ISU 1 / DEC. 2020
CONTENTS: ALISSA FARATRO 4 TAYA MARQUIS 8 JILLIAN LAKE 10 THE ROYAL FOUNDRY 12 ALEX CUBA 16 KASSIA KARRERA 20 UPTOWN BOYBAND 22 RAFF PYLON 24 THE WILDERNESS 26 JANETTE KING 28 MANNY BLU 30
32 YOUR PARIS 34 T. THOMASON
42 STUCK ON PLANET EARTH 44 MARYZE 46 MADISYN GIFFORD 48 VOX REA 50 MICHELLE TREACY 52 JEN Z 54 THE ZOLAS 56 HAVIAH MIGHTY
Showcasing Canadian music interviews conducted in 2020. www.soundzine.ca
FROM THE EDITOR 2020. A year we will never forget. A year of the pandemic. A year of political downfalls. A year of social injustice. A year of discontinuation. A year of oppression. A year of reflection. 2020 also stole the live music sector from us, but what 2020 didn’t take away was our platform, our stories, our art. Through these interviews, my objective for this zine was to create a sense of unification for our country’s music scene – during a time when the industry needs it most. I wanted to ask questions that went beyond a soundbite because musicians are not just musicians, they are humans that influence and inspire the masses. In the zine, you can find dialogue on many different important topics such as minority representation, racism, sexism, feminism, capitalism, domestic violence, mental health, addiction, climate change, hate speech, gender norms, societal standards, self-love advocacy, recommended resources + words of advice and optimism. Now more than ever, we should be supporting the arts – an industry that plays as a source of purpose, therapy and income for many. Thank you to every artist who shared a slice of their soul with me. Thank you to Katie Campanella for your patience and expertise with the art direction. Thank you to the photographers who shared their immaculate imagery. Thank you to the publicists who work tirelessly just to get the word out. Thank you to every human working for music-related non-profits. Last but not least, thank you to the music fans who keep the industry going by simply streaming a song, buying merch or even reading this little piece of history to celebrate Canadian music.
SPECIAL THANKS • Jess Seguire / Alley Cat PR • Kari Zalik / Bad Parade PR • Jen Fritz / Fritz Media • Sarah Armiento / Hot Tramp Records • Paula Danylevich / Hype Music • Ola Mazzuca / Indoor Recess • Mavis Harris / Nice Marmot PR • Tiffany Astle + Richelle Umali / PenelopePR • Charlotte Thompson + Shelby Burnell / Red Umbrella P.R • Julia Pittman / Sony Music Canada • Roo Kailey / Unison Benevolent Fund • Amanda Triumbari / VOCAB Communications • Beth Cavanagh / What’s The Story?
photogrAPHERS Yung Yemi
Haviah Mighty | Cover, Page 56 + 59
UPTOWN BOYBAND | Page 22
@taiga _photography Alissa Faratro | Page 5
@vanilla_picture vanillapicture.com Raff Pylon | Page 25
Lizzie O’Donnell @lizzieodonnell lizzieodonnell.com Taya Marquis | Page 8
Ani Tchakarova @savordigital savordigital.com
Bobbi Shewchuck @bobbisue4 The Wilderness | Page 27
Sabina Roman @darksight Janette King | Page 28
Jillian Lake | Page 10
Jared Salte Bethany Schumacher @theroyalfoundry
The Royal Foundry | Page 12
Eduardo Rawdriguez @eduardorawdriguez Alex Cuba | Page 17 + 19
Kassia Karrera | Page 20
@eliselap Maryze | Page 44
Kiri Anne @kirianne Madisyn Gifford | Page 46
Conor Cunningham @mescondi Vox Rea | Page 48
Zoe Akiko @zoeakiko zoeakiko.com Michelle Treacy | Page 51
@dortasphotography dortasphotography.com Your Paris | Page 32
Manny Blu | Page 31
Meghan Tansey Whitton
Stuck On Planet Earth | Page 43
T. Thomason | Page 35
@artbyaguilar Jen Z | Page 52
Katrin Braga @katrinbraga katrinbraga.com The Zolas | Page 54
Chloé McNeil @chloemcneilphotographe chloemcneil.com Izabelle | Page 38 + 40
IN SUPPORT OF unison benevolent fund Unison Benevolent Fund is a non-profit, registered charity that provides counselling and emergency relief services to the Canadian music community. The organization helps professional musicmakers and industry workers in times of hardship, illness or economic difficulties. www.unisonfund.ca | @unisonfund
ALISSA FARATRO T
hough her career in the industry took flight after graduating from Berklee, Alissa Faratro’s passion for music began when she was just six years old – learning to play the xylophone in kindergarten then moving on to piano before enrolling in voice lessons. Faratro first began pursuit of a music career upon noticing the lack of female representation in the industry. She moved from her hometown of Montreal to Boston, beginning her studies at Berklee College of Music in 2015. Faratro would go on to graduate from the Bachelor of Music in Music Production and Engineering Program with the North American Tour Scholarship Award. From working at Planet Studios to working with Grammy-nominated vocal producer Simone Torres and Christina Aguilera’s award-winning musical director Rob Lewis, Faratro’s latest venture took her to Los Angeles, as the only Canadian chosen to take part in the Spotify EQL Residency Program. Spotify Equal (EQL) selects three women-identifying producers and audio engineers to help open the doors into the industry through hands-on experience working at the Spotify studios and gaining access to invaluable networking and mentoring opportunities. Faratro honed her expertise through EQL’s initiative – working in the studio alongside Grammynominated artist Kelli-Leigh, emerging artist Annie Bosko and Luke McDermott from the Disciples (co-wrote Calvin Harris’ “How Deep is Your Love”).
In an industry where less than 5% of music producers and engineers are female, Alissa Faratro is on a mission to use her voice to inspire and empower women.
PHOTO BY: TAIGA KUNII
We definitely need to encourage and recognize more women engineers and producers in the industry. I get too many artists telling me that I’m the first female engineer they’ve worked with or that they know maybe one or two others. My goal is to never hear that from an artist again. With the opportunity Spotify has given me, I want to help inspire young women to pursue their dreams and aspirations in the music industry and to show them anything is possible with hard work and dedication.
What initially interested you in a career in audio engineering?
It started with me wanting to have more creative control over my own music and educating myself to explain my ideas with the correct terms to the engineers I was working with. I found it frustrating to go into the studio, do my part as the artist, and then leave my work in the hands of someone I didn’t know to finish it, so I decided to learn how to do it myself. I guess it all began because I was being a control freak! It made me realize I could be really useful to other artists if I was an engineer myself because we speak the same language, and that’s what drew me in.
Q: Congratulations on your Spotify residency! Can you give us some insight on your experience in the Spotify EQL program? Any highlights?
Thank you! Yeah, it’s been a really incredible experience! It’s really fun because the entire Secret Genius initiative was made to support songwriters, producers and artists by giving them a space to collaborate and create, and I get to be a part of that. I got to be in the room with people who wrote or produced some of your favorite songs in the past few years and that’s really crazy. Obviously meeting a ton of really cool artists is a perk but I think the most exciting part about this experience is that every day is a new challenge. A highlight would have to be the session I did with Madame Gandhi, Trakgirl and the other EQL engineers. It was so fun to collaborate with other women that are great at what they do. You can actually find a behind the scenes video on Spotify’s Instagram profile, and also on mine.
Q: What does a typical day in the program look like?
My role is the in-house sound engineer for the Los Angeles Secret Genius studio. I usually get to the studio about an hour before the session starts. I like to do my homework and research the people that are booked in the studio to have an idea of what we’ll be working on or at least what genre of music it’ll be. It’s important to know that information because it will dictate what type of equipment I’ll need and how I’ll set up the room for the client. That’s about all I can do to prepare for a session because each session is different. I never really know exactly what they’ll need until they walk through the door, so I have to think on my feet and adapt to whatever is needed of me. At times, I’m working with an artist who comes in on their own and needs more guidance, so I take on the role of a producer. Other times, it’s an experienced writer who needs someone to operate the computer so they can get their ideas out, when that’s the case I’m strictly an engineer. It’s all about reading the room, figuring out people’s needs and doing what you can to make everyone feel comfortable.
Q: For women looking to get into the audio engineering industry, are there any entry-level groups, internships, workshops or other resources you can suggest?
Yeah absolutely! There are a ton of organizations that support women in music! A lot of them organize conferences,
masterclasses, networking events, mentoring programs, internships and some even offer scholarships. There are also directories that you can look at to find and collaborate with other women in the industry like The EQL Directory that Spotify launched in collaboration with SoundGirls: makeiteql.com. Some organizations you should definitely look up and support are: Women’s Audio Mission, Women in Music, Soundgirls.org, She Is The Music, Women In the Mix, Girls Behind The Rock Show, VOCL, etc.
Q: What is the best piece of advice you can give to women aspiring a career in the field?
Don’t take things personally and stay focused on your work. There are so many reasons to doubt yourself but you’re going to be your biggest ally. No matter what happens, just trust yourself because there’s no reason you can’t do whatever you set your mind to. It sounds so cliché but I promise it’s true!
Q: Have you personally faced discrimination or obstacles – as a female, in the industry?
Sure, it happens all the time. Most of the time it’s not so obvious or blatant, sometimes it’s not even anything specific. As women, not just in the music industry, we deal with microaggressions on a daily basis. It’s definitely nothing we can’t deal with – if I’m being honest it gets annoying and exhausting because even when you do your best not to let it get to you, it takes a lot of energy to constantly be the bigger person. It’s one more thing we need to handle. I’ve had people doubt me, be surprised I was the engineer, question my capabilities, I’ve been patronized and talked to as if I knew nothing but all this says more about who they are than it does about you.
Q: What keeps you motivated and dedicated to your craft?
Thinking as an entrepreneur is what keeps me motivated because I’m always thinking about my next steps. I’m constantly trying to grow and expand my “business” so to speak. If this pandemic has taught us anything it’s how to reinvent the way we work and do business, and that’s how I always try to think. The music industry excites me so much because it keeps you on your toes. Just when you think you have it figured out, it’s already evolved into something new.
Q: Do you have any specific goals for your future? Any artists you aspire to work with?
Drake and Rosalía. I really want to work with them to see what their creative process is and be a part of it. It goes without saying that I want to be working with the top artists in the game but what I’d really love to do is help develop and break the next big artist.
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
Yes! I’m actually working on starting my own management company. If any artists, songwriters or producers are reading this and want to connect, you can reach me through my Instagram profile @alissafaratro. I’m always looking for new people to work with! You can send me any of your work to listen to and don’t hesitate to reach out even if you just want to chat!
Music lovers helping music-makers in times of hardship, illness or economic difficulties. Unison Benevolent Fund is a non-profit, registered charity that provides counselling and emergency relief services to the Canadian music community.
DONATE TODAY Register and donate today: UnisonFund.ca For assistance, call: 1-855-9UNISON UnisonFund
TAYA MARQUIS “I wrote ‘Strive’ because in hard times I’ve let my demons get the best of me and I think a lot of us beg our demons to let us go. I want people to feel empowered to pursue their purpose of why they are here on this planet 8 Earth, and STRIVE for it!”
oronto’s Taya Marquis consistently delivers a pop, R&B and hip-hop fusion with songs that are strong in both sound and substance. Marquis uses her music as an avenue for mental health advocacy and enforces the value of self-discovery and #positiviTAY through her vulnerable lyricism. This talented singer-songwriter is also an ambitious entrepreneur who has co-wrote with Ke$ha, opened for Tinashe and had in-studio mentorship sessions with Young Guru (Jay-Z’s audio engineer) for her EP i’mperfect. In her newest single and music video for “Strive,” Marquis tells a powerful story about battling with inner demons and the strength to overcome them, urging listeners to be the best versions of themselves. With i’mperfect, Marquis strives to bring depth, positivity and empowerment to the world through her fierce and bold musical stylings. In times of darkness, Marquis’ music and message work together to create a bright future – for herself as an artist and her fans. Q: Tell us about the inspiration behind your single and music video for “Strive”:
After I went through a lot of dark times and hit rock bottom, I felt I had no other inspiration but to write about striving for better, for something greater, and searching for the reasons why. In “Strive,” I’m writing to myself, and to my lover, expressing my brokenness, and preparing to expose my pain. It’s about not abandoning my darkness, but pushing through it and going through it to become a better version of myself. In the music video, I really wanted to portray this struggle; through the colours and the movement – the dancers represent my inner demons and we see how I “battle” them from scene to scene.
PHOTO BY: LIZZIE O’DONNELL
Q: What can you tell us about your EP i’mperfect?
When you listen to my EP i’mperfect, you’ll feel like you caught me right in the middle of searching – for myself, the truth, the world’s truth and purpose. My major influence with this project was really rooted in uncovering my truths and discovering my purpose in the world.I don’t necessarily have a set creative process for “Chosen” and “Strive,” I sat at the piano and the whole song just spilled out of me because I was really going through those emotions at the time. For “Be Who U Are” and “Get Going,” I was in the studio with the writers and they asked me what I wanted to talk about and then we all worked on the ideas together. For “Good Girl,” I wrote it with my co-writer while she was plucking at her guitar. “Million People” came to me in my shower (as so many creative moments do!) – the melody and lyrics presented itself to me and I brought it to my producer to build the production around the acappella. When writing, it’s very different every time, and I try to stay as open as possible to catch the inspiration ball whenever the universe throws it my way!
