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 

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Pro Member Interview – Andrew Allen

andrew allen - sm

Allen’s DIY ability and optimistic attitude have served him well. He’s scored five Top 10 hits in Canada, 2009’s “I Wanna Be Your Christmas”, 2010’s “Loving You Tonight” which was lodged in the upper reaches of the charts for more than 22 weeks. 2011’s “I Want You”, 2015’s “What You Wanted” and 2016’s “Favourite Christmas Song”! 

His benchmark single “Loving You Tonight” was a lilting, sunny tune about an ideal romance, “Loving You Tonight” helped put Andrew on tour with acts like Bruno Mars, One Republic, Andy Grammer, The Script, Train, Joshua Radin and The Barenaked Ladies… with the official music video garnering more than 4 million views and over 100,000 copies sold worldwide. 

As a songwriter, Andrew’s written with some incredible writers and artists, including Meghan Trainor, Rachel Platten, Carly Rae Jepsen, Tyler Shaw, and Toby Gad (writer of ‘All of Me’ – John Legend, ‘If I Were a Boy’ – Beyonce, ‘Bigs Girls Don’t Cry’ – Fergie etc) to name a few… and is credited with writing songs for Nick Howard (winner of the Voice Germany), Germany pop icon Mario Novembre and EDM singles for Project 46, Ilan Bluestone and the song ‘Last Chance’ that can be found on Kaskade’s Grammy Nominated album as well as the Quadruple Platinum Italian smash “Ad Occhi Chiusi” which was co-written by Matt Simons for Italian Superstar Marco Mengoni and Latin America’s boy band CD9’s Gold selling song ‘Dime’. 

In addition, you may have heard his songs featured in various TV Shows and Movies, including the blockbuster Taylor Lautner film ‘Abduction’, reality show ‘The Bachelor’, UP Networks ‘Bringing up Bates’ and the most recent Folger’s Coffee commercial! 

Radio play and songwriting aside, Andrew is a true live performer with an exceptional voice, incredible songs, some serious live looping chops and limitless energy… not too mention a spatter of comic wit and story-telling ability that helps create a dynamic and interactive live show. He’s definitely an artist that embodies the term ‘live’.

Below is our interview with Andrew Allen:

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

When I started writing I was just writing off the cuff, just spit balling it thinking of whatever I could think of. And, after working with a lot of other writers and collaborating (which can be awkward at first I recognized how important it is to be poignant in what you’re saying to keep away a lot of the extras bits and pieces and to really hone in to what exactly you’re trying to say in the lyric and also to pair it well melodically. And so, I think that the evolution of my own writing has become much more refined and I recognize that it’s definitely a muscle you need to continue work on and if you don’t it gets weak. So a lot of people are like “I’m not inspired to write today” and I disagree with that. I think that you need to write as often as you possible can to keep that muscle active. 

  • What is your fondest musical memory?

So, this is probably about 2 1/2 years ago maybe more. I had flown a friend out to LA where I was living at the time and I said lets write some songs. So the first song we wrote was terrible (haha). And then then second (the next morning) – I had gone to bed the night before and my wife had said to me “I’m very, very confident that I’m pregnant and I’m having a baby girl.” And we hadn’t figured it out for sure yet, but she was very convinced and I believed her. So the next morning I didn’t want to tell him that but I felt very inspired to write sort of a life song. And I all of sudden realized “Wow, I never thought about being a dad and the fact that maybe one day I could also be a Grandfather.” So him and I wrote a song called “Time” and it took us about 45 minutes and it just came out and it was all about the times that you would want to teach to that little human. The neat thing for me was that we recorded a demo of it and I sent it to my publisher and about a year later they contacted me and said they wanted to use it in a Folgers commercial and I thought “that sounds amazing!”. But you never know what those commercials are going to be. So when I saw the commercial, there’s a little girl sitting at breakfast bar and she’s colouring and her Dad comes down and pours coffee into a to-go mug and then he’s about to leave the house and realizes “No, I think I’m going to stay” and he pours his coffee into a #1 stay at home mug and sits down beside his little girl. So the fact that they used a song that was inspired by the birth of my daughter to represent this moment was really special to me.

  • What would be your advice to other creators?

