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 – 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

Luke McMaster - SM.png

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 – Wolf Castle

Wolf Castle - SM

21 year old Wolf Castle is a two-time ECMA Nominated Mi’kmaq Rapper, Singer, Producer and Songwriter from Pabineau First Nation in New Brunswick.

Fresh out of University with a degree in Theatre – Wolf Castle is a natural showman and emcee making waves in the rap world with his unique style of music. Seamlessly blending traditional hip-hop with modern pop swagger. His vision and creative mind doesn’t follow the ordinary and delivers a message and perspective that is honest and original. Always writing music and striving to evolve, he tackles a wide range of musical styles from fun pop-party tracks to dark and brutally honest stories.

Growing up, Wolf Castle was surrounded by a family of artists and creators, his mother and uncle were both Rappers performing under the names “M03” and “Red Suga”. Inspired by the self-made artists in his family, Castle followed in their footsteps and continue the family business of music and artistry. At the age of 17 he decided to start taking music seriously and self-released his first commercial album “TG17” under the name Tristan Grant which was nominated for the “Aboriginal Artist of the Year” award at the East Coast Music Awards. Since then he’s been working under the name Wolf Castle and has released two more albums, 2016’s “Exit Cranium” and 2017’s “The Artificial to Original”.

Wolf Castle’s music can be found on iTunes, Spotify, TIDAL and Soundcloud. Read Wolf Castle’s interview with the S.A.C. below:

  • How did you learn your craft? 

Basically the most informal training you can imagine, zero informal training. The most I ever got was that I took 1 or 2 music classes in high school. It was important, I learned my major and minor skills on piano but that was about it. Other then that, when I started making music I didn’t know how to do anything, I didn’t know how to structure a song, I didn’t know how to play any instruments, I didn’t know how to record myself or write anything. I basically just did it so much that I learned, just from doing it. I got addicted to song writing through the process of just becoming obsessed with it and not willing to be a perfectionist at all. 

  • Do you have a process to songwriting?

My songwriting, instrumentation, and composing method is extremely sporadic and insane and definitely doesn’t have a lot of planning before hand. It’s more of a “figure it out as I go kind of thing”. So basically, most of the time I start writing a song I don’t even know what it’s about yet, I just figure it out. I guess you could compare it to free styling. I’ll listen to music that I really like, that inspires me, and I’ll get a vibe from that and words will just start coming to me. I’ll start free styling over it and sometimes it works and I’ll get a bunch of lines out of it and when I read it over again I’m like “Oh, this could be something”. And then I develop a song from that point. I don’t necessarily sit down and say “Okay, I’m going to write a song about love and the key is going to be “A” and it’s going be this tempo.”  I mostly just write lyrics and create something out of whatever shows up. I write songs sporadically and very quickly. I can’t stop, it’s like an obsession. I write a lot on my phone too, so if I’m waiting somewhere, or if I’m driving I’ll park (and write), basically anytime lyrics pop in my head. Thank god I have a phone with a notepad I can write in, I write in the tub, I write in my car, I write everywhere.

My family is also very musical. My Uncle for a long time a rapper, he went by Red Suga. He operated on the East Coast and he showed me how to make music also. We used to get together over the Christmas break at my Grandparents house and we would make a song every night over the Christmas holidays. He taught me how to not be a perfectionist, just got for it, get in the vibe it, and just create. We would come up with a hook, we’d make a beat, we’d write, we’d rap it, mix it, and put it on SoundCloud that night. 

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

If I could pick anybody on planet earth .. I would totally pick Tyler, The Creator for sure. He’s definitely someone who has influenced my sound. Him, Odd Future, or Mac Miller, anyone who came up independently or from there own clout really inspired me and showed me “Oh, I should do it too!” right. His sound is so awesome, I just love anything he puts out. He’s definitely one of those creators that influences a lot the way I want to approach music, being a rapper, and putting music out as an art form in terms of presentation, cool pictures, good outfits, and all the artistic direction surrounding the music as well as good music. 

