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contents

Features

34 Dean Brody

Sprouting Successes From Dirt

by Kevin Young Dean Brody’s journey to realizing his dream of making a living in music has been anything but easy. Now based on the East Coast, Brody’s dreams have led him back and forth between Nashville and Canada and into plenty of professional challenges; however, through confidence and perseverance, Brody has sprouted a slew of successes.

38 Cold Specks

by Michael Raine In late 2011, no one outside of a select few of Al Spx’s family and friends had ever heard her music. There was no acclaimed debut, record contract, international tour, or Polaris Prize nomination. So for Spx, the driving force behind the one-woman show that is Cold Specks, things have certainly livened up over the past year or so.

40 Rich Kidd

Canadian Hip-Hop’s Prolific Prodigy

by Andrew King Regardless of how you define “Canadian hip-hop,” Rich Kidd is certainly an ambassador of it. A producer for major Canadian and international rappers and a lyricist and performer in his own right, Kidd is commanding worldwide attention from his home base of Toronto.

42 The Midas Touch

How Artists & Producers Unite To Make Gold

by Lonny Knapp Making a record is like catching lightning in a bottle. It’s a mystical journey through dark valleys to the peak of the world’s tallest mountain, but as you’ll see, with a producer as your guide, there are many routes to the top.

49 Music Evolves CM’s 2013 Music Education Special

by Kristian Partington Everyone has the capacity to grow in music, but if an artist feels they’ve hit their peak, then the music has nowhere else to go. The truth is there is no peak; music evolves. Join our panel of artists and industry figures as we explore the importance of an ongoing education to your career in music.

January/February 2013 Vol. XXXV, No. 1

Departments 9 10 12 19 20 64 69 74 76 78

Feedback Indie Insider Changes Events Road Test Hot Gear Advertisers’ Index Marketplace Classifieds Showcase

Columns

25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 58 59 60 62

Guitar – Jeremy Rouse Keyboards – Mark Pinkus Bass – Devin Hornby Percussion – Adam Bowman Woodwinds – Willem Moolenbeek Brass – Paul Merkelo Digital Music – Jake “DJ Vekked” Meyer Vocals – Ben Caplan Writing – James Linderman Recording – Ethan Winer Live Sound – Jason Borys Business – Caroline West-Price Touhey Cover: Dean Brody at the Norfolk County Fair in Simcoe, ON by Katelyn Downs.


www.canadianmusician.com EDITOR ANDREW KING aking@nor.com ASSISTANT EDITOR MICHAEL RAINE mraine@nor.com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Jason Borys, Adam Bowman, Ben Caplan, Ben Conoley, Devin Hornby, Lonny Knapp, Paul Lau, James Linderman, Paul Merkelo, Jake Meyer, Joe Mullen, Kristian Partington, Mark Pinkus, Hal Rodriguez, Jeremy Rouse, Caroline Touhey, Kit Watson, Ethan Winer, Kevin Young ART DIRECTOR Lana Pesant lpesant@nor.com CONSUMER SERVICES DIRECTOR MAUREEN JACK mjack@nor.com PUBLISHER JIM NORRIS jnorris@nor.com BUSINESS SERVICES REPRESENTATIVE RYAN DAVID rdavid@nor.com BUSINESS MANAGER LIZ BLACK lblack@nor.com COMPUTER SERVICES COORDINATOR ZACK SCHNICK zschnick@nor.com ADMINISTRATION ASSISTANT HEATHER DUNCANSON hduncanson@nor.com PLEASE SEND ALL PRESS RELEASES TO: press@nor.com ADVERTISERS’ INDEX For more information on products advertised in Canadian Musician, please see page 69 or visit www.canadianmusician.com. Canadian Musician is published bi-monthly by Norris-Whitney Communications Inc. All rights reserved. Contents may not be reprinted without permission from the publisher. Subscription rates: 1 year $19.00, 2 years $36.00, 5 years $82.00. Outside Canada: 1 year $24.00, 2 years $46.00, 5 years $112.00. Single copies $3.50. Canadian residents add 5% GST, HST (13%) to be added where applicable. To change your subscription address, please send your new address with your old address (including former postal code) to: Subscription Dept., Canadian Musician, at least six weeks before moving. Back issues of Canadian Musician are available in Microform from Micromedia Ltd., 20 Victoria St., Toronto, ON M5C 2N8. Please do not send unsolicited manuscripts, artwork, photos. Query only in writing. Canadian Musician takes no responsibility for return of any unsolicited material. Printed in Canada. PUBLICATIONS MAIL AGREEMENT NO.0040069300, RETURN UNDELIVERABLE CANADIAN ADDRESSES TO CIRCULATION DEPT., 23 HANNOVER DR., #7, ST. CATHARINES, ON L2W 1A3, 905-641-3471, mail@nor.com. ISSN 0708-9635 INDEXED IN THE CANADIAN PERIODICAL INDEX

Norris-Whitney Communications Inc. 23 Hannover Dr., #7, St. Catharines, ON L2W 1A3, 905-641-3471, FAX 888-665-1307, mail@nor.com, www.nor.com US MAILING ADDRESS 4600 Witmer Industrial Estates, #6, Niagara Falls, NY 14305

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Feed Back FEEDBACK c/o Canadian Musician, 23 Hannover Dr., #7, St. Catharines, ON L2W 1A3 FAX: 888-665-1307 • info@nor.com, www.canadianmusician.com to write electronically.

Happy New Year!

Tweet, Tweet

Best wishes for 2013 from all of us here at Canadian Musician. We look forward to bringing you more insightful, informative, and entertaining content over the next several months, both in print and online. As always, please feel free to reach out with any questions, comments, or ideas for our upcoming issues. After all, we’re here for you and want to make sure we’re delivering what matters to you and all of your musical pursuits.

Kind Words From A New Columnist

I congratulate you and your staff on making an excellent and very resourceful music industry magazine. There is quite a bit of information from your writers that I want to look into more deeply and learn from. Continued success to all at CM. The music biz is an ever-changing world and it’s both crazy and fun to be a part of it. Bye for now and thank you! Mark Pinkus www.markpinkus.com

A Big Boost To Blog Central

Be sure to check out Canadian Musician’s Blog Central page at CanadianMusician.com/blogcentral. We’ve just added a slew of new blogs from knowledgeable and high-profile contributors. In addition to the current blogs from JUNO-winning vocalist and instructor Angela Kelman; on-the-rise producer/engineer Shawn Bradley of Fadernoise Recording; percussion guru and author Jeff Salem; Audio Blood Media PR queen Sari Delmar; Toronto-based axe shredder Hal Rodriguez; tech toys expert Paul Lau; and expert luthier Mike McConville are 11 new additions to the roster! We’ve got Scientists Of Sound’s Aaron Collier discussing “Making Music in the Matrix”; songwriter and workshop leader James Linderman on songwriting; bassist Jason Raso exploring allthings low-end; Nashville-based Canadian keys master Dave Cohen; producer/engineer/composer Arun Chaturvedi on “The Producer’s Touch”; guitarist and Canadian music veteran Ken Tizzard; songsmith and music journalist Dale Boyle; Bobby Lee taking percussionists “Beyond Technique”; JUNO-nominated pianist and composer Chris Donnelly; tour production and technologies insider Mark “The Drifter” Desloges; and finally, longtime sound engineer and producer Jason Borys. Whether you’re after insight into drums and percussion, guitar, self-promotion, home recording, live sound, or anything else under the sun, chances are there’s someone sharing the goods at Blog Central. Check it out!

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IndieInsider

The

By Kit Watson

A

re you putting out an EP or album in the next year? And would like it to do more than sit in your garage? Take the time to plan your marketing launch and move your music out of your heart and into the loving arms of fans. Figuring out how to promote a new project can seem boring at best or daunting at worst, so I’ve developed this six-month social media program for my clients that are releasing recordings. This guide does not require a large budget – just time, energy, and genuine passion. Your social media platform is held up by Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, your website, email list (on Mailchimp or TinyLetter), and optionally Instagram and Tumblr. Most artists don’t spend a lot of time on social media – if that sounds like you, it’s ok; you’ll spend the next six months working on it. Let’s say you’re recording a six-song EP, and you will be spending a little less than six months on it, from start to finish.

On your website and social media pages, announce that you are working on a new project and that you will be sharing the process with your fans. Mine your Facebook and e-mail contacts for people to add to your mailing list, but make sure you get permission before adding anyone. Start conversing regularly on Twitter; at the very minimum, tweet once or twice a day and make sure you’re reaching out to your followers. Tim Magwood, a folk artist from Toronto,

Five Months (Recording) If the project has a title, start hashtagging all your relevant tweets with it. Put out a vlog (video blog) on YouTube and make a personal commitment to do one every few weeks for the duration of the recording process. Newsletters should go out to your mailing list every 14-20 days to keep people updated. The best newsletter contains a picture of something to do with the recording process and 100200 words about what you’re up to. If you’re stuck with “nothing interesting to say”, recommend a musical artist you like or talk about something entirely different – a book that’s inspired you, a favourite recipe, etc. Anything can

Six Months Out (Pre-Production) This is the time to write out what this project means to you. What are the themes in your EP? What are your songs about? Explore the message of your project on paper to get a good idea of what your future listener might look like. Start to keep a diary of your recording experiences – you’ll be using this as a digital merch product later. [10] • c a n a d i a n m u s icia n

was once a Twitter neophyte and now has this to say about the microblogging medium: “Social media is an important leg of my ‘music marketing stool’ for Endless Sky. It has helped me connect to a lot of brand new fans and have conversations with them. Twitter is a completely different medium that has caused me to think about how to communicate in bite-sized pieces.” This is also not a bad time to ask a friend for help, or delegate who’s doing what if you’re in a band.

BILLY J WHITE


E P

be turned into valuable content that gives your fans insight into who you are as a person and allows them to more deeply connect with you. As you continue to send out your newsletters, you can start offering pre-orders of your as soon as your merch cart is set up. I recommend BigCartel for a great free/ low-cost cart solution. Starting your outreach marketing early preps your audience to expect regular communication from you. Don’t worry if you lose some fans at first because of your increased mailings and Tweets, as you will gain even more down the road.

Four Months (Recording) If you’re launching a crowd-funding campaign (through sites like Rockethub or IndieGoGo) to help pay for your recording, month four is it. You’ve already built some buzz around the process and it’s perfectly acceptable to ask people show their support for you – especially in exchange for cool experiences like having you call them direct from the studio or getting their name in the liner notes. Use your mailing list to garner support and ask your friends on Facebook to share your crowd-fund project page. The secret to success in crowd-funding is giving away less than you think you need to and promoting it more than you think you should (1-2 times a day on your Twitter, once every few days on Facebook, small mention in each newsletter). This won’t seem like over saturation of your fundraising message because you’re already conversing regularly on Twitter and sending out interesting newsletters. Three Months (Mixing/Mastering) If you’re planning on doing a photoshoot for the EP release, do it now and prepare to release one photo and a teaser of a song to YouTube. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy beyond iMovie levels, but ask your fans to use a specific hashtag to promote it on Twitter. Add a count-down timer on your website, run a contest for T-shirt designs inspired by the teaser song, and make sure your merch cart is set up. Through Bandcamp, start a digital pre-order that contains bits from the diary you’ve been keeping, as well as outtakes from your vlogs and copies of in-studio photos and those from your photo shoot. This preorder allows your fans to purchase a digital copy of the EP in advance, putting money in your pocket today, and means shortly before you release your record, they will get a whack of extra files that are of interest to them. It satisfies their curiosity and provides you with merchandise that you don’t need to ship out and with no limit to how many you can sell. Two Months (Artwork, Manufacturing, Merch) This is the month you want to contact bloggers – and not just music bloggers – to cover your release. Go back to the themes and story of your EP and take a good look at what you are trying to say. Match up the themes in your EP to “lifestyle” niches – if you’re putting out a pop CD that talks about clubbing, contact fashion and nightlife bloggers and ask them to give away a copy to their readers. If you’re in the country genre, focus on “family life” bloggers, mommy w w w. c a n a di a n m u s icia n .com

Tim Magwood

bloggers, crafters, etc. Smooth jazz artists might want to look at wine, food, and travel enthusiasts. Tap into the niche interests that align with the story of your record and try to get between 5-10 blogs covering your EP release with a giveaway or a merchandise coupon for new potential fans. By going after lifestyle bloggers instead of strictly music writers, you’ll be getting your name in front of an audience that isn’t jaded towards musical releases – and will be more supportive, especially if your music aligns with their interests. “I’ve found that you can never really tell where you’ll find new fans or sell CDs and merch. It’s really a good idea to always keep your mind open to everything that comes your way. My latest EP, Country Drag Strip, includes a few car and tractor-themed songs, so naturally, car and tractor blogs are a great fit,” says Billy J White, a country artist from Burlington, ON. If you’re doing a release party, now’s the time to announce it and put your tickets up for sale online via Eventbrite or other ticketing sites. Offer at least two tickets – regular entry, and entry plus a signed CD. Launch a VIP pre-order pack that includes your signed CD and a selection of merch, as these entice fans to order early and can end up paying for your manufacturing costs ahead of time. One Month (The Big Reveal) This is where everything comes together. Your last big task is to send your CD through a digital distributor like CDBaby at least a few days before you’d like it on iTunes. Hopefully you’ve got a few blog features lined up to build buzz, your CDs and merch have arrived, you’ve triggered your digital pre-order to go out to all the fans via Bandcamp, and you’re ready to ship out all those VIP pre-orders you’ve received. Now all that’s left is to play your CD release party and go on that tour you managed to book for yourself in between tweeting! Don’t forget to ask your fans to review your EP on iTunes, Amazon, and anywhere else it’s distributed. Follow up with all the bloggers who covered your EP, thank them via e-mail, and post links to their blog on your website for additional goodwill and cross-promotion. Continue to support your EP with vlogs, music videos, written bits for your website, new merch designs, and newsletters in the months after its release and it will continue to support you as you go through this process all over again with your next release. Best of luck, and remember that you are what you tweet, so make it count! Kit Watson is the founder of RockitGirl – a management, booking, development, and social media group working with both signed and independent artists of all genres. Her clients have won social media awards and walked red carpets. Contact her at: kit@rockitgirlmedia.com, www.rockitgirlmedia.com. canadi a n mus i c i a n • [11]


Changes Photo: Jake Jacobson, ASharperEye.com

Blackie and the Rodeo Kings perform during the 2012 FAI Conference.

Folk Alliance International Takes Over Toronto For 2013 Folk Alliance International (FAI) is hosting its 25 th annual conference at the Delta Chelsea Hotel in Toronto from Feb. 20-24, 2013. The conference draws together music industry professionals from around the world to share ideas, network, and celebrate traditional music and dance. The 2013 edition will feature: True North Records Founder Layah Jane & Oliver at the 2012 FAI Conference. Bernie Finkelstein as the keynote speaker; over 50 workshops, panel discussions, and peer group meetings; over 100 industry exhibitors; special events and awards galas; and showcases featuring over 200 artists. “We’re very pleased to be able to dig a little deeper into the Toronto music business to make sure that these artists, both Canadian and non-Canadian, get exposure to publishers, record labels, managers, and agents,” says FAI Executive Director Louis Meyers, adding that this year’s conference will showcase more Canadian talent than any other in FAI’s history. For more information, contact FAI: 901-522-1170, FAX 901-522-1172, joelle@modmaypromotions.com, www.folkalliance.org.

LEFT: The Sheepdogs play Canadian Music Fest 2012. ABOVE: Session from Canadian Music Summit 2012.

Plans Coming Together For 31st Edition Of CMW The annual music extravaganza that is Canadian Music Week is returning to Toronto for its 31st year from March 19-24, 2013. The city-wide event includes an industry summit, trade show, music festival, film festival, comedy festival, and several awards galas. The conference is split into three separate but interrelated summits for music, radio, and digital media. New to this year’s conference is the Synch & Consumer Brands Summit, which bring together creative music supervisors from Los Angeles, New York, and Toronto. Over 1,000 artist and bands will play in 60 venues around downtown Toronto over six nights for Canadian Music Fest. Some of this year’s performers include The Zolas, A$AP Rocky, Wake Owl, plus larger shows by Rihanna and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. For more information, contact CMW: 905-858-4747, FAX 905-858-4848, info@cmw.net, www.cmw.net.


7digital will be the music download provider for the new BlackBerry 10 when the highly-anticipated smartphone hits stores on Jan. 30, 2013, 7digital CEO Ben Drury has confirmed. 7digital app and music downloading services are compatible with older BlackBerrys but will be more integrated within the BlackBerry 10 operating system. Users will be able to browse, preview, and purchase high-quality digital music from BlackBerry App World, according to CrackBerry.com. The 7digital catalog contains over 22 million songs for BlackBerry users to choose from and the BlackBerry App World music section will feature new releases, independent artists, a full back catalog, best sellers, and more. For more information, go to ca.blackberry. com or www.7digital.com.

eretse as Canada have named Jonathan Gat Metalworks Institute and Roland ives free rece se eret petition. For his win, Gat board the winner of the 2012 KEYS Com Key gy/ nolo Tech and ance ic Perform ola tuition in Metalworks’ two-year Mus Loy ol, scho $40,000. In addition, his high iter Major program, valued at nearly Jup nd Rola a rded awa was sissauga, ON, and Catholic Secondary School in Mis (Rol arry ured are (L-R) Doug McG 80 keyboard, valued at $5,000. Pict YS Institute), Jonathan Gateretse (KE orks talw (Me ish Dur la Canada), Kay ada). winner) & Adrian Marsi (Roland Can

Photo: CARAS/iPhoto

Drake at the 2011 JUNO Awards.

Several Canadians Cap Off 2012 With Grammy Nods A number of Canadian artists capped off a very successful 2012 south of the border with a slew of Grammy nominations. In total, 12 Canadians were nominated with both Drake and Carly Rae Jepsen receiving multiple nods. Other nominees include Arcade Fire’s Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, EMD star deadmau5, Tegan and Sara, and Loreena McKennitt. The 55 th Annual Grammy Awards will be held Feb. 10, 2013. Visit www.grammy.com for more information. www.canadia nmusician. com

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Photo: Pam Samson

Photo: Amy O’Keefe

Changes

ABOVE LEFT: Three Sheet performs during ECMA Week 2012. ABOVE RIGHT: Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys from ECMA 2012.

East Coast Music Week & Awards Return For 25th Year The East Coast Music Association (ECMA) will celebrate 25 years of Atlantic Canadian music during the 2013 edition of East Coast Music Week, taking place in Halifax, NS from March 6-10, 2013. The event culminates with the annual Awards Gala, being held the final evening of the five-day run. So far, the ECMA’s juries of regional, national, and international music and industry professionals have selected 70 showcase performers from the more than 1,100 applications. The list of announced performers includes Radio Radio, David Myles, Jenn Grant, and Rose Cousins. As well, awards will be presented in 46 categories; 31 music awards and 11 industry awards, including a number of categories new for this year. For more information, contact the East Coast Music Association: 902-423-3411, FAX 888-519-0346, www.ecma.com.

Enter The Canadian Musician CMW Sweepstakes

Canadian Musician has teamed up with Canadian Music Week to offer readers a chance to win a prize pack worth over $1,500. By simply going to the Canadian Musician Facebook page, clicking “like”, and filling out a brief contest form, readers can win two complete delegate passes to the 2013 CMW Music Summit, two tickets to the Indie Awards, and two tickets to the Canadian Radio Music Awards. The CMW Music Summit is three days of dedicated programming, with streams including Social Music, Live Touring, and Songwriters & Publishers, as well as keynotes, celebrity interviews, breakout sessions, and workshops. Its goal is to provide attendees with the tools and knowledge to build their career in the business and put them face-to-face with the forward-thinkers who shape the entertainment industries. For more information, go to www.canadianmusician.com/sweepstakes.

CARAS Unveils Juno TV The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) will launch its new digital platform, Juno TV, on Jan. 29, 2013. Juno TV will feature today’s musical stars and showcase the history of the JUNO Awards. A sneak preview can currently be found at www.junotv.ca. New content is expected to be added on a weekly basis. Juno TV’s videographer is Ben Knechtel, who won a 2012 MMVA for Video of the Year for Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.” The 42nd annual JUNO Week and Awards will be held in Regina and Moose Jaw, SK, from April 15–21, 2013.

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Photo: Neal Burstyn, ntbcreative.com.

…According to a recent study conducted by Dr. Sargunam Sivaraj, head audiologist at the Capital & Coast District Health Board in New Zealand, more than 60 per cent of orchestral musicians between the ages of 27-66 suffer from hearing loss. Sivaraj’s study of 183 musicians also found that 22 per cent of those aged 18-38 had experienced hearing loss, with many aged 8-12 already showing signs.