Q: Do you have a favourite track from the project?
I love all my babies the same buttt if I had to choose, I’d say “Strive,” “Chosen” and “Good Girl” – only because they’re all songs I can still relate to today at this very moment in my life.
Q: How was it working with Young Guru?
He’s a literal angel. Like, God-sent. I’m incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to work with him. My producer, Neo Tempus, and I booked a session with him while he was in NY for only a short period of time. Neo and I jumped into a rental car and drove down to NY from Toronto in the peak of winter. I remember on our way back, we got caught in this huge snow storm and I had to call in late for work LOL. But yeah, it was all so worth it for that one session with Guru, where he broke down every song on the EP, giving notes on exactly what we needed to fix on each one.
Q: In times of uncertainty and isolation – such as the current state we’re all in, what are some tips on staying healthy and well?
Well, in Canada, we are so blessed to have the government’s help. We can apply for so many different types of benefits. Having that financial aid coming in has been a blessing, and I’m using these extra hours in the day to do things I love and never felt I had time to do. It can feel difficult, but I’ve been trying my best to work on my mental and physical health with some meditation and fitness apps. Also, I’ve been spending quality time with my family while being on lockdown with them. Some tips I’d say is to not be afraid to dream right now, and even maybe start your side hustle or business, explore cooking some new dishes, finish some books, the list goes on! There’s good in anything bad, and I think we just have to choose to look at this situation from that perspective.
Q: You use your music as an avenue for mental health advocacy, messages of self-discovery and positivity – which is very admirable and essential to many. Why is utilizing your platform to convey these messages so important to you?
You know, art can be a great tool for introspection and personal therapy, which I absolutely use it for. But art is also meant, in my opinion, to connect us as humans. As a person, I feel really empowered when I know I’m helping people; I’ve discovered that is one of my purposes in life, so I’ve let that purpose seep into my songwriting. I really do want people to experience my music and walk away feeling something, whether it’s added motivation to pursue a dream, or a relief from stress after singing and dancing; that’s purposeful.
Q: Already having an impressive career from co-writing with Ke$ha to opening for Tinashe, what are some of your future aspirations?
Thank you! Yeah, those were definitely milestones! In this next chapter of my career, I’d really like to go on tour with either Shawn Mendes, Camilla Cabello, Rihanna (wow!), Jessie Reyez, Lennon Stella, Emotional Oranges or Lucky Daye. These artists are INCREDIBLE! I’m also aiming to secure a publishing deal as a songwriter – I want to be in a position to write for artists from different genres and be part of their own development.
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
I want to wish every artist (especially the independent ones!) the best of success in their careers and goals. This is such a cool time for music and entertainment, and I believe your entire success is in the palm of your hands. I tell myself this every day: stop making excuses, stop living behind your fears and go fricken get it. Stop looking for handouts and make your own money moves. Educate yourself on the business of music, work on bettering your craft, and collab with other artists. And ultimately, invest in yourself. Thanks so much for chatting with me, SoundZine! Love you, Taya.
Q: You recently dropped your latest single “Bleed Baby Bleed.” What was the vision behind the track? In my recording process I often change the songs, add a new bridge in, amp up the chorus, switch around parts, write a new outro etc, but this is one song that started and ended as simple, and the same as when it went in. My producer, Jordan Klassen and I, wanted the song to sound pure and beautiful and have an ache to it. We wanted to use raw and organic sounds like acoustic guitar and piano and a little bit of ambience to just lift up the song and let it take you away. My greatest vision for the song was for it to just make people feel something.
you goosebumps, think hard about what you want to achieve and how you can get there, use this as a challenge to find inspiration out of ordinary things that you may have overlooked before, chat and plan and daydream and get stoked with other artists about all the projects you can do (even if it’s in the future) and imagine yourself on stage again, or crammed in a band van that smells like sweaty boys hucking it across the country. Picture those feelings you want to feel again and trust they will come. Also, probably most importantly take it easy on yourself. Find time to rest and be still as well in the midst of all this. Give yourself a little credit, and be kind to yourself.
Q: Your lyricism possesses so much depth, detail and vulnerability. What’s your creative process like when crafting Lake first shared a taste of her new album a song? with its debut “Oliver” and recently released My process has changed and evolved since the second single “Bleed Baby Bleed.” then, but at the time I wrote this song, it was a very natural flow, almost like picking up a journal and writing whatever comes out. It’s like how you don’t really know what you’re writing about or what you’re feeling till you pick up the paper or pick up the guitar and let it come out and all of a sudden you’ve solved something. I was more lyric focused and all about the storytelling, as it was all pieces of emotions or stories I had felt myself or observed in others.
Q: You are anticipating the release of your full-length album. What can you tell us about the upcoming project? Woweeee I cannot WAIT for this to be out in the world. It’s been a long time coming, and it’s just such a crazy thing to have your project that you’ve put months (years?) into, be out in the world. This album is kind of a bunch of pieces of me – the things that shaped me, broke me, inspired me, taught me, etc. It’s all about growing and moving through. These past few years were full of a lot of firsts for me – new love and heartbreak and betrayal and longing and confusion and awakening – so of course I couldn’t help but splatter all those big feelings onto paper and into sounds to create this album. It’s kind of a weird thing to have everything displayed out there for the world to take and do what they want with it – but in a weird way it’s freeing, because it becomes less about you, and more for everyone to make it into something that is theirs. Plus I always have 500 or so ideas running through my head at all time, so I’m quite antsy to get started on the next project.
ancouver’s Jillian Lake transposes her feelings into the lyrics and melodies of her indie folk music. With a sound comparable to Feist and Maggie Rogers, Lake beautifully creates a culmination of words, music, movements, and visuals. Lake first shared her soul-bearing sounds with the release of her first self-recorded EP Honey. Following her debut, she connected with musician and producer, Jordan Klassen for a full-length record. Klassen combined his cinematic and syncopated style with Lake’s stripped-down singer-songwriter form to construct an album that combines raw poetry and melodies complemented by stellar song structure and instrumentation.
Baby Bleed’ is a melancholy lullaby “ ‘Bleed for the lost. It’s the feeling of drowning
while not even really remembering to swim. Surrendering to the chaos, ignoring the normal deliberation on behaviour that would ask “Is this good for me?”. Sinking into a mix of masochistic tenancies tangled in shallow short lived thrill and immediate gratification until it almost swallows you whole.
PHOTO: ANI TCHAKAROVA / ILLUSTRATION: KIANNA LOPES
Her forthcoming project has been described as embodying feelings of love and loss through hushed electronics, swooning dream-pop and ethereal ambiance. Both “Oliver” and “Bleed Baby Bleed” give us a sneak peek of what’s to come. Though her album has yet to be released, Lake already has her third record in the works and a lot more in store. Q: How would you describe your sound to new listeners? I’m inspired by a variety of music, so I find myself blending melancholic singer-songwriter with folk feelings and lil moody indie??? I could throw a few more genres in there and just keep going haha. I’d hope to sound dreamy, like if you were to be swept up and carried away in a sound or an emotion. I try my very best to create something that gives people that nostalgic feeling in the pit of their stomach. Whether it’s a bitter reliving of heartbreak, or a sweet remembrance of a sweet love. Sad bops that somehow still make you want to dance.
Q: How important is the unification through music during these times of a pandemic? Very very very veryyyy. Honestly art and creation is how we’re gonna get through this. To be in a time of so much uncertainty feels helpless, but to find, seek out, and create beauty keeps you grounded and inspired. Music brings people together, and that is what we all need during isolation. My favourite part about creating has always been the collaboration of it – so being surrounded by artists supporting artists, inspiring each other, finding innovative ways to not let their art be stifled, even in the midst of a global pandemic is just about the biggest fire under your butt you could light. Q: As a creative, what are some tips you suggest to stay inspired in a time of uncertainty? I mean I feel so flippen moody all the time hehe but trying my best to stay sane. If I were to give advice I would say: Keep the passion alive! Listen to albums that give
Q: Anything else you would like to add? Hmm, I think we covered a fair bit. I’m just happy to get to keep on creating. I used to (still am but working on it hehe) be so hard on myself and my music, but now I just try to find value in the process, and look forward to all that is to come next. I also hope everyone finds a little bit of peace in music, wherever that may be during this chaotic time, and feel so grateful to feel people’s support and encouragement through this all. It means more than ever. People taking the time to listen to, dance to, write about music is so so so so magic.
Married couple Jared Salte and Bethany Schumacher make up the core of Edmonton’s alt-pop band The Royal Foundry. Together the pair deliver synth-infused, catchy and upbeat indie-rock tracks comparable to the sounds of Coldplay and Arcade Fire. Following the September release of their latest album – Wakeup Wakeup, The Royal Foundry returns with an animated music video and single for their dreamy indie-rock tune “okay?”. The imaginative video was created in collaboration with Hudson Munshaw – a talented animator based in Calgary, to tell the story of two astronauts in space falling apart and ultimately being separated on two worlds. Salte and Schumacher will be sharing their new single and more as a part of The National Arts Centre’s #CanadaPerforms – a series of live streams to bring artists and fans together during this time of social distancing. Inspired by John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Bed-In for Peace, they will be performing their new single and more. In the near future, we can look forward to a continuation of the astronauts’ story in the form of a comic book, tour dates and more music, but for now, we are left with a wicked new song, visuals and a few words of advice to get us through these trying times:
“A lot of creativity and depth is birthed from trying/weird times. Take what life gives you and turn it into art.” 12
THE ROYAL FOUNDRY
Q: Your newest song is titled “okay?”. Can you give us a little insight behind the lyrical and musical vision? When we wrote this song, last spring, it came from a very personal season in our lives. At the time where we were in the midst of chaos in our lives, a mix of bad and good, and not knowing the outcome or how we would get there, this song became a sort of mantra. Something that we would tell ourselves, something that we would know would soon be able to look back at and see that things were going to be okay…? Adding the “?” at the end was also just a relatable “point,” because as we all know, there is always doubt with what the unknown outcome can be. The dichotomy of hope and doubt. Q: For the “okay?” music video, you chose to take an animated approach. What inspired you to do this? It was always our desire to want to be involved in a project that had a graphic novel element. We love a good graphic novel and the style of it. This past Summer, we reconnected with a friend that happened to just finish animating school and was up for the challenge of not only making an animated video (for the first time), but creating a printed graphic novel as well to go with it. It was really just great timing!
Q: Where did the idea of two astronauts falling apart come from? Was the story inspired by any real-life events or ideas? I think in a lot of ways yes – but it wasn’t the initial idea. We wanted to create a storyline that started with struggle. Something bad happens and the characters don’t know what the outcome will be. Both find themselves on their own personal struggle to get out of their mess and back to each other. Will this be a fairytale ending? Leaving the video off on a cliffhanger further cements the “?” in the title.
Q: The story is set to pick up where the music video left off, in the form of a comic book. How did this unique idea come about? Hudson Munshaw – the animator, has such a unique artistry that we knew we couldn’t just squeeze a storyline into 3 1/2 minutes. So we thought we would create an intro to the song, to give some more time for the story. But that just gave more “space” to set the scene and kick off the video. We loved the direction of the storyline and loved the possibility of where it could continue, so we couldn’t stop it. Being graphic novel lovers, it just felt right to explore that medium. Q: Following the release of your new single and video, you will be performing on NAC’s #CanadaPerforms live stream. What can we expect? Nervousness? We’ve never been too good at staring at ourselves on our phones pretending to connect/talk to people – which is exactly what we will be trying to do during the live stream. It will be awkward. We will be awkward. But it will be the most vulnerable and acoustic-y we’ve ever been – all set in our bed, inspired by Bed-In For Peace. I know it’s hard for people to tune in for the duration of the stream, but this is such a unique time that we are all going through, and we want to share some personal insights on our music that we’ve never shared before to make this time as enlightening as we can. We are excited to just experience a live stream for the first time and honestly just play our songs live for people….we miss it! Q: Inspired by John Lennon and Yoke Ono’s BedIn For Peace, can you offer any advice or words of encouragement to other artists and fans in these trying times? I think a lot of creativity and depth is birthed from trying/weird times. Take what life gives you and turn it into art. Maybe some of it will see the light of day, but most of it will be for you and you alone. There is always something new, some different perspective or some enlightening moment waiting around the corner, if you exercise your creative mind to search for it.
PHOTO BY: JARED SALTE + BETHANY SCHUMACHER
Q: How would you describe your band and your sound to new listeners? The Royal Foundry is a mix of anthemic melodies akin to Arcade Fire, with hints of classic rhythms of Bruce Springsteen and pop influences of Coldplay with indie elements at its core.
