Pro Member Interview – Susan Passmore

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

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

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

  • What inspires you to create music?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#ThePROSofSAC #CreatorsCount #MusicCreatorsUnite

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

 

Advertisements

Pro Member Interview – Karen Kosowski

Karen Kosowki - SM
http://songwriters.ca/member/KarenKosowski

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

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

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

________________________________________________________

For more information please visit karenkosowski.com

Contact: karen@karenkosowski.com

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pro Member Interview – Mo Kenney

Mo Kenney delivers a powerful punch with her third record. A promising young singer-songwriter is now a dynamic artist with a collection of attitude-driven indie rock that will pull at your heartstrings. Mo has won numerous awards and captivated audiences with performances in Australia, Europe, the UK and the US.

 

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

I started playing guitar when I was 11 years old and immediately fell in love. I didn’t start writing songs until I was 14 or 15. I loved music so much that I knew I wanted to pursue a career in some capacity. Joel Plaskett really gave me my start. We met when I was 16 and in my early 20’s we ended up working together on my first record. Without his guidance and mentorship I wouldn’t be where I am today! He is still the person I go to if I want an opinion on any new music I’m working on.

  • Do you write for other recording/performing artists?

I have collaborated with other artists on songs that have ended up on their records, or that they have ended up recording for themselves. I didn’t co-write until I attended the Gordie Sampson Songwriting Camp when I was 21. I’m so thankful for that experience because it taught me how to write with other writers. It’s not something I do very often, but every once in a while I’ll co-write with someone.

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

I started guitar lessons at the Canadian Conservatory when I was 11. I took lessons for about 4 years and then stopped. I taught myself how to finger pick and I taught myself how to sing.

 

#ThePROSofSAC #CreatorsCount #MusicCreatorsUnite

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

Pro Member Interview – Deric Ruttan

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

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

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

  • What inspires you to create music?

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

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

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

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

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

  • Do you write for other recording/performing artists?

Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

#ThePROSofSAC #CreatorsCount #MusicCreatorsUnite

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

Pro Member Interview – Darryl James

Darryl James - SM
http://songwriters.ca/member/DarrylJames

Darryl James has been writing and touring with the Strumbellas for the past 9 years and has seen one of his co-written songs “Spirits” become an international hit going “Double Platinum” in Canada, “Gold” in the USA and “Gold” in Germany. “Spirits” also have over 120 million Spotify streams and over 54 million Youtube streams worldwide, so Darryl understands what it takes to write a hit single! 

Over the past 2 years, Darryl has made songwriting one of his main priorities with the goal of writing songs with for other artists. In the last 6-12 months, Darryl is now co-writing with grammy nominated artists and producers regularly, signed a recent publishing deal with Kobalt Music Publishing, and has judged for both SOCAN and CARAS for various industry awards. 

  • What inspires you to create music?
I love creating music that connects with people and what they’re going through in their lives. When fans tell me that my music relates to them in any way, it means the world to me and inspires me to write more!
  • Do you have a process to your songwriting or when creating music?
Yes. First, I create the melody and chords in a voice memo. From there, I try to write another melody to connect the two or co-write with someone to create something unique. I generally work on lyrics last.
  • How did you get your start as a creator in the industry?
I’m an original member in the band, The Strumbellas. It was my first band, and first time experiencing the industry.
  • How has your music evolved since you first became a recording/performing artist?
In The Strumbellas, we try to work with a new producer every record and push our sound to something new, and exciting. Each of us in the band is always trying to find new music that inspires us and then build from in our own projects.

  • Do you write for other recording/performing artists?
Yes. I am signed to a publisher called, Kobalt Music Publishing. I pitch songs to other artists and for sync opportunities.
  • Do you tend to write for one genre, or do you find your music crosses genre lines?
I enjoy writing for other genres, but feel most comfortable in writing folk/country songs.
  • Have you faced any major economic, social or political hurdles as a music creator?
Economically, the first 8 years of being in The Strumbellas was a struggle. I ran my own consulting business on the side, just to make enough money to support being in the band, and supporting my family.
  • Do you have any musical influences who have influenced your style, or who you give a “nod” to whenever possible?
Our lead writer in The Strumbellas, Simon Ward. He writes “Huge” hooks and is always working to write better songs. It has been inspiring to learn from him throughout the last 10 years, and he’s influenced my work ethic and style for songwriting.
  • If you could collaborate with any other music creator, who would that be?
To be honest, I love collaborating with anyone. I find the experience so memorable and inspiring.
  • How did you learn your craft – was it a “formal” or “informal” music education?
It was very informal. I played guitar around the camp fire and then transitioned to bass guitar and song writing, but that wasn’t until I was in my 20’s. Therefore, never be worried about when and how you start writing your first songs. It can happen anytime.
  • Do you have any advice for upcoming songwriters and creators who are looking to break further into the creative scene?
Write as many songs as you can, and don’t be scared to co-write with other creators.
  • What is your fondest musical memory or favourite piece of music you’ve written?
My fondest memory is when our song, “Spirits” climbed the USA alternative charts and reached #1 for 3 weeks. The excitement and opportunities that song presented over the last few years were life changing and inspired much of my current work.
  • What is the most important “tool” you need when creating, eg. GarageBand, google docs, your cell phone, Pro Tools, or a pad of paper?
I’d say a voice recorder and a note pad. When you feel inspired or even when you don’t feel inspired, write some melodies and lyrics at any time of the day, and go back and listen every month or so.
  • Do you ever compose for film/tv/video games? What’s that like?
I’ve started to write songs to pitch to film and television and in The Strumbellas, we’ve had a lot of sync placements with our last record. Overall, it is an amazing experience to hear a song you’ve co-written in a film, commercial or video game. And, even more rewarding when fans/friends come up to you and tell you about those placements!
  • How can S.A.C. help you?
I’d love to use the S.A.C to build my songwriter’s professional network by going to songwriting camps and connecting with other writer’s.
  • If the music community could do one thing better what would it be?
For the industry to be more inclusive of females and minority groups in leadership roles along with equalling out the opportunities for females/minority groups in the recording/production, and live music scenes.
  • What do you see in the future for songwriting and music creators like yourself? 
With the internet, and the ability to put your songs out into the world within seconds, I feel like the opportunities are endless. 15 years ago that really wasn’t possible, and I’ve seen first hand how a songwriter can be found from a song on a SoundCloud link or Youtube video.
#ThePROSofSAC #CreatorsCount #MusicCreatorsUnite