Legendary Canadian prog rockers Rush are finally being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s a long time coming for the Toronto-area trio, who over the course of their career have earned 24 gold and 14 platinum records. The band will be inducted on April 18, 2013 with a gala and concert in Los Angeles, CA. For more information, go to www.rockhall.com.

www.canadianmusician.com

canadian musician • (15)


Photo: Grant W. Martin Photography

Photo: Grant W. Martin Photography

Photo: Piotr Kmietowicz (getups.pl)

Changes

Canada’s DJ Vekked Wins IDA World Championship

ABOVE LEFT:Bruce Cockburn, recipient of the SOCAN Lifetime Achievement Award. ABOVE RIGHT: Hagood Hardy Jazz Music Award winner Alex Cuba.

Canadian Songwriters Honoured At 2012 SOCAN Awards People from all across the Canadian music industry came together in Toronto on Nov. 19, 2012, for the 23rd annual SOCAN Awards, which honoured Canadian songwriters who achieved success both nationally and internationally during the year. The year’s big honourees were Bruce Cockburn, who won the Lifetime Achievement Award; Trooper, who took home the National Achievement Award; and superstar DJ deadmau5, who earned the International Achievement Award recognizing his outstanding worldwide success. Other winners included Dean Brody, Kristina Maria, Alex Cuba, Hedley’s Jacob Hoggard, Fefe Dobson, David Myles, Mychael Danna, and Bob Ezrin. For more information and full list of winners, go to www.socan.ca.

Following his DMC World Supremacy title in September 2012, Waterloo, ON-based turntablist DJ Vekked, aka Jake Meyer, took home the IDA 2012 World Title in the Technical category on Dec. 8, 2012 in Poland. To become the first Canadian IDA World Champion, DJ Vekked had to battle other world-class turntablists through three rounds and be judged on musicality, originality, skills, patterns, and style. The IDA (International DJ Association) is comprised of many international chapters, including the 2012-founded IDA Canada, that hold regular DJ battles. The IDA has various competitive categories ranging from technical battles where beat juggling and scratching are mandatory through to no-holds-barred experimental formats where turntable music is the principle component. For more information on the competition or IDA Canada, visit www.idacanada.com.

The National Arts Centre, located in Ottawa, ON, has created a new programming stream that shines the spotlight on Canadian contemporary music. Called NAC Presents, its debut season in 2011-12 had an impressive lineup, including Rufus Wainwright, Sam Roberts, Jean Leloup, and The Sadies. Audience response was overwhelmingly positive, with over a dozen sold-out shows. “We were really impressed with the talent we were encountering in the NAC’s Scene festivals, which showcase a particular region of Canada every two years. We wanted to make room for these kinds of artists at the NAC year-round,” says Producer Simone Deneau. The 2012-13 season mixes big names like Diana Krall, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, and Ariane Moffatt with newer-to-thescene performers like Winnipeg’s Del Barber, Newfoundland’s The Once, and Vancouver’s The Zolas. For more information, contact the NAC: 613-947-7000, info@ nac-cna.ca, www.nac-cna.ca. (16) • cana dian musician

Photo: Trevor Lush

NAC Presents Back For A Second Season

Marie-Claire Barlow performs during the 2012 NAC Presents series.


…TourHub.ca, previously accessible only to Music Industry Associations’ current paid members, has now been made available to the general public. It is a useful tool for any performer looking to book their own tour and contains a database of about 1,600 venues across Canada with more being added constantly. To find out more, go to www.tourhub.ca.

Changes

SABIAN Opens Factory Museum To Celebrate 30-Year History As part of its year-long 30th Anniversary celebrations, SABIAN has opened a museum at its factory in Meductic, NB. Designed to house artifacts, awards, and memorabilia from the past 30 years, the museum will serve as an introduction to the cymbal maker’s history for factory visitors and employees. The museum will be open year-round during factory hours. For more information, visit www.sabian.com.

FACTOR Announces Major Changes For 2013/14 FACTOR has been working in consultation with various industry entities to revamp its services to better suit artists’ needs and those of the market by operating in a transparent and more efficient fashion. As a result, FACTOR has announced some big changes it is making for the next fiscal year. Everyone who applies to FACTOR will be affected, so the foundation advises all artists and other interested parties to read its memo and start thinking about what they’ll need to do to be eligible to receive FACTOR funding. To read the memo, to go www.factor.ca/news.

www.canadianmu sician. com

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Changes

The Canadian DJ Show Returns For 2013 The 2013 Canadian DJ Show will be held April 13-14 at the International Centre in Mississauga, ON. “We’ve stepped up the size of our venue and the size of our show,” says Ryan Schroeyens, Co-founder of the event, of the upcoming edition. This year’s show will feature more international guests and more brands than previous years. The show includes educational seminars, clinics, and Q&As with Canadian and international artists and scene builders. As well, a new feature to this year’s show is the “DJ Practice Area”, where guests and their friends can demo industry standard gear throughout the day. Organizers say the DJ Stage will be larger this year and will feature some of Canada’s best DJs performing all day on the 14th. For more information, go to www.cdjshow.com.

Th e BO SS Lo op St at ion Wor ld Ch am pio ns hip Canadian Nationa l Finals took place on stage at the Vancouver Gu itar Show, held No v. 25, 2012. After placing seco nd in 2011, Jonatha n Rosner was named the 2012 ch ampion and will be representing Canada in Californi a at Championship Intern the BOSS Loop Station World ational Finals on Ja For more informatio n. 25, 2013. n on the competitio n, visit www. roland.ca/loopstat ion.

Name: Ryan P. Gallant Location: Prince Edward Island Brand/Model: Gibraltar Rack System Year: 1999-present

When, where, and how did you obtain this piece of gear? As a drummer, collecting gear tends to come with the territory. When I purchased my first Gibraltar Rack System in 1999, I was instantly hooked and, for some reason, other gear collecting seemed to take a backburner. The feeling was comparable to getting your first Lego set and seeing how many different things you can create with the blocks. The reason I fell for the Gibraltar system is the simple fact that drums just look so mean behind a shining metal wall. (18) • c anadian musician

Have any modifications/upgrades been done to this piece of gear? The beauty of using Gibraltar systems is that the mods and upgrades are based on your imagination. Over the years, I have acquired several different styles of Gibraltar Rack tubes. This allows me to modify my set-up in several ways to fit the style of music I am performing. When entering the studio to record Death Valley Driver’s second album, Graveyard Dead, I added some new effects to my kit including a remote hi-hat and some cymbal stackers, all of which mounted effortlessly on the rack system. I’m really excited to hear how it sounds after it’s done being mixed and mastered by Billy Anderson, who has worked with such heavy hitters as Sleep, High of Fire, Neurosis, and Orange Goblin. What is the best feature of this piece of gear?

The best feature of the rack system would have to be the flexibility for different setups. I play with many musicians, which requires me to change my set-up quite often. Having the option to add any drum, cymbal, or aux percussion to basically anywhere my imagination allows is phenomenal. As the drummer for a metal band, I play hard, heavy, and loud. I can hit as hard as I want and know my cymbals, drums, or even my beer are staying put. What is your most memorable performance/moment with this piece of gear so far? None will ever trump July 14, 2011, when Death Valley Driver was honoured to share the stage with Metallica on the Halifax Commons. On that day, I hit my drums and cymbals harder than I ever thought possible and my Gibraltar never let me down.

Do you have a rare, unique, or just plain interesting piece of gear you want to share with the Canadian Musician readership? Visit www.canadianmusician.com/gearheads, fill out the form, and upload a high-res photo of you and your gear. We’ll take care of the rest.


Events Music PEI Week 2013

Charlottetown, PE January 25-February 2, 2013 902-894-6734 music@musicpei.com, www.musicpei.com

MIDEM 2013

Canadian DJ Show 2013

Mississauga, ON April 13-14, 2013 877-920-7767 www.cdjshow.com

2013 JUNO Week & Awards

Regina, SK April 15-21, 2013 info@carasonline.ca, www.junoawards.ca

Cannes, France January 26-29, 2013 33-0-1-41-90-4442 www.midem.com

Globalshop 2013

Hillside Inside 2013

Guelph, ON February 1-3, 2013 519-763-6396, FAX 519-763-9514 info@hillsidefestival.ca, www.hillsidefestival.ca

Mobile Beat 2013 DJ Show & Conference Las Vegas, NV February 4-7, 2013 515-986-3300 www.mobilbeat.com

2013 Folk Alliance International Conference Toronto, ON February 20-24, 2013 901-522-1170, FAX 901-522-1172 www.folkalliance.org

KoSA Cuba 2013

Havana, Cuba March 3-10, 2013 800-541-8401, 514-482-5554 info@kosamusic.com, www.kosamusic.com

2013 East Coast Music Week & Awards Halifax, NS March 6-10, 2013 800-513-4953 www.ecma.com

MTNA National Conference

Anaheim, CA March 9-13, 2013 mtnanet@mtna.org, www.mtna.org

SXSW 2013

Austin, TX March 12–17, 2013 512-467-7979 sxsw@sxsw.com, www.sxsw.com

Canadian Music Week 2013

Toronto, ON March 19-24, 2013 905-858-4747, FAX 905-858-4848 info@cmw.net, www.cmw.net

Chicago, IL April 16-18, 2013 240-439-2978 globalshop@experient-inc.com, www.globalshop.org

ASCAP “I Create Music” Expo

Los Angeles, CA April 18-20, 2013 800-278-1287 www.ascap.com

2013 Dallas International Guitar Festival

Dallas, TX April 19-21, 2013 972-240-2206, FAX 972-303-4909 info@guitarshow.com, www.guitarshow.com

MUSEXPO 2013

Hollywood, CA May 5-8, 2013 323-782-0770 sat@anrworldwide.com, www.musexpo.net

Montreal International Musical Competition: Violin 2013 Montreal, QC May 6-17, 2013 877-377-7951, FAX 514-845-8241 info@concoursmontreal.ca, www.concoursmontreal.ca

NXNE 2013

Toronto, ON June 10-16, 2013 416-863-6963, FAX 416-863-0828 info@nxne.com, www.nxne.com

2013 COCA National Conference

Halifax, NS June 20-24, 2013 519-690-0207 www.coca.org

Montreal International Jazz Festival 2013

Montreal, QC June 28-July 7, 2013 514-871-1881, 855-299-3378 commentaries_jazz@equipespectra.ca, www.montrealjazzfest.com

2013 Halifax Jazz Festival

Halifax, NS July 6-13, 2013 902-492-2225 info@jazzeast.com, www.halifaxjazzfest.ca

Summer NAMM 2013

Nashville, TN July 11-13, 2013 760-438-8001, FAX 760-438-7327 info@namm.org, www.namm.org

Guitar Workshop Plus Toronto 2013

Toronto, ON (Session 1): July 14-19, 2013 (Session 2): July 21-26, 2013 www.guitarworkshoplus.com

36th Annual Vancouver Folk Music Festival

Vancouver, BC July 19-21, 2013 info@thefestival.bc.ca, www.thefestival.bc.ca

2013 Beaches International Jazz Festival

Toronto, ON July 19-28, 2013 416-698-2152, FAX 416-698-2064 infobeachesjazz@rogers.com, www.beachesjazz.com

Guitar Workshop Plus Vancouver 2013

Vancouver, BC August 11-16, 2013 www.guitarworkshoplus.com

Ottawa Folk Festival

Ottawa, ON September 5-8, 2013 613-230-8234, FAX 613-230-1113 www.ottawafolk.org

CCMA Country Music Week 2013

Edmonton, AB September 5-8, 2013 416-947-1331, FAX 416-947-5924 country@ccma.org, www.ccma.org

S.C.E.N.E. Music Festival

St. Catharines, ON June 24, 2013 www.scenemusicfestival.ca Visit www.nor.com/events for more events involving Music, Musical Instruments, Professional Audio, Lighting, & Production.

www.canadianmusician.com

canadian musician • (19)


Road Test Acoustica Mixcraft Pro Studio 6 By Paul Lau

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’ve been using sequencers and DAWs for many years. Of those I’ve encountered recently, Acoustica’s Mixcraft Pro Studio 6 is, in my opinion, an unsung hero. I do agree with and appreciate the company’s tag line: “Software should be easy to use,” and it certainly applies to the latest version of Pro Studio. I must admit, when I first loaded Pro Studio 6 onto my machine, I was a bit biased thanks to all of the other more common sequencers and DAWs I work with and personally own. When you’re going through the manual and looking at the tutorial videos, they really don’t give you a true sense of the software; you need to get hands-on and put it to use. So… I started a remix that I’d been asked to do of a song by the band Hollywood Heroes. What was a musical block for a number of weeks is also what started my conversion towards an appreciation of Pro Studio 6. What makes it so intuitive and easy to use is that it comes with a ton of musical samples, beats, loops, virtual instruments, and a very simple user interface. I dropped a beat and sequence into a few tracks, and presto – the program starts asking me if I’d like to beat match, change keys, etc. These are some cool pop-up windows. This reminds me of my collection of existing loops (over 20,000), which I was able to import in minutes and was then off to the races, playing with some of the content I’d long forgotten about. The next question that came to mind was, “How does it handle vocal tracks?” I dropped one in, beat matched it, key

matched tracks to it, and started chopping the track. It sounded really good and had me intrigued. The software reminds me of ACID crossed with Logic, but it’s even more than that. I like the way it deals with loops; the idea of having a single measure loop and then just dragging it and making it a larger loop of any size is a good one. I also noticed when moving/ shifting the loops/samples, the motion and control were smooth and precise. So the drag-and-drop workflow for samples and loops is fun and easy to manipulate and edit; how are the virtual instruments? Well, three parts here. The first is the number of virtual instruments that come pre-loaded. There are your typical acoustic and electric instruments and a great collection of synth type instruments. Secondly, I went through all of them and found synth keyboard emulations of the Moog and Prophet synths as well as the Yamaha CS80 to be extremely realistic in sound. Being a keyboardist trained in classical music myself, I found the piano and organ emulations to be very true to life in their reproduction of the sampled sounds and they’re very easy to tweak. Thirdly, in the MIDI application, especially in the piano roll, I loved that each “block” (note) was individually labeled with its pitch. At a glance, all the vertical control (via drawing) of the MIDI notes was also available at my fingertips. The most important thing to note here is how Mixcraft integrates all of the aforementioned features seamlessly, easily, and creatively. That leads us to the sugar and spice part of the program. Here, we have two

parts I want to mention; the first is the effect processors that you would use on particular tracks (whether they’re loops/samples or live recorded audio takes) or virtual instruments. Pro Studio 6 comes with some extra effects processors that really shine, such as the Pro Studio Verb, 31-band EQ, and the tape emulation effect. Secondly, the program comes with many mastering tools like some from iZotope, which is known for its mastering software, multi-band compression, and vintage and modern parametric equalization, just to name a few. What more can I say? Mixcraft’s Pro Studio 6 is an easy sequencer to set up and use, great for making beats and bed tracks instantaneously and producing, editing, and processing effects to manipulate their sonic characteristics. It really helped get my creative juices flowing thanks to its very friendly interface. Oh, and it’s a video editor with a plethora of editing tools, too, so now I’m going to go and produce a music video for my track. All in all, Mixcraft Pro Studio 6 is like the Swiss Army Knife of the audio software world. Check it out; it’s made me a believer. Paul Lau, B.Sc. Musician/Producer/MIDI & Digital Audio Specialist (www.DocAudioTech.com) Managing Director of PowerMusic5Records (www.powermusic5.com) Member of the cool Christian pop band Scatter17 (www.scatter17.com)

Manufacturer’s Comment

Mixcraft Pro Studio 6 is available in 12 languages, including French and Spanish, and a free 14-day trial is available at www.acoustica.com. Anthony Conte VP of Sales, Acoustica (20) • canadian musician


Road Test RME Babyface USB Audio & MIDI Interface By Joe Mullen

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here is always that one idea, that one unprecedented combination of features, flexibility, and prolevel quality that produces a product which dominates its class. In RME’s case, that’s the Babyface. Although it sits at a price point similar to that of entry-level recording interfaces, its top-of-the line A/D and D/A converters running at up to 192 kHz and completely transparent high-end mic pres put the Babyface on par with professional-quality studio interfaces. Also, it’s clocked with technology you just won’t find inside any other interface at the price point. The folks at RME have created a true recording workhorse that packs a punch. I can honestly say this unit had already impressed me even before I heard it perform. It ships in a nice “gig bag” that is ideal for taking it on the road. The interface itself is incredibly small considering its capabilities. It’s compact yet solid; each I/O connection is totally firm. Another great feature is the jog wheel, located right on the top of the unit. It makes for easy manipulation of monitor level. The 15-pin D-Sub connector and break out cable are just as solid as the unit itself. It screams quality on every turn. Getting the interface up and going was a breeze. I simply installed the drivers and Pro Tools 9 picked it up right away. I own two other recording interfaces in the same price range as the Babyface and had the ability to A/B both the preamps and converters. I was already familiar with the outstanding clarity and depth of the RME converters as I’ve (22) • canadian musician

seen and heard the ADI-8 DS in action over the course of recording two albums with my own band. I knew I would notice improvements as compared to my other interfaces and was excited to experience this unit first-hand. After just a few minutes of recording acoustic guitar with the Babyface, I realized just how serious RME is about adhering to its philosophy of, “Whatever you put in, you get out.” It truly seemed that whatever signal was going in, whether it be acoustic guitar, drum overheads, or vocals, was exactly reproduced with a level of transparency I’ve only heard with the ADI-8 DS. Midway through the A/B test, I was made aware of how much the pres and converters of my current gear do affect my tracks. To think that this professional level of transparency exists at a price point occupied by these other interfaces is outstanding. To go along with the Babyface’s ultra pristine audio quality is the Total Mix software, a complete mixer and routing matrix that is 100 per cent flexible. The level of control over routing inputs and outputs and software playback channels is outstanding. There are also EQ, reverb, and echo effects, all processed inside the Babyface and assignable to either just monitor or to tape. Another little detail I appreciated was being able to exactly match the gain of both of the preamps. Since they can be digitally controlled in the Total Mix software, you can set the gain to exactly the same value, which is great for setting up overhead mics on drums. When deciding to purchase an interface, it’s all about putting money

where it counts. With other interfaces at this price point, the value is essentially spread over the typical eight preamped inputs and the usual I/O; however, the focus seems to be more on quantity than quality. And let’s face it; in a typical home studio situation, most tracking is done using two inputs, sometimes just one. I’d much prefer to have fewer but higherquality pres and in this case, it’s reference class. You just won’t find a preamp and converter combination this good on the same shelf as any of the others out there. After two glorious weeks with the RME Babyface, I have learned that RME takes its goal of achieving true transparency very seriously. It’s not just equipment for huge recording set ups and live rigs; the company also builds products on a pro-sumer level but with the exact same build and component quality – quality I can say I heard with my own ears. Given the two reference class pres and the high-end conversion, not to mention the Total Mix software, you are equipping your home studio with two professional-level signal chains and all the flexibility you’d require in most recording situations. The RME Babyface is an unparalleled interface at this price point and could very well be your ticket to home studio heaven. Joe Mullen is the founder of JoeDown Studios and the drummer of Ontariobased melodic metal band Odium. He is currently on tour supporting Odium’s second release, Burning the Bridges to Nowhere, and has a solid recording schedule when the band is off the road.


Road Test TC Electronic TonePrint Enabled Pedals By Hal Rodriguez

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C Electronic’s new TonePrintenabled pedals provide both high-quality effects, simple yet flexible control, and the ability to import the actual settings designed by guitarists such as Paul Gilbert, Steve Morse, and John 5, via USB. For this review, I tested the Hall of Fame Reverb, Flashback Delay, and Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci’s signature modulation pedal, The Dreamscape.

Hall of Fame Reverb

This pedal comes with 10 different reverb types that include Spring, Plate, Church, and Hall, which are easily selected on one of the pedal’s four knobs. The other knobs are FX Level, which adjusts the amount of reverb; Decay, which controls how long the reverb effect lasts; and Tone, which adjusts the brightness of the effect. When first playing with the Hall of Fame, I noticed that even at high amounts of reverb, the pedal maintains an attractive subtlety and an impressive realism. It never washes out your guitar’s original tone, which is key. For exaggerated effects, cranking the FX level with a short decay time produces a great surf-style tone where individual notes are still distinct. At the opposite end of the spectrum, you can set the FX level low with a long decay time to keep your guitar tone dry but with increased sustain. All of the available types of reverb proved useable, but a particularly unique and fun one was the Mod setting, where the reverb actually has a touch of chorus to it.

Flashback Delay

The Flashback features: nine selectable delay types; an FX Level knob to control the amount of the effect; a Delay knob that controls the amount of time it takes for a delayed note to occur and repeat; and a Feedback knob which adjusts the number of recurring notes. Simply holding down the footswitch and strumming allows one to easily set the desired tempo of the effect. My most immediate impression of this pedal was how pristine and inspiring all of the delay types sounded. The Tape setting in particular is super warm and musical for any style, while the Slapback and Ping Pong settings allow for a more intense tonal quality that might be www.canadianmusician.com

desired by rockabilly players or those who perform ambient music. One of the Flashback’s unique settings is RVS, which creates a priceless backwards guitar-like effect for all your psychedelic excursions. As if that wasn’t enough, the Flashback also boasts a built-in looper; set the Delay type to Loop and simply step on the footswitch to start recording. Subsequent steps will allow you to add overdubs, and two steps will erase what you’ve recorded.

