Pro Member Interview – Tara MacLean

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

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

  • What inspires you to create music?

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

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

Just feeling and then turning it into a tune.

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

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

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

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

  • Do you write for other recording/performing artists?

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

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

Writing definitely crosses genres.

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

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

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

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

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

Dan Lanois.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My guitar.

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

It’s fun!

  • How can S.A.C. help you?

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

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

Help musicians write government grants.

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

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

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Pro Member Interview – Troy Kokol

 

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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 – Aileen de la Cruz

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • What inspires you to create music?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Do you write for other recording/performing artists?

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

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

I write all Genres.

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

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

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

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

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

Andrea Bocelli or Beyonce’.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • How can S.A.C. help you?

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

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

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

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

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

#MusicCreatorsUnite #CreatorsCount #thePROSofSAC 

Pro Member Interview – Annabelle Chvostek

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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 – Kayo

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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 – Nat Jay

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Nat Jay took her first steps in her parents’ music school and continues to land on her feet in the world of music today. Her songs have been placed on networks around the world, including ABC, MTV, The CW, Nickelodeon, Freeform, Hallmark, CBC, Syfy, Showcase, and Lifetime. Her debut full-length, All I Think When I Wake Up, was nominated for Pop Album of the Year at the 2015 Western Canadian Music Awards, named in the Top 10 Pop Albums of 2014 on PopDose, and awarded $10,000 for the lead single, “Can’t Getcha Out,” which was named Best of BC by Shore 104. She then released a follow-up EP, Quiet Dreams, and was awarded second place in LG 104.3FM’s VanCOVER contest for her cover of Sting’s “Every Breath You Take.” In December 2016, she collaborated with electronic production duo, Cookie Cartel, to release the highly acclaimed EP, Stoke the Fire, which Exclaim! described as “what it might sound like if the Postal Service were to make a Christmas EP,” and CBC Music added to its coveted holiday playlist. Nat Jay has earned a nomination for SOCAN Songwriter of the Year at the BCCMAs, been a featured songwriter at the Vancouver Folk Festival, and a guest on CBC Radio 2’s Canada Live. The songstress is currently in the studio recording her next full-length album with multi-
award-winning European producer, Ovi Bistriceanu.

After studying music at the University of British Columbia, Nat Jay released her debut EP, Lights Across the Sky, to a sold out room. Since then, she has been compared with powerful performers like Joni Mitchell, Patsy Cline, Alanis Morissette, and the Dixie Chicks. She has shared the stage with such esteemed songwriters as Canada’s own Juno award winner Dan Mangan, Matthew Barber, Oh Susanna, and Justin Rutledge, as well as NYC’s Jay Brannan and Australia’s Angus & Julia Stone.

Besides the success she’s had with her own music, in 2014 Nat Jay scored a co-writing credit with the legendary Stephen Bishop for the song “Loveless” from his album Be Here Then. An advocate of her industry, she sat on the Board of Directors of the Music BC Industry Association for four years and was a committee member for six. She is also a private consultant through one-on-one and group mentoring, facilitating seminars on sync licensing, grant writing, and album release for her peers. Nat Jay has been
asked to speak on panels for Canadian Music Week, BreakOut West, SOCAN, and Music BC, and is a guest lecturer at Nimbus School of Recording & Media, the Pacific Audio Visual Institute, and Langara College.

Complimented by a strong business head on her shoulders, Nat Jay’s compelling and highly accomplished vocal delivery will certainly turn heads in a noisy club, but it is her emotive songwriting ability that will steal the hearts of each and every audience member. What does she have to say? Check below:

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

Chris Martin from Coldplay because he has a really great way of combining popular styles with more meaningful lyrics that really move people. He combines those poppy elements with really emotional, personal topics that people can relate to. And it comes through in his live performances, as he’s a very engaging performer. Also Ryan Tedder, the lead singer of One Republic. He writes amazing stuff for himself and others. He has his finger on the pulse of today’s music and always sounds unique, but still makes great songs for radio. He’s a modern day songwriting genius.

  • Do you ever compose for film/tv/video games? 

I haven’t specifically written for TV or film, but I have had a lot of success with songs I’ve created being placed in films and TV shows over the last 10 years. It’s one of the most amazing feelings and it never gets old. It’s cool that something you’ve created in your apartment and made into a piece of art can fit into someone else’s piece of art and compliment it so well. The success I’ve had in licensing has been very important to me as an artist as it’s been one of the main reasons I’ve been able to make a career in music. And because of that success, I’ve been able to develop a seminar where I teach other artists how to license their music to film and TV. So it’s been great for me on a creative level and in bringing in an income as an artist, but also has allowed me to engage with my community and become recognized within the music industry.