#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 

Pro Member Interview – Chala Speciale (House of Goobata)

Chala Speciale

Chala, in her own words:

“I’m a Song Writer, Producer, Visual Artist and Singer in a brand new EDM/Pop duo called House of Goobata with my partner, Luther Mallory. Five years ago, we took a shower together and played a game we made up called “What’s This?” where one of us has to come up with a word or a phrase and the other has to guess what the word or phrase might mean. (We do most of our songwriting in the shower together!) I came up with “House of Goobata” and Luth decided it would be a perfect name for an EDM duo. At the time neither of us listened to or knew anything about the genre. Over the years we always came back to the name “House of Goobata” I always insisted it would be the best possible project to pursue. So, several other music projects later, House of Goobata was finally formed. Sun Runners is our first official release. 

I have an Honors Undergraduate Degree in Law from York University. During my years in school, my focus was on human right’s law, criminal law, women’s rights and indigenous rights. I am also an animal activist and advocate in the animal community rescuing and networking dogs from high-kill shelters across North America. I am also in the beginning stages of fighting OHIP’s healthcare laws here in the province of Ontario on behalf of Canadian citizens. Activism and fighting for change are a big part of my life. 

I am the Co-Founder of a global digital creative agency called Super Social. Luther Mallory and myself created this business back in 2013 after I left the corporate world behind as a way to work for myself and focus my entire life on music and acting. I work with businesses all over the world helping them brand and market themselves online. In addition, I am part of Canada’s Music Incubator’s acclaimed Artist Entrepreneur Program where I teach artists and musicians how to market and brand themselves within the music industry. I have also worked as a mentor through CMI’s Artist Manager Program and their APTN Indigenous Mentorship Program.”

Below is the interview of Chala with the S.A.C.:

  • How can S.A.C. help you?

S.A.C. can help me be a voice for artists across Canada when it comes to fighting for our rights. Being able to have an amazing platform to speak my voice and represent other musicians and artists in the industry is very important to me. As artists nowadays, we put so much work and time into our art and we are lucky if we make a few dollars off of it. I don’t believe this is just. The government needs to step up and take action to protect us artists and see the value of our work. 

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

Yes. My advice to other upcoming songwriters and creators looking to break further into the creative scene would be to respect and focus the marketing and business side of music just as much (if not more) than the creative side of it. I work with a lot of artists who put 100% of their work into creating their art and not enough time is spent learning how to be a business person in order to be able to properly market and get their art in front of the world. Creating art is great, but if you don’t have the skills or abilities to be able to get your art in front of the right people, then you are only ever going to make music for yourself, not the masses. Some artists are content and happy with this, but most of us want some level of success I believe. 

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

I think that the music community needs to become more educated and united when it comes to protecting all of our rights. These rights include copyright laws and equality between males and females within the industry. I myself am a feminist and feel that the music industry still has a long way to go in terms of treating women with respect and as equal to males. Part of the reason why I am learning how to become a producer is because there aren’t enough females at the top level in EDM. I don’t think females are properly represented in this genre and I would like to break this mold and show other females that we can make it to the top level because we are just as talented and driven as men. This is something that I strive to work towards daily through my music and skill building.

#MusicCreatorsUnite #CreatorsCount #StayCreative

Pro Member Interview – Annabelle Chvostek

Annabelle - SM
Annabelle Chvostek is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer. Americana, UK has described her as an artist “whose talent is so exceptional that [she is able] to explore and master any musical genre she wishes”. 

Annabelle released her first self-produced and self-released recordings while pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Fine Arts, specializing in electroacoustic composition. Between 2003 and 2005 she released the jazz-fuelled LP Water and the raw, angst-ridden EP Burned My Ass. 

In 2005 Annabelle joined the Wailin’ Jennys and toured the world with their award-winning album Firecracker, in which she wrote four songs. Upon leaving the Jennys, she released Resilience (2008), co-wrote two songs with Canadian legend Bruce Cockburn on his Juno-winning album A Small Source of Comfort (2011), and put out Rise (2013), which was nominated for a Juno Award. Both Rise and Resilience (Borealis Records) were nominated for Contemporary Album of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards. Her last album, Be the Media (2015), unleashed her inner rocker, playfully navigating the boundaries between folk rock, post punk and the Canadian singer-songwriter tradition. 

Her talent and versatility has also led her to compose music for independent films and dance productions. She has worked with NYC-based dance company Drastic Action for over a decade creating experimental music scores that integrate her interdisciplinary training and background. 

One of her most recent projects is a close collaboration with Toronto’s Echo Women’s Choir, where she has been artist in residence since 2016. She has composed and arranged her own songs for choir and conducted flash mobs and formal concerts. This work has been supported generously by Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts. 