The Dreamscape (John Petrucci Signature Pedal)

This pedal contains two different types of Chorus, Flanger, and Vibrato effects designed by guitar virtuoso John Petrucci of Dream Theater. The speed and depth of each modulation effect can be controlled by two knobs while the overall tone can be adjusted by a tone switch. The first chorus sounds rich at 12 o’clock settings, but quickly gets some cool warble when it’s dialed in. Harmonics in particular shine at lower to moderate levels, and you can crank all three knobs for that rotary-like Scofield effect. The second chorus is a useful option for a less obvious and darker sounding tone that can find its way into many styles of music. Petrucci’s first built in flanger effect has that Hendrix-esque underwater guitar sound, but the second flanger setting adds a useful wah pedal-like vowel tone, which is great for giving solos some new attitude. Finally, the vibrato effects can go from intense organ-like sounds to a slight whammy bar-type shake that could prove particularly useful to guitarists playing with fixed bridges. While some modulation effect pedals can be tiresome

after prolonged use, The Dreamscape is capable of musical subtlety and is useful for enhancing both clean and distorted guitar tones in any context.

Conclusion

Upon visiting TC’s website (www. tcelectronic.com), I was able to easily navigate the site to find all of the available TonePrint settings. I could download and import them into each pedal. The process didn’t take long and was easily selectable by engaging the pedals’ TonePrint mode. This attractive and modern feature allows the player to use their favourite guitarists’ settings as a starting point to discover all that the pedals have to offer. The flexible TonePrint option and the multiple inspiring effects and features available in each pedal are two very compelling reasons why the Hall of Fame, Flashback, and Dreamscape pedals deserve that precious real estate on your pedalboard. Hal Rodriguez is a Toronto based guitarist, teacher, and writer. Check out his blog, “The Six String Shed”, at www. canadianmusician.com/blogcentral and contact him at halromusic@gmail.com.

Manufacturer's Comment:

Downloading TonePrints to your pedals was made easier with the launch of the TonePrint app. Beam any TonePrint fast, easily, and on the fly. Totally free with no sneaky in-app purchases and completely wireless - no Internet connection required. For details, visit tcelectronic.com/toneprint-app/. Laura Clapp Davidson Marketing Manager, TC Group Americas canadian musician • (23)


guitar

Jeremy Rouse is a Toronto-based guitarist and boutique effects pedal builder. He has played guitar for the national tours of Jesus Christ Superstar starring Ted Neeley and the 30th anniversary tour of Cats. He currently teaches and plays in Toronto with The Swing Shift Little Big Band and his own instrumental group, Pre Season Draft. www.jeremyrouse.weebly.com.

By Jeremy Rouse

Experimenting With

The Arabic Maqam

The Arabic Maqam is the organization of scales or modes in traditional Arabic music. These modes are based on a tuning system employing quarter tones that doesn’t translate exactly into the equal temperament system used in western music. Regardless, it’s possible to come up with a pretty close approximation of these colourful sounds that are a lot of fun to play! In this lesson we are going to focus on the Shad Araban Maqam by exploring how it can be adapted into a traditional Canadian tune.

Ex. 1

A great way of accustoming your ears to new sounds is to take a piece you already know and make a few alterations. “St. Anne’s Reel” (Ex. 1) is a Canadian tune in the key of D major and uses the notes from the Ionian mode. Arranging the notes of the scales with the corresponding scale degrees written underneath, we end up with: D E F# G A B C# 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 To reconstruct the original melody, let’s replace the song’s Ionian mode with the Shad Araban Maqam. Arranged as above, it looks like this: D E F# G A B C# 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 The only notes that are altered are the second and sixth degrees (E and B). These two have been lowered a half step each. This gives us an interval of a minor third between the flat 2nd and 3rd and three consecutive semitones between the 7th, root, and flat 2nd. Play Ex. 2 to hear the vast difference these notes make. The new mode has a decidedly “Eastern” flavour to it.

Ex. 2

Ex. 3

Ex. 4

Now all that’s left to do is to change the notes in the original melody to conform to the new mode. In Ex. 3, all of the E and B notes in “St. Anne’s Reel” have been lowered by a semitone – a big difference both melodically and harmonically. The chord progression changes from the normal I-IV-V of D major, G major, and A major to D major, Gmin(Maj7), and A7 5. Now, how about a time signature change to go along with the modal change? Chop the last eighth note off our new melody and we now have a 7/8 time signature (Ex. 4). This can be a tough one to feel your way through, but sub-dividing is your friend. Count out loud “one two, one two, one two three” and tap your foot on each count of one. Bluegrass standards lend themselves well to this kind of treatment with their primarily diatonic melodies and 4/4 rhythms. Try to apply the same treatment to the B section of “St. Anne’s Reel” on your own.

canadian musician • (25)


Keyboards

Mark Pinkus has released eight original solo piano albums, available at www.cdbaby. com/all/markpinkus. Mark performs, produces, promotes, and distributes his music internationally. His music plays on radio, Internet, and satellite stations around the world. For more info on Mark’s music, visit www.markpinkus.com.

By Mark Pinkus

The Composition Process

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s a composer/pianist, writing a piece of music is by far my favourite musical endeavor. There is an unexplainable magic when a musical creation is born. Where did it come from? Am I simply a messenger who is receiving the music from some other source? It doesn’t really matter where the music is coming from; I know that something new is being manifested right in that moment. And it truly feels good to be experiencing it. I began writing music the moment I sat down at the piano at the age of seven. I had never touched the keys before. Sitting at the piano and tasting the silence around me, I heard the beginning of a thunderstorm approaching. Soon thereafter it began to rain. I immediately began to interpret the rain on the piano. To my surprise, a black cat was walking on the window ledge and so I added the cat’s presence into the piano story. And there it was. My first composition: “The Cat and the Rain”. That was the beginning of my realization that the piano was a place for me to express myself. It came completely naturally. No schooling, no teachers, nothing. A young boy and a piano found each other and became instant friends. Today, many years later, I’m doing the same thing I did then. Not much has changed. When the seed of inspiration is combined with a natural gift, anything can happen. The gift never leaves. Of course at times it is dormant; that is part of the creative process. In music there are notes and there are silences. Each one feeds off of the other. Activity and sleep are the ingredients of composition. I was once asked during a TV interview: “What inspires you to write music?” I replied, “Not doing music.” Basically, when I’m not playing music, life brings me all types of inspirations. Being away from the keyboard allows me to explore endless layers of existence. Being away from what you love can show you other ways to look at things. Then when you sit back down at the piano

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again, the well is full of new ideas and freshness. Here’s my perspective on composition: It has to tell a story. Each piece I write is a story. When I perform, I precede each piece with a small introduction, being careful not to give away too much information about the theme or experience. I find it sacred to leave some mystery for the audience. Each person can imagine and feel his or her own interpretation of the piece. A piece that is strictly technical in its interpretation does not do justice; there has to be an emotional connection to communicate. Lots of feeling, sensitivity, and poeticness all combined in a narrative kind of presentation – a story – is what makes music enter and stay within us. And none of these things can be taught. I remember vividly how two composers once told me how they in part compose music. Demis Visvikis, who I studied with in Paris, would improvise on the same five notes for two hours. He added that: “If you can improvise on five notes, imagine what you could do with 88 keys.” Vic Vogel, a composer mostly of big band music, once told me he divided the piano into three parts: “The lower notes are the thunder, the middle notes the sun, and the higher notes the rain. Now, go ahead and compose.” Composing piano music is like therapy. When I’m content, I don’t feel the need to compose. I go to the piano mostly when I feel a deep emotion inside me and it needs to come out. I am greatly inspired by Mother Nature, relationships, travel, and the beauty of surprise. There are no limits to where inspiration can come from. Someone could simply give me a word or an image and I could instantaneously compose a piece of music, right on the spot. For those who want to compose and have never tried, here’s an idea to get you started. Turn out the lights, light a candle, place your fingers anywhere on the piano, and just explore. That’s the spark that lights the light of the world of composition.


Photo: Courtney Lee Yip

Devin Hornby is a bass player living in Charlottetown, PE. Having recently moved back home from Toronto, he is part of the faculty at the Holland College School of Performing Arts in Charlottetown and is very active in the local music community.

Bass

By Devin Hornby

The Busy Bassist

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t’s a big musical world out there and everybody needs a great bass player. Playing bass can be a very gratifying role in an ensemble. Bass is a huge part of the groove of the band and the foundation of the harmony. Bass parts can be anything – supportive, driving, creative, even humorous. Bassists come in all different flavours, and most bassists I know sub in with different groups from time to time. Being a successful “sub” is challenging; often, you will be called with little time to prepare, and you may not know the style of the other musicians. All of your music skills can come into play: your ear, knowledge of styles, reading level, technique, etc. Let’s look at a few points to keep in mind when subbing in to inspire confidence in the other band members – and get invited on the bandstand again. Any “busy” bass player knows how to really lay it down and provide the foundation. I find it helpful to ask myself, “Where is the heart of the groove to this song?” For most of us, that means putting your most impressive licks aside, and focusing on communicating with everyone you’re playing with. In a pop context, simple rhythmic ideas can be effective. For example, starting your bass part playing half-notes, and going to 8th notes at a key moment to move the music forward can be all that is needed from the bass. In the words of Albert Einstein, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t know it well enough.” First impressions count in music, too, so it is important to instill confidence in your fellow musicians early. When playing with your friends, you know what kind of music drives them and what they sound like. When subbing in, you may not have that information

www.canadianmusician.com

on the other musicians. Playing a lick lifted from a Tower of Power recording on a Bruce Springsteen tune may spoil the vibe for the rest of the musicians. If you have a catalogue of sounds from listening to hundreds of recordings, you will have a better basis to match up with your band mates. Know your music styles and know what is good (and translatable) about different styles of music. Keep your eyes and ears open for clues as to where they are coming from musically. Demonstrate skills beyond playing the notes. To play softly with power is one of the hardest things to do as a rhythm section – a big component of R&B. Check out some videos of James Brown or The Temptations; they can drop in volume together and still keep things nice and tight. When subbing in with a new group, I prefer to be asked to turn up, rather than turn down. A little tasteful muting on the bass can lessen your attack and will be felt by the other musicians. Volume is an obvious element of music that is often overlooked. Reading music scares a lot of bass students I meet. It’s not something you’re born with; it’s a practical skill you can develop. If you really want it, put yourself in a situation where you have to read. Theatre productions or community big bands are a good bet. A well-written chart can save time for everybody, and being a reader will expand your network. If all you have is one minute before you start a chart, look over the whole chart quickly and note the form. Where is the repeat? Where is the coda? Any key or time changes? If the bass misses any of this, you could lead your companions into a train wreck! Also, don’t forget to use

your ears when you’re on a “reading” gig. Keep your ears and half an eye on your musical director; he or she is guiding you to aspects that the notes on the page aren’t telling you. Playing a song you’ve never heard in front of an audience can be an unnerving experience. A certain freedom of spirit helps; so can being able to recognize some guitar chords, or follow a pianist’s left hand. The Nashville Number System is used widely by musicians to communicate chords mid-song by raising the corresponding number of fingers to the chord. Nothing beats a good ear on an experienced player, though, so take your ear training seriously. Although formal music training is not necessary to develop your ear, a system like the moveable-do system (do, re, mi, etc.) is valuable for understanding functional music. A final point to consider is that bass players are there to make others sound and look good. Keep your poise when you make an error, and make sure you know what the dress code is for the gig. Subbing in is a great way to push your musical boundaries, meet people, and hopefully have fun.

canadian musician • (27)


Photo: Tyler Young

percussion

Adam Bowman is a professional drummer/percussionist from Guelph, ON. He has recorded and toured with artists such as Ember Swift, Kellylee Evans, Dawn Langstroth, Jason Raso, Joni NehRita, Vinx, and Eccodek to name a few. For more on Adam, please visit www.adambowman.com

By Adam Bowman

Kung Fu Drums Kung Fu – A Chinese term referring to ANY study, learning, or practice that requires patience, energy, and time to complete.

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few years ago at the Guelph Jazz Festival, I ran into Andrew Craig, a friend and brilliant musician. It seems Andrew drifts into my life when I have a new lesson to learn. These lessons have been varied in their subject matter and application, but always valuable. On this day, after asking my usual, “So Andrew, what else should I be working on?” he replied, “Nothing, you sound great! Work on doing it BETTER.” He continued, “Read a book, plant a garden, learn to sing, dance...” Andrew suggested that we grow as musicians not only through the study of our craft, but as students of our lives and our experiences. I liked this idea, but was still confused as to how growing cherry tomatoes was going to help me execute my solo ideas more concisely on the drum set. As luck, fate, or both would have it, I soon after ran into local Kung Fu Sifu (teacher) Robin Young. I mentioned to him that I had always had an interest in martial arts, but the life of a touring musician had made it difficult to commit to regular instruction and I didn’t want to insult him or his art form with half-hearted study. He invited me to join the club, attend when I could, and practice on my own. I found the classes exciting, inspiring, and oddly familiar in that the discussions and topics in class were topics that had been covered before – in drum lessons! Breathing, timing, efficiency of motion, intent, posture, technique… Cherry tomatoes were starting to make sense. (Wax on, wax off, right?). After a couple years of Kung Fu, I stumbled on The Tao of Jeet Kune Do by Bruce Lee, essentially his martial arts blue print. In it, he outlined his thoughts on achieving “Good Form” or technique.

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“Good form is the most efficient manner to accomplish the purpose of a performance with a minimum of lost motion and wasted energy.” The musician in me started to pay very close attention. Bruce goes on: “To conserve energy by using the least possible amount of energy to achieve a given result, eliminate the unnecessary motions and muscle contractions which fatigue without accomplishing any useful purpose.” Step 1 – “Acquire the Feeling of Relaxation” Bruce was of course referring to the kicks and punches of martial arts, but I substituted single strokes, double strokes, swing time, funk/rock grooves, shuffles, etc. Systematically, I removed any tension and stress (both physical and emotional) from my body as I played a rudiment. For instance, was I clenching my teeth? Holding my breath? Tightening my shoulders? Some days it took a few minutes, some days many to achieve what I felt was the most efficient level of relaxation. Step 2 – “Practice Until this Feeling Can Be Reproduced at Will” Can I remember this feeling and recreate it in future practice sessions? Step #3 – “Reproduce that Feeling Voluntarily in Potentially Tension-Creating Situations” Here is where things get really interesting. Bruce was alluding to a confrontation, but the musician in me thought of a gig, an audition, a live television or radio performance. The other very interesting thing is that the ONLY way to practice step 3 is to be in a “potentially tension-creating situation.” This means that rather than thinking of the gig, audition, or television performance as the end of your practice and preparation, you think of it as PART of it. It is your opportunity to practice step 3. Mind blown. I suppose the moral of the story is that, in an effort to widen our musical understanding, we often forget to DEEPEN it. Also, we need to remember that although instructional books, DVDs, and articles in reputable Canadian music magazines are very good resources for musical inspiration, so are great meals with friends, starry skies, and changing leaves. This way of thinking has helped me be more physically and mentally relaxed in performance. It has helped me “get out of the way” of my musical ideas and ultimately helped the techniques I have practiced flow more freely to the drums, my fellow musicians, and the audience. Happy gardening.


Willem Moolenbeek has performed across Canada as a soloist and chamber musician. He has premiered many works by Canadian composers and has recorded several discs of chamber music. He is a clinician for Jupiter saxophones and teaches on the music faculties of McMaster University, the University of Waterloo, and National Music Camp. www.singingsax.com.

WOODWINDS

By Willem Moolenbeek

The Singing Sax

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hen Adolphe Sax conceived his self-named woodwind instrument, he envisioned a voice that would blend in with the rest of the orchestra or band as well as stand out as a solo voice. Operas by Sax’s contemporaries such as Jules Massenet used saxophones as part of the orchestra. He probably did not think about the saxophone as part of a choral ensemble; however, I have found it to be a particularly engaging voice when placed in the midst of a choir. My first experience with this was while working with the vocal ensemble TACTUS in 1998. At that time, we felt that the soprano saxophone was capable of augmenting the top range of the group by matching the timbre and dynamics of the soprano vocalists. Jan Garbarek’s 1994 recording Officium with the Hilliard Ensemble opened the door for improvising saxophone to early music. The saxophone can mimic qualities inherent in the human voice. Vocalizing in most cultures utilizes a pitch vibrato (a pulsing change in pitch) to colour the timbre with a view to enrich the emotional context of the sound. String players have long used a pitch vibrato through shortening and lengthening the strings by moving the fingers on the fingerboard. The saxophone has developed its own characteristic pitch vibrato. This is accomplished by varying the lip tension by slight movements of the jaw. This quality alone gives a greater scope for integration within a vocal group. Because the player readily controls the speed and degree of pitch shift, the application of the vibrato can be personal and specific. A phrase that is quiet and romantic can sustain a slower vibrato with less pitch variation whereas an exuberant gesture can use a faster, wider pitch shift. The enormous dynamic range of the

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saxophone also lends itself to work with a choir. It is able to fit into the harmony in a complementary and supportive role as well as soar above the choir when soloing. I was recently asked why the saxophone has had so little use in the orchestra. Was it because the timbre was not compatible with “orchestral” instruments? Two reasons come to mind. First, it should be noted that most orchestral repertoire predates the saxophone. Even music that was composed after the advent of the saxophone generally did not utilize it, with a few notable exceptions, because composers at that time could not be guaranteed that the instrument would be around for the long haul. Many instruments have come and gone over the course of history. Concerto for sarrusophone anyone? The second reason is that the performance values of saxophone have been rather uneven. Few instruments have as wide-ranging timbral options. I often point out at clinics that it can sound like a flute or a chainsaw and anything in between. The nail was driven into the coffin by Harvard professor of orchestration Walter Piston in his 1955 textbook when he wrote that “its tone has become, coincident with its ascendancy in the field of popular dance music, tremulous, oversweet, sentimental; and it is almost invariably played out of tune.” Who would want that in their magnum opus? Saxophone pedagogy has come a long way since the ‘50s and this argument is not consistent with current trends in contemporary chamber music where the saxophone is playing a greater role. Canadian composers have made notable contributions to repertoire that utilizes the saxophone in choral music. Paul Halley, originally from Halifax, collaborated with New York soprano

saxophonist Paul Winter in the creation of the Missa Gaia/Earth Mass, which continues to be very popular with community choirs and uses a small mixed ensemble. More recently, Halley’s Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei for choir, soprano saxophone, and organ are receiving numerous performances. The challenge when performing with pipe organ in a large sanctuary is the delay in hearing the organ when the saxophone is in front of the choir. I recommend standing close to the manual to ensure good ensemble. In Paradisum by Timothy Corlis features the tenor saxophone with choir and piano. This bold and exciting work has a range from low B to altissimo C. Similarly, the full range of dynamics from pp to ff is used in all registers. Again, I find that ensemble is best maintained by being close to the piano. Collaboration with the conductor is vital and some cues will be warranted depending on the director’s interpretation of fermata and entries. Three Songs of Light by Srul Irving Glick for children’s choir also uses alto saxophone and piano. When improvising with unaccompanied choirs, I prefer to stand close to the sopranos to match tone and dynamics. A challenge to be considered in this situation is the possibility of the choir’s pitch drifting flat in sections where the saxophone is not playing. The saxophonist, particularly on the soprano, has the ability to adjust the tuning by carefully changing embouchure support. Many wonderful choral arrangements of standard gospel pieces allow for improvising as well. In the concert hall or the church, the time for saxophones and choirs is just taking off. Get out there and be part of it!

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BRASS

Paul Merkelo is renowned throughout North America and beyond as one of the finest trumpet players of his generation. As a solo trumpet with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra since 1995, Paul is regularly praised by the press and has been featured frequently with the MSO on tour. As a soloist, he has also been featured with several major symphonies and orchestras and performed recitals and master classes around the world. www.paulmerkelo.com.

By Paul Merkelo

Preparing For A Major Performance: A Cast Study

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n Oct. 12, 2012, I performed the “Trumpet Concerto” by John Williams, winner of several Academy Awards and best-known for his associations with filmmakers Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, with my colleagues of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (MSO) and Julian Kuerti conducting. This concerto, which I also performed three years ago in its Canadian premiere, is one of the most physically demanding and comprehensive concertos written for trumpet. The preparation began for this most recent performance about three months prior to the scheduled date. In tackling such a piece, I wanted to begin slowly, in sections, looking for areas that would require a lot of slow practice and additional strength building. Once I had identified these passages, I began devising exercises in my warm up that would develop and enhance these challenging “licks.” As I studied these parts, I noticed many passages encompassed a two-and-a-half octave range, which would generally start low and end in the higher register, loud and sustained; therefore, I started looking at the well-known method books of artists like Max Schlossberg, Mel Broiles, James Stamp, and Timofei Dokshizer to help me get target-specific in my practice. Once I felt a certain degree of satisfaction with my progression, I added two-to-three page études like the Walter Smith Top Tones for the Trumpeter or Verne Reynolds’ 48 Etudes for Trumpet that combined extreme flexibility with performance endurance. If any given étude didn’t finish high, loud, and sustained, I would create my own ending to properly prepare. As I delved deeper and deeper into the preparation process, I started running large sections of the Williams concerto to see how the work I did was manifesting itself into my playing and interpretation of the concerto. Some days I felt confident; some days it felt like the piece had won the battle! I found it tricky to strike a good balance of strengthening and rest, especially while playing major pieces in the orchestra and having to perform a trumpet and organ recital just weeks prior to the Williams performance.