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“Written during the pause in time that we have been living in, without a doubt had stopped us thinking, ‘Diablo De Un Segundo’ was created out of a melancholy that the title embodies; one of solitude and yet optimism. I have been able to find creativity in this uncertainty and the release of the song along with two more is to seed that hope in others.”
Album after album, Cuba consistently delivers honest and hopeful lyrics paired with a one-of-a-kind blend of world music. Cuba breaks down language and cultural barriers with sounds as diverse as the contrast between his birthplace and current hometown and continues to captivate Alex Cuba has been sharing his the hearts and ears of fans across the radiant and uplifting tunes with the map. world since the early 2000s with an impressive career spanning nearly 20 Now more than ever, it is important to years. Cuba’s talent has not gone celebrate authenticity, courage, unity unnoticed – with multiple Grammy and optimism. Cuba’s music exudes all nominations, two Juno Awards and of these characteristics and his three four Latin Grammy wins, he continues new tracks “Diablo De Un Segundo”, to unify listeners from all walks of life “Just The Two Of Us” and “Concéntrica with Spanish and English verses and Canción” are the dose of positivity we a growing collection of feel-good Afro- all need right now. Cuban jazz tracks. From his multiple accolades to collaborations with fellow Canadians Ron Sexsmith and Nelly Furtado, Cuba remains one of the most notable names in Latin music in Canada and beyond.
Most recently, Cuba wrapped up a Canadian tour in January – in support of his seventh studio album Sublime. Though Cuba’s plans to tour the US and perform at numerous Summer festivals were interrupted by COVID-19, he is not letting the pandemic slow him down. The talented multiinstrumentalist shifted his focus and energy into writing and recording material from his home, including a trio of brand new songs. Cuba reflects on the first of his three new singles:
“Pandemics come and go but humans will always feel hope, love, despair and everything in between.”
PHOTO BY: EDUARDO RAWDRIGUEZ
ailing from Smithers, British Columbia, this Artemisa-born indie singer-songwriter proudly embraces his roots with added inspiration drawn from a wide array of musical influences including acoustic, funk, and pop.
Q: What’s the inspiration behind the creation of your first new single “Diablo De Un Segundo”? Well, [Diablo De Un Segundo] definitely came from a moment of self reflection in which I was questioning the fragility of faith. It is melancholic and optimistic throughout. It actually is a song I wrote a while back that resonated with what was going on with everyone in isolation. Artists often find themselves isolated emotionally and have to dig deep in moments of reflection. I think I needed the right time to share something that vulnerable.
Q: Any advice for artists or other creatives in regards to thriving during this pandemic? Find inspiration because there is a lot to say during this time, but please take this into consideration. Whatever you create during this time of a pandemic might be more meaningful, more valuable to humanity if it is done from an open artistic point of view, rather than choosing to sing or put into lyrics whatever the news is saying. I think singing the newspaper puts a limit, an expiration time to the creation. We can choose to use the tension, the feelings and even the fear we are all feeling at this moment, and turn that into something magical and bigger than the very pandemic. Something that hopefully 10 years from now will still have a Q: What can you tell us – musically and thematically, relevant message. Pandemics come and go but humans from your other two singles? will always feel hope, love, despair and everything in The second single is my version of the classic tune “Just between. The Two Of Us” by Bill Withers. It’s actually the first time I’ve covered somebody else’s music. I recorded it at the Q: You sing mostly in Spanish, yet still manage request of the CBC Vancouver show Hot Air in honour to captivate a major audience despite language of Bill Withers. I loved the way it came out and decided barriers. What is it about your artistry that you to release it along with the two originals. Just guitar and think captures the souls of listeners? vocals that were recorded in the living room set up I did I think melodies have an incredible amount of for the interview requests I was getting while at home. information in them, and in my opinion they can create a language and an identity. I focus a lot on my melodies The third single is a song I wrote about a month ago, and the honesty and passion I sing them with. If a and wrote it in my favorite way of writing music, when melody is beautiful and comforting, the human brain you least expect it, like if somebody was dictating easily understands the sentiment in it regardless of the it in your ear. A very melodic tune, with a bossa sort language in which the song is delivered. I think that of feel to it, very breezy and uplifting. As it’s title says has been in a big way the secret to my music finding “Concéntrica Canción” – “Concentric Song,” it talks audiences in Canada above language and culture. about the concentric circles of life that are the repeating patterns of our actions that we go through each day and Q: You have received so many awards and experience as time. How everything is related to each nominations, to what can you credit your success other in a way that would be difficult to predict but also and the longevity of your career? harmonious at a distance. I think one thing that is easily recognizable in my music, is the classic/timeless vibes in it, and that can be created Q: You have been keeping busy at home, recording when there is a higher purpose to it than being hip or these songs in your living room. How important is it aiming at fame. The most important thing in what I do to stay motivated and dedicated to your art during is to always find my own sound. It’s easy for an artist to these times? think that if you don’t have “today’s sound” in your song It has been super important to find motivation and to people are not going to like it, but if a song is melodically keep believing that a song can change the life of a human strong and well written, it will always sound relevant being. Looking at it from that point of view, I find a huge and that “one” could even be creating a “new” sound. I responsibility as an artist and that responsibility I believe think some awards encourage and I appreciate that, and keeps me going, it makes me feel that I can play a part to so does the public. It is a much smaller piece of the pie help maintain hope in this world. but comes without the hassle of the “game” or the hustle.
KASSIA KARRERA Kbusiness.”
assia Karrera wants you to “stream her personal The Montreal-based R&B singersongwriter opens up with infectious hooks and real-life experiences that reverberate throughout her music:
“I feel everything very deeply, and it’s a blessing and a curse. Everybody gets a little crazy in love, so I have no shame in taking accountability for some of the situations I’ve found myself in and singing about them.” Following the February release of “In Too Deep,” – a collaboration with Jacob Lacroix-Cardinal, whose credits include: Charlie Puth, Offset, Rosalía and Young M.A, Karrera returns with another dark R&B banger. Written during quarantine this past April, she describes her newest single “Stop It” as a “sexy, emotional track” with “ethereal synths, heavy 808s and seductive vocals begging for answers.” Karrera goes all in on this soul-bearing song about meeting someone during a complicated time in her life:
“Solitude really forces you to take a look in the mirror and re-evaluate your priorities and things that you want out of life at the moment. I think the main theme within the track is how bad timing plays a major role in the demise of a relationship.”
PHOTO BY: PABLO GAYTAN
Though she only released her debut song “Light Switch” less than a year ago, the enigmatic yet fiercely in-your-face songstress has been on a steady climb since. Currently working on her EP and eager to perform live, Karrera has no plans on slowing down.
Q: How would you describe your sound? Any musical influences? I’d describe my sound as moody rnb/pop. I actually grew up on country and rock music, I think that’s why I’m drawn to dark minor chords for my production. I’m inspired by artists that really don’t give a f*ck, I think it’s alluring when it’s clear that someone is authentic to themselves. Lyricism that makes you almost a tad uncomfortable is my thing. I really like to say it how it is, raw and almost a bit tongue in cheek. Playing my music to friends and family for the first time is always so awkward for me. I’m like “yep, that’s what’s going on up here.”
Q: You possess a unique artistry, how important is it to stay true to yourself while navigating the music industry? Thank you! I always had my own style and way of doing things growing up. I think the most important thing while navigating the industry is holding onto that passion that made you want to become an artist in the first place. Things don’t happen overnight, so you have to do it because you really love it. As an artist, your uniqueness is your strongest card you can play. Just stand out, be you. That, and being smart with your money. Financial organization is super important to me. It’s really easy to get sucked into the glitz and glam of the industry. Really navigating on a frequency of love and good intentions will attract the right people. Q: Tell us about the creative process behind “Stop It.” Themes? Lyricism? Inspiration? I wrote “stop it” during quarantine back in April. Solitude really forces you to take a look in the mirror and re-evaluate your priorities and things that you want out of life at that moment. I think the main theme within the track is how bad timing plays a major role in the demise of a relationship. Personally, I had met someone at a complicated time in my life last year. “If you feel like you just cannot ride this part of life with me then be honest” is the first line of the hook. Funny enough, that sentence really did come out of my mouth during a conversation I had with someone one night. The hook is written
as a conversation, and honestly that’s more or less how the real conversation went down. When I say “when we start, we can’t stop it,” I’m talking about everything, whether it be fighting, laughing, f*cking, you name it. It was always all or nothing, which is fun at first, but exhausting in the long run.
Q: Your music is very vulnerable and personal, considering you write about real-life experiences. What’s your songwriting process? I have a love/ hate relationship with songwriting. I like to write from a brutally honest perspective, and sometimes being honest with yourself about how you feel can be uncomfortable. I feel everything very deeply, and it’s a blessing and a curse. Everybody gets a little crazy in love, so I have no shame in taking accountability for some of the situations I’ve found myself in and singing about them. I always feel most connected to a song when I can tell the artist is expressing their truth, even if the truth is really messy and dysfunctional. My process is always melody first. I’ll find a flow I want to sing on and just freestyle over the beat a couple times. Then I write down the lyrical parts that I wanna keep, and start structuring what will go where. When I step in the booth, the track is rarely finished, I just like to start it and see where it takes me. Then I blast it and drive around in my car to finish it. I’d say 80% of my lyrics come to me while driving. I just feel inspired and open.
ustin Trash, Joe Rascal, and Roc Lee – collectively known as Much of their alternative appeal is what sets UBB apart from UPTOWN BOYBAND, are on their way to putting Canada on other K-Pop acts, with merged elements of pop and trap that the K-Pop map. are truly distinctive to their crew. Originally solo acts, the three Korean-Canadian artists “The lack of representation helped us create our own path teamed up to create what would later be dubbed Toronto’s without any restrictions,” says Justin Trash. “There was no first alternative K-Pop band. rule book, so we want to be the role models we never had.”
“We learned that we all had the same vision and values when it UBB first paved their way to success by gaining traction as an came to making music, which led us to form the group,” recalls opening act on select dates for South Korean rapper BewhY’s member Joe Rascal. Canadian tour. It didn’t take long for the group to rapidly gain mass amounts of listeners and dedicated fan accounts, from The trio credit their musical style and artistic vision to their communal love for K-Pop and their Korean roots combined all over the world. with their North-American upbringing and passion for the art of hip-hop. With their music, UBB strives to carve out spaces Their latest single follows the previously-released trap-heavy track “KULT FREESTYLE” and the more dancehall-inspired and help bring representation to their homegrown culture: song “READ MY MIND.”
“We don’t really have many Asian-American or Asian-Canadian figures to look up to and we definitely live in that middle ground where we have a Korean background but we live a Canadian lifestyle. We want to be the bridge that helps close that gap.”
The most recent UBB release comes in the form of a new track and video for “BAG$.” The lyrics tell a story of “a strong passion for love” and are accompanied by visuals that pay homage to the neo-noir film Old Boy. With more music and videos slotted for the near future, UBB are ready to make their mark.
Q: UBB is credited as “Toronto’s first alternative K-Pop Q: Tell us about your new track “BAG$”: group.” How does your sound differ from traditional ROC: This song tells a story about our strong passion for love, but we incorporate the theme of using symbolic items such as K-Pop and who are your musical influences?
ROC: As Korean-Canadian artists growing up in Toronto, we learned to implement some of our inspirations of both Western and K-Pop music into our sound. Blending those two cultures together, is what makes our sound differ from traditional K-Pop music. Our biggest musical influences include BIGBANG, A$AP MOB and ODD FUTURE.
expensive bags and money to express those emotions.
Q: The music video is an ode to the neo-noir film Old Boy. What can you tell us about the making of the video?
JUSTIN: We shot this music video in a span of three days outside of Toronto in Elora and Hamilton, in some really Q: You three were originally solo acts, what was the unique and isolated locations. We wanted the music video to deciding factor in coming together to form a group? pay homage to the film Old Boy, where there’s also a scene JOE: Roc Lee and I knew each other in high school and we showing a box in an open grass field. That scene paved the were both experimenting with music at that time. A mutual way for the rest of the video and sparked the idea to have friend introduced us to Justin Trash and when we met up at a earthy environments as a backdrop. Korean films have a very bar one night, we learned that we all had the same vision and unique style in their stories and production and we wanted to values when it came to making music, which led us to form apply some of those styles to our own music video. We wanted to attach the characteristics of confusion and intoxication into the group UPTOWN BOYBAND. the performances because “BAG$” carries a very expressive Q: How did inking a record deal with Sony Music come set of sounds.
PHOTO BY: BISH UPRETY
JOE: Word was getting around about our live shows and we started to get interest from a number of record labels. One of them was Sony Music. The deal didn’t come about straight away, we wanted to take our time and make sure the label shared the same vision as us. We collectively agreed to ink the record deal because ultimately we knew they could help us achieve our goals as a group.
Q: How important is it for the music industry and beyond to create spaces and have representation for all different cultures and ethnicities?