S.A.C. Black History Songwriters Series: Molly Johnson

Molly Johnson press photo
http://www.mollyjohnson.com
Known as one of Canada’s greatest voices, award-winning jazz vocalist Molly Johnson is a mother, singer-songwriter, artist and philanthropist, who has just released her highly anticipated new album, “Meaning To Tell Ya”. Produced by multiple GRAMMY Award winning Producer, Larry Klein.

Approaching 60 years on Earth and almost as many on stage, Molly Johnson has been active in Toronto music since appearing in 1960’s stage musicals in her native Toronto.

The six time JUNO nominee has recorded interpretations of everyone from Billie Holiday to Marvin Gaye, as well as writing her own songs. Johnson’s latest release, “Meaning to Tell Ya” has recently been nominated for a JUNO.

Studying ballet in her teens improved her singing ability and she found herself singing with local disco act Chocolate Affair. Little else is known about this group, but a following endeavour with Billy Reed and the Street People yielded Johnson’s first recorded out put. “Doin’ The Best We Can” is this band’s only album. There are solid funky blues cuts and soul covers on this record, which was partly recorded at the famous El Mocambo, which is pictured on the front cover.

As the decade closed, Johnson formed Alta Moda. She spent the next decade and change with this band, and later The Infidels, which had most of the same band members as Alta Moda. Johnson moonlighted in the mid 1980’s as a back-up singer for the alternative rock act Breeding Ground. This band made a couple of videos which were broadcast on MuchMusic.

At the time Alta Moda started, Johnson lived above Queen West haunt The Cameron House where she also played weekly “Blue Monday” jams. By 1992, The Infidels folded and Johnson decided to take a break from music. Voice-overs and ads paid the bills but she didn’t stay away from music for too long.

The next decade (millennium, in fact) saw a return to making music, and Johnson’s first self-titled C.D. came out in 2000.

She toured Europe, released “Another Day” in 2002, and “Messing Around” in 2006. “Lucky” garnered a JUNO for Vocal Jazz Album of 2009.

2019 finds Johnson back in the JUNO spotlight, with a nomination for last year’s release, “Meaning To Tell Ya.” There is even a vinyl edition of this release, almost certainly the first wax pressed with Johnson’s voice since the Alta Moda era. The C.D. includes mostly Johnson originals, along with a few covers, including Marvin Gaye’s sublime “Inner City Blues.”

As an activist, Johnson has involved herself in education and Black History Month, petitioning to have Lawrence Hill’s The Book Of Negroes turned into a television series, and for it’s inclusion on high school reading lists. The only Canadian high school curriculum book addressing racism, Johnson pointed out in an interview, continues to be To Kill A Mockingbird.

In 2007, she became an Officer of the Order of Canada, partly for her work with the Kumbaya AIDS charity.

More recently, Johnson started the KMJF in 2016. With a few ducats of arts funding, nothing from the city, and no corporate sponsorship, the Kensington Market Jazz Festival has put hundreds of bands on dozens of stages, in clubs, on the streets, and even in some alleyways, annually, for a glorious September weekend in the market.

Johnson has a few Ontario concerts scheduled in March, including in London, host city of this year’s JUNOs.

Blog post by Erik Twight 

Erik Twight is, at present, a Freelance Writer, maintaining a web presence specializing in current affairs, history, photography and music and producing a weekly podcast/radio show arranged thematically and with commentary for fun. Click here to read more.

Spotify Ep.5

Playlist:

Song: Meaning To Tell Ya
Album: Meaning To Tell Ya
Performed and written by: Molly Johnson

Song: Another Day
Album: Another Day
Performed by: Molly Johnson
Written by: Molly Johnson and Mark McLean

Song: Lucky
Album: Lucky
Performed by: Molly Johnson
Written by: Molly Johnson and Steve MacKinnon

Song: L.O.V.E
Album: Meaning To Tell Ya
Performed and written by: Molly Johnson

Song: Melody
Album: Another Day
Performed by: Molly Johnson
Written by: Molly Johnson and Craig Ross

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

 

Pro Member Interview – Steve Smith

Steve Smith - SM

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

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

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

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

 

  • Do you write for other recording/performing artists?

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

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

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

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

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

 

#thePROSofSAC #CreatorsCount #MusicCreatorsUnite