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We at the MSO started our season with three performances of Mahler’s “Symphony No. 2” live on radio. Listening back, I found myself strong in the louder notes, but working harder in the extreme softs. That meant it was time to adjust. I stopped practicing the Williams until the Mahler was over and, surprisingly, felt better after a brief hiatus. Things felt fresher and more resilient in the tone quality. Satisfied, I therefore wrote out a game plan for my ongoing practice sessions. Here’s what it looked like: • Maximum 30-minute sessions (I had to set an alarm!) • First, warm up and fundamentals, including extreme range and dynamics • Rest for a minimum of 10 minutes • Second, a run through of the concerto (with no stopping) • Rest for a minimum of 1 hour • Next, touch ups and technique building (which entailed mostly slow practice and tone production work) • Rest for a minimum of 1 hour And then, on alternating days, it was either • Practicing etudes that complement the Williams in style OR • Practicing power exercises from Schlossberg, Broiles, and Stamp (loud with good sound) As I was getting closer to formal rehearsals with the MSO, I needed to taper the sessions. I would do just a brief warmup and run-through each day (roughly one week before performance day). Any passages that needed further attention, even just some cleaning up, would be incorporated into the proceeding days’ warm-up, so as to preserve my embouchure for maximal efficiency. The process of preparing a demanding work or recital is vital to our growth as brass players and musicians in general. Even though it may seem daunting at times, careful planning and strategic practice can help you tackle most pieces and should not deter you from at least trying to learn some new works. Good luck and practice smart!


Photo: Christie-Z Pabon (DMC USA)

DJ Vekked is the 2012 DMC Supremacy World Champion, 2012 IDA World Champion, and three-time Canadian DJ Champion. You can find him at @Vekked on Twitter, www.facebook. com/djvekked, or at www.tablist.ca.

DIGITAL MUSIC

By Jake “DJ Vekked” Meyer

Tools Of The Turntablist

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ot all instruments were created with the intention of making music. The turnable, unlike most instruments, has the distinction of having been intended for something completely different. It was first created to simply play back audio recordings, but was later re-appropriated as a musical instrument. As a result, it is a very unique instrument to explore as there’s no set way it’s “supposed” to be played – because it isn’t supposed to be played at all. Because of this, many different styles and approaches have been developed and are in-use. There are turntablists who scratch and play the instrument much like a jazz musician, often practicing by improvising (or “freestyling” in the hip-hop world) and soloing over beats. Many incorporate guitar effects pedals and loop stations with their scratching as well. There are others who “beat juggle” using two turntables simultaneously to make new beats out of existing ones. There are even some more experimental turntablists who look for ways they can play any sound they can get out of a turntable. Some pretty amazing sounds have come from turntablists who use feedback to create melodies. There’s a way to play the turntables for nearly every type of music there is. When people think of using the turntables as an instrument, the first thing that probably comes to mind is scratching. Scratching consists of using the back and forth movement of the record combined with various mixer techniques to control the pitch and rhythm of the sound on the record. In this case, the turntable is being played as a lead instrument like the guitar. Most popular examples of scratching are solos that take the spotlight for a certain part of a song rather than playing a specific part throughout. This isn’t always the case, though. Nowadays many turntablists use the turntable to play nearly any part of a song that they see fit. Canadian turntablists Kid Koala and DJ Brace have gained a lot of recognition using the turntable as the main instrument on their albums. There are even turntablist bands such as Birdy Nam Nam, which has one member who scratches drums, one who scratches bass, and two others who scratch lead instruments and vocals. Scratching is the most popular way to play the turntable but it’s not the only way. Beat juggling is also quite prominent

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and is easily the second most common style that turntablists use. If scratching is comparable to playing lead guitar, beat juggling is much like playing the drums. It consists of using two turntables simultaneously and cueing up notes on each side as opposed to focusing on just one turntable. Usually the same song is used on both sides, and most of the time that song is an instrumental beat, hence the name beat juggling. The goal of beat juggling is to take the individual notes of the beat and scratch them, double them up, and change the order to create new rhythms and time signatures. It’s akin to drumming – if your drum kit consisted of any note on the record, and any sound you can make by scratching, speeding up, slowing down, or reversing those notes. Scratching and beat juggling both revolve around the sound created by manipulating the record; however, not every turntablist limits themselves to using records. Feedback loops created by routing an output of the mixer back through an input on the mixer are also used. The default sound is a high-pitched squeal – the same as if you held a live mic in front of a speaker. The first instinct of most sane people would be to try and stop that sound as quickly as possible, but somehow turntablists discovered that you can control and manipulate it. By changing the volume and EQ of the input it creates different pitches and can even vary the level of distortion, resulting in a makeshift synth that can be used to make simple melodies. Another Canadian turntablist, DJ Dopey, invented a technique using his fingertip on the needle and rubbing it against the side of the turntable platter. As the fingertip vibrates against the moving platter, the vibrations go up the needle and create a bass note that can be pitched up and down as the platter moves faster or slower. Being a turntablist is as much about learning how to use the instrument in the more traditional ways as it is creating ways to play it. As a competitive turntablist, it’s pretty much my job to try and find out new things I can do, whether it’s trying to create a new scratch and beat juggle technique or trying to find some way I can get a sound out of the turntable that other people haven’t yet. The techniques outlined here are just a few of the tools we as turntablists have at our disposal.

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VOcALS

Ben Caplan is a singer-songwriter renowned for his rich and powerful voice. Based in Halifax, NS, he released his first album in October 2011 and has since been nominated for numerous awards and toured around the world. He is currently working on his second studio album and continuously touring. www.bencaplan.ca.

By Ben Caplan

An Instrumental Approach To Singing

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inging is one of the most simple and joyful things a person can do. The simple act of raising one’s voice in song or humming a melody can be an exultant and transformative experience. I have always been surprised to meet people who believe that they “can not sing.” I strongly believe that if you can talk, you can sing. Many of the world’s most beloved singers have had the most unconventional voices; think of Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, or even Joanna Newsom. All three of these singers, and many others beyond them, have strange, broken, or bizarre voices. What they have in common is that they managed to transform what could be perceived as a weakness into a great strength by being true to their unique instruments. Improving one’s singing is a relatively simple process, and the steps are easy. For me, the most important thing is to think of the voice as a musical instrument, and apply practice and discipline just like one would with any other instrument. I think there are three basic steps. 1. Get To Know Your Instrument Your instrument is made of meat and you’ve been wailing through it since before you were able to make memories, so it’s easy to take it for granted. Take time to think about your instrument like you would think about a piano or a saxophone. What are the various moving and non-moving parts? What are its mechanics? Lie on your back and breath deeply. Feel your lungs moving breath and your diaphragm controlling the motion. Pay

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attention to your face, lips, nostrils, tongue, cheeks, and anything that can affect your timbre. Experiment with everything while making sounds. Pay attention. Enjoy yourself. With the help of a guitar or a piano, explore the range and timbral qualities of your voice. How low can you go? How high can you get? Where is the range where your voice breaks between a “chest voice” and a “head voice”? Learn these distinctions so that you can overcome them and then forget about them. Try singing at different volumes at different pitches. Explore singing quietly through your highest range and loudly through your lowest. Discover what is possible, and what is hard. Be gentle with it but don’t be afraid to push; just be sure to yield if it pushes back. 2. Learn How To Play Your Instrument Don’t be afraid to sound terrible when you are practicing. That’s what practice is for. Yes, you can probably sound decent without trying, but it’s hard to sound outstanding without sounding terrible first. Don’t be afraid to sound terrible. Revel in it. Work on scales and use a reference pitch. This will improve your intonation and your ability to stay in tune. Using a piano is great, but a single, clear sustained pitch can be an even better tool to practice with. Check your tuning with the reference pitch and try singing different intervals. You should take lots of time to work on singing chromatic scales through your entire register. There is no better way to get to know your voice. I always try to do this in full before I perform as

part of my warm up. I will use different vowel sounds (eh, eee, ay, oh, oooh) through the whole of my register. Pay attention to how different parts of your register will sound or behave differently under the influences of different vowels and volumes. Sometimes a note is easy to hit as an “ay” but difficult as an “eee”. Try to understand how you can use your instrument with more precision to make every sound you want to hear – and do so consistently. 3. Forget About Singing Many people’s singing voices sound weak, phony, or “put on” because they are trying to “sing.” We get this idea in our heads that good singing sounds a particular way, or a good voice is a particular kind of sound. As much as possible, you should try to become conscious of talking and using your speaking voice at the different pitches. Your speaking voice is typically your voice at its most present and fullsounding. When you try to transform your voice into some other “singing” thing, you will most often shut off a wide range of your voice’s natural overtones. The best way to make your voice sound full and rich is to learn how to harness the fullness and emotional quality of your speaking voice and simply alter the pitches. Lather. Rinse. Repeat as necessary. Lastly, remember to always be faithful to the particularities of your own unique instrument. No great saxophone player was ever born by trying to always make his or her sax sound like a French horn. Although that could be a good exercise…


Dean Brody

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Photo: Katelyn Downs

Brody performs the Norfolk County Fair in Simcoe, ON.

Sprouting Successes From Dirt “I leave in about an hour, so hopefully it’ll clear before then,” Dean Brody tells Canadian Musician from St. John’s, NL in late October, watching the fog roll in while waiting on a flight. It’s Brody’s second trip to the Rock in a month, the first to shoot a video with Great Big Sea for “It’s Friday”, a song from Brody’s latest album, Dirt, on which he collaborated with the band. This time, it’s a short promotional tour – “a real quick trip,” he says. Brody’s own trip – his journey to realizing his dream of making a living in music – has been anything but a short road. Now based on the East Coast, Brody’s dreams have led him back and forth between Nashville and Canada over time and found him facing challenges ranging from having the rug pulled out from under him professionally to having a U.S promotional tour in support of his self-titled debut cut short following a waterskiing accident. They’re topics that Brody spoke to on his 2010 Open Road Recordings debut, Trail In Life – his roots, travels, and struggles. On his follow up, 2012’s Dirt, however, he takes on the ground he’s covered in that time, from the places he remembers fondly from the past on tracks like “Rural Route #3” and “Underneath the Apple Trees” to literally the ground itself on the album’s title track. If Trail In Life was about his roots, this record is about the dirt that covers them. It’s fair to say the demand for this Canadian singer/songwriter and his highly descriptive brand of country is increasing over time, a

By Kevin Young

fact borne out by his success at the 2012 CCMA Awards in Saskatoon, SK, where he racked up nominations in five categories including the Fan’s Choice Award and took home awards for Album and Male Artist of the Year. It was, he says simply, “A good night.” It’s a typical response – understated, humble, and to the point. But then Brody rarely overstates things in conversation or in his music. He has a knack for highly visual lyrics and the ability, with just a few wellchosen words, to create a vivid picture of the setting and characters that populate his songs. As he’s said previously: “When I go to write a song, I see a picture and I write the song from there.” That’s as true of songs ranging from early successes like “Brothers” as it is of songs from his later releases and something that comes naturally to Brody. “I’m very visual when it comes to telling a story or creating a feel or emotion in a song. I see something and that’s what I’m trying to communicate to people in lyrics and with melody.” To some extent, he does that by taking care to ensure his lyrics and melodies remain in context with the overall emotional tone of the song so that every element, from chord structure to lyrical detail, contributes to the overall picture. Equally important to underpinning the emotional context are the details he provides about the physical settings of his songs and the characters who populate them. That’s key to telling a story for Brody. “It’s really important to me as a writer. If the characters aren’t vivid CANADIAN MUSICIAN • [35]


y d o r B n a e D to me, they definitely won’t be vivid to anybody else, so it’s definitely something I concentrate on.” While that’s important when he’s telling a story about himself, it’s even more so when he’s telling someone else’s. “I have to really be close to who they are,” he adds. His ability to offer up as rich a level of detail in songs about others as he does in songs that are more autobiographical is a result of his own level of interest in other people. “I’ve always been fascinated with people; their stories and characters. I’ve just spent two days in Newfoundland – and talk about characters. There are some amazing people up here and they captivate me because they’re different, not trying to be like anybody else.” That’s a quality Brody shares with many of the characters that fascinate him. His own approach to life is characterized by a willingness to take on challenges that to some may seem improbable to surmount. “I’ve always been motivated by things that seemed impossible,” the singer reflects. “It was like that when I was a kid. I wanted to be a punter in the CFL. That was my goal, even though there was no football program within four hours of where I lived. It was something that, in my town, you couldn’t do.” That same approach is what initially prompted the Jaffray, BC-raised singer to head to Nashville and embark on a career as a songwriter. When he arrived, ahead of his family, he recalls standing in his new, empty apartment and thinking, “What have I gotten us into? We don’t know a soul here – not just in Tennessee; in the whole U.S.A.” Upon the move in 2004, he did have a songwriting contract; however, when that contract expired, he couldn’t remain in the U.S. legally. He returned to Music City in 2008 to record his self-titled debut – which did well on both sides of the border and won him a 2009 CCMA Award for Single of the Year – but differences of opinion with his label soon forced him to relocate again, back to Canada. His time in the U.S. and the ups and downs of his career informed his Open Road Recordings debut, Trail In Life, heavily and it continues to have an impact on his songwriting, most notably on the first single from Dirt, “Canadian Girls”, which was the first Canadian country single to hit number one on the Nielsen BDS Canadian Country Singles Chart since 2008 and a contender for 2012 CCMA Awards for Single, Video, and Songwriter of the Year. “We were looking for one more song to round out the record,” Brody recalls of the tune’s origins. “I’d been in the U.S. for six years and Americans are very patriotic people. I thought, ‘Man, you know I’ve heard songs like ‘California Girls’. I wanted to try and write a song about our girls. I just sat down and started thinking, but it was tough, because women are very diverse. How do you write a song that the majority of people can relate to when they’re so diverse?” To get it right Brody ran the song by some of the women in his life and longtime producer, Matt Rovey. “Matt doesn’t know a lot of our ‘Canadianisms’ and he said, ‘You know, I’m going to have to trust you on this one,’ but the women in my life… When I sang it for them, they were like, ‘Yeah, we dig this.’” The challenges Brody has encountered along the way to realizing [36] • CANADIAN MUSICIAN

his dream have also informed his approach to honing his songwriting chops. “It’s really important to keep trying to be inventive, but, in anything we do, we always need to be pushing harder and trying to get better. That’s an important part of any endeavour, musical or not.” That’s led Brody to push the envelope some, to establish a signature style of songwriting that incorporates bluegrass, traditional country, rock, and, at times, a bit of reggae. Going forward Brody would love to write in other genres – rock, pop, bluegrass – for other people, but, even in the songs that he chooses to record, he takes whatever inspiration strikes him for a song and sees it through. “Sometimes I’ll wake up and go, ‘I want to write a song with a train beat.’ So I write it and then the next day I’ll be, ‘Man I want to try to write some kind of an East Coast thing.’” When he first transitioned from the role of being a songwriter to a recording artist, he was actually concerned it might limit his ability to explore different genres. “Sometimes I listen to a cool reggae song and go, ‘I love that groove,’ and then I want to try to write a song in that zone.” Typically, when he starts working on a record, Brody finds himself with songs that inhabit a number of different zones; some have a bluegrass vibe, others more of a Latin feel, and, of course, on Dirt, Country-rock tracks like “Canadian Girls” and the East Coast feel of “It’s Friday”. “And so far my fans have given me a lot of license to be free that way, which I really appreciate.” Perhaps part of the reason they do is the fact that Brody’s songs, although they tap into a variety of genres, are an expression of his own voice as a songwriter almost exclusively. While he does co-write, the majority of his songs are written alone, which is a bit of a rarity in country music. “And I think maybe that the fans, because I write the songs alone, that’s the reason why they do allow me that latitude. Maybe that’s the thing that holds it all together.” Having said that, the approach does have its challenges – first and foremost, finding the time to write during what has become a very, very busy schedule. Fact is, with each record, if it’s successful, you find the time you’d previously used to create reduced substantially by other demands. Not a bad problem to have, admittedly, but one that requires some workflow adjustments. “The windows are getting shorter and shorter. Your first record, you have your whole lifetime to prepare for. The second one, you’ve got about two years but can still draw from the catalogue that was built up over the previous 10-20 years.” For his latest record, finding time to write was difficult, but Dirt is just as compelling as Brody’s previous efforts. Brody’s songwriting process has, by necessity, become more efficient and although he tends to be hard on himself, when he feels a song isn’t going in the direction he wants it to, he’s better able to realize it’s a non-starter and move on. Doing so is a direct result of consistently and constantly developing his writing skills. “Now, I write for my fans, for what they want to hear, but also what I want to hear. When I was a songwriter employed by a publishing


Photo: Katelyn Downs

company in Nashville I was writing for other people, not myself – writing for whoever it is out there that’s really hot. You’re going, ‘Okay, I need to target this person. I need to write this (kind of) song.’ Obviously, it opens up a lot more creativity when you can write for yourself and for your fans.” Brody’s relationship with longtime producer Matt Rovey also plays heavily into the realization of his songs in the studio. “Matt’s a really great communicator and, when it comes to production, I’m not. I know what I want it to sound like, but I don’t know how to get there, how to communicate that to the guitar player or the drummer. He hits the talkback button and in a couple of sentences we’re off and running in the direction that I wanted to go. And he’s a great friend. I can’t imagine doing a record without him now. He’s been there from the start and was one of the first people that believed in me even when others didn’t.” Having a trustworthy sounding board is key for Brody. “You could take a song and sing it for five different people and they’ll give you five different responses and you can start chasing your tail and watering your product – your art – down if you have too many people saying, ‘You should do this or that.’ If you have confidence in one or two people as sounding boards then it takes a lot of the guesswork out. Having an opinion that you trust, it’s crucial.” It’s the same with co-writing. “Working with somebody else in the room that you trust, that’s the first thing for me. You’ve got to be able to open up and share your heart, which can be difficult.” While Brody does a lot of self-editing and is clearly capable of putting songs together on his own, there are benefits to writing with others. Obviously, in a co-write, the burden of finishing the song is shared, which is a benefit, but there’s also inspiration to be found in the moment, in the chemistry between multiple writers and players and in finding synchronicity with another person creatively when ideas hit you out of the blue. “I’m working on a song right now with my guitar player,” Brody says. “We were just driving down the road one day and had this idea and then he started saying, ‘We could go this place in the second chorus and this place in the third verse.’” Regardless of the process, Brody always places an emphasis on capturing the people and places in his songs vividly. Sometimes there are parts of him in the characters. Sometimes the characters are a blend of many different people he’s met. On Dirt, those characters range from a .45-toting lady who picks up a random hitchhiker to share the burden of an all-night drive, to the drop-dead gorgeous toque-wearing girls that populate the Great White North, to the portrait of two generations of family grieving by a riverbank illustrated in “Bob Marley”. That track often comes up in interviews, he says. “People are like, ‘I mean Bob Marley’s reggae and this is country.’ I’ve had a few interviews where people were like, ‘What’s going on?’ But when I was

a kid we listened to an AM radio station, so we heard everything from Anne Murray to AC/DC.” It’s a song that not only speaks to his love of reggae, but his ability to create rich imagery using a lynchpin that might seem odd coming from a country artist. But when Brody sets the scene – a boy and his grandmother sitting by a truck with the doors open and a Bob Marley tune playing, with the line: ‘Me and grandma and Bob Marley’ – the picture is immediately vivid. Beyond that, the amount of detail he includes means you don’t just see the picture in your mind’s eye, but because of the sounds he describes, you can almost hear the scene as well. It immerses the listener in the setting and, regardless of the genre you write within or the music you play, for a songwriter, that’s an important talent to have. As Brody begins to board his plane, he continues to talk about his songs and admits it’s hard to pin down his process – to define where a song comes from and how it gets to where it’s ultimately going lyrically. The track “Flowers in Her Hands” is a good example. It’s a story song, a love song he wrote several years ago that takes in two lives from childhood to life’s end in one go. “Just a sec,” he says, audibly handing his boarding pass to an attendant. “’Flowers in Her Hands’ was like a movie playing in my head. I grew up around a lot of guys – men who are tough and who would never say how they felt, but you knew how they did just by their actions and just by the people they were. I wrote this song about this guy and girl from the time they were kids, showing their love story and then just kind of went from there. I didn’t know how it would actually end.” In fact, the central image that runs through the song, of the girl with the flowers in her hands, wasn’t something he realized was going to be as important to the song as it was until he finished it. With that, Brody has to move on, back to Nova Scotia where, hopefully, he’ll be able to take some time to work on new material. Soon enough he’ll be back on the road, beginning in mid-January with a full Canadian tour starting in Victoria, BC and finishing up on the East Coast with shows in Sydney and Halifax, NS. In March, he’ll head to Australia for CMC Rocks the Hunter 2013 in Hope Estate, Hunter Valley. As enthusiastic as Brody is about songwriting, given his increasingly busy schedule, he doesn’t always have the luxury of waiting for inspiration to hit him. “Songwriting is work,” he says bluntly, work he loves, but work that’s more pleasant to take on when he actually has some breathing room. “That’s when I’m most creative and when I love to write; when I have nothing to do and can just pick up a guitar and start messing around. That’s when I get the most inspired.” n Kevin Young is a Toronto-based musician and freelance writer. CANADIAN MUSICIAN • [37]