  • If the music community could do one thing better what would it be/What do see in the future of Song writing and music creators like yourself?

The music community could better at accepting less traditional careers paths. There’s always been a traditional trajectory of getting signed and having a marketing plan involving traditional publicity and radio. But these days, with the internet and technologies like streaming, there are so many different opportunities for artists to gain recognition. I think the music industry should embrace different kinds of artists and who have different career paths instead of trying to fit a square peg into a tired round hole.

Leading into the future – I see that more for new artists. I see some artists excelling at live performance, some getting tons of sync placements, others doing really well with playlisting on YouTube and Spotify, and they’re all building a brand and generating an income in different ways.  I’ve been fortunate enough that I love performing live and I’ve been successful at it, but I’ve also been successful getting sync placements while staying home and building an international fan base through that. There’s room in the future for songwriters and music creators to find a niche that works for them, generate an income, and build a career in music in a way that is unique and fitting to what they do.

Music creators unite! #CreatorsCount #ProsofSAC 

Pro Member Interview – Colin MacDonald

 

Colin MacDonald - SM

Bursting onto the scene in 2004 with their hit single “Not Ready To Go”, which became the most played song on Canadian rock radio that year, highly acclaimed, east coast bred rockers the Trews – consisting of founding members Colin MacDonald, John-Angus MacDonald & Jack Syperek – have since become a staple of the Canadian music scene and abroad. With 17 top ten rock singles to their name (two of which reached number one), 4 gold certifications and support slots for the likes of the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Robert Plant, KISS, Guns’n’Roses, Aerosmith, Kid Rock and Weezer, the veteran rockers are showing no signs of slowing down with the release of their 2018 single “the New US” which takes on the current state of politics and the media. Widely considered one of Canada’s best live bands, the Trews are not to be missed in a concert hall near you!

  • What inspires you to create music?

Life, love, books, music.

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

Writing all the time. I keep a journal and I always look over them for good starting points for tunes. I often find great song titles in newspapers and magazines.

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

High school cover band that became my real band for the last 21 years.

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

I think it’s gotten better as I got more interested in the process of writing and recording music. I’ve become better and more patient in the studio. My lyric writing has gotten better and I wrote most of the words on my own now, in the past I’ve had a couple of co writers.

  • Do you write for other recording/performing artists?

Yes I’ve written with many artists. Sun k, T Thomason, Brett from the glorious suns to name a few. I love co writing!

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

I don’t think I’m terms of genres when I write but it can be interesting to set some.

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

I’ve been fortunate to make a living off of songwriting and touring. I’m very grateful for that, the obvious hurdle has been making head way south of the border. My career in Canada has been really great!

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

Yes! I’m influenced by everything I hear and see. I love great music so any chance I get to hear or see it I go for it. It always rubs off in great ways! It’s important to stay inspired and excited!

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

I’m not sure. I’d be too freaked out to write with my heroes, I wouldn’t be able to come up with anything. I really like writing with young artists who are just finding their way, often times they come up with the most interesting and out of the box ideas.

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

Totally self-taught with a group of fearless freaks and misfits.

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

Write and work! It’s all about the work. You can do all the networking in the world but it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have the goods. You have to devote your whole life to it, because you’re up against people who have given up everything to do this job. Good luck and surround yourself with good people who believe in you.

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

Highway of heroes. I wrote it over the phone in 15 minutes with Gordie Johnson. It’s had more impact on people than anything else I’ve written. It’s got some kind of magic to it.

  • 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 mind and a point of view.

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

A few trews songs have ended up in tv and on video games. I don’t try to do that but I love when it happens. If it’s organic it’s cool.

  • How can S.A.C. help you?

Any initiative that supports creators and protects intellectual property helps me immensely.

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

Make sure talented people are compensated for their efforts. Great singers and songwriters should be able to afford a good life, they bring a lot of good into the world. I don’t think the general public understands to toll it takes on the psyche and the finances.

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

Writing and collaboration. We need to figure out how to make the work more valuable again. If artists can’t afford to make their art then culture suffers. It’ll be a race to the bottom chasing fleeting and ephemeral chart success and YouTube hits. I mean some songs get billions of views on YouTube but so does guy’s body slamming each other off their garage roof and cute videos of kittens. It’s no gage of artistic merit or success. Surely we can do better.

Music creators unite! #CreatorsCount #ProsofSAC