JUSTIN: It’s extremely important. Many industries of the world would not function without the helping hands of BIPOC, and I think change for better representation begins with us educating ourselves on these different cultures and the injustices that exist in the world, or even in our own backyard.
p-and-coming Montreal artist Raff Pylon is a widely talented multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, producer and songwriter. Most recently a contestant on La Voix, Pylon first started out as a member of Bridgeway – who charted on Quebec radio and is set to do the same with his new music. Nearing the end of 2018, Pylon returned to the studio as a one-man-act. Collaborating with renowned producers such as Rob Wells (Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez, Backstreet Boys), Grammywinning producer Earl Powell (Jennifer Hudson, The Jacksons) and Ben Pelchat (Boy George), Pylon went on to release his first solo single “Can’t Let You Go” in 2019. Through his work with Earl Powell, Pylon met the legendary Tito Jackson (The Jackson 5) who happened to love his sound.
Jackson and Pylon met up again, but this time with a purpose – to create the fitting release of “King’s Lane.” Pylon’s newest single showcases a softer side of his familiar pop melodies, with an added R&B twist. The uplifting track is a vessel for messages reflecting positivity, unity and embracing our beautiful differences – focused on inspiring people during these unprecedented times and the uprising of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Music is how I share my views with the world, I want to share positivity and bring people together. It’s the reason why I make music. To not only showcase my artistry but to unite listeners through the melodic sounds and lyrical styling while spreading messages of peace and harmony.
“King’s Lane” is a reflection of a dream Pylon once had, where he saw a path of millions of roses leading up to a European style castle. He turned this vision into a melody on his piano to bring his dream to life.
“I thought if millions of roses were people on earth, reflecting the various cultures and differences amongst us, sharing the same space and cohabiting together it makes such a beautiful and tranquil sight to see.” Although La Voix’s eighth season was forced to halt production due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pylon has been using his time to produce covers from his home studio which – along with fellow contestants’, were presented online as a series called “Piano Sessions” during the show’s usual broadcast time. He hasn’t been able to continue sharing his music on television but Pylon connects with fans and acts as an effervescent ray of light, spreading messages that are crucial to today’s society.
Q: Tell us about your experience on Canada’s The Voice (La Voix): I’ve had a very good time on the show so far! I got to learn a lot about what’s going on behind the scenes of a big production like this one and it’s been very interesting to see! Plus it was really great to work with the coaches! They’re all great artists that I respect very much, so it was really nice to learn from them. Q: What can you tell us about your new track “King’s Lane”? Well it’s a funny story. I woke up one morning with this vision from the dream I just had: a stone path leading to a castle with millions of roses of many different colours on each side. I also had the melody for the song as I opened my eyes, so I went up to the piano and started putting all of it together, telling the story of my dream over the melody. When I got to the chorus, I realized that the true message of the song was, if we were able to live together the same way these roses are, cohabitating in their common space and sticking together as a whole even though they’re all of different colours, it would make the world just as beautiful as the image I had in my dream! That was two years ago and we hadn’t released the song yet for many different reasons. But after witnessing everything that happened in the past months around the world, and especially in North America, I felt compelled to send it out as I needed to share my thoughts with the world, and “King’s Lane” was the best way to express myself. Q: The track features the legendary Tito Jackson. How was your experience working with him? How did that collaboration come about? Working with Tito was great! I’m extremely happy with
the results coming out of the process. We actually met through my producer Earl Powell, who worked on projects for both The Jacksons and Tito himself in the past. When I went to record “King’s Lane” in LA, we actually did it in Tito’s home studio, which was a great surprise for me as I didn’t know beforehand! Later in the week, Tito came back from London and that’s how we met, then he heard the song and said he really liked it! So when we decided to release the song it felt natural to ask him if he wanted to be a part of the project, and we were very happy to hear that he was up for it! The track sends a message about unity. Q: How important is it to use your platform to help spread messages that are crucial to society? It’s very important to me and I try to inspire my fellow artists to do the same as much as possible. I truly believe we can have a valuable and positive impact on society by way of our collective output to people, namely through social and conventional media. Most people, myself included, rely highly on music to go through their days, whether good or bad. And sometimes we as artists forget the power of our lyrics and how important it is to use our art to bring people together. Being aware of that, I try to do it as much as I can. Q: The music industry was hit hard due to the pandemic, do you have any advice for other creators during this time? Be creative in your own way! With so many of our conventional practices put on hold, we all have to find different ways to reach out to our audience and now’s the best time to think outside the box!
PHOTO BY: SOPHIE PERRAS
Raff Pylon 25
ingston rockers The Wilderness’ massive sound has earned them comparisons to Bruce Springsteen, Mumford & Sons, The National and The Lumineers. To date, they have spawned six independent global releases and played over 400 shows across North America. Their most recent release Until Tomorrow is mighty in more ways than one. The latest single “If I Have To Die” – from the band’s first full-length album, is as much a statement of defiance as it is a response to crisis. Though the song was written before the COVID-19 pandemic, the sentiment carries a certain weight in this era of social isolation. Lead vocalist Jonas Lewis-Anthony comments:
“‘If I Have To Die’ is a song As a whole, Until Tomorrow encapsulates that I felt I really had to write, a sense of rawness, insight and that is mirrored by that we started 2020 by being introspection of the band itself. The sextet – with bombarded with what members spanning from across the globe, brings together a diverse lineup at the time felt like pretty apocalyptic news. It felt like in a world where the cultivation and of diversity and differences climate change, capitalism, celebration among us is so greatly needed. coronavirus and a potential world war three was going The guys take pride in their organic to kill us all and there was growth since forming back in 2015 and to use their platform to spread nothing I could do to stop it. continue important societal messages: The song acknowledges the world is awful and although “We’re certainly no Rage it feels like we’re on the Against the Machine but precipice of disaster, we can we won’t ever ignore the find comfort and peace in and need for three chords around the people we love.” and the truth.”
Q: With an international lineup, how does the diversity of your band’s members play a part in who The Wilderness is and the music you deliver? The diversity of nationalities has had a very interesting influence on us as musicians. Having widely varied childhood experiences, and musical influences has really helped bolster our creative arsenal as a band, and it has given us lots to work with and plenty of different perspectives. It often feels as though the broad range of perspectives and influences helps us connect and relate to others on a personal and musical level.
responsibility to address political and societal issues. Rock and roll has always been political and the last thing we want is to be just some feel-good, cookie-cutter boy band. The six of us align politically which certainly makes things easier when we write about these things. The world is fucked right now and we refuse to shy away from the fact that that is the case. We’re certainly no Rage Against the Machine but we won’t ever ignore the need for three chords and the truth.
Q: Your single “If I Had to Die” is about serious topics surrounding the current state of the world. How important is it as a songwriter to paint narratives that coincide with current political and societal issues? I believe that people with a platform and a voice have a
Q: What’s next for The Wilderness? Well since we can’t tour, we’ve put together a bunch of amazing content to keep our fans engaged so watch out for that! After that, we will probably be going to another cabin and writing the next record.
PHOTO BY: BOBBI SHEWCHUK
Q: What’s some advice you would give to those whose hearts are heavy during this tumultuous year? This year has affected us all in so many different ways that Q: Your album Until Tomorrow is a cohesive collection of it’s difficult to find an all encapsulating piece of advice that tracks. What was the initial inspiration behind crafting this addresses every reason one could have a heavy heart. The best I can do is to say: keep going, there are better times on project? the horizon as long as you can still find the beauty in even It was quite simple really, we had been crafting singles and stockpiling material for about 6 months and the process left the smallest things. us feeling stagnant. We went to a cabin in Quebec in the Q: You guys take pride in finding honest success, which is middle of winter and the quiet isolation was so inspiring refreshing in today’s industry. What’s the recipe behind that an album came out. It really was the perfect experience. developing a fanbase organically? Together, the six of us, under the same roof has always Go out there and play shows, talk to people, travel, and don’t resulted in our best work. Together we were able to work focus on being anybody but yourself. Being honest with your through some things that were on our minds and would fans about who you are and what you’re doing goes a long then collectively work those things into songs. It was so cathartic and much needed that the songs eventually just fell way in terms of building up a fanbase of people who really want to support you in what you do. into place!
anette King is not just an “I never really write about sex festival – showcasing 25 womxn Jtrades. artist but a womxn-of-all- but I wanted this video to focus acts. on sensuality between black From her tranquilizing vocals to her hypnotizing production style, King draws inspiration from Erykah Badu to Jill Scott to SZA to create an alternative fusion of electronic, soul and R&B. Along with having produced, written and performed in other projects, the multi-talented Montrealbased powerhouse is also known for delivering eclectic DJ mixes across her hometown’s clubs and bars. King’s most recent endeavour comes in the form of the sultry self-produced, directed and edited music video for her dreamy single “Mars”:
people in a not so serious way. There is a dire need for Highlighting both my queerness representation in music – not and my cheekiness.” only for womxn but also for black and queer creators. By simply The release of “Mars” – back and outwardly being herself, King in August, was the first taste is doing her part to shed light on off new record label Hot Tramp the importance of inclusion and Records – coinciding with the diversity in the music world and label’s launch. beyond. Hot Tramp Records – run by Sarah Armiento, is focused on raising the stage for womxn and aims to make 2021 a breakout year for its roster (Jannette King, Maryze, Alicia Clara). First launched as an artist management venture in 2019, the company grew rapidly – expanding into promotion, booking, PR and even a five day
Q: What can you tell us about your latest single “Mars”? The song is a story about intimacy between two lovers whose connection is otherworldly. Basically, the song is playing with the idea that going to the bedroom and being on the bed with your lover is so wild and exciting, it’s like going to Mars. The production was done by Vancouver producer Jonny Tobin. He is an incredibly talented artist. As soon as I heard the beat the song was written in a matter of minutes. Q: You just released your self-produced music video for “Mars.” What message are you trying to convey with the imagery? I wanted to spotlight intimacy between black people. As someone who is queer, I wanted to highlight that in my video too. I wanted this video to be a bisexual, spacy, visual treat. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to have my sexy friends be the stars of it.
“I am proud of who I am and just being me alone is a political statement that demands space.”
a representative of the queer community. Just like I’m not a representative for all black people. I am proud of who I am and just being me alone is a political statement that demands space. En plus que ça, spaces dedicated to queer folks and people of colour is so important, so that we can feel safe and free at shows, in public and in the world. Q: With social injustices prominent in current events, what’s your advice on being an effective ally? Yes, I mean it’s easy to say “black lives matter” but what actions are you taking in practice of that statement? I would ask any ally to ask themselves these questions:
PHOTO BY: SABINA ROMAN
Am I purchasing and donating to the work of black folks that are around me? Am I offering and connecting black folks to the opportunities and resources that I have access to in order to empower them (without expecting credits for doing so..)? Am I uplifting black lives and voices through my own actions, words and attitudes? Am I profiting off black culture? If so, how am I showing the Q: Congratulations on signing to Hot Tramp Records, a true origins of the culture and in what ways am I giving newly launched label that focuses on raising the stage back to the black community in order to share the profits that I have made? for womxn artists. How did that come about? I started out with Hot Tramp as a booking/PR Q: What’s some advice you would give to other partnership, organizing a North American Tour with its creators during these times? founder, Sarah Armiento. It was then that I asked her to be my manager and then when Hot Tramp Management Trust yourself and your intuition. Your soul will tell you what you need and what is right for you if you are able to became Hot Tramp Records the natural progression was listen. to sign with them! I wouldn’t have it any other way. Q: How important is it to carve out spaces and be a representation for the BIPOC 2SLGBTQ+ community? I mean I think it’s important to take space as a queer, black woman in Canada, however, I wouldn’t say that I’m
Q: What’s next for Janette King? I have another single coming soon and a full length album out in 2021. I have also been collaborating on songs with local artists. I am super excited to share these tunes with
With his upcoming EP New Ink, Blu dives is a sentiment to releasing his inner into new territory once again – fusing creative expression and new sound to rock instrumentation with his country the world. roots. Each of the EP’s five songs tell stories Blu’s sophomore release introduces of love, loss, breakups, and everything listeners to a genre known as outlaw in between with a mix of country twang country – a blend of rock, folk and and heavy riffs. country rhythms. Though new to the Inspired by B.B. King, Stevie Ray genre, Blu continues to deliver his own Vaughan, and John Mayer, Blu first unique take on country music – with began performing casually – taking blues and rock & roll influences. requests from the friends who’d visit. Recorded at Nashville’s OmniSound Manny recalls: Studios with the help of producer Aaron Eshuis (Rascal Flatts, Scotty “That was how it all started. All of McCreery) and songwriters Josh my friends were living in other towns, Osborne (Tim McGraw, Reba McEntire, playing hockey. They’d come back to Keith Urban), Ross Copperman (Kenny Montreal during the summer, once Chesney, Florida Georgia Line, Kacey hockey season was over, and they’d Musgraves) and Rhett Akins (Luke ask me to play the country songs Bryan, Blake Shelton), the rock-centric they’d been listening to. I learned all approach was born from Blu’s love From MMA fighter to road warrior, the hits…and I learned there’s a culture for one of his favourite bands, Mötley Manny Blu demonstrates tenacity, and a vibe to country music that’s like Crüe. Specifically inspired by the perseverance and a profound passion nothing else.” group’s album New Tattoo, New Ink for everything he does. rior to his life as a touring musician, Montreal’s Manny Blu was training for a career as an MMA fighter. Blu found himself back in his hometown, when a leg injury left him unable to compete in professional matches. In search of a hobby to pass the time, Blu gained a newfound appreciation for music.