I think .. always challenge yourself. I think if you are writing a song and you’re like “this is the best song I’ve ever written” or whatever – Y’know, Rachel Platten – She’s a great inspiration on this front where before she released “fight song” she wrote a hundred songs before it. And if you talk to other Artists, they just keep churning it out. And not to say your first song isn’t your best song but I think that a lot of new writers will say to me “How do I get a publishing deal? How do I get a record deal?” And my advice to them is always that people want to get onboard a moving train and you have to be moving and challenge yourself. If you’re trying to write songs for the radio, listen to the radio and see what’s coming out and compare your songs against them. And if they’re not good enough write harder, write better, and collaborate. Challenge yourself – that’s my advice. 

#MusicCreatorsUnite #CreatorsCount #thePROSofSAC

Pro Member Interview – Tara MacLean

Tara MacLean - SM.png

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 – Tyler Shaw

Tyler Shaw - SM

Platinum-selling singer-songwriter Tyler Shaw’s sophomore album presents an all new Tyler to the world. Now 24, and newly engaged, his first single “Cautious,” with its darker, sexier Timberlake-style vibe, will be serviced to radio Jan. 26; the full album will follow in early fall.

Originally a small town boy from Coquitlam, BC, the Chinese-Canadian Shaw now calls Toronto home. He has earned national appeal with an incredible six singles off his 2015 full-length debut, ¬Yesterday. He also co-wrote all but one of the 13 songs, and several of them hit the top 10 at radio; most notably, the certified platinum track “Kiss Goodnight” and gold singles “House of Cards” and “Wicked.” 

Tyler’s new material was written and conceptualized in London, England, and recorded and produced in Toronto with Alex “Pilz” Vujic. Pilz, his long-time collaborator, co-wrote and produced three of the hit songs on Yesterday. 

New songs — co-written with Pilz and various collaborators for an album later in fall 2018— include the full sounds of “Help Me,” which deals with depression and isolation, and the haunting duet “Anybody Out There” featuring Toronto’s Amaal Nuux, about the lack of true human connection. The song “With You,” pens the love story between Tyler and his fiancé, and is brought to life with the help of Neil Ormandy (James Arthur). On all tracks, Tyler has assisted with production and plays electric, acoustic, and bass guitar. 

Tyler was always into creating original music. Influenced by his older brother, his first instrument was the drums at age six and piano was always in the house, because his mother played. Then, fatefully, he picked up guitar in his early teens and started playing and writing songs for himself. 

In 2012, after winning a national singing contest, Tyler penned a singles deal with Sony Music Entertainment Canada. In 2014, he was recognized by the music industry with a JUNO Award nomination for ‘Breakthrough Artist of the Year.’ Then came gold single “House of Cards” in 2015, followed by Yesterday in September of that year. With all this success, Tyler was flown between Toronto and Los Angeles to record a debut album, working with many top writers and producers. During these formative years as a young man, combined with the pressures of a recording deal, he struggled to find his authentic artistry and develop as an artist. 

“I was looking for guidance and direction because I was so new in the industry when I first started, but now I have a way better understanding of how everything works and of how to guide the art. My art,” Tyler says. “This is my career, my music, my platform. I felt like I wasn’t being taken seriously. I had an eye opening a year and half, and was like ‘if it feels right to me, then it’s right.’” 

Since the debut of Yesterday, Tyler has been busy with big events such as, hosting and headlining We Day events nationwide, performing for HRH Prince Harry and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Invictus Games launch in Toronto, and starring as lead actor in a feature film The Meaning of Life, which premiered in summer 2017. He has opened for massive artists such as Shawn Mendes and Alessia Cara, as well as toured with Selena Gomez. 

With a refined perspective and approach towards his music, Tyler is now prepared to present his most authentic self with his sophomore album. A compilation of classic pop songs, introspective ballads and contemporary production, this artist now has a sound he identifies with and asserts is truly him.

Below is our interview with Tyler!

  • What inspires you to create music?

 Everything. People watching, noises on the street, my mind in constantly creating melodies, rythyms and chord progressions.

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

Do what feels right.

  • Do you write for other recording/performing artists?

Yes and I love lending my artistic style to others. I wish i could do it more actually!

#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