Sampson, a song called Star about my sister Shaye.

  • 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 guitar.

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

It’s fun!

  • How can S.A.C. help you?

I’m not sure! I am proud to be apart of Canada’s thriving songwriter’s scene! Let’s see where this goes. Looking forward to the newsletter.

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

Help musicians write government grants.

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

I plan to write music all my life, whether it is heard by millions, or by a few loyal fans, I just have to keep sharing the art. That makes it complete.

Pro Member Interview – Troy Kokol

 

Troy Kokol - SM

I’m a SOCAN award winner, 2 time CCMA songwriter of the year nominee and I JUST completed my 2nd studio album, “Lonely Ghost”, chalk full of new songs (produced and mixed by yours truly)…ready for some hungry ears!! 

As a songwriter, I’ve had 200+ cuts, with a bunch of very talented folks, including Warner Music’s Brett Kissel, Tenille Townes, Leaving Thomas, Chris Henderson, Ryan Laird and Shane Yellowbird….whose single, “Pick Up Truck” (written w/ Joni Delaurier) was recently listed #6 all time on Canadian country radio by Billboard! 

As a producer, I’ve been proud to work with some amazing artists at our studio in Calgary including Jerry Sereda, James Daniel Burke, Brad Saunders and Invictus/Universal music artist Beamer Wigley….I’m loving life!! 🙂 

I try to follow 3 simple rules: 

1. Be true to yourself 
2. Only walk through open doors 
3. When in doubt, “love is the answer”

Below is our interview with Troy:

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

Tip 1: 

I was lucky to learn early on that the 2 most important ingredients to success is 1) patience and 2) persistence….(talent being a very distant 3).

When I first started songwriting, I went to the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, TN (when you could actually get into the Bluebird) and saw a writer’s round where an older writer talked about coming to town 18 years ago (he was late 50’s)….and how he JUST got his first cut.  He wasn’t a terribly good singer….or guitar player.  I started to think, as he sang his song that Tim McGraw cut….18 years prior he would’ve been around 40….probably a terrible guitar player and singer.  His friend and family likely would’ve been rolling their eyes at the prospect of this man getting a US major label cut…..and yet here he was….singing an amazing song that Tim McGraw just recorded.  I realized in that moment, all he decided to do was not quit.  Despite his inabilities, weaknesses and fear. I thought to myself, “Well, heck…I can do that.”…..and so can you!

Tip 2:

As you start to unlock your songwriter mind, remember learning to tap into your creativity is like turning on the shower…..at first it’s too cold……so you turn it up…..a lot…..but then it’s too hot….so you turn it down, but not all the way.  At some point you find the right temperature….then you step in…..but even then, you’ll likely adjust it a couple times during the course of your shower.

Your creativity is exactly like that…and from the time you step into your creative “shower”, until you’ve achieved just the right temperature and found your sweet spot where people really start to take notice of your work is about 5-10 years (or sometimes 18 years).

So be patient….be persistent….and keep scrubbing those lyrics!

 

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

I’d love to see the Canadian music community invest more effort into supporting one another.

I watched an interview w/ Mel Brooks, a very successful actor and film maker.  They asked him what he attributed his success to, to which he more or less replied, “Helping people.”. I had a hard time understanding his answer at first, but I began to realize that helping other people in your chosen field is the easiest way to build connections, trust and long lasting, fruitful relationships.  

Since hearing this, I began dedicating a small amount of my time helping others.  Sometimes it’s bringing together an artist and songwriter….or perhaps an amazing artist to a potential label.  I don’t expect anything in return…and most of the time nothing really tangible comes back to me immediately.  However, I CAN tell you that many of the greatest opportunities I’ve had as a songwriter and producer have been via the relationships I’ve built through helping others.

Having said that, the vastly more important reason I try and follow in Mel Brooks footsteps, is to help build my community and do what I can to positively affect on the lives of my fellow artists….after all, what greater reward is there??

#thePROSofSAC #CreatorsCount #StayCreative 

Pro Member Interview – Luke McMaster

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Formerly one half of Gold selling Canadian duo McMaster & James, Luke McMaster cut his teeth on some of the biggest acts of the day, including sharing the stage with Randy Bachman, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera and more.  An in-demand songwriter with multiple credits and collaborations with such global superstars as Rihanna and soul music icons like Felix Cavaliere of the Rascals, Luke’s first love has always been singing, performing and connecting with his audience.  