“I wanted the album to sound the way we do live. There’s more rock, more soul, and more volume this time around. It’s bigger and louder, but it’s still me. And more importantly, it’s still fun.”
Q: What can we expect from your album release New Ink?
Well, I think that New Ink has a lot more of my sonic influences. From blues to rock to southern rock, yet the country music storytelling lives in every song. The themes are real life, the ups and downs and everything in between. This EP is definitely bigger and bolder than the last one and I love it.
Q: Do you have a personal favourite on the record?
I certainly do, but no one will ever know what it is. ;) Q: Why do you think there’s been a skyrocketing surge in popularity with Canadian country music?
I think when you look at Lindsey Ell and Tenille Townes and the effort they’ve made and the work that they’ve done, they are finally getting rewarded and it’s awesome. I think that seeing them do it gives a lot of hope for a lot of others, like myself, taking the risk and competing in Nashville. Quality and persistence always wins but you have to chase it. You have to get out of YOUR comfort zone and really make the push. Q: What’s some advice / words of optimism you would give to fellow creators during these times?
Stay interested, and stay creative. I’ve used this time to Q: How was your experience recording the album in Nashville? better my craft and really figure out what I wanna do next. There isn’t much we could do right now, but stay How did your surroundings influence the record? After having spent so much time on the road with my ready and being creative will pay off when things eventually get back to some kind of normalcy. first EP, I had a better understanding of the shows I wanted to put on, the way the band sounds all together Q: What’s next for Manny Blu? and honestly the music I wanted to make. I wanted More music…Bigger and larger than life type of music to represent that with New Ink, and I think we did. that grooves and still has a storyline for the country Nashville is the home of country music, but there are so many other types of music around and knowing that music listeners. Playing shows would be nice too haha... there are ways to walk the line between a few genres made the process of making this EP a lot more fun.
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Q: Tell us about your hit single “Born To Ride”:
“Born To Ride” is a song about love, and finding a loving partner that will go through all of life’s ups and downs with you. It’s a play on the saying “ride or die” but I feel like it’s a couple notches above that. It’s definitely something, both lyrically and sonically, I wanted on the album and I couldn’t be happier that it’s out now as the lead single for New Ink.
Your P aris
hese Canadian singer-songwriters will make you want to fall in love even while listening to their breakup ballads.
With a name inspired by Chelsea Cutler’s “Your Shirt” and the 1975’s “Paris,” Nick Babcock – a multi-instrumentalist from Kingston, and talented Toronto vocalist Laila Kharouba are now collectively known as up-and-coming pop/R&B duo Your Paris. Formerly a member of Kasador and featured on the second season of CTV’s The Launch, Babcock began dating and performing with Kharouba simultaneously during the summer of 2019.
PHOTO BY: DORTAS PHOTOGRAPHY
The pair reflect on their formation:
“We had a lot of people after our shows or open mics asking if we were a duo. For a few months we resisted the idea, mostly because it just seemed a little...dangerous. We ultimately realized that we had something really special together. So we decided to do this whole thing.”
Comparable to artists like Julia Michaels and Oh Wonder, the couple compliment each other perfectly – creating a fusion of genres while using personal experiences to deliver dialogue sure to resonate with any listener. Their sound is refreshing yet familiar – a unique blend of modern pop, R&B beats, lush harmonies with vulnerable lyricism. Following the release of stunning singles “Standing in Your Doorway” and “The Internet,” Your Paris share their new track “About Love” – followed by an accompanying live acoustic video. Their latest ballad is a reminiscent and reflective call out to an ex lover in the form of a heartbreak track disguised as a love song.
“[About Love] is about being betrayed by someone you really loved, and pondering that relationship for all that it is – the memories and the heartbreak.” Though new to the scene, Your Paris is determined to stay in the honeymoon stage of their career – in love with, and inspired by, their music.
Q: How would you describe your sound? Who are your musical influences? We like to describe ourselves as heartbreak pop. Honestly, we struggle a lot with genres as we find the meanings are constantly changing, as is our sound. We’re definitely pop. But when it comes to sub-genres, we’re inspired by so many different artists – The Chicks, Jon Bellion, Chelsea Cutler, Donovan Woods... so we’ve got a little bit of everything in there. Right now we’re really into an R&B duo called Emotional Oranges.
Q: You recently released another pop-R&B bop “The Internet.” What inspired that record? The Internet is actually the first song we wrote together. Nick showed a half baked version of it to [me] the first time [we] ever hung out. It’s the way our relationship sparked – romantically and musically. We both bonded over loving old 90s/early 2000s r&b, and in a lot of ways The Internet is an ode to that era. But at the same time, it’s super relevant to social media and modern relationships.
Q: Originally solo acts, how did merging your talents come about to form “Your Paris?” We started dating and simultaneously playing together in the summer of 2019. We had incredible musical chemistry from the start, so music became a big part of our relationship from then on. We had a lot of people after our shows or open mics asking if we were a duo. For a few months we resisted the idea, mostly because it just seemed a little...dangerous. We ultimately realized that we had something really special together. So we decided to do this whole thing.
Q: As independent artists, how rewarding is it to watch your work come to life? When we first started Your Paris, we were both really eager to put music into the world that felt genuine to us. Joining together is really what made that happen – we helped each other get over whatever reservations or insecurities we had about our music, and together we figured out what we wanted to say and how we were gonna say it. So, we’re really proud that we’ve been able to do that. We’re definitely still experiencing everything on a very small scale, but we’re incredibly grateful for the success we have seen so far. People are resonating with our songs, so that’s a win in our books. And it’s really awesome to have someone to share this experience with.
Q: What can you tell us about the creative process behind your latest single “About Love?” About Love is a tune we (luckily) had written and was in the works prior to quarantine. The song is about being betrayed by someone you really loved, and pondering that relationship for all that it is – the memories and the heartbreak. Being stuck at home this spring gave us some much-needed time and motivation to get a lot of stuff done, including finishing up “About Love” and getting it into the world. We worked with producer Damian Birdsey on this one, as our first released tune produced out of house
Q: Any advice/words of optimism for other creators during these times? If you can be creative right now, then great. Run with that. People need art right now. If you’re finding it a struggle to create amidst all that’s going on, don’t beat yourself up. We think that’s how most people are feeling. Take this time to refresh and enjoy music, and it will make its way back to you.
T. Thomason T his England-born, Nova Scotiaraised, current Torontonian had already put out a number of well-received albums before taking a break in his late teens to transition into the artist he is today. Upon his return, T. Thomason first made his way to the spotlight on CTV’s The Launch, earning him a great amount of mainstream attention with his single “HOPE.”
“‘Bliss Part II” was first born from his love for McLachlan’s work and his distinct musical vision:
“I’ve been a huge fan of Sarah’s music for a long time and thought this could be a wicked fit musically,” Thomason shares. “But getting to know her a little bit in the last couple of years and seeing the relationships she has with her daughters and lifelong friends I left on what catapulted that trip with my wasthisreally collab into my mind. ‘Bliss’ is precious to me, Dad’s advice to “look the only way I could out” ringing in my ears. and It was during his imagine reimagining it time on the show I’d been struggling with a lot was if it felt right all that he first met way down to of big questions, uncertainty, the mentor and the bones.” and anxiety, classic early 20s Canadian music legend Sarah things, you know? On that trip, T h o m a s o n ’ s McLachlan, for I met family and family friends appreciation who instantly McLachlan is became a fan for the first time as a “grown up” met with mutual and supporter and upon returning home felt like admiration: of his career. I’d gained some perspective on “I met T. a couple The pair where I might be going based on of years ago on recently joined The Launch and forces to release where I came from. That’s when was immediately the reimagined drawn to his humility ‘Bliss’ came to be. ‘Bliss Part and version of “Bliss” – artistry. When he T’s fourth and final II’ with Sarah was the first reached out earlier this collaboration from collaboration I pictured year to ask me to lend the Part II Project; a my voice to his reimagined when dreaming collection of reinvented version of ‘Bliss,’ a hauntingly up the Part II songs from his self-titled simple ode to self-discovery album, featuring some of his and I was thrilled to be Project. able to beresilience, biggest musical champions and a part of it. T. has a deep inspirations. It succeeds previous emotional connection to the songs he writes and a soulduets with Rose Cousins for “King baring truth to his performances and I’m so proud of what of Spades Part II” followed by “Loser he’s accomplished with ‘Bliss Part II.’” Part II” with Ria Mae and “Birdsong Part II” with Ivan Coyote. Devoted to delivering music that is emotive and powerful while staying catchy and current, Thomason Written following his first solo charms audiences of all backgrounds, ages, genders and trip to the UK in 2013, Thomason sexualities with his raw authenticity and a willingness to reflects on the origin of “Bliss”: share himself with the world.
PHOTO BY: MEGAN TANSEY WHITTON
Q: What can you tell us about the creative process behind “Bliss Part II?” “Bliss Part II” with Sarah was the first collaboration I imagined when I started thinking about the Part II Project. Once Sarah signed on, Dave Henriques (my producer) and I sent her a rough demo and she sent us back her vocals, which were awesome. We then built the track from there, around her. Originally Sarah and I were supposed to go into the studio in Vancouver together, but because of COVID that didn’t happen. This was my first COVID collab and it was really exciting to figure out how to do it. It felt like a whole new venture for Dave and I, which was exciting because we’ve been working together for the last 6 years!
trust and seek out honest feedback, but always make sure you’re following your own compass. Seek out team members who will support your vision, not tell you who to be. It sounds cheesy but it’s so so important and it didn’t click for me for a long time. It’s sometimes only a slight shift in the way people show up for you, because in both circumstances people are focusing on you, and that attention can be intoxicating, but there’s a different intention behind those two circumstances and it makes a world of difference in the relationships you’re able to build and the things you’re able to achieve.
Q: What are some resources you recommend for 2SLGBTQ+ creators? Honestly, I wish there were more resources specific for 2SLGBTQ+ creators, (I am actually working on something in this vein, so stay tuned!) but there’s not much that comes to mind. Organizations like Music Publishers Canada and the SOCAN Foundation have some great production workshops geared towards women and Q: What brings bliss to T. Thomason? queer people, but I hope we’ll see more Nature. Being out in the middle of nowhere specific/intentional programming in the is always my go-to for an injection of bliss. coming years. I think fellow artists are great resources. Find folks who inspire you and Q: Knowing now that you would grow up who you can collaborate with, even if they to be where you are today and have a aren’t in your backyard. I love social media song with Canadian music legend Sarah and queer playlists for this! Q Review is an McLachlan, what would you tell your awesome blog for new queer artists! younger self? Oh boy. I think I would tell myself to keep my Q: Your music is a beacon of light. What head down and keep trucking, because it’ll are some words of optimism during these pay off. Just be patient. Don’t worry about unprecedentd times? being in with the cool kids. Don’t feel guilty I’m so glad you think so. I’ve been a big fan about the small amount of down time you of baths, early bedtimes, and gratitude take for yourself. Just keep following your journals lately. Not sure if those are words gut because it’ll take you exactly where you of optimism, but I highly recommend giving need to go. any/all of those a shot as they definitely improve my ability to be optimistic on the Q: Part II Project is a reimagined album hard days! featuring collaborations with some of your biggest mentors. What advice would you Q: This single plays out as a perfect ending give to other 2SLGBTQ+ humans with a to a chapter. What’s next for T.? dream who are inspired by you? I’m really excited to be settling down for I think it’d be pretty similar to what I’d tell a period of “refilling the well,” writing, and my younger self! Do what feels right to you, collaborating with new people! It’s going to and trust your gut. Listen to folks who you be a cozy, creative winter for me, I hope.
Music therapy is the skillful use of music to promote, maintain and restore an individual's physical and mental health. It can create transformational results for individuals of diverse ages and abilities.
In a study conducted with postoperative patients, music therapy was demonstrated to have a statistically significant effect on reducing postoperative pain, anxiety and distress behaviours (Bradt, 2010).
In a study conducted with individuals suffering from traumatic brain injuries, music therapy allowed clients to show significant improvements in the velocity, cadence, length and symmetry of their walking strides (Hurt et. al., 1998).
"We've struggled with depression since we lost the love of my life – the mother of our two beautiful young children – to cancer two years ago. Music therapy has been nothing short of a miracle. We've felt community, friendship and a way of connecting with others on a soulful level. Singing has been a way to express ourselves and work through our grief. My newfound happiness and sense of sanity reflects on my kids in a positive way. I believe this has been instrumental to our family grieving process and moving forward."
In a study conducted with children on the autism spectrum, it was found that a child's repetitive speech (echolalic) utterances were reduced from 95% to 10% after music therapy sessions (Bruscia, 1982).
In a study conducted with premature infants in the neonatal intensive care unit, infants who received music therapy gained between 2-5 grams more than those who do not, allowing them to be discharged 8-12 days sooner (Standley, 2003).