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h, how things can change in a single year. In late 2011, no one outside of a select few of Al Spx’s family and friends had ever heard her music. There was no critically acclaimed debut album, no record contract, no international tour, and certainly no Polaris Prize nomination. So for Spx, the driving force behind the one-woman show that is Cold Specks, things have certainly livened up over the past 12 months. For those wondering, no, Spx is not her real name. Even within the music industry, a place where odd is normal, someone using a pseudonym within a pseudonym is rather odd. But with Spx, this is merely a byproduct of her understandable desire for privacy for herself and her family; a wish to keep her personal and public lives rigidly separate. But in the end, all that matters is the music and Spx, under the Cold Specks moniker, created what many believe is one of the best Canadian albums of 2012 in I Predict a Graceful Expulsion. Often referred to as a U.K. artist as that is where she has resided for the past two-plus years, Spx is actually a native of Etobicoke, ON, a borough in west Toronto. As she notes, however, she was never a member of the city’s close-knit music scene. “I didn’t have a clue about it before I left; I wasn’t really part of it as I lived in the suburbs and rarely went out,” says Spx, who throughout the conversation alternates between shy and guarded and funny and open. Instead, she spent her late teens and early 20s at home writing songs and singing by herself, never intending for anyone to hear her creations. Unbeknownst to even those close to her, Spx was writing songs with a depth and emotional honesty that is rarely relayed by such a young songwriter. Behind a closed bedroom door, she was honing a voice that harkens back to gospel greats like Mahalia Jackson while still sounding distinct and fresh. Three years ago, home recordings of some of those songs found their way into the hands of Jim Anderson, an internationally-recognized engineer and producer who has long specialized in the capture of acoustic music, via Anderson’s younger sibling who is a friend to the singer. Long story short, through much cajoling, the producer convinced Spx to come to the U.K. and record an album in April 2010. “The songs that I had written at that time were heavily influenced by music from the south. I was listening to the (Alan) Lomax field recordings, Memphis soul music, and just a handful of music from that region,” she explains. “I guess it just greatly influenced me and sort of seeped into the way I sang and wrote songs.” The 11 songs that make up the 24-year-old’s debut album were written over a four- or five-year span in Spx’s late-teens and early-20s. She explains, “So a song like ‘Hector’ was written shortly before we went into the studio, but ‘Lay Me Down’ is one of the first songs I ever wrote. You can hear quite the contrast between the two, I think.” Working in a professional studio setting presented a significant learning curve for Spx. Before heading to London, she had never played with another musician or even played an electric guitar. “Every song on the record started out as just a lone voice and an acoustic guitar,” she explains. “Over 12 days, the entire sound changed.” Anderson brought in local choirs and musicians of all stripes and multi-instrumentalist Ben Christophers also contributed. “[He] came with a van full of strange instruments; a phonofiddle, a marxophone…” Spx adds. The result was an album of epic scale that, while obviously influenced by American blues, gospel, and soul, is very unique and rich. Despite her obvious gifts as a songwriter and singer, Spx didn’t consider music as a professional pursuit until she began recording in London. “I was there for a bit and realized I didn’t want to go back and work in a call centre; I wanted to finish the record and attempt to get on a label, tour, and make a living that way,” she reveals before adding, “It’s just that, to be honest with you, I wasn’t very good at anything else. I enjoyed doing it so I decided to try and make a career out of it. I think I’ve done well.” There is a euphemism. Unsigned when she finished recording I Predict a Graceful Expulsion, the album garnered the attention of Canadian imprint

[38] • CANADIAN MUSICIAN

Arts & Crafts, which signed Cold Specks in November 2011 and made her a peer of acts like Feist, Dan Mangan, Timber Timbre, and a host of others. Over the course of 2012, the ever-critical British music press would declare Spx one of the best voices in music. She had a much-publicized appearance on Later… with Jools Holland, toured Europe and North America, and, perhaps most impressively, was short-listed for the Polaris Music Prize, which is awarded each year to the best Canadian album based “solely on artistic merit.” (Fellow A&C artist Feist took home the prize.) Despite the success and the hectic schedule that comes with it, Spx isn’t resting. With the few weeks of downtime in Toronto she had in December, she began demoing songs for her next album. The success hasn’t just changed her career outlook, but it has also, in two major ways, changed the music she writes. Critics and fans have regularly commented on the very honest and personal nature of her lyrics; however, as Spx notes, when she wrote those songs, she had never expected anyone to hear them – let alone audiences of thousands, if not millions, around the world. “I’ve been writing more playful songs and nothing really seems to have anything to do with me. I’ve been there, done that, don’t want to do it again,” she says with a slight laugh of her current output. She adds that knowing many, many people will be paying close attention from now on has been on her mind.“I know I shouldn’t be really thinking about what other people are going to think and if other people are going to enjoy it or not, but I’m forced to think that way and it’s only natural to think that way.” The other difference between writing for her debut and the songs Spx is currently composing is that she now has a band. For someone who had never played with another musician prior to tracking her debut, writing songs with an entire band in mind changes the process drastically. “I understand who they are as musicians and, when I write now, I think of their parts and I think of what they’re going to bring to the table,” she explains of her collaborators. Though much of her success originated in the U.K., she doesn’t seem particularly attached to London or its artistic scene. Currently without a permanent home anywhere, a return to Canada isn’t out of the question. “I was only [in London] not because of the scene, but more because of the people I’d met. To be honest with you, the east London scene is a bit obnoxious,” she says unapologetically. “I lived there and saw a lot of ridiculous things. Especially in east London, there’s no real talent, it’s just all about being trendy and I don’t want anything to do with it.” With a fair bit of uncertainty regarding what is ahead musically, personally, or otherwise, Spx seems unfazed by the whirlwind year she just finished or by the attention and expectations that lie ahead. After a string of January shows in Germany, the real work will begin on the sophomore album. “I probably will get straight back into it again. I enjoy doing, it but it also pays the bills,” she says of her art. “I have no reason to complain and take a break; I need to just keep going.” n

d l o C Michael Raine is the Assistant Editor of Canadian Musician.

By Michael Raine


Photo: Autumn de Wilde

s k c e p dS

CANADIAN MUSICIAN • [39]


By Andrew King

R

egardless of how you choose to define “Canadian hip-hop” – its sound, its story, its ideals – Toronto-based lyricist and producer Rich Kidd is entrenched in it, simultaneously one of its deepest admirers and most committed ambassadors. To some, even to those seemingly hip to modern hip-hop, the name may seem unfamiliar; however, that’s likely not the case for his product. Entering the game in a big way in 2009 when the iconic Busta Rhymes rapped over one of his beats, Kidd has since gone on to produce tracks for a who’s who of the Canadian and international hip-hop communities. Couple his production talents with his potency as an MC, lyrics laced with poise and punch, and the result is an artist whose face could easily grace the flag of Canadian hiphop as it’s marched forward into the future. Contrasting with the swagger with which he spits on some of his more impactful verses, in conversation, Kidd is notably casual and welcoming of an open discourse – especially when it involves the scene that nurtured his early aspirations. “When I was coming up at first, I didn’t know as a young’un the difference between these different scenes; it was all the same to me,” he says, recalling the time when he began to recognize the roots of the artists whose music he so eagerly absorbed. He continues: “But when I found these artists like Saukrates, Karidnal (Offishall), Maestro, k-os, who were all coming up on Rap City, they gave me some confidence to be proud of where I come from and where this music comes from.” While the country has certainly produced its share of standout hip-hop artists over the last three decades, the absence of an identifiable sound or communal identity is an oft-debated topic related to the Canadian hip-hop scene, or that of any city contained within its borders. Whereas cities like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and even smaller centres like Atlanta and Detroit have long been spawning strings of artists unified beneath their urban banners, that’s never been the case anywhere north of the 49th.

[40] • CANADIAN MUSICIAN

“I’ve always felt it’s a population kinda thing,” Kidd muses, clarifying that it not only relates to the population density of a given centre, but also its urban identity as well as its proximity to other cities that might catch fire from the spark of a nearby community. “It’s about how many people you have willing to invest in a community. Toronto has a lot of supporters, but it’s never been enough to match what’s happening in the U.S.” But that never deterred the artists Kidd followed during his formative years, and it certainly isn’t deterring him. “There’s a behemoth of an industry down south and a lot of people think that’s where you have to go to make money,” he says, “but I want to build a foundation here first.” And he’s well underway. With strong roots planted in the Ridgeway neighbourhood of Toronto, Kidd laces his lyrics with plenty of love for his hometown; however, his commitment extends beyond what comes through the speakers. The product of some inner-city youth programs, Kidd spends a lot of his time at the LOFT (Life Opportunities Food and Technology) Youth Centre for Social Enterprise and Innovation – a facility in T.O.’s Jane and Finch community that provides opportunities for marginalized youth to develop the skills needed for employment and educational success. “They gave me a huge boost to my confidence,” Kidd says of initiatives like The Remix Project, a program that immerses at-risk youth in the arts and other creative pursuits of which he was once a part. “They provide a home and inspiration for a new legion of artists that are going to come through. It’s important to have channels where these kids can try to make something of themselves. I feel like these kinds of places can be a breeding ground for this scene.” And Kidd has quite literally taken to the record in support of that ethos, having several young artists he encounters at


Canadian Hip-Hop’s Prolific Prodigy the facility add their talents to his far-reaching We On Some Rich Kidd Shit mixtape series, putting their names alongside those of Drake, k-os, and Saukrates, to name just a few. “I just want to give ‘em a chance to shine,” he says. “To show ‘em the importance of hard work and putting yourself totally into what you do.”

It wasn’t that long ago, after all, that the artist himself was penning verses and tinkering away on his PC in beat creation suite FL Studio (then known better as the oft-pirated FruityLoops). And if it’s a poor workman that blames his tools, it’s a master that continually resorts to his humble wares to create his art. “You’d think the set-up would have changed over all those years, especially with all the new technology that keeps dropping, but mine has stayed the exact same,” he says – still relying on the same software, albeit newer versions, and still uncovering new functionality on the regular. When it comes to beats, the man has an extraordinarily musical ear. His style is one of remarkable smoothness, anchored by subtle and succinct rhythms and employing rather lush arrangements that often borrow from smooth jazz or vintage R&B. His attention to detail is made even more apparent in the fact that he usually has studio musicians organically record the samples he manipulates, from percussive hits to violin passages and everything in between. As for his output as an MC, Kidd is still at work promoting The Closers record – a project with Vancouver-based artist SonReal released midOctober 2012 through Black Box Music that showcases both sides of his musical coin – while also working on an upcoming solo release, due out in the summer of 2013. That project, which will feature beats from collaborators like Arthur McArthur (Drake, Dr. Dre), Big Pops (Lil Wayne, Ice Cube), and Saukrates (Drake, Method Man) alongside his own, is taking Kidd back beyond Ridgeway to his Ghanaian roots. “I wanted to use a lot of different instruments and samples from that part of the world – bongos, congas…,” he offers. “I’m headed to Africa in [2013] and want to work with a lot of musicians while I’m over there. I want all of that infused with the more soulful sounds I’m used to providing.” Explaining the inspiration behind the journey, he borrows from the popular adage – “You’ve got to know where you came from to know who you’re going to be,” he says, “and I want to keep figuring out who I am as an artist.” The inquiry as to how his Canadian roots will sonically factor into the release revisits the discussion of the lack of an apparent national identity when it comes to hip-hop. “We’re still trying to define what the Canadian sound is,” he says. “Our people and our music are so eclectic here that it’s hard to find that single identity.” Perhaps it’s more apparent in his lexicon, he suggests. “The vernacular we use is what my friends and I like to call ‘Torontois’ (a portmanteau of Toronto and Patois). I try to put a lot of that in my music because it’s true to me. My story telling is usually centred in Toronto; everything about me is Toronto.” A contender for the most prolific artist in hip-hop, Kidd has a lot happening in 2013. In addition to work on his upcoming solo release, he’s set to drop a new edition of his Kiddstrumentals series, a project with Adam Bomb and Tona called Natural Born Strangers, production for releases by Saigon, Saukrates, and Jay Electronica, and even the debut of a short film he directed. “There’s definitely more, but I have a bad memory,” he says with a laugh. “I’m just trying to keep busy, spitting and keeping my name in the spotlight. It’s working hard that’s going to keep me in the game – and not just throwing stuff out there; it’s about quality shit.” So while there may not be one true and tangible sound of Toronto, Ontario, or Canada – and may never be – if anyone has a chance of revealing or defining it, it’s this Kidd. n

Andrew King is the Editor of Canadian Musician.


ast Photo: Todd Ke

It’s a warm fall day. In a small office in downtown Toronto, the windows are wide open and the sounds of the city drift in from the streets below. Down the hall, a songwriter seeks out a vocal melody while strumming a simple chord progression on a guitar. In this room, however, not much creating is taking place. Around a wooden desk littered with CDs and half-finished lunches sit two denim-clad members of the rock group Flash Lightnin’; lanky singer and guitarist Darren Glover noodles on an acoustic guitar while bassist Darcy Yates strokes his beard and ponders the silence. It’s about 4 p.m., day three in a weeklong writing session, and the boys are beat. The door flies open and in walks Gavin Brown. With a client list that includes Billy Talent, Three Days Grace, Sarah Harmer, Metric, The Tragically Hip, and many more, Brown is one of Canada’s most successful and sought-after record producers. Dressed in black trousers, a flannel shirt, and sporting a gnarly beard, the multi-platinum, multi-Juno Award-winning producer hits the room like a shot of vodka on an empty stomach; suddenly everyone is catching a buzz. Record producers are strange cats. Look at Phil Spector. He’s currently serving 19 years to life for the 2003 shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson. But before that, he pioneered the “wall of sound” – an often-imitated, lush, and overdub heavy production style that defined the sound of the ’60s. Rumour has it the wigwearing producer would show up to sessions in lavish costumes and elicit classic takes from the likes of The Ramones, John Lennon, and Leonard Cohen at gunpoint. Goes to show you, when it comes to making hit records, there is no guidebook. Indeed, ask 10 producers what it is that they do, and you might get 20 different answers. Making a record is like catching lightning in a bottle. It’s a mystical journey through dark valleys to the peak of the world’s tallest mountain, but as you’ll see, with a producer as your guide, there are many routes to the top.

A Producer Pulls The Strings

By his own admission, Gavin Brown is the world’s only 40-year-old [42] • CANADIAN MUSICIAN

ABOVE: Darren Glover (left) & Darcy Yates of Flash Lightnin’. RIGHT: Gavin Brown at Toronto’s Revolution Recording.

teenager. You get the feeling he could outlast the Energizer Bunny, and his intensity is contagious. “He just gives you an energy. It’s like he vibrates on this higher creative level, and you just feed on it,” says Glover. “It’s like he creates those Oprah ‘a-ha’ moments.” Name dropping the queen of the touchy-feely daytime talk show isn’t very rock and roll, but those moments of discovery are the very reason Flash Lightnin’ hired Brown to produce its sophomore record. With a sound that owes as much to The White Stripes and The Black Keys as AC/DC and ZZ Top, Flash Lightnin’ is a super-charged boogie band for a modern era. The trio’s tunes conjure images of loose women who dine on the hearts of men and drifters drinking straight from the bottle while speeding down a dusty highway in a hemi-powered Plymouth Road Runner. The band’s eponymous theme song “Flash Lightnin’” has appeared in recent films such as Thor, Lawless, Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows, and the upcoming Schwarzenegger vehicle, The Last Stand. But despite these high-profile placements, mainstream success remains elusive. Nevertheless, Glover knows there is a market for his band’s brand of high-voltage rock and roll, and he’s ready to make the jump to that next level. That’s where Gavin Brown comes in. “Every band he’s worked with that has found success, he was heavily involved with and pulled some strings,” Glover says. “He knows how to make a band realize its potential.”

…Knows A Good Song

Brown has a knack for connecting artists with larger audiences. He was instrumental in launching the successful careers of both Billy Talent and Three Days Grace, and he produced Metric’s Fantasies, the record that helped transform the indie-darlings into stadiumrocking pop stars. But whether working with an established or


Photo: Joe Dunphy Photo: Joe Dunphy

Photo: Todd Keast

By Lonny Knapp

brand new artist, he starts at square one. “Content is king,” he says. “We always work on songs first.” To inject a commercial sensibility into Flash Lightnin’s brand of boozy rock and roll, Brown enlisted Simon Wilcox. A multiplatinum Canadian singer-songwriter who spends much of her time in Los Angeles, Wilcox has logged co-writes with the likes of The Kooks, The Trews, Jully Black, and even Paris Hilton. Back in that office in Toronto, she sits, wearing a well-worn tee with her dark-haired tied back, quietly editing lyrics on her MacBook. On this day, Glover debuts a straight-ahead rock tune tentatively titled “One Pill”. “Really fucking great,” Brown exclaims as Glover strums through the changes. Brown has had a hand in crafting many hit songs; still, he doesn’t fancy himself a songwriter. He’s more of an editor, or a sculptor that chips unneeded chunks from a slab of granite until the statue hidden inside it appears. He doesn’t pull punches. “That sucks” he says when Wilcox offers up a melody for a bridge. “Guitar solos can suck my balls,” he cries at the suggestion of a guitar solo. Brown co-wrote the hit “I Hate Everything About You” with Three Days Grace singer Adam Gontier; he uses that track to illustrate his approach to song writing. “We talk about being direct, being focused, and having a singular idea. If a song is about red, it’s not about yellow and purple. It’s about going to the extreme to cause an audience reaction,” he says. “It’s not, ‘I kind of dislike a few things about you.’ Know what I mean?”

… Is A Mind Reader

Owner of Montreal’s Planet Studios, Daniel Cinelli has twiddled knobs for the likes of Prince, The Arcade Fire, and The Fugees. Canadian Musician caught up with him as he was putting the finishing touches on the sophomore record from crossover jazz artist Nikki Yanofsky. “I’ve been working with Nikki since she was 13 years old, and

I’ve watched her grow,” he says. “At some point something clicked and she hit another level. Vocally, musically, and as a songwriter, she is incredible.” At just 18 years old, Montreal-born Yanofsky is already an international recording star. Considered a jazz prodigy, she was also 13 when she became the youngest artist to record for the prestigious Verve record label. Since then, she’s worked with the likes of Quincy Jones and Herbie Hancock and received accolades from Tony Bennett, who hailed her as “the most talented singer since Judy Garland.” Her full-length debut, 2010’s Nikki, burned up charts around the world and is courting platinum status here in Canada. Not a bad resume from someone too young to legally enjoy a glass of wine in most of the venues in which she performs. Some artists her age seem packaged, processed, and manufactured for mass consumption, but Yanofsky has maturity that belies her age; she knows exactly who she is and how she wants to be received. “I want to bring jazz to a new generation. There’s a stigma that it’s an old-person’s genre, but I’m 18 and I love it. On this record, I’m going for a more retro sound. I don’t know how to achieve that sonically, but Dan is helping me get that sound out of my head and on to the record,” says Yanofsky. “On the Sunny Side of the Street / Fool In the Rain,” the amazing mash-up of Led Zeppelin and a jazz staple from her selftitled debut, exemplifies her desire to flip the script. This time out, Yanofsky is chasing a sound that is simultaneously modern and vintage. The preview tracks sound like Amy Winehouse’s classic Back to Black with a heavier jazz influence. To realize the artist’s vision, Cinelli turned back the clocks. “On this album, Nikki wants a vintage ‘50s sound, so I’m using old RCA microphones, choosing room mics over close mics, and tracking all the beds to analog tape,” he explains. He tracked most of the performances live off the floor and has avoided postCANADIAN MUSICIAN • [43]


production computer editing wherever possible. Having musicians work without a net secured some inspiring performances. “When we tell the musicians we are tracking live to tape, the attitude changes completely. When you hit record and the artist hears the tape running, they approach the performance differently. They step up. I’m really happy we’ve made that choice,” Cinelli says. Yanofsky and Cinelli have worked together for many years and have come to trust and respect each other. Cinelli says that when working with talent like Yanofsky, his job is to simply capture those magical moments. “The more records I do and the better I get at my craft, I realize it’s about the basics; it’s about the songs and capturing great performances,” Cinelli says. “Working with someone like Nikki is an honour. I’m not manufacturing anything for her; she brings so much to the table. It’s my job to get it on the record.”