In the early spring 2016, Luke released his sophomore album TRENDING. A modern collection of original tracks inspired by classic soul and early Motown, in the vein of throwback artists like Michael Bublé and neo-soul group, Maroon 5.  

Luke is currently working on his next project ICONS OF SOUL which features co-writes with some of the most celebrated songwriters of the early soul era including Felix Cavaliere of the Rascals and Lamont Dozier who has over 80 top 10 hits to his name, including 13 in a row for the Supremes.  To find out more about ICONS OF SOUL, follow Luke on facebook and instagram or you can follow the project development on Luke’s ICONS OF SOUL blog. Below is our interview with Luke McMaster.

 

  • What inspires you to create music?

A love of the craft of songwriting. The high you get from creating something that didn’t previously exist out of thin air. Music is a universal language and it’s incredibly satisfying to share, communicate and hopefully elevate.

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

Legends of Motown like Lamont Dozier. They created the fabric of pop music from early blues and gospel and transformed it in a way that is sometimes taken for granted.

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

Stevie Wonder.

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

Create your own opportunities. Don’t wait for the industry to find you, be creative not just with your music but with the projects that will drive your music.

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

Further what SAC is working on. Become more unified.

 

#thePROSofSAC #CreatorsCount #StayCreative 

Pro Member Interview – Matty Galaxy

Matty Galaxy - SM

Rhythm is the thread that has woven the path for DJ and Producer, Matthieu Bohemier a.k.a Matty Galaxy. What started as a fascination with rhythm as a child has grown into a rising career, having already shared stages with international DJs, such as Grand Theft, Ryan Hemsworth, Zedds Dead and more. Matty is part of the next generation of up coming producers and is currently in L.A working alongside producer “Bongo” By The Way. Below is his interview with S.A.C.:

 

  • What inspires you to create music?

Anything and Everything. I could be sitting anywhere, mid conversation and hear a song in the distance that has a awesome sounding section I would love to sample. It could be a rhythm of a bird chirp, a cup of coffee or even something visual like art or a movie. I make a point to always have my ears open ALWAYS and let the inspiration flow to me. The sense of freedom while creating is also something that will always inspire me to create more music.

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

Danja is hands down my favourite producer. I spent a lot of time in Highschool studying his instrumentals while walking the halls. When the time came for me to decide what I wanted to spend my life doing, his music made it easy for me to decide that production is for me. I soak in a lot of different styles in my beats, I always try to pull from different genres and not be stagnant. I definitely learned a lot from listening to Danja and given the chance I would have to thank him for inspiring me to chase my dream and to be fearless while creating.

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

Okay.. There is a ton but to narrow it down I would love to work with other producers such as Danjahandz, Max Martin or Cirkut. These guys are sooo creative and keep me inspired.

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

One thing I have learned is that, face to face songwriting sessions are soooo Important! Of course the internet is huge and you can send music back and forth with someone. There is something so different about the energy exchange when your in the same room with someone, you learn so much about each other and get to play off each others energies. I would also say to go to one of the bigger Cities. Risk it all.. go to a place like Los Angeles and stay there as long as you can. I’ve found the universe knows when you are making sacrifice and will reward you. I spent a whole summer DJ’ing weddings and working at a pizza shop full time to save up to move to LA for 4 months. I sacrificed all my time to put myself in the best position possible and it paid off. I met my mentor Bongo By The Way the FIRST month I was there and I recently had my first professional music placement with him. Take the Risk, Always..

#MusicCreatorsUnite #CreatorsCount #StayCreative 

Pro Member Interview – Aileen de la Cruz

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • What inspires you to create music?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Do you write for other recording/performing artists?

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

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

I write all Genres.

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

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

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

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

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

Andrea Bocelli or Beyonce’.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • How can S.A.C. help you?

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

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

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

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

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

#MusicCreatorsUnite #CreatorsCount #thePROSofSAC 

Pro Member Interview – Luther Mallory (House of Goobata)

Luther Mallory

Who is Luther? According to… Luther!

“Really, I’m a Band Guy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • What inspires you to create music?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • How can S.A.C. help you?

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

#MusicCreatorsUnite #CreatorsCount #thePROSofSAC