"Our son was struggling in preschool when it was suggested we try music therapy as a way to help him relax, engage and communicate. It is heart-warming to watch an individual like my son, who is severely affected by Autism, to smile, laugh and interact; which is just what happens during his music therapy sessions!"
rom her 16 years in international showbands to a career as a tour manager, Izabelle brings her industry experience to centre stage.
(Beat Market, Chiild , Ariane Moffat) and Alan Prater as vocal coach (Michael Jackson, The Brooks, Valaire). Whether it be physically or through her songs, these collaborations are a testament to the significance of connecting The multi-faceted artist from Quebec, delivers with others – one of Izabelle’s main reasons upbeat bops in both English and French but for creating: regardless of the language in which they are sang, Izabelle’s songs flawlessly blend together a lively mixture of funk, pop and soul. With a sound reminiscent of Prince, Bruno Mars and Jamiroquai, Izabelle exhibits talent and range that echoes throughout her debut album release.
Version 2.0 is inspired by her own experiences of not being taken seriously and being told to look a certain way. The verses on this album explore serious subjects such as domestic violence, self-acceptance, social pressure and women empowerment. Along with its lyrical messages, Version 2.0 is filled with uplifting anthems sure to make you dance while reminding you of your value and worthiness. Specifically with her latest single release “Self-Talk Session,” Izabelle reflects on the importance of ignoring other people’s perceptions:
PHOTOS BY: CHLOÉ MCNEIL
“[I wanted to write] a song to myself, to tell me to stop overthinking what people think, stop overworking, stop putting so much pressure on my physical appearance. I wanted to make a statement about it, so that I could start to believe it.” The album brings together some of the most prolific international and local musicians lead by musical director Alexandre Lapointe (The Brooks), as well as Gautier Marinof with the recording and mixing (Céline Dion, Simple Plan, Corey Hart), Pierre-Luc Rioux on guitar (Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry), Daniel Thouin on keyboards (Yann Perreau, Fred Fortin, Mara Tremblay), Maxime Bellavance on drums
“For me, my music is a channel to express myself and connect with people. It’s a huge part of who I am as an artist and the fact that I am fighting for something bigger than just to put my music in the spotlight, helps me give a sense of what I am doing and who I am as an artist.” Izabelle looks forward to touring when the pandemic passes and in the meantime is working on creating another constructive collection – a second album set for release next spring.
Q: What can you tell us about your new single “SelfTalk Session?” This is the empowerment anthem of my album, a reminder for myself and others that we do not have to be perfect and fit in the standards that society projects. I wanted to take a stand and make a celebration about it. Celebrate who we are, with our differences and our strengths but also embrace our flaws.
Q: Your music has showcased powerful lyricism with themes from domestic violence to self-acceptance and women empowerment. How important is it to use your platform to shed light on important topics? For me, my music is a channel to express myself and connect with people. It’s a huge part of who I am as an artist and the fact that I am fighting for something bigger than just to put my music in the spotlight, helps me give a sense of what I am doing and who I am as an artist. It empowers me and I truly wish that it eventually empowers others as well.
Q: What inspired your album Version 2.0? To make a long story short, a couple years ago, I went through a really rough patch: the band I was performing with for 10 years split up after losing a big record deal. I was suddenly back at being a solo artist, having to rebuild everything from scratch. I couldn’t bear coming home to start over after touring the world for so long, so I went to live in Asia for 2 years where I got stuck in a relationship where I experienced domestic violence. When I decided to come back to Canada...I was lost, broken, and realized I had become a shadow of myself...stuck behind all those walls I had built over the years to protect myself.
Q: You’re a self-love advocate and your message from “Self-Talk Session” promotes a narrative that is muchneeded in today’s generation. What advice would you give to humans who feel pressured into looking a certain way? What do YOU think of YOURSELF should be your only worry, always. Learning to love yourself, to embrace your flaws is a tough path but once you start to master it, you realize that it’s one of the biggest strengths, the most beautiful gift you can give yourself because it sets you free.
Career wise, I was no longer happy doing my plan B (singing other people’s songs) while waiting for an opportunity to do my original material. I then started a journey towards finding myself and reconnecting with who I truly am. I figured out I had to stop waiting and that I had to create those opportunities myself. Songwriting helped me so much down this path and Version 2.0 was born out of this reconstruction – a new, improved version of myself in every aspect of my life.
Q: Through collaboration, Version 2.0 plays out as a sentiment of beautiful unity. How does it feel to be able to share the passion of music with so many notable names in the industry? A dream come true! I am such a big fan of ‘’The Brooks’’ and never could I have dared to imagine that they would participate and perform on my album one day, especially not the first one! It was so organic and natural to work with them... I still can’t believe how smoothly it went. I clicked right away with Alexandre Lapointe, the producer. He really understood right away the direction I had in mind for the album. He helped me find the right sound I was looking for and then brought it to another level. Recording again with the talented Gautier Marinof but this time as a solo artist meant a lot to me and having Alan Prater as a vocal coach was a true gift. Don’t forget, this man toured/played with great legends such as Michael Jackson and yet he made me understand that I deserve a place in the music industry. Everything with this whole team was just amazing...the fit was so great that we recorded the whole album in 3 days.
Q: You have been touring the world for 16 years, were recently a CBC Searchlight finalist and “Self-Talk Sessions” is currently charting on Quebec radio. What can you attest your success to? Perseverance and determination, no doubt. This is a business with so many ‘’no’s’’ and very few ‘’yesses’’... you need to be patient, to keep working and most of all trust your gut, that’s the only way. I know that now. And I would add: genuinely caring for the people you work with and the people that support you: you are a team and success is impossible without them. Q: What words of optimism would you give to others during these unprecedented times? I’m sure that if you think about it for a moment you’ll realize that most great things that have happened to you in your life came from change or from stepping out of your comfort zone. Change is uncomfortable, rough patches are too, but most of the time they push us to surpass ourselves and to redefine who we are and what we want... and most times these reassessments help us get rid of what needs to get out of our lives so we can make room for something better. I really do hope that these unprecedented times aren’t an exception to this principle. In the meantime, I think it’s important to be kind to ourselves, to take care of ourselves and the ones we love, and to focus on what matters to us and what makes us happy in order to get through this. Q: What’s next for Izabelle? We are currently working on my second album which will be released in spring 2021 and when this pandemic finally ends: we’re going on tour! We are putting together an interactive show concept and it’s gonna be A-MA-ZING! I just can’t wait to get back on stage, where I belong!
Stuck on planet earth K
nown for their primal, high energy live shows, Stuck On Planet Earth deliver a signature mix of alternative rock and R&B while bluntly communicating the messy truths of life.
Though the pandemic has taken a toll on the live music scene as a whole – subsequently cancelling Stuck On Planet Earth’s tour with Pop Evil, they have been staying connected with fans through their “rock n’ roll Instagram Live variety show” Al Capo, Adam Bianchi and Andrew Testa – called #StuckInside. Recently, the trio had long-time friends from Vaughan, have been the opportunity to return to the stage to honing their sound on stage and in the perform in person – opening for Big Wreck’s studio since their teenage years. drive-in concert at the OLG Play Stage.
“We love the idea that art outlives its creators, thematically and lyrically, that’s Prior to their drive-in gig, the band has where the idea of [Ghosts On The Radio] shared bills with other notable acts was born out of.” including Scott Weiland & The Wildabouts, Weezer, Finger Eleven, Motörhead and Though still stuck in the standstill of this MOIST. Along with their impressive touring pandemic, Stuck On Planet Earth have credits, their new music has been featured many plans for the coming months – from on popular playlists from Spotify’s “Ready live streams to some visuals to new music To Rock” to Apple Music’s “The New Rock” and more. filmed our parts separately. The video sees us playing in a giant warehouse maze – we are trying to find our way to get to each other while overcoming obstacles, while haunting shadows of the past are portrayed on the walls. Lot’s of symbolism happening throughout the video.
honestly such an awesome feeling. We were on these giant screens, and our music was being transmitted through a radio channel. Wild! It was very surreal being honked at. Who would have ever thought that in 2020 the equivalent of a crowd cheering, are cars honking…??
Q: Stuck On Planet Earth formed back when you guys were teenagers. How does your long-lasting friendship contribute to the success and longevity of your band throughout the ever-changing landscape of the music industry? Truth is that we are a family, and when you are a family you don’t get raddled too much by outside issues. We’ve always been of the mindset to only worry about the things that we can control, and now willingly or unwillingly the fact that we know each Q: What can you tell us about your other so well has become a strong point for upcoming music video for the track? us especially through a pandemic and the This is our favourite music video by far. ever changing landscape of the industry. The brains behind the project and director, Kash Tahen, came to us with the idea of Q: You recently played an OLG Drive-In doing a 3D video that somewhat resembled Show with Big Wreck. How did it feel the same darkness as Sin City. We filmed it getting back on stage to play a big gig a few months back at Division 88 Studio’s during these times? in the height of the pandemic while social Our last show prior to the pandemic was distancing. The cool thing about it is that it our sold out hometown show in Toronto, was all done on green screens, so the band and then the world shut down, so to be was never in the room all together, and we back on a stage after almost six months was
Q: Tell us about your #StuckInside Instagram Live series: #StuckInside is our version of a rock n’ roll Instagram Live variety show. When the pandemic hit, our tour with Pop Evil got cancelled much like every other tour, but we needed to do something in order to keep playing music and feeling like we had purpose. We play a few acoustic tunes (some originals, some covers) and we have artists/bands come on for a chat and play a song. It’s been a ton of fun, and we’ve learned so much from our guests. It’s been fun and we are excited to do more.
Q: Tell us about your latest release “Ghost On The Radio”: We love the idea that art outlives its creators, thematically and lyrically, that’s where the idea of “Ghosts On The Radio” was born out of. It’s an homage to the artists and creators of the past, who left behind their legacy. Originally, we had the chorus locked in and we had some very different verses that didn’t quite evoke the right emotions. So, a few weeks after the song had been recorded, we told our producer that we wanted to re-work/re-write the verses to really match the feel and energy of the chorus – and that’s when we settled on the openness and relaxed vibe that’s sonically inspired by The Police’s Andy Summer’s guitar work, with a bass line reminiscent of Dr. Dre’s The Chronic.
Their latest single “Ghosts On The Radio” – from their debut album release Beautiful Nowhere, has been streamed over 125 thousand times worldwide. The song is an homage to artists of the past:
Q: What’s getting you through this pandemic? It’s maybe super obvious to say, but the answer is MUSIC. Music is there for whatever mood you’re feeling or going through. Whether you’re happy, sad or angry, it’s the great communicator and conduit of emotions – and the one constant that truly unites people.
PHOTO BY: PATRICIA STONE
“THE FAC T THAT WE KNOW EACH OTHER SO WELL HAS BECOME A STRONG POINT FOR US ESPECIALLY THROUGH A PANDEMIC AND THE EVER-CHANG ING LANDSCAPE OF THE INDUSTRY.”
and played on SiriusXM’s The Verge, CBC Music and 102.1 The Edge.
Most recently, Maryze teamed up with 2020 Polaris winner Backxwash to release their bilingual single “Squelettes” after premiering the track at her sold-out Pop Montreal showcase. The modern pop banger pairs Maryze’s signature blend of ethereal melodies and dark personal verses with Backxwash’s metal-inspired rap and producer Margo’s feverish beats. Together, the trio of queer Montreal artists create a unique genre-bending, deeply cathartic sound.
orn in Vancouver and based in Montreal, this bilingual singer-songwriter uses her music as an avenue to shed Thematically, “Squelettes” reflects on the topic of light on raw and relatable topics from mental health to addiction and the way it can consume us – personifying feminism to sexuality. addiction as an inescapable entity.
Maryze’s haunting alt-pop music blends tantalizing beats “The song came from a time when I felt quite powerless with transparent lyricism in an experimental and horror realm over self-destructive cycles.” hinged between angst and euphoria.
helps me get closer to being able to talk openly about personal struggles.” Q: Tell us about your new single “Squelettes”:
Already garnering much acclaim since her 2019 debut EP Like Moons, Maryze is set to release her debut LP this upcoming summer with Hot Tramp Records. Though she is hopeful to get out on tour next year, one thing that’s for certain is more alluring new music.
probably be our last show for a while again. Montreal went back into lockdown right after. But that energy of connecting with folks even for a To be honest, I don’t even feel like night kept me on a high for a while. I’m at a point yet where I can be fully transparent! I’m always afraid to hurt Q: What’s getting you through these those I love if I put it all out there. unprecedented times? Music helps me get closer to being Music and loved ones. Including my able to talk openly about personal cats haha. I feel lucky to have amazing struggles, but there’s a lot I’m still people I can lean on through all this learning how to process. I’m getting and three little fuzzy pals to brighten there though. up tough days. But if I didn’t have music as an outlet, I think I’d lose my Q: Do you have any advice for humans mind. It’s been a difficult but super that are dealing with addiction/mental creative time. Q: The track touches on the theme of addiction. What inspired you to be so transparent with your personal struggles?