… A Member Of The Band

While some Beatlemaniacs could argue that Pete Best or Stuart Sutcliffe deserve the title of “Fifth Beatle, ” that honour belongs to producer George Martin. Save for Phil Spector’s work on Let it Be, Martin produced every Beatles recording from the first single, “Love Me Do”, to the last album, Abbey Road. It’s hard to imagine the four lads from Liverpool realizing their psychedelic vision without Martin’s guidance as both producer and arranger. In that same way, you could consider Gavin Brown a behindthe-scenes member of Flash Lightnin’ – not only because he and the band share a love of ZZ Top and sport matching facial hair, but also because he’s playing drums on the record. “I approach each record by getting to know the individuals in each collective and figuring out what the strengths and the weaknesses are,” he explains. In this case the drummer, or lack thereof, was an issue. Flash Lightnin’ have long struggled in that department. Since forming in 2007, the band has burned through two full-time members. Flash Lightnin’ is a trio, but Glover and Yates are the only full-time members. “We’ve had Spinal Tap moments in the drummer’s seat. There’s a flash of green light and they are gone, only a little green globule left on the throne,” Glover jokes in his best Nigel Tufnel. Before signing on to produce the album, Brown insisted that he lay down the drum tracks. Maybe he worried that a drummer would blow up in the studio or die in some better-not-explained gardening accident halfway through a session. More likely is that Brown knows he can deliver the type of performances the album needs. Before he was a hit-making producer, Brown laid down the groove for punk band Phleg Camp and later Big Sugar. More recently he filled in with The Sadies when the band opened for Neil Young on the rock icon’s latest stadium tour. Jamming with Flash Lightnin’ seems to have rekindled an old passion. “I stopped playing music because I couldn’t find anyone I wanted to play with,” he says. “I wish I had found these guys 15 years ago.”

…Is A Partner

Troy Samson is the Vancouver-based producer, songwriter, and cofounder of Hipjoint Music, a collective of urban-music producers, artists, and songwriters. He has worked with big names like Kelly Rowland and Kreesha Turner, but more often, he works with independent artists on tight budgets. For those sessions, he often ends up producing engineering, programming, and playing all of [44] • CANADIAN MUSICIAN

Nikki Yanofsky

Daniel Cinelli

the instruments. He grew up idolizing Prince, Paul McCartney, and Lenny Kravitz, talented solo artists that played all of the instruments on self-produced recordings. Like his heroes, he’s a jack-of-all-trades. “There is a beauty in having a band: the telepathy of musicians cooperating and working together, but I’m used to being the band,” he explains. Some producers mould and shape young artists into musicians created in their own image. Samson, however, says he strives for transparency and encourages his clients to find their own voice. “I see it as a partnership. If it’s a younger artist, they may think I have all the answers, but of course I don’t,” he says. “The truth is a good producer asks more questions than gives answers.” Take Vancouver-based singer and songwriter Stef Lang for example. Samson discovered her when she was just 17 years old. At that time, he recognized the young singer’s talent, but there was a problem; she couldn’t afford to hire him as a producer and


Photo: Craig Nisperos

Lang has worked with the likes of Hawksley Workman, Rob Wells (Backstreet Boys, Cyndi Lauper), and electro band Delerium, but collaboration left her feeling somewhat diluted. So when it came time to work on her next album, Lang decided to go it alone. The 23-year-old wrote and self-produced her aptly named and recently released sophomore effort, Self, in her home studio. “When I worked with a producer, the song would end up sounding like them. It would be their sound with my voice and lyrics on top. I would collect all these song from different cowriting sessions and the record would sound like a compilation; there was no consistency,” she asserts. “It didn’t really sound like me. The only way to sound 100 per cent like me was to do everything myself. On this record, I really claim my identity.”

…Gives You Wings

Troy Samson

Photo: Allen Douglas

Stef Lang

he was too busy to work for free. Instead, he gave her the keys to the kingdom. “I told her she could use the studio anytime I wasn’t there. She was recording herself all within a month,” Samson explains. Lang’s first commercially produced full-length album, The Underdog, was recorded at Hipjoint’s in-house studio and features tracks including the hit single “Mr. Immature,” produced and cowritten by Samson. During those sessions, Lang would have basic tracks mapped out on the sequencer and Samson would go in and add the finishing touches and flourishes. “Stef is a producer in her own right, and in a way, it was like a I was producing a remix,” he explains. “It was very much a team effort.” In the urban music world, artists often release an album of songs harvested from a slew of co-writing sessions. In the past,

Modern technology has made it possible for anyone with a decent computer to produce studio-quality recordings from the comfort of home. Self-producing your record is certainly cost-effective, but homemade records rarely, if ever, turn out as well as those produced with a professional. And there’s a reason for that. The successful record producer is equal parts cheerleader, psychiatrist, drill sergeant, alchemist, and witch doctor. A great producer can push an artist to believe they can achieve more than they thought was possible. In the early days, Flash Lightnin’ maintained a long-running and popular residency at Toronto’s Dakota Tavern. Members of Broken Social Scene, Metric, The Beauties, Billy Talent, and other alt-rock scensters would swing by the basement waterhole to down shots of tequila and bask in Glover’s fearsome proficiency on the guitar as his band blasted through a set of obscure classic rock covers. “He was playing ZZ Top songs, but everyone thought they were his songs,” Brown recalls. In those days, Brown says he enjoyed the band but didn’t have a burning desire to produce an indie-rock cover band. Luckily, other capable producers stepped up. Billy Talent guitarist Ian D’Sa produced the bands EP, Destello, and Metric’s Jimmy Shaw helmed their full-length eponymous debut. The strength of those recordings and the band’s killer live show earned Flash Lightnin’ opening slots for the likes of Eagles of Death Metal, Metric, and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, and accolades from the man himself – ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons. But that success has only made Glover hungry for more. “Basically, we want to be the biggest rock band in the world,” he says bluntly. It’s this desire to take on the world that attracted Gavin Brown to the project. “Darren’s commitment to excellence is outstanding. If he didn’t want to fill stadiums, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing songs with him,” Brown says. Back in the office in Toronto, the writing session is winding down. Glover dials up some rough album tracks on his laptop. There are no vocals and it’s just a board mix, but a robust sound emerges; the bass, guitar, and drums in perfect syncopation churning forward like a runaway locomotive. Even through the tiny laptop speakers, the tracks sound huge. I ask Brown how he achieved the killer sounds, and his eyes glaze over. His definition of producer is simply “someone who produces results.” He simply wants to make a record that defines the artist and affects the listener. You get the sense that for him, all the same stuff that makes us tech geeks quiver – tube preamps and compressors, analog tape machines, and vintage guitars and amplifiers – is just poppycock. “It’s not my goal to make a great sounding record; my goal is to make a successful record,” he says as he bounces a tennis ball off the office wall and catches it again. ”We are going to deliver a great record. Does it really matter how?” n Lonny Knapp is a Toronto-based freelance writer and plays guitar and mandolin for Freeman Dre and the Kitchen Party. CANADIAN MUSICIAN • [45]


Music Evolves

CM’s 2013 Music Education Special

At

By Kristian Partington

the beating heart of humanity, music pulses. I imagine the first heartbeat I ever heard planted the seeds of rhythmic concepts in my mind, and I expect a consensus of conventional wisdom out there states that in every human being born, the seeds are similar, for the steady time kept by the lifeblood of all mothers of the earth is passed to each of us. I like to think we’re all born holding an innate appreciation of music and the potential to take that initial primal beat to which we were first exposed and, with a little shaping, unleash limitless potential upon the world of music. CANADIAN MUSICIAN • [49]


Music Evolves

I had the rare opportunity to speak with Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield in early December, mere weeks before he left Earth to live and work aboard the International Space Station (ISS). He spoke about the roots of music in his life and in the history of mankind. An accomplished musician who pours the same passion into music as he does training for space travel, Hadfield agrees that the art of music is an instinctual blessing common among all people of all times. He reflected upon a trip to Southern France last Christmas when he and his family visited the ancient Lascaux caves where, 20,000 years ago, people lived and made music upon basic instruments discovered alongside Paleolithic paintings on the cave walls. “People needed to express themselves with music, even then, so to me music is a primal necessity for humanity,” Hadfield says. “Music is something basic to the human soul; the necessity to express ourselves beyond the limitations of words.”

When he played in a Celtic band where beats were always lively and the pace never failed to inspire the need to move in time, the primal connection to music was vivid. “What amazes me is seeing little kids – 18 months old – who can’t talk yet and don’t really know what music is, but when a good beat comes, when we’re playing a good solid Celtic tune, they can’t help but get up and dance,” Hadfield says. “It’s subconscious.” But how do we access that primal instinct and potential and build upon it, and what is the initial spark that allows simple appreciation for music to become determination to do something more than listen? Hadfield has teamed with Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies in partnership with CBC Radio, the Coalition for Music Education (CME), and the Canadian Space Agency for a project to spark new appreciation for the power of music and the importance of music education. Robertson and Hadfield will

co-write a song together over the coming months while the ISS orbits Earth at 350 km, drawing upon inspiration few people will ever know. In his time of relaxation under a blanket of stars so close he could touch them, he’ll stare down upon the home we share and, using the space station’s in-house Larrivee guitar, Hadfield will record his emotions and thoughts through music. Before the launch, he’d been doing a little pre-writing with his son and brother. He explains: “So when I get up there I can use the muse of the place and the inspiration of the place to finish those songs.” The one he’s co-writing with Robertson, “I.S.S. (Is Somebody Singing)”, is the official CME Music Monday song. On the first Monday in May, Hadfield will sing from space with Robertson on the ground, joined by a high school choir and youth from across the country. It’s the threads of song spanning generations and atmospheres; the beating heart of our humanity drawing us together in an ever more creative fashion. “To me, music transcends language,” Hadfield says. “I think my hope for this is we can tap into that fundamental human reaction and need for music and use that to help tell the story of this tremendous human experience.”

lendar

Mark Music Monday On Your Ca er, more “Music makes our lives richer, broad Education complete,” says Coalition for Music Nimmons, (CME) Executive Director Holly the same at her toget dians Cana and bringing Monday moment to sing the same song on Music our lives. is a celebration of what music brings to of “Learning music enriches our sense s mind our s open and n, inatio imag beauty and she says. to diver se perspectives and thinking,” This year, the perspective will come from above earth as Canadian astronaut Chris km 350 song he’s Hadfield performs the Music Monday aked co-writing with Ed Robertson of the Baren n, along Ladies from the International Space Statio across the with Robertson and young Canadians EST. p.m. 1 at , 2013 6, May country on “Chris was a young farm boy who to walk became an astronaut, the first Canadian er of mand Com dian Cana first the and space in really he and n, Statio e Spac nal the Internatio ons. values music in his life,” explains Nimm er, “Ed is a multiple JUNO Award winn is also who ian music and , actor r, write song other an avid flyer. These men respect each

c song and together have produced a terrifi from the that will be sung across Canada and International Space Station. “That is inspiring.” The coalition’s mandate is to build ing music, awareness about the value of learn rt of a she says, and by leveraging the suppo continues range of Canadian artists, the CME ers that to drive the point home to policy-mak dian Cana in place a have must music education communities. nal “We are strengthening a natio building a by ation educ music for ment move ons. voice that cannot be ignored,” says Nimm ard to Her hopes are many as she looks forw weeks the release of the song in March and the day. Mon c Musi to up ng leadi , to follow ed “I hope that young people will be inspir ons. to believe in their own potential,” says Nimm better “I hope that decision-makers will for all has music ing learn r powe the d understan ls. schoo our in this ort supp young people and the “We want them to acknowledge .” galvanizing force that music can have

Chris Hadfield


Holly Nimmons of the CME.

And if more people are turned on to the idea of picking up an instrument or are inspired to share their voice, then all the better.

F

or me, inspiration was ignited one of the first times I saw my friend, Josh Gontier, play Van Morrison’s “Moondance” on a simple acoustic guitar with that unique style of his, which has served him well in the 20 years since as a professional musician. I’d always been exposed to music and knew Van Morrison as well as Jim and the Doors, or Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Neil Young, or Pearl Jam; yet while other friends of mine were starting garage bands or excelling in the Dixieland band that travelled from our small Ontario high school to win competitions all over North America, it wasn’t until that night watching Josh keep bass time with his thumb while strumming rhythm with his fingers on the upswing that I decided I wanted to play guitar. I did little to pursue this interest as months and even years went by, but the spark was ignited and kept flickering each time I sang around a bonfire alongside a more musical friend. I would play a guitar at that fire one day, I promised myself, and the flames began to smolder once I stepped upon a plane with a few close friends to see how far $1,200 would take us in the beaches and jungles of Southeast Asia. Josh had his guitar, as did his brother, Cale. If I couldn’t learn guitar on this trip, then it would never happen. But I quickly discovered learning this guitar thing doesn’t happen through magic. Time, patience, and perseverance are the foundation, as is the basic structure a teacher can provide.  At the beginning of the trip, I had no time for this.

Beer in Indonesia was cheaper than milk and at 19, I’d never been outside the country, so beaches filled with young travellers from across the globe occupied much of my mind while the aspects of new culture captured most of what remained. But I distinctly recall Josh sitting atop a rocky outcrop in the Pacific Ocean on the North Shore of Oahu, only days into the adventure, strumming his guitar and recording vocals into a small tape recorder. What he created would later shape the base of what little musical ability I have today and allow Cale to take his guitar ability to a new level upon which he continues to build today as a professional. When Cale and I parted from the group a couple months later bound for Australia – Cale with his Yamaha acoustic and me with the Cort I’d spent the last of my money on in Bangkok – the “Caley Helpy Learny Tape” Josh made on the Hawaiian shoreline would help us both find new paths to music. 

S

o, learning the guitar isn’t magic, but the instrument is. Chris Hadfield recalled a train ride through Europe where he met a fellow guitar player from Portugal and connected through song where language placed barriers, and I saw the same thing happen time and again throughout Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. A guitar passed around among friends carries respect, and the music of Bob Marley is an instant connector in every corner of the globe. If my mother passed along my first initial sense of rhythm with the beating of her heart, she also instilled a love of the guitar when she’d play a Liona Boyd album while making Italian food on a Saturday night. CANADIAN MUSICIAN • [51]


Music Evolves Photo: Aleata Gontier

Boyd breathes magic into a guitar through the tips of her fingers, and I remember how, through song, she could make me, as a small boy, feel the power of loss and love. I spoke with Boyd the day after she performed in Peterborough in early December, one of a steady stream of concerts taking her around the world at a feverish pace. I never shared my connection to her music, though; we weren’t talking about the past, but the present and a future that, for the world-renowned classical guitarist, is as exciting as could be. She has reinvented herself in the past few years as a singer and songwriter tapping into the poetic artistry she was born with, but never truly explored. Diagnosed with Musician’s Focal Dystonia in 2003, Boyd was forced to take a break from the stage, put down the guitar, and reassess all she’d known in a life of music. She was told she’d never play the guitar again, for her brain would no longer properly send the magic to her fingertips, and the style she’d crafted through an illustrious career faltered. She had to reinvent her technique entirely by learning to play with a pick and in the process she allowed other aspects of music to come forth in waves. “Singing is always something I secretly wanted to do,” Boyd says. “This is just life coming full circle; it’s been my destiny to be a songwriter.”

In 2009, she returned to the stage with prowess and has barely slowed. She’s currently recording a new CD called The Return…to Canada with Love, featuring the power of instrumental sweep and the contributions of some of Canada’s most recognizable musical talents. Recording in-studio with the likes of Randy Bachman, Jann Arden, Dan Hill, or Serena Ryder allows Boyd to grow in her music through the knowledge each new person brings to the microphone. “It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me in my life,”

Josh Gontier (right), with brother Cale of Art of Dying, addressing a high school guitar club.

Chris Altmann

[52] • CANADIAN MUSICIAN

she says, thinking of where she was shortly after she had to put the guitar down to where she is today. “It’s a real lesson; you think of some tragedy on your life, your life’s ruined and you can’t play, and it’s ended up being the best thing ever – a great blessing. “The ones that survive in any form of art are the people that can keep recreating themselves and not get stuck in any rut.” Music by its very nature must continually evolve, and it does so from the first seeds planted in the young. If those seeds harbour a classical influence, then no constraints will stand in front of where that music can go. “I love when kids come to my concerts, because you never know how a concert changes their life,” Boyd says. In terms of inspiring youth, she points to a unique program in Venezuela, El Sistema, which puts classical instruments into the hands of some of the most impoverished children in the country. Its founder, Dr. Jose Abreu, was recognized in Canada in 2008 when he was awarded the Eighth Glenn Gould Prize. “It’s the only country in the world that has so many youth orchestras, and it completely changes these kids’ lives,” Boyd says, noting the renowned conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel, is a product of the Venezuelan system. An instrument in the hands of a young person puts untold opportunity at their fingertips, and classical music satisfies our souls in some ways pop music just doesn’t, Boyd adds.


“Music just enriches our lives in myriad ways,” she says, and the key is to never stop learning and to be flexible in where music can take you. “The most successful people in life are not the strongest or the smartest but the ones that are open to change, the ones that can adapt.”

W

hen I think about the art of music as it weaves inside a driven player, I think back to my time in the outback of Australia’s Northern Territory, where Cale and I landed work as gardeners and maintenance men at a tourist farm. It was off-season, so tourists were few and when our day’s work was done, we’d sit in the open hall under the onslaught of the wet season’s continual storms, and we learned guitar. My fingers bled as he taught me “Moondance”, and the first song I learned to both play and sing was The Tragically Hip’s irreverent “Wheat Kings”. Cale would leave me to practice and he’d venture to a quiet area to listen to Josh’s intricate explanations on the tape. He mastered Stevie Ray Vaughan guitar licks and Hendrix riffs, and when we eventually returned to Canada, he was twice the player he’d been and I could keep up around the bonfires. Today, from Australia, I find new ways to be impressed when I consider the work of Chris Altmann, a bluegrass inspired, southern

Liona Boyd

CANADIAN MUSICIAN • [53]


Music Evolves

rock jack-of-all trades who grew up in the green hills of South Australia before moving to Melbourne, where he crafted a nice niche in the market. If I think Nana Mouskouri or Liona Boyd when I think of my mother, I think of Merle Haggard or old-school Kenny Rogers when I think of my father, and the first time Altmann sat around my fire, shortly after marrying a friend of mine who grew up just down the road, his ability to capture the essence of 1970s Southern Americana was stark. My father fell in love. Altmann does it all – guitar, banjo, drums, pedal steel – and his wide vocal range sets the stage for his musical growth. He’s a sought-after session musician when he’s not supporting his own two albums, and during his recent Australian tour, he was able to speak about what music education means to

him his first gig in a band. Playing and co-writing with others is the best way to evolve, Altmann says, so whether he’s in one of his Canadian homes, his old haunts Down Under, or in Nashville, collaboration is a key to growth. “The broader your musical knowledge, the more you can draw from to form your own sound and capabilities, so I think having many sources of mentorship is important,” he says. “As long as you feel like you’re expressing yourself creatively and you’re getting your message across, you’ll never get bored.” He’ll seek out a teacher if he decides to pursue a new technique, and there’s nothing that can beat the simple access technology offers through YouTube or other instructional platforms, he says.