“The ex-Wailin’ Jenny performs with such strength and versatility that it’s hard to find fault … casting light in any direction the roots fuelled artist turns” – Exclaim Magazine, Canada.

Here is Annabelle’s take on the questions below:
  • What inspires you to create music?
  • Do you have a process to songwriting or when creating music?
  • How has your music evolved since you first became a recording/performing artists?

Throughout my life songwriting has proven itself time and again to be an incredibly productive tool towards navigating my own complex emotional landscape. Early on I learned that the more vulnerable I felt presenting a song to the public, the deeper the common connection would be with the audience. I remember, in my twenties, being terrified to present a certain song, and then the vindication of having an audience member come up to me after a show, tears in eyes saying “You just sang my life!” That gave me a lot of confidence in the power of song to not only get me through my things, but to touch on universals and hold space for other people too.

As my personal life became more settled I did find that writing relationship songs became a less urgent pursuit, and began to touch on more socially engaged subject matter. I was brought up in a family of folkies, so there were always rousing examples of songs that held power in a very positive way – worker songs, songs of uprising, songs of overcoming and uniting. I think my songwriting now has settled into a real blend of influences. A good song to me comes from an impulse to solve something, to unveil it, lay it bear, and offer some kind of resolution. I think now most of my songs are a deep intertwining of personal and political.

For example, I have a new song in the works called “I’ll Be Your Refuge”, which I had the chance to arrange and conduct as a choral work. It’s gone through multiple drafts and transformations. The lyrics have evolved with feedback from community. By the time I get to recording it, it will have shifted dramatically from its seed idea. I’m not a quick writer. Sometimes things spill out, but other times songs can take years. While initially I wrote “Refuge” as a kind of expression of welcome to refugees, what made it gel, and what I learned as I wrote, is that it was mostly about my own relationship to my partner who came to Canada as a child with her family, who were political refugees. So it was really about me trying to be ground for the unpacking of that experience out of love, and turning it back inwards is what finally made it work.

I think the beauty of being bold politically in songs is that you can create an atmosphere of feeling, contemplation and thoughtfulness to carry the ideas forward. You don’t have to be didactic or preachy. Good songs pull all the emotional elements of music and lyrics into an alchemical moment of transformation. They create a space in which to solidify ideas that dwell on the periphery of consciousness. They can uplift and affirm a collective humanity. Striving to touch on those ideals now and then is my motivation for making music.

 

Music Creators unite! #CreatorsCount 

Pro Member Interview – Victoria Banks

Victoria Banks - SM

 

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’sBillboard 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).

Read her interview with the S.A.C. below:
  • 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 “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.

Music creators count! #thePROsofSAC 

Pro Member Interview – Kayo

Kayo - SM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Music creators unite! #CreatorsCount #ProsofSAC 

Pro Member Interview – Quake Matthews

Quake - SM

Quake Matthews is a hip-hop artist who first made a name for himself in the underground battle rap scene in his early teens. Harnessing the raw energy and competitive spirit found in that arena, he was able to transcend into the multi-layered artist he is today. His raspy voice and unfiltered emotion have given him a signature sound, creating a captivating listening experience for his audience. At the age of 28, with the knowledge of a veteran, the ambition of a rookie, and a career that has been on a steady incline, Quake shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. 

Here is our exclusive interview with this energetic music creator:

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

In the early 2000’s a friend of mine taught me the art of freestyle rapping. I enjoyed the fact that you had to be quick on your feet, creative and spontaneous. I worked on my craft for a couple years, then caught wind of Freestyle battles happening in clubs in my city. I was only 16 at the time, so often times I had to sneak in to these events or get special written permission from the liquor commission. I ended up winning a number of battles and my name started buzzing around the city. That led to me wanting to get into a studio and translate my battling skills to songwriting. I got hooked up with a few people that owned studios, and now I’m on my 6th album and haven’t looked back since.

  • How can S.A.C. help you?

I would definitely like to be apart of more songwriting camps. I find them very beneficial to my career. I love building relationships with new artists.

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

I can mostly only speak on the hip hop community but I’m sure what I’m about to say applies to all genres across the board. I think we have to focus on building each other up and working together more. We have to learn to pull each other up instead of trying to walk over people to get ahead. If we work together and support each other more it would push the culture forward, and evolution is key to survival.

Music creators unite! #CreatorsCount #ProsofSAC