PHOTO BY: ÉLYSE LAPLANTE
I started writing “Squelettes” almost 7 years ago! I used to play a strippeddown version with my former band Spectregates. I wanted to bring back the lyrics on my upcoming album, and when producer Margo sent me the beat I thought the intensity would fit perfectly. The song came from a time when I felt quite powerless over self-destructive cycles. My mental health was bad, I was depressed, drinking too much and not eating enough. The title (which translates to Skeletons), was inspired by how health? I felt I was becoming a skeleton of If possible, don’t isolate yourself with myself. your demons. It’s harder for them to win if you’re surrounded by folks Q: How did the collaboration with who love you and who can help calm Backxwash come about? Backxwash and I met through your mind when you’re spiraling. playing shows together in Montreal. She always stood out as a truly singular artist and I wanted to collab from the moment I saw her perform! I sent her a couple potential tracks I was working on with Margo and this one stood out. I’m really glad it resonated with her.
Q: What’s next for Maryze?
Fingers crossed for a tour next year! We had to cancel all our US/ European dates this summer, so I’m hoping some festivals will be postponed. But regardless of the Q: You got to premiere “Squelettes” at state of the world, I’m definitely Pop Montreal this past September. How dropping my debut LP in 2021. The did it feel to debut the record while being songs are still in a state of mutation back on stage during these times? It felt surreal! Definitely bittersweet. and I feel like the sound could go I wanted to enjoy every moment of anywhere from here. Which is an it but was also aware that it would exciting place to be. :)
nown for launching some of the country’s top names – from Carly Rae Jepsen to Marianas Trench, Canada’s premier indie label 604 Records introduces a distinct artist to the pop orbit with their newest signee, Madisyn Gifford.
“The first time I heard her voice, I was floored. Her voice is simply arresting,” President Jonathan Simkin states. “There is something so unique about her voice. It’s the tone, but it is also the emotional resonance that she packs into every note. It was the voice that first caught my attention. But then when I heard her original material, and discovered she is also an incredible songwriter, I was sold! She has a real mystical vibe to her, reminiscent of Stevie Nicks, and other iconic female singers.” The twenty-year-old singer-songwriter from Vancouver is as brilliant of a lyricist as she is a vocalist. Gifford is excited about her new venture with 604 and to share her talents through her signature indie-folk music stylings:
“I remember being fifteen and looking online at different record labels one night and something just stuck out to me about 604 Records. I think I just immediately had it in my brain that it was the place I needed to be! When I got the offer I was over the moon excited! It felt like such a full circle and rewarding moment for me. My experience so far with 604 has been nothing short of spectacular. I feel as though I am a part of this supportive and amazing family that really treat their artists with such love and respect.”
PHOTO BY: KIRI ANNE
Q: How would you describe your artistry/sound and who are your musical inspirations? I would say that my artistry when it comes to music is a combination of so many inspirations I’ve had throughout my life including my favourite books, movies, music, and scenery. I love making alt-pop music with heavy guitar influence and a lot of focus on the lyrics, I think mostly because that’s the type of stuff that I grew up on. As for other musicians that inspire me, I would say throughout my life I’ve been heavily inspired by artists such as Stevie Nicks, Ani Difranco, and Norah Jones. More recently I find myself drawing a lot of inspiration from some artists like Gregory Alan Isakov, Pheobe Bridgers, Ben Howard, and Taylor Swift. I tend to lean towards artists who place a lot of focus on lyricism, because I myself love words.
Gifford worked with acclaimed producer Colin Janz to build her brand new single and debut release, “Without You.” Her introductory is a striking soundscape tied with enriched vocals and enveloping storytelling that demonstrates maturity and mastery well beyond her years.
“[Without You] is a song about heartbreak and loss. It was one of the first songs I had ever written when I was seventeen years old and going through a few different kinds of heartbreaks all at once. I think that comes through in the lyrics because the song isn’t necessarily romantic and can be applied to really any type of loss. More than anything it’s about those last few difficult steps before moving on, accepting that someone is never going to be in your life the way that they once were.” While anticipating her upcoming EP Learning to Exist, Gifford’s debut single is only a taste of what’s to come from the rising young artist in the coming year.
solo demo deal. Colin and I got to work on some songs right away and luckily for me Jonathan really liked what he heard and proceeded to offer me a record deal! I was over the moon excited right off the bat and so far I have had nothing but amazing experiences with them. It is such a positive and creative environment and I am so beyond grateful to be a part of their team!
Q: Do you have any advice for young aspiring artists who are a seeking a singing? Hmmm... I guess I would just tell them the only thing I know to do, which is to create as much as you possibly can and do it without borders. What I mean when I say that is although music and songwriting has always been my main focus, I have also explored so many other creative outlets throughout my life that more often than not ended up feeding into my songwriting in some way. Just create Q: What can you tell us about your debut single “Without You”? “Without You” is a song that I wrote on my guitar when I was as much as you can and if you make things you are truly excited seventeen years old while sitting on my bedroom floor. I wrote it about, hopefully from there the opportunities will come. Also be during a period in my life that I had been facing a significant amount kind, always. of loss and I think writing it was a big part of me moving through that. It’s the second song I had ever written and I think in a way you Q: What’s getting you through these times? can hear that in the lyrics, but I also think there’s a sort of charm I guess this feeds into my last answer because mostly I’ve just been to that. As for the production - when I brought this song to Colin, creating as much as I can and as often as I can! When I’m feeling we kept the base of the song mostly the same other than changing frustrated or overwhelmed with everything that’s going on in the around a few lyrics and him rewriting the chords. I don’t think it world, I try to channel most of it into my music or other outlets of really came to life though until his production was finished! He was mine such as journaling or photography. I always feel my best when able to keep the feeling of a raw piano track while adding in so many I’m being creative! elements that just give it so much warmth and magic. I was so happy when I first heard the mix! The entire process went so smoothly. Q: What’s next for Madisyn Gifford? I just want to continue making music and putting it out into the Q: Congratulations on signing with 604 Records! How did inking a world! I have an EP planned to come out in early 2021 and after that, I just want to continue putting my feelings into songs that hopefully record deal with them come about? Thank you so much! And the deal actually first started as a demo resonate with others. I’m so so excited about the music I have coming deal for a duo that I was in before called “Born Human.” Eventually, out though and am beyond excited to have the opportunity to share my old duo partner and I amicably parted ways and I was offered my it with the world!
riginally known as The Katherines, this Vancouverbased trio has rebranded and returned under the moniker Vox Rea. Sisters Kate (lead vocals/piano/guitar/bass) and Lauren Kurdyak (vocals/piano) and childhood best friend Kaitlyn Hansen-Boucher (vocals/percussion) – joined by Mitchell Schaumberg (vocals/piano/guitar/ bass), are looking to take charge with a fresh name, vision and – most importantly, new music done their way:
that you have to steer “Weyourlearned own ship otherwise someone
else will steer it in a direction you don’t want to go. The move to Vox Rea is us commandeering our ship.
PHOTO BY: CONOR CUNNINGHAM
Q: What was the deciding factor in rebranding and a starting new project? It was a very symbolic change for us. We started out in this industry as 14 year olds, so there was a big learning curve as we grew up as a band Back in 2017, The Katherines released their first album over the last decade. We learned that you have to steer your own ship To Bring You My Heart with 604 Records – amassing otherwise someone else will steer it in a direction you don’t want to go. over a million plays on Spotify with songs featured on The move to Vox Rea is us commandeering our ship. playlists from New Music Friday to Indie Pop Chillout Q: Where does the name Vox Rea originate from? What is Vox Rea to the Canada Viral 50 chart. Along with heavy hoping to bring to the music world? rotation on streaming platforms, their songs were also featured on popular television shows including We’ve been looking for a new band name for a long time. We spent hours going through the long lists of all the band name ideas we had Orphan Black, Reboot and The Order. come up with over the last few years (most of them were garbage or With the birth of Vox Rea comes their debut single – already taken). Vox Rea came from putting two obscure concepts “Dose Me Up.” The track introduces an individualistic together. We like it because the meaning is ambiguous. That also sums brand of noir pop – blending string arrangements up our ethos as artists in terms of what we want to bring to the music and harmonies into a dreamy soundscape fueled by world. We want to make art that leaves the interpretation up to each individual listener, that people can make their own. personal sentiment.
“We wrote ‘Dose Me Up’ on our grandmother’s piano at home in late October. The nostalgia of being in our childhood home had a big influence on the song – it’s a bit of a lament. The word nostalgia actually comes from the Greek word nostos, which roughly translates into homecoming, and algos, or pain. Taken together, nostalgia roughly translates to the return of pain. The elusiveness and flavour of that nostalgia created the melancholy mood you hear in the song – a sort of reckoning with the relentless nature of time.”
Q: How would you describe your sound? Genre-fluid, atmospheric, lyric driven sound waves?
Fascinated by the contradictions inherent in the human experience, Vox Rea construct introspective and immersive alt pop tunes – aimed to act as a soundtrack to the confusion and euphoria of coming of age in a postmodern world. Described as a celebration of free will and an ode to the paralyzing nature of choice, Vox Rea’s music is both “the intoxicating night roaming and the guilty morning after, a revelry in excess and an exercise in solemn self-reflection.”
Q: What’s getting you through these times? COVID-19 has forced us to completely re-evaluate how we approach our lives and work. Initially it felt like the whole future we had planned for ourselves was erased and it took a while to break out of that feeling. But the silver lining has been that without a clear future, you’re forced to focus completely on the present and think outside the box. We just wake every day and try to create something new.
Q: What can you tell us about your single “Dose Me Up”? The song is a melancholic meditation on the transition from childhood to adulthood. We wrote it at a weird transitional time when we had come back to our family home after travelling with our band for a few months. There was a strange sense of nostalgia in the house that influenced the song. “Dose Me Up” is an unresolved dialogue between childhood reverence and adult indifference.
Q: What’s next for Vox Rea? More singles and lots of visuals to come. Our full album is also Looking ahead, Vox Rea have more singles to come as mastered and ready to go and we can’t wait to get it out into the world in 2021. well as a full-length album set for release in 2021.
MICHELLE TREACY ichelle Treacy embarks on a new chapter in her career – embracing her inner self with new genre-bending sounds and lyrics with no limits. Treacy first broke into the pop music scene after an impromptu duet with music icon Lady Gaga during her 2014 ArtRave tour stop in Montreal. Two years following her Bell Centre performance, the Ottawa-born singer-songwriter released her first major label single “Armageddon.”
“Since then I’ve grown up and I’ve had my ups and downs. It’s amazing to look back and see how far I’ve come.” Treacy’s musical journey came full circle on CTV’s The Launch in 2019 – working with legendary guest producer Nile Rodgers and songwriter Hillary Lindsey (both of whom have worked with Gaga), to craft an original track. Treacy penned and performed “Emotional” – the season two finale’s winning song that made waves on streaming platforms and radio stations
Q: How would you describe your sound? Who are your musical influences? Although pop has influenced my past music, my brand new track is shoegaze rock. This new direction represents a new beginning for me, creating what I want without limitations. I’ve always been inspired by the greats, Stevie Nicks, Alanis Morissette, Joni Mitchell, Amy Winehouse to name a few. I’d say my musical influences for this new music is Coldplay meets Lana Del Rey. Q: Tell us about your new single “Time Off From A Letdown”: Thematically, the song represents the feeling of letting everyone down; however, the reality being that you are only letting yourself down by putting others first. It is about refocusing on yourself, as I have spent the last couple of years doing just that after going through such a dark time in my life. The cinematic video is a beautiful representation of this created by an all-female team. It is a piece of art in it’s purest form, and I hope you take something from it.
across the country. Following her reality show appearance, she has been featured on numerous television programs, magazines and online publications – building a dedicated fanbase. With her newest single “Time Off From A Letdown,” Treacy digs deep once again:
“It is about refocusing on yourself, as I have spent the last couple of years doing just that after going through such a dark time in my life.” In the years since sharing the stage with her idol as a teenager, Treacy has grown and developed her unapologetic artistry and is destined to manifest even more success.
Q: You first made waves when you sang with Lady Gaga on stage at her concert back in 2014. How have you evolved as an artist since that very moment? I sang with Lady Gaga when I was 17, I was still a baby. I had never had a record deal or released a song. That moment changed everything for me. Since then, I’ve grown up and I’ve had my ups and downs. It’s amazing to look back and see how far I’ve come. I’ve done a lot of work on myself since then and I feel really happy about who I am today. I’m grateful for Gaga, for my fans and for everyone who has supported my crazy life.
Q: You say you’re a “leader of the dreamers, the rebels and inbetweeners.” What inspires your undeniable passion and drive for music? I love supporting the underdogs, I think the underdogs are the true life winners and everyone should take a page from their book. I’m so inspired by life. I am inspired by conversation. There’s nothing I’d rather do then play and write music. It’s in my soul and I feel like I need to be that person for the underdogs who talk about the real stuff. Too many people today sugar coat stuff and don’t open up and say “I’m a real Q: You won Season 2 of The Launch. What’s the secret to person and I have my issues,” they want you to believe they’re crafting a great record? on top of the world. Imagine if your favourite artists opened I won the last ever episode of The Launch. It was an amazing up more and talked about real stuff and were approachable? experience and really taught me that I should always be That would be so cool. I wanna be that. unapologetically myself. There is no secret to crafting a record. The process is different every single time. Also, what Q: What is getting you through these times? is perfect anyway? Eating good food and listening to good music.