Go Figure

CM recently polled musicians from across the country to get the scoop on their music education habits and preferences: How important is music education in your progression as a player? Very important. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52.57% Somewhat important . . . . . . . . . . . 30.29% Not very important . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9.14% Not important . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.29% No answer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.14%

Photo: Andreas Hornoff

In which of the following educational pursuits do you most frequently partake? Clinics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.29% One-on-one lessons. . . . . . . . . . . . 16.57% Group lessons/school classes. . . . . . 1.14% Post-secondary music programs. . . . 6.86% Workshops/seminars . . . . . . . . . . . 18.86% Online/YouTube lessons. . . . . . . . . 20.57% Magazines/books. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15.43% DVDs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.29% Other . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.57% No answer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5.71%

ABOVE: Protest the Hero. RIGHT: PTH vocalist Rody Walker.

him and how the continual quest for knowledge fuels his growth as an artist. When he returns to North America in early 2013, the quest will take him to Nashville through a three-month Songwriter Residency funded by the Australia Council for the Arts. He’ll be part of co-writing sessions and he’ll record new music while showcasing his art all over a town he loves for the inspiration it pours into life. “There are all sorts of possibilities that could come out of this trip, but I just want to soak up the music, write with and learn from some of the best,” Altmann says. He’s always been learning, going back to the first guitar teacher he ever had who eventually taught him banjo and gave [54] • CANADIAN MUSICIAN

Photo: Andreas Hornoff

How important has the Internet been in your educational pursuits, be it through instructional videos, access to notation or tablature, etc.? Very important. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42.29% Somewhat important . . . . . . . . . . . 37.71% Not very important . . . . . . . . . . . . 10.86% Not important . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.86% No answer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.29% Have you ever participated in an online webinar or lesson? I have, and found it very valuable. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12.57% I have, and found it somewhat valuable . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14.29% I have, but didn’t find it valuable. . . . 5.71% I haven’t, but am interested in potentially doing so . . . . . . . . . . . . 40.57% I haven’t, and have no interest in doing so. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16.57% No answer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.43% Where do you primarily access industry information (outside of performance skills) relevant to your career in the music business? The school of hard knocks. . . . . . . . . 12% Music business institution. . . . . . . . . 3.43% Seminars/workshops. . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.43% Print/online media. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36.57% Personal contacts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14.86% Professional contacts . . . . . . . . . . . 13.14% Other . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4% No answer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.86%


Music Evolves

J

ust as I needed a teacher and Cale put the tape his brother made to good use, every aspiring musician needs to connect to their aspirations somehow. Now, with the click of a mouse, this is possible. People connect via Skype in real time and musicians and artists are supplementing their incomes through platforms like Bandhappy, which links student and teacher and takes care of the details around financial transactions. Protest the Hero frontman Rody Walker offers singing lessons via Bandhappy.com as often as time allows between touring and writing. He’s drawn by the idea that he can make genuine connections with people all over the world who appreciate the music his band creates. In the process he’s met

a series of people he now considers friends. “I’ve met a lot of great singers who really just needed a push in the right direction or a boost of a little confidence,” Walker says. He’s been surprised several times since he began teaching online nearly a year ago, and he’s been honoured to feel the impact his art has had on others. There was a student from Alaska he worked with over the course of eight weeks, for example. “He ended up singing one of our songs to audition for a band; we worked on it together and now he’s in some band in Alaska,” Walker reports. Everyone has the capacity to grow in music, he adds, and if an artist feels

they’ve hit their peak, then the music has nowhere else to go. It will inevitably whither. “As a vocalist, I’m still learning stuff every day and I think as a musician you should never stop your quest for knowledge,” Walker says. “There are so many different techniques and so many different styles, and once you think you’ve reached the peak of your craft, you’re completely wrong.” There is no peak. Music evolves. It’s the beating heart that never stops and it’s in us all, and just as the beat was passed from my mother to me, my wife passed it to my children. My boy is an avid air guitarist with a full drum kit in the playroom, and my daughter is connected to music through the Westben Arts Festival Theatre under the guidance of soprano Donna Bennett and her husband, composer Brian Finley. It’s a natural exploration of seeds I’m not sure they’re aware of yet, but it makes me smile, and with music as the base of their education in life, I’m certain n little will ever stand in their way. Kristian Partington is a generative journalist based in Norwood, ON, with a penchant for social movements, the movement of music, and the pleasure of fine scotch around a bonfire. He can be reached at pwritingstudios@gmail.com. [56] • CANADIAN MUSICIAN


You can win two complete delegate passes to the CMW Music Summit as well as two tickets to the Indie Awards and two tickets to the Canadian Radio Music Awards!!

To enter, visit

www.canadianmusician.com/sweepstakes


WRITING

James Linderman lives and works at theharmonyhouse, a music lesson, songwriting, and pre-production recording studio in Newmarket, ON. Along with in-studio lessons, James also teaches guitar and coaches songwriting online to students all over the world. James is the Canadian representative of a 21-member international off-campus academic advisory board for The Berklee School of Music in Boston, known as Berkleemusic Ambassadors. He has a Canadian University (York) and American College (EOSC) education in music theory, composition, and journalism. www.theharmonyhouse.ca.

By James Linderman

Practicing Object Writing For Today’s Popular Music Market

I

n today’s popular contemporary music market, the songwriting practice of object writing, used to help expand our ability to explain and describe everything more effectively and efficiently in our song lyrics, needs to be expanded to take our writing further than just looking at things from a literal or metaphorical perspective. The very concise and hook driven modern lyric requires word play that expresses the depth of feeling and meaning of the classic six-verse Bob Dylan song, but needs to re-wrap that gift for the contemporary listener in a much, much smaller package. To reframe “depth of thought” and “pure emotion” into a 2:15 pop song is no easy task, and most of us either reduce our ambition to write something with that kind of depth and originality or write a lyric so long that our song needs its own intermission. The “target practice” we can engage in to improve our aim at this skill is object writing that more resembles what the advertising world calls slogan writing. Successful advertisers rework our perceptions of objects (products) all of the time with super catchy phrases that are so similar to song hooks that they are also often the featured hook line of that product’s ad music. Of course, it can be argued that we are writing songs in a time when there are lots of successful songs that are not particularly smart or even clever lyrically; however, they all have hooks and the lyric phrases that populate those hooks are always cleverly chosen if only chosen to not be all that clever. The development of any skill offers nothing if it does not at least offer choice. Here are some objects that were recently reframed in a mentoring session working with the two very talented and imaginative Songwriting Residents from the Canada Film Centre’s 2012 Slaight Music Residency, Allie Hughes and Chris Bartos. Thanks to Allie and Chris for their brilliant input.

[58] • canadian musician

Although these examples do not exactly represent lyric material that would be used in an actual song (although I never say never to a unique idea), they do provide an example of how a specific quality or feature of an object can be made to represent the object as a whole and therefore the general quality of the object can also be made to represent a specific feature. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

recycle box – paper reincarnation holding station eraser – word executioner chocolate – emotion replacement supplement politics – smoke factory lingerie – sexual inevitability uniform grass – lawn hair popcorn – raccoon crack chair – a comfortable alternative to standing appetizers – entrée foreplay gossip – kindness repellant lamp – daytime extender carpet – allergy lovers’ flooring alternative book – word sanctuary toothpaste – soap of the mouth public transit – we get you pretty close to where you want to go bankruptcy – debt-stination walking – a health-enhancing alternative to driving oil – pureed dinosaur recliner – the original daybed amnesia – a good life’s worst enemy, a bad life’s best friend

Try this exercise with words from around your natural habitat and see if it helps your writing by helping you look at the world from a more unique and hook-friendly way.


RECORDING

Ethan Winer owns RealTraps, a popular acoustic treatment company based in New Milford, CT. This article is excerpted from Ethan’s new book, The Audio Expert, from Focal Press. More information is available at www. ethanwiner.com/book.htm.

By Ethan Winer

Mixing Music

I

n the earliest days of recording, “mixing” was performed by placing a group of performers around a single microphone, with some standing closer or farther than others to balance their volumes. If the sax player had a solo, he’d move closer to the microphone, then move back again afterward. All of this was recorded live in mono through one microphone to either an analog tape recorder or a record-cutting lathe. If anyone flubbed their part, the whole group had to start again from the beginning. As analog recording progressed to multiple microphones, then to multitrack recorders in the 1950s, mixing evolved to the point where a complex mix often required two or more people to control all the volume changes needed over the course of a song. The mixing engineer would set up the basic mix and maybe ride the vocal level while some of the musicians pitched in to vary other track faders at the direction of the engineer or producer. If only one person was available to do a complex multi-track mix, another option was to mix the song in sections to a stereo recorder, then join the mixed tape portions together with splicing tape to create the final version. Volume Automation In the ‘70s, clever console manufacturers came up with various automation systems to record volume fader moves and automatically replay them later. You enable automation recording for a channel then raise or lower the level of a vocal or guitar solo while the tune plays. Then on subsequent playbacks the automation reproduces those level changes and the mix engineer can perform other volume changes in real time that are captured by the fader automation. Eventually, all of the needed changes are captured and stored, letting the engineer sit back and watch the faders move automatically while the song plays and the mix is recorded to a

www.canadianmusician.com

Part 1

stereo recorder. Today’s digital audio workstation (DAW) software offers even more features than consoles costing $100,000 or more! Not only can volume levels be automated, every setting for plug-in equalizers, compressors, phaser and flanger effects – you name it – can be changed at any point in a song and changed again tomorrow or next month if needed. Using DAW Software The basic premise of DAW software is that each instrument or voice is recorded onto a separate track, which in turn is stored as a .WAV file. This arrangement mimics a tape recorder and analog console, but with everything virtualized inside a computer. Modern software includes not only a recorder and mixing console, but even virtual outboard gear such as EQ and reverb and other effects. Once a song is complete and sounds as you like, you render or export or bounce the final mix to a new file. All three terms are commonly used and mean the same thing. Most DAW software can render a mix much faster than it takes to play the song in real time, and of course you never have to wait for a tape to rewind. All modern DAW programs let you add envelopes and nodes (control points) to vary a track’s volume, pan position, mute (on/off), plus any parameter of any plug-in on that track. The image below shows a volume envelope on a bass track for a tune I recorded. You can see three places where node groups were added to raise bass notes that were a little too soft, and

another place I used nodes to mute a note I disliked but didn’t want to delete destructively. To create a node, simply double-click at the appropriate place on the envelope. Nodes can be slid left or right, as well as up or down. If you click on a line segment between two nodes, both nodes at each end of the line are selected so the nodes go up and down together. You can also select other groups of nodes to adjust many of them simultaneously. Nodes are often set to raise or lower the volume by a fixed amount for some duration, as with the middle two node groups. But they can also fade up or down as shown at left and right. More in Part 2…

canadian musician • [59]


LIVESOUND

Jason Borys is an audio engineer and modular synth artist from Edmonton, AB. Borys has spent the last four years touring the world with the band Junior Boys. Previous tours have had him work with such artists as Shout Out Out Out Out, Chromeo, Matthew Good, and the New Pornographers. When not on tour, Jason spends his time as the house technician at Pawnshop Live in Edmonton.

By Jason Borys

Techs Talk Techs

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eing a house technician at any venue can be arguably one of the hardest jobs in concert production. On the flipside, it can also be incredibly rewarding. It is an amazing privilege to help create an environment that allows musicians and crews to stage events that bring live music to the masses. I recently spoke with some touring engineer friends about the things that can make their days easier when dealing with local house technicians – Cory Shields (FOH, Danko Jones), John Rubilak (FOH and production manager, Battles), Mike Noga (FOH, Excision) and Andrew White (system technician for Axe Production Edmonton). I’ve been lucky enough to be on shows with each engineer and hold their opinions in the highest regard. I was surprised we all agreed that one of the biggest hurdles on show day isn’t so much gear-related as it is communication-related. Most issues that arise can be easily avoided with some advance communication between the house technicians and the touring engineers. Advancing details thoroughly, well before the show, will help to minimize surprises during set-up. “Beyond being technically proficient, it’s important to start things off with proactive communication from the first point of contact with the tour’s production manager,” John says. “Ensuring that your venue’s technical specs (sound, lighting, power, and stage dimensions) are regularly updated and made available through the website is hugely helpful and will set you apart from others.” Andrew adds: “Make a friend; understand the touring engineer has a difficult job and is intensely focused on it and the artist’s needs.” Have your mixing console zeroed out and all compressors and gates normalized before the band and crew arrive. If you are using a digital console, make sure you have a fresh scene loaded with all EQ flat and all routing unassigned. Remove anything from the stage that doesn’t pertain to the day’s concert. Your pride in your stage will show and others will pick up on this. While going through a band’s rider, you may come across requests for things that seem unnecessary or just plain overkill. It’s good to keep in mind there may be a valid reason for even the strangest requests. Make sure to bring up any concerns you may have ahead of time and find a way to diplomatically ask the touring engineer if the requests are necessary or if there are any substitutions that can be made. Don’t assume that a band or engineer can do without certain elements of the rider because it seems unnecessary to you. When performing smaller venues on tour with Junior Boys, house technicians will often try to convince me I don’t need

[60] • canadian musician

overhead mics on the drums since the room is small. What they may not realize is that there are quiet parts in many bands’ songs where musicians need to rely on cues from the ride cymbal or hats. Be open-minded, even when you think you’re right. “As a touring engineer, I value my experience gained as a house technician,” Corey states. “I personally made every mistake there is to make and understand in hindsight how these mistakes happen. I found you get better results from treating people the way you would like to be treated. There are situations when pressed for time that I can come unhinged; this is when I have to take a deep breath and count to 10.” All house technicians will inevitably have moments where a touring engineer is being demanding and even harsh if the situation gets tense enough. Just keep in mind that this negative energy may not stem from you. Being on tour can be incredibly hard and stressful; many outside forces dictate moods. If the mood is dark, try your best to stay positive and helpful. Most touring engineers will notice this effort and it will go a long way in creating a great working relationship between yourself and the crew. We all offered a common suggestion for house technicians: wait until the band has completely loaded in and set up before you start to patch the stage. Says Mike: “It can be hard if the house technician does too much before I get there and starts to patch without me. The rider may suggest things to do to prepare, but I like to be there from the beginning.” Instead, take the time to clear your stage and have the mics, stands, and cables prepped by the stage. Label both ends of your XLR cables with the instrument and channel number to eliminate confusion. Being a house technician is a fine balance of keeping gear up-and-running in good working condition with a small or even nonexistent budget. Take the time after each show to test each component of your system thoroughly and ensure you’ve made it through the show without any damage. It’s also important to reveal any shortcomings that your system may have. Hiding these issues will only lead to an air of mistrust. And mark my words – the touring tech will likely discover these issues on their own in due time. Having touring bands and crew on your stage is one of the best things that can happen to a house technician at any level. These engineers have likely mixed on many different systems. Watching how a touring engineer approaches a job can offer a type of knowledge that’s hard to gain from simply reading technical info. Use these situations to be the best technician you can possibly be. As Mike says: “Positive attitude equals positive gig.”


BUSINESS

Carolyn West-Price Touhey, a 25-year marketing veteran and owner of SmartBiz Strategy, is based on Vancouver Island. She also owns Two Eagles Lodge B&B, a waterfront venue for retreats and occasional house concerts. She can be reached at 250-335-2342 or www.SmartBizStrategy.com.

By Carolyn West-Price Touhey

10 Tips For Musician Marketing

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ith the New Year upon us, this is the time for resolutions. For many musicians, the resolution is to make 2013 “the” year to take your music career to the next level. Here are some traditional marketing tips that will complement your online and social media presence – which many, especially younger musicians, believe is all there is to marketing. 1. Act Like A Business Owner To make your music a career, you want to think like a businessperson. A major task involved with that is to write a marketing plan, being very clear about your objectives and specific about your tactics (the “to do” list). Be sure to set a timeline and stick to it. Marketing is not just advertising, either. You’ll want to integrate other tools of marketing communications, including: fan relationships, gig/ venue-owner relationships, public relations (media relations and community relations to create visibility and goodwill), promotions (special events), direct selling (networking), and collateral (your marketing materials). Your look (brand) should be professional and consistent through all marketing materials, including your website, business cards (yes, you should have professionally-printed business cards), and signs at gigs. 2. Get Gigs If you want gigs, make a step-by-step plan first. Make a target list of places you want to play and start a database so you can organize your contacts. Don’t forget special event organizers, wedding planners and catering halls, and booking agents as prospects. Make a plan to stop by during nonpeak hours and deliver a demo CD along with a “Why Me” sheet or media kit that explains why he/she should pay attention to or book you. Convey that you clearly understand the clientele of

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that venue. If you’re a young ska band, you probably won’t have any luck (or fun) at a venue that caters to seniors. Convey that you have a fan list with x-number of local fans, which means your gig can bring new customers to that business. Dress the part, too. 3. Go Cyber Create a website that includes your music, contact info, testimonials, a current schedule of appearances, and so on. Be diligent about answering email and phone inquiries. YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are musts, but not a substitute for these other steps. 4. Get Commercial If you’re a songwriter, contact ad agencies, large non-profits, businesses that do a lot of broadcast advertising (and likely have an ad agency), television station production departments, and independent video production companies. Offer to write music for their commercials or jingles, and then send a press release to the newspapers and trade magazines to announce your contract, remembering that visibility is key and success breeds success. 5. Pack Your Bags & Tell The Media! If you take your talent on the road, create a proactive, in-advance publicity campaign that will start with a media kit. To begin, research the music reporters in the areas you’ll be. Determine if they write for a daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly publication so you can plan how far in advance they need your information. Now prepare your electronic press kit (EPK) that starts with a short but wellwritten intro email. Explain that you’ll be in the area and attach a media kit with pertinent information for the recipient to include you in calendar listings and also request a small feature. Include an attachment with a high-resolution photo, a press release about the show, and an info sheet with facts about your act.

6. Give to Get To have an “excuse” for media to give you exposure, consider charity gigs. Work with non-profits to offer low-cost or free entertainment at their fundraising events in exchange for the chance to sell CDs (give a portion back to the charity) and get media exposure. Be sure to send a press release to papers, radio, and other outlets for exposure and to create goodwill. The non-profit will love it, too, but check with them so you don’t duplicate effort. If you’re looking to build a fan base in your hometown, do a fundraiser for your school or someone who has been injured or is ill. Your peers will see you as a giving person and will support you in return. Have them to sign up for a fan list and communicate future gigs and happenings. 7. Share the Stage Find a well-established mentor musician who is willing to have you open for him/ her or share the stage for a few songs. It’s a silent endorsement and great exposure. Attend singer-songwriter groups in your area – or start one. 8. Get Exposure Another way to meet other musicians who may be farther down the career path is to attend or play at conferences or open mics or jams throughout the year. You never know who is in the audience… 9. You’re The Prize Create a contest for charity events or silent auctions where you’re the prize – a complimentary performance. This will get you publicity and give you exposure at the special event. 10. Follow Your Dreams & Love Learning! Don’t give up, and don’t be embarrassed to ask for help! Marketing is a life-long effort, so stay focused, plot your course, plan for strategic detours, re-visit and evaluate your marketing plan often, and go for it. Make beautiful music and enjoy the ride!


HotGear PRS 408 Maple Top & 408 Standard Electric Guitars Paul Reed Smith Guitars has announced the release of the 408 Maple Top and 408 Standard guitars. These instruments, offered in both maple top and all mahogany configurations, bring PRS Guitars’ proprietary Signature/408 pickups (previously featured on the Private Stock Signature and the Signature Limited Edition) to PRS’ Core line. PRS 408 pickups were designed to extend the guitar’s tonal spectrum by narrowing the field of the bass pickup to increase its focus and widening the field of the treble pickup to increase its sound field (hence their asymmetric appearance). This pickup configuration is comprised of four coils and offers eight sounds. The switching system features mini-toggle switches that provide numerous combinations of humbucking and single coil tones. Additional specifications include a 25-in. scale length, 22-fret Pattern or Pattern Thin mahogany neck with rosewood fretboard, bird inlays, PRS Phase III tuners, PRS Tremolo, and nickel hardware with gold or hybrid option. For more information, contact Paul Reed Smith Guitars: 410-643-9970, FAX 410-643-9980,

GT203 Capo 408 Maple Top

408 Standard

Electro-Harmonix Talking Pedal Electro-Harmonix’s Talking Pedal uses the proprietary design of the company’s Next Step Effects and is the second pedal to be released in the line. As with the Crying Tone Wah, the Talking Pedal is free of moving parts including potentiometers and switches and features the same chassis. Similar to a wah, the Talking Pedal is a filter-type pedal; however, the tone of the pedal is unlike a traditional wah because it passes the guitar signal through two bandpass filters, which gives the tone a male vocal quality and creates a selection of vowellike sounds. Additionally, a specially designed fixed fuzz circuit can be blended in to the player’s taste with a scroll wheel located on the side of the pedal. This circuit was added to enhance the definition of the effect and add growl and grind to the pedal while used without additional effects For more information, contact Peate Musical Supplies Limited: 802-879-4977, FAX 866-234-8052, repeate@peate.com, www.peate.com.

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Guitar Tech Capos Guitar Tech has released new capos for acoustic and electric guitars, 12-strings, classical guitars, banjos, and mandolins. Available in silver and black, the new GT capos are lightweight with no sharp edges, and the rubber parts that touch the instrument’s neck are designed to be durable but soft to avoid leaving unsightly marks. This style is designed to place accurately to avoid strings buzzing or going out of tune. For more information contact Audio Distributors International: 450-4498177, FAX 450-449-8180, info@adionline.net, www.adi-online.net.


Alfred Music Publishing Rush: Clockwork Angels Guitar & Bass TAB Songbooks Alfred Music Publishing has released the Rush: Clockwork Angels guitar and bass TAB songbooks, featuring the songs from the progressive rock band’s 19th studio album. Users have access to faithfully transcribed arrangements of each song from the album. Standard music notation with TAB and vocals for every song on the record are included, including tracks such as “Caravan,” “BU2B,” and the title track. Additional features in both songbooks include full-colour album artwork, a complete lyrics section, and a TAB glossary for fast reference. Additionally, this songbook is printed on recycled paper. For more information, contact Alfred Music Publishing: 818-8915999, FAX 818-830-6259, sales@alfred.com, www.alfred.com/dealer.