PHOTO BY: ZOE AKIKO
nown to her followers as JENerationDIY, this popular Canadian YouTuber is branching out from her DIY, fashion and beauty content to return to her first passion – music. Vancouver’s Jennifer Zhang recently released “Falling To Your Knees” – a track written in response to a racial, hate-fueled comment made on one of her YouTube videos. Though she is adored by more than 2.5 million subscribers, Zhang still experiences discrimination and negativity.
“With the outbreak of COVID-19, I along with many other Asians had to deal with a lot of racism and hate speech.” With her latest single, the young artist looks to inspire others to accept themselves and embrace their own unique identities. JEN Z recalls fearing ridicule growing up for expressing her culture that was amplified by the lack of media representation. As a result, she shunned her heritage as a means of fitting in. Zhang now uses her personal experiences – both positive and negative, to inspire others to unapologetically be – and celebrate, who they are.
“I’m finally at a place in my life where I don’t want to fit into what the world wants me to be. I no longer feel like I need to pretend that being Asian isn’t a part of who I am, so I wanted to create something that expressed this and show others like me that it’s okay to not follow what you’re being told you need to do.” Playing piano for 16 years and being a part of school choirs throughout her life, Zhang’s passion for music is nothing new but rather one she was too shy to share with the world – until recently.
PHOTO BY: ADRIANA AGUILAR
“Releasing original music was a way for me to step outside of my comfort zone to share with the world something that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.” The brand new “Falling To Your Knees” music video works to capture the feeling of control and constraint that racism, misogyny, and societal standards have had on Zhang and how she is ultimately working to break free of that, express who she truly is, and take back the control. Always creating, writing and recording, JEN Z is excited to share more of herself – and her new music, in the near future.
Q: What inspired you to tackle the music world while simultaneously being one of Canada’s most successful Youtubers? I’ve always been super passionate about music, playing piano for 16 years and joining the school choir etc., but I was always too shy to release original music until recently. Songwriting is one of the only ways I feel comfortable expressing my thoughts and emotions, and I also find the process of creating a song so fun. Releasing original music was a way for me to step outside of my comfort zone to share with the world something that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. Q: Tell us about your single “Falling To Your Knees”: A couple months ago, when the pandemic was picking up, I started getting some racist comments on my videos, and I wrote this song in response. Even though I wrote this song out of frustration in that certain moment, I see it as a culmination of the years of thoughts I’ve wanted to express and me finally standing up for myself, taking back the control. The process of making the song was very DIY and low budget. I made a demo track on GarageBand and recorded the vocals in my bedroom with pillow and blankets to absorb the echo in the room. Because of quarantine, I sent off the track to get produced remotely. The whole process was really interesting and super fun. Q: What can you tell us about your music video for the track? One of my favourite films of all time is Ex Machina, and I really felt inspired by this movie for the music video. Essentially, I’m portraying a robot whose every thought and action is being controlled by a man who is the evil genius creator. He tells me what to wear, how to eat, and how to act, and at first I go along because I don’t know any better, but as I start to “malfunction” in his eyes, he builds himself a new robot who will follow his directions. It’s then that I realize I’m a robot and that I’ve never had any true control over my thoughts or actions, and I plot to overthrow him and break free. I wanted the
video to reflect the feelings of being controlled by societal expectations for women and people of colour and how I’m learning to break free of those shackles and take back control of my life. Q: How important is it to embrace your heritage and create representation for people possibly facing the same discrimination that you did/do? I think representation of all types of people in the media is so important in order to accurately reflect what society looks like in real life. Nobody deserves to feel othered or like they don’t belong because they don’t fit the norm. Growing up I’ve always felt the pressures of societal standards for what a girl should look like and act, as well as the struggles of fitting in as an Asian Canadian. There were always parts of myself that I would be scared to express or embrace because I would be made fun of for my culture, food, and features. But over the years, it gets tiring trying to hide parts of yourself, and so it feels good to finally start embracing everything that makes me who I am. Q: What advice can you give to others who face racism and hate speech? It’s not a reflection of you, but a reflection of the hate in those people’s hearts and inability to accept anything that is different. Q: What is the secret behind building a dedicated fan base? Being authentic and being yourself. I know it’s so cliché, but I think it’s so important for people to see that you’re a real human being with real thoughts and feelings because it gives them a way to connect to you. Q: What’s getting you through these times? A lot of facetime calls with my friends and Among Us game sessions. Q: What’s next for JEN Z? I’m always writing and recording new music, so hopefully that will see the light of day very soon! I’m really excited for people to hear what I have coming, but for now, stay tuned.
zolas the PHOTO BY: KATRIN BRAGA
ith a brand new album on the horizon, The Zolas releases, touching on everything from Canada’s appalling prove that you can take a step back to move treatment of its First Nations (“Wreck Beach/Totem forward. Park”), to artists being priced out of the cities they’ve helped make great (“Bombs Away”), to Gray at his most Thanks to the tunes off their 2009 debut – Tic Toc Tic, potently poignant on “PrEP” – which came out of a reddit The Zolas became the fourth most heavily-tracked band thread asking users to share their first-hand accounts of on SiriusXM radio’s The Verge. Following their sophomore the ‘80s AIDS epidemic. release – Ancient Mars, they made their mark with their 2016 hit title song and JUNO-nominated album, Swooner. “My dad [playwright John MacLachlan Gray] was in theatre, so in lots of baby photos I’m being held by friends Four years following their breakthrough, comes their of his I don’t recognize,” Gray reminisces. “One day I asked forthcoming record Come Back To Life via Light Organ him about them, and it turns out every one of them are Records, which is driving the band in a fresh, new direction. gone. They were probably gone within five years of the pictures being taken. Now by some miracle HIV is totally “In our jam space we started fucking around with this manageable and it pisses me off that we’re not all out nostalgic vibe: like a warped memory of the Britpop there celebrating the light at the end of such a long, dark music we obsessed over as kids but never got to make. tunnel.” Eventually it seemed obvious we had to follow that feeling and make an album of it.” The album’s latest single “I Feel the Transition” was fueled by the current state of affairs in North America and the Thematically, the band’s fourth album was inspired world. Lead singer Zach Gray reflects: naturally by social and political issues. After a long run writing music solely for other artists including Carly Rae ”The words ‘I Feel the Transition’ came Jepsen and James Walsh of Starsailor, Gray is excited to to me right away and were underscored work with his own bandmates again: by all the young activists making
“I’m dead happy just being in this band right now. We love making noise together, we’re chasing the same vision, and lyrically I’ve never felt more on it.” Come Back to Life, dives deeper than it’s preceding
headlines that week, the rest of the song wrote itself. It made me think of a new generation coming up and being thoroughly unimpressed by the world being left to them.”
Q: Tell us about your latest single “I Feel the Transition”: This was a song that kind of cracked things open for us. We’d been obsessed with the early 90s Manchester baggy scene and it started off like many of our tunes do as a rip-off of a song we love – in this case the Happy Mondays. The words “I Feel the Transition” came to me right away and were underscored by all the young activists making headlines that week, the rest of the song wrote itself. It made me think of a new generation coming up and being thoroughly unimpressed by the world being left to them. This song is driving through the most desperate neighborhoods with empty highrises glittering overhead. It’s getting an arts degree and then discovering how little that’s valued. It’s hearing scientists say we have 7 years to figure this out and then watching politicians talk 30-year plans. It was basically inspired by all the conversations we have with our friends about the state of the world and what we can do about it. But feeling-wise I wanted to capture the swagger you feel when you know you’re fighting for the right thing. I really think this period will be thought of the way they look back at the late 60s and as anxiety-inducing as it is to be living through it, we should try to appreciate the moment.
I don’t set out to write songs about difficult subjects. I just write songs about whatever moves me in the moment, whatever makes me well up. I want to capture that feeling in a little capsule. Like imagine you could take a pill and instantly feel everything I felt when I watched a documentary or read an article or heard a story? I want to make those pills. And like a lot of people lately, I’ve been realizing that there are loads of stories that never get told in mainstream art because they’re not easily digestible and those are the pills I like making best. Not sure if that’s the tidiest metaphor but let’s try it on.
Q: Your music has touched on many serious subjects – from the treatment of First Nations people to the Aids epidemic to the current political state, how important is it to use your platform to encourage cognisance and conversation?
Q: Any advice/words of optimism for others during the pandemic? Nah. I’ve been brutally unproductive. Super disappointed in myself, tbh. I’m dramatically up and down. Maybe that’s the optimism: we’re all going through the exact same thing.
Q: What can we expect from your forthcoming new album Come Back to Life? What I’ve been boasting to people since before we even started writing for it is that our next record will feel like the spiritual heir to the Romeo + Juliet and Trainspotting soundtracks. We’re already there but we’re still adding to it so we’ll see when it’s all wrapped.
Q: Are there any other political or social messages on the record that you’re hoping to convey to your listeners? Haha no no, I don’t have a checklist or anything. Lots of important Q: What drove you to switch gears from prominently writing for issues I care about will do just fine without a song from me. One goal I’m always chipping away at, is to write about climate change in a way others to returning to The Zolas to put out a project? I still write for other people. Sometimes I write a pop song that I can’t that lays bare how simple it is and what we have to do about it. It’s pull off myself and it goes into a side-pile to give to other artists. I have one of those rare times when the radical solution is the only practical a bunch in a drive right now, so if you’re an interesting artist reading solution and it’s centrists who are the naïve ones. It’s really black and white. In my fantasies I’m Naomi Klein’s musical attaché. this and you want to collab call me.
PHOTOS BY: YUNG YEMI
hile many artists use monikers or There’s no question, aliases, Haviah Mighty’s birth name Haviah has a lot to say – is perfectly fitting. and an immense amount of talent to deliver it. Though she has been singing since the age of 4, rapping since she was 11, and “[We dropped] ‘Atlantic’ producing at 15, the Brampton-based on Friday, November artist first made waves in the hip-hop 13th, a perceived community as a member of female rap ‘unlucky’ date, group The Sorority in 2016 before releasing continuing the process her solo EP Flower City, the following year. of shifting thought away from discarding the Haviah’s 2019 debut full-length release – unknown as we did with 13th Floor, was met with mass praise and 13th Floor.” went on to win her the Polaris Music Prize – making her the first hip-hop artist and Haviah’s first new single the first black woman to win the award. “Atlantic” examines the ugly truths of money, the roots of unequal labour, and Since her debut, Haviah’s success its impact on marginalized communities continues to climb as she makes her worldwide. The track was produced by mark on the musical landscape and the Haviah herself and Mighty Prynce and its world as a whole. More than just a multi- accompanying visualizer was illustrated faceted artist, Haviah continues to carve by BlackPowerBarbie. out spaces that boldly defy gendered expectations for women in hip-hop and “This concept that we can’t escape, is uses her platform to engage, inspire and so disgusting, and the reason they say, inform. ‘money is the root of all evil.’ Specifically, the Atlantic Ocean was used as a vessel of “Though I don’t consider myself an support for these wicked practices, at the activist, being aware of social issues is expense of my Black ancestors. We were important on a human level. Living in your forced to come to the Americas to make own bliss and disregarding other people’s this idea of value stronger, bigger, better, setbacks is, to me, a blind way to live.” with very little benefit. Now we are the ‘bottom of the barrel’ in the Americas, a Speaking up and speaking out on issues disposition I explore with the lyrics ‘Never of injustice, racism and inequality, seen Atlanta, but we travel the Atlantic’. she is working hard to create a shift The singing vocals at the beginning and towards a more diverse and welcoming especially the end, are to represent our music industry, first and foremost by ancestors crying out – a reminder that authentically being Haviah: they were so strong, so resilient, and still here, keeping us empowered. Our history is with them, and if we talk to them, learn “My existence doesn’t from them, do our research – we will be qualify in any prestronger.”
existing category – so just by creating music as myself, just by being a dark skin black woman with dreads who raps, who is from Canada, just by not conforming to gender norms in my branding, I hope to be a representation of shifting standards.”
to overcome those doubts and surpass those expectations. The ‘occasion’ is my downfall, and in this song, I fight its existence. The production for ‘Occasion’ initially developed while on Instagram Live back in March, just as we were settling into whatever the COVID pandemic was going to look like. A producer on the Live (Sauce Junky) sent me some stems, I downloaded them, flipped them into a beat, and asked my brother (Mighty Prynce) to hop on the percussion. While it was just for fun initially, the people watching seemed to love it, so I fleshed it out channeling the unstoppable energy that I was feeling at the time.” With freshly-dropped new music and more on the way, Haviah shows no signs of stopping and emphasizes the importance of personal momentum:
“Though times are tough, we can’t succumb to the uncertainty of the changes around us, and I dig into still wanting to achieve, grow, and be