Cort Guitars MR1200FX Cort Guitars has announced the release of the solid rosewood MR1200FX acoustic guitar. The new model features a dreadnought body with bearclaw spruce top, solid rosewood back and rosewood sides, a rosewood fingerboard, genuine abalone purfling on the top and sides, and an abalone inlay on the fingerboard and headstock. The MR1200FX comes equipped with the Fishman Premium Stereo Onboard Blender, Matrix pickups, and Grover vintage gold tuners. The MR1200FX is the first in a series of guitars that also includes the EARTH1200 and L1200P. For more information, contact Kief Music Limited: 604-590-3344, FAX 604-590-6999, sales@kiefmusic.com. www.canadianmusician.com

canadian musician • (65)


HotGear

Pioneer Electronics XDJ-AERO Wi-Fi DJ System Pioneer Electronics has introduced the XDJ-AERO, a Wi-Fi DJ system that can wirelessly play music tracks from mobile smart devices. The XDJ-AERO enables users to mix and arrange tracks stored on their smart devices via Wi-Fi, as well as on USB memory devices and computers. The XDJ-AERO can also create its own wireless access point when Wi-Fi is not available. The XDJ-AERO can identify up to four devices as sources for music playback and can also access audio tracks on a PC. The system is equipped with audio ports for connecting other sources, such as Pioneer CDJ players, and can be used as a standalone 2-channel mixer. For creative music playback and mixing, the system offers a built-in jog control, jog drum, sample launch, beat effect, and sound colour filter. The XDJ-AERO also features two automatic mix functions, Beat Sync and Auto Mix. Beat Sync synchronizes the music loaded in each player on beat with matching beats per minute (BPM). Auto Mix mode allows playlists created on a smart device to be linked together with cross-fade or fade-in/fade-out effects. For more information, contact SF Marketing Inc.: 514-780-2070, FAX 514-780-2111, info@sfm.ca, www.sfm.ca.

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HotGear

PSRS950 keyboard arranger

Yamaha PSRS750 & PSRS950 Keyboard Arrangers Yamaha has announced the newest arrivals in the PSR-S arranger-workstation family; the PSRS750 and the PSRS950. Yamaha introduced new “Real Distortion” algorithms to the array of DSP effects. These two arrangers allow user customization through downloadable voice and style expansion packs. Both models also have new audio player improvements and the new Audio-Link Multi Pad feature. All of these upgrades are supported by a new speaker system with a new digital amplification system. The PSRS950 is the debut of the new Yamaha technology dubbed “Audio Styles”. Drums and percussion have been recorded in phrases, allowing the user to play along with the same flexibility of Yamaha’s style players. Other upgrades include technology from the Tyros 4, such as the VH2 vocal harmonizer feature. For more information, contact Yamaha Music Canada Limited: 416-289-1311, FAX 416-292-0732, www.ca.yamaha.com.

www.canadianmusician.com

canadian musician • (67)


HotGear Roland Integra-7 SuperNATURAL Sound Module Roland has announced the Integra-7 SuperNATURAL Sound Module. It includes over 6,000 sounds plus independent SuperNATURAL acoustic, synth, and drum sounds. The Integra-7 provides the latest SuperNATURAL sounds in a 16-part module. With the Integra-7, musicians can create orchestral arrangements and spatial sounds. The rack module also comprises a collection of sounds from Roland’s flagship keyboards and modules and includes SuperNATURAL drum kit sounds derived from V-Drums. As well, the Integra-7 introduces a new technology called Motional Surround, a 17-part ambience engine that lets users graphically control the distance and position of each part within a 360-degree sound field. The Integra-7 is equipped with multiple dedicated effects engines and each of the 16 parts can have its own multi-effects and EQ. Across the front panel are dedicated buttons for accessing sounds and effects, plus a large value dial surrounded by navigation keys. On the rear panel is an array of connectors, including stereo XLR outputs, eight individual 1/4-in. phone outs, a digital (coaxial) output, MIDI IN/OUT/THRU jacks, and a USB port that supports audio streaming at rates up to 24-bit/96 kHz. A custom Integra-7 Editor app lets iPad users control the synth parameters, part mixer, and Motional Surround remotely via a USB connection or via the Roland WNA1100-RL Wireless USB adaptor. For more information, contact Roland Canada Limited: 604-270-6626, FAX 604270-6552, www.roland.ca.

Kala Brand Music JTE-2TS Arch Top Ukulele Kala Brand Music has announced the re-release of a modified design of its arch top ukulele series. One of Kala’s signature models, the JTE-2TS is a tenor-sized ukulele with a design that is reminiscent of a classic arch top guitar. The JTE-2TS, which features a satin finish, comes fitted with a custom Active EQ system. Other features include a spruce top, mahogany back and sides, mahogany neck, rosewood fingerboard, white pearloid binding, die cast tuners, and Aquila Strings. For more information, contact Coast Music: 514-457-2555, FAX 514457-0055, info@coastmusic.ca, www. coastmusic.ca.

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ADVERTISERS’ INDEX JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2013 PG. ADVERTISER

WEBSITE

70 BLUE MICROPHONES (HHB CANADA)

77 CANADIAN MUSIC WEEK

75 CM DIGITAL

57 CM SWEEPSTAKES

www.hhbcanada.com

sales@hhbcanada.com

www.cmw.net

bessie@cmw.net

www.canadianmusician.com/digital

info@nor.com

www.canadianmusician.com/sweepstakes

business@nor.com

www.dreamcymbals.com/recycling

info@dreamcymbals.com

www.ecma.com

info@ecma.com

www.pagcanada.com

sales@pagcanada.com

www.daddariocanada.com

info@daddariocanada.com

68 DREAM CYMBALS

17 EAST COAST MUSIC WEEK

3 ELECTRO-VOICE (BOSCH)

13 EVANS (D’ADDARIO CANADA)

15 FIVE TOWNS COLLEGE

66 FOLK ALLIANCE CONFERENCE 2013

56 GUITAR WORKSHOP PLUS

8 HARRIS INSTITUTE

71 HUGHES & KETTNER (YORKVILLE)

55 KAT (B&J MUSIC)

72 KOSA MUSIC

46 KORG

E-MAIL

73 LIQUID RHYTHM (WAVE DNA)

www.ftc.edu

admissions@ftc.edu

www.folk.org

fa@folk.org

www.guitarworkshopplus.com

info@guitarworkshopplus.com

www.harrisinstitute.com

info@harrisinstitute.com

www.yorkville.com

canada@yorkville.com

www.katpercussion.com

bjmusic@kmcmusic.com

www.kosamusic.com

aldo@kosamusic.com

www.korgcanada.com

support@korgcanada.com

www.wavedna.com

info@wavedna.com

7 MACKIE (LOUD TECHNOLOGIES)

www.loudtechinc.com

shaunna.krebs@loudtechinc.com

61 MACKIE (LOUD TECHNOLOGIES)

www.loudtechinc.com

shaunna.krebs@loudtechinc.com

4 METALWORKS INSTITUTE

67 MONO (MUSIC MARKETING)

24 MUSIC BOOKS PLUS DIGITAL

66 MUSIC BOOKS PLUS

47 NORD (ERIKSON MUSIC)

72 NXNE 2013

53 OIART

48 RADIAL ENGINEERING

65 ROLAND

6 SENNHEISER 21 STEINBERG (YAMAHA) 2 TREBAS INSTITUTE

www.metalworksinstitute.com admissions@metalworksinstitute.com www.musicmarketing.ca

ray@musicmarketing.ca

www.musicbooksplusdigital.com

mjack@nor.com

www.musicbooksplus.com

mjack@nor.com

www.eriksonmusic.com

info@eriksonmusic.com

www.nxne.com

info@nxne.com

www.oiart.org www.radialeng.com

inquiry@oiart.org info@radialeng.com

www.roland.ca

info@roland.ca

www.sennheiser.ca

info@sennheiser.ca

www.steinberg.net

dminer@yamaha.ca

www.trebas.com

info@trebas.com

www.yamaha.com/thr

info@yamaha.ca

63 YAMAHA - THR

79 ZILDJIAN (B&J MUSIC)

www.zildjian.com

bjmusic@kmcmusic.com

80 ZOOM (OMNIMEDIA)

www.omnimedia.ca

client@omnimedia.ca

To access digital versions of Canadian Musician, visit www.canadianmusician.com/digital.


HotGear Positive Grid AccuTune App Positive Grid has announced the release of AccuTune iOS music-utility app. The AccuTune chromatic tuner responds either to notes captured by the iPhone or iPad’s microphone, AccuTune or through an adapter. It provides two different views: the top of the screen is a standard meter display and the bottom a note-wheel. Pressing the Setup button brings you to the Settings screen, where you can change the calibration from the default 440 Hz, set transposition, adjust temperament, and more. For more information, contact Positive Grid: www.positivegrid.com

Genz Benz NX2-212T cabinet

Genz Benz NX2-212T & NX2-112T Bass Loudspeaker Cabinets Genz Benz has released two NX2 series lightweight bass loudspeaker cabinets that replace the NeoX line. New NX2 series improvements include proprietary neodymium loudspeakers and an advanced cabinet design meant to strengthen while reducing weight. These NX2 cabinets feature Dual Edge “X” porting for increased low-frequency support and projection. At 47 lbs., the NX2-212T design is lighter and more portable than its predecessor. The cabinet features new Genz Benz loudspeakers with increased sensitivity for greater output. The cabinet design aligns the loudspeakers vertically to create a small footprint for increased vertical dispersion. The NX2-112T cabinet is lighter at 31 lbs. and has more low-frequency presence while maintaining the midrange and highs of its predecessor. For more information, contact B&J Music Limited: 800-268-8147, FAX 800-777-3265, bjmusic@kmcmusic. com, www.bjmusic.ca. (70) • canadian musician


TC Electronic Flashback X4 Delay & Looper TC Electronic has introduced the Flashback X4 Delay and Looper, the next generation of the Flashback Delay and Looper series. Flashback X4 offers 12 delay types plus four TonePrint slots. Other features include full TonePrint functionality including the ability to beam TonePrints from a smartphone, three presets, a dedicated tap tempo, and expression pedal input. As well, there is a 40-second looper with an “undo” function and guaranteed optimal signal integrity via a True Bypass signal path that can also be switched to buffered bypass. For more information, contact TC Group Americas: 519745-1158, FAX 519-745-2364, info@tcg-americas.com, www. tcgroup-americas.com.

Peavey AT-200 Auto-Tune Guitar Peavey Electronics has announced the immediate availability of the Peavey AT-200 guitar featuring Auto-Tune for Guitar. The AT-200, a collaboration between Peavey and Auto-Tune pitchcorrection technology creators Antares Audio Technologies, electronically selftunes and intonates continuously as it’s played. The Peavey AT-200 utilizes Antares Auto-Tune for Guitar, a DSP technology that works behind the scenes to bring perfect pitch in an unobtrusive manner. There is no bulky hardware weighing it down as the Peavey AT-200 looks, plays, and sounds like a conventional guitar. The Peavey AT-200 features built-in software upgrade capability, meaning new features from Antares can be easily loaded into the AT-200 and controlled by any MIDI source, from MIDI foot switch controllers to iPad or iPhone devices running dedicated Auto-Tune control software. For more information, contact Peavey Electronics: 601-483-5365, www.peavey.com. www.canadianmusician.com

canadian musician • (71)


HotGear KMI QuNeo With Drum Pad Emulation Mode Waves Audio Element Synthesizer Waves Audio has introduced Element, its first-ever synthesizer. Powered by Virtual Voltage technology, Element is an analog-style polyphonic instrument engineered to deliver the fat, gritty sound of the classics with the precision, flexibility, and control of contemporary digital synths. Element’s features include integrated effects, a 16-step arpeggiator/sequencer, MIDI Learn for all controls, and a large preset library. Plus, all parameters are laid out in front of the user to eliminate the need to scroll through pages to customize sounds. For more information, contact Waves Audio: 865-9099200, FAX 865-909-9245, www.waves.com.

(72) • canadian musician

Keith McMillen Instruments has announced the new Drum Pad Emulation mode for the QuNeo. QuNeo, a multitouch pad controller, can now approximate the feel and response of MPC-style drum pads such as the Maschine, Akai, Korg, and others. QuNeo differs from traditional MPC-style drum pads with its multi-touch X-Y location and continuous pressure capabilities. Each of the four corners of every pad can be programmed independently, enabling grid-style clip launching. Also, performers can trigger and hold a note, and then re-trigger the same pad with another finger. The QuNeo also has two rotary decks, nine VU sliders, 17 pressure sensitive switches, and 251 responsive LEDs. For more information, contact Keith McMillen Instruments: 877-812-0408, sales@keithmcmillen.com, www.keithmcmillen.com.


HotGear

Milbert Amplifiers GAGA D-30 Tube Amp Milbert Amplifiers has introduced the GAGA D-30 tube guitar amplifier, the third in the line of Guitar Artists’ Guitar Amplifiers. Based on the GAGA 90 and offering similar features and functions, the “domestic” model GAGA D-30 provides adjustable headroom from 1-30 watts of full power audio output for more distortion at low volumes. GAGA D-30 may be upgraded to either the domestic GAGA D-60 model, or to the international model GAGA 90. The GAGA D-30 can play more than 30 kinds of tubes in any combination and has Auto-Impedance and Blow-Proof universal speaker outputs. Other features include P3-ready 9 V high-current phantom power for pedals and active pickups, the lack of a traditional audio output transformer, and Auto-Standby. The unit weighs in at 11 lbs. For more information, contact Milbert Amplifiers: 301-963-9355, info@ milbert.com, www.milbert.com.

Vintage VR100W Electric Guitar Vintage has added the VR100W to its ReIssued electric guitar range. Designed for punk and classic rock, the VR100W gets its tones from a Wilkinson W90SK stacked ceramic pickup, which offers hum-canceling performance. Other features include a mahogany body and neck, 22 frets, rosewood fingerboard, single volume and tone controls, and a wrap-over bridge tailpiece. The Vintage VR100W is now available in a gloss white finish. For more information, contact Audio Distributors International: 450-449-8177, FAX 450-449-8180, info@adi-online.net, www.adionline.net.

www.canadianmusician.com

canadian musician • (73)


(74) • canadian musician


Classifeds ieds

www.canadianmusician.com/classifieds

EDUCATION

OPPORTUNITIES

Training For The Musical Trades Guitar Building and Repair Live Sound Recording Tube Amps C.N.C. Training Courses and Workshops

FREE your mind! FREE your music! SoundNebula is the BlackBerry App for SoundCloud with BBM 2 new versions for 2013:  SoundNebula PRO with REC and BBM integration & SoundNebulaFREE. So ALL your fans can hear your music. Tweet@SoundNebula to get featured on our blog. www.soundnebula.com to learn more. 

Summit School of Guitar Building 6114 W. Island Hwy Qualicum Beach, BC V9K 2E2 www.luthiers-international.com 1-888-901-9903

EMPLOYMENT Audio Distributors International (ADI) is seeking an Ontario Sales Representative for its Pro Audio Division. Leading national distributor of professional audio, sound reinforcement, broadcast and installed sound products including Rode Microphones, Avalon Design, Event Electronics, Funktion One, Mc2 Audio, XTA, FBT, Galaxy Audio etc. requires professional sales and representation for Ontario. Applicants must be self-motivated, own a vehicle, be available full time and located in the GTA (or be willing to relocate). Sales experience as well as knowledge of the music and recording, sound reinforcement and installed sound markets are an asset. Compensation package and conditions to be discussed. Applicants respond by email to richard@adi-online.net.

Calling all Former or Current Working Musicians! Music Instructors wanted for very first official “School of Rock” in Canada, opening in Markham, ON, February 2013! Should have: 4+ years music performance and/or teaching experience Excellent ability to deal well with a wide range of people Formal music school training or knowledge of music theory Strong organizational and customer relations skills Qualified candidates please send a cover letter and resume to: markham@schoolofrock.com (76) • canadian musician

PRODUCTS Candrum Drum Parts Canada’s source for drum building supplies. Visit www.candrum.ca. Learnrootsmusic.com Get Instructional DVDs from some of Canada’s Best Musicians at www.learnrootsmusic.com. Monthly specials and worldwide shipping. NEED SPEAKERS? EMINENCE - B&C - PIONEER - PHILIPS - MOTOROLA & tons more! Speakers, crossovers, cabinet hardware, wire and connectors. Upgrade and/ or build your own pro sound or guitar rig and save. WE STOCK SPEAKERS and related accessories for musical instrument, professional sound, home stereo, home theatre, commercial sound, and everything else in between. Visit us on the web and download our catalogues and price lists today. Dealer inquiries welcome. Q-COMPONENTS 638 Colby Dr., Waterloo, ON N2V 1A2 Toll free: 1-800-363-6336 www.loudspeakers.ca sales@loudspeakers.ca MUSIC DIRECTORY CANADA 9th EDITION The Ninth Edition of this ESSENTIAL GUIDE to the Canadian Music Industry has been completely updated and revised. Featuring over 60 categories, each listing includes: Company, Contact, Address, Phone, FAX, E-mail, Web Address and Description. Areas covered include: Associations, Booking Agents, Concert Venues, Custom Duplicators, Financial Services, Lawyers, Sound & Lighting Companies, Music Conferences, Music Education, Music

Publishers, Orchestras, Promotion & Publicity Companies, Radio Stations - including Campus Radio, Record Producers, Recording Studios, Touring Networks ... and much more! PLUS Special Sections: Artist Contacts, Award Winners, Canadian Chart Toppers and much more! ©2007. 704 pages. CM009 NOW ON SALE $19.95 plus s/h & GST ORDER YOUR COPY TODAY: www.musicbooksplus.com, 800-265-8481. Need Replacement Speakers for your Guitar Amp? JENSEN Guitar Speakers are now available at Solen. We also have all you need to build your own speakers.   SOLEN INC. 4470 Thibault Av., St-Hubert, QC J3Y 7T9 450-656-2759 solen@solen.ca www.solen.ca

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Showcase

If you are an unsigned artist and would like to be a part of Showcase, please submit your EPK at www.sonicbids.com/cmshowcase. Selected artists will also appear on the Canadian Musician website, www.canadianmusician.com, with one song streaming in MP3 format.

by Ben Conoley

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What: Blues Rock Where: Chatham, ON Visit: www.thelonglots.com

What: Hip-Hop/Pop Where: Burnaby, BC Visit: www.daydreamermusic.net

What: Country/Folk Where: Milo, AB Visit: www.larryvannatta.com

Vancouver’s Daydreamer is an eclectic and lyrically-focused hip-hop project from the Russian-born artist whose mother calls him Boriz. His latest album, P3, is a six-song EP that’s as substantive as it is catchy. The album’s pretty heavy on the crossover (both electronic and rock) but hip-hop fans who aren’t scared by a little bit of musical exploration should have a fine time with it. Daydreamer exercises a wide range of flow on the album, which can serve as more of an interruption than anything else on such a short collection of songs. That said, they all stand out on their own, making them perfect fodder for a mixtape – or, as the technologically savvy like to say, a playlist.

Two-time Juno nominee Larry Vannatta blends traditional country and bluegrass with gospel and folk ballads to create a brand of country that’s easy to digest for nearly any fan of the sound. His working-class country anthems have earned him many accolades, including the European Country Music Association’s Songwriter of the Year distinction. Vannatta has been releasing music since his debut, Second to None, came out in 1990. His most recent collection is 2012’s Working Class Man. The title is an accurate nod to his songwriting style, often singing about traditional country topics but managing to do it in an entertaining and fresh way. With smooth vocals and plenty of steel guitar, the songs are tastefully arranged and very pleasing. Listeners shouldn’t be surprised to find themselves singing along when one of his choruses repeats. Not everyone loves country, but those who do should give the experienced and polished Vannatta a listen. You won’t be disappointed.

Chatham, ON’s The Long Lots don’t make any attempts to hide their motives. The band, comprised of brothers-in-law Jay Amerlinck and Gary Jongbloed as well as cousins Jason and Jeff O’Rourke and Glenn Smith, got together to write classic rock and blues-influenced rock n’ roll. What they seem to have done is stumbled onto a formula that makes them seem like a southern version of Constantines – tailored for people who’d like a Constantines show if there was more Bud Light available. While the band has the sound to appease classic rock and blues fans, there may be too much of that influence to win over any diehard indie rock fans; however, The Long Lots could potentially serve as a bridge from the radio rock sounds of Theory of a Deadman (for whom The Long Lots have opened) to more adventurous acts. The band’s working class background, with lyrics about growing up in rural Ontario, make them seem very down-to-earth and approachable. Their last album was 2011’s In the Valley of Our Hearts, so we’re expecting something new soon. Keep your eyes open for when it drops.

Ben Conoley is a freelance journalist living in Fredericton, NB. He has written for chartattack, Exclaim!, Alternative Press, and more. Ben is also a proud member of the Polaris Music Prize jury.

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Canadian Musician January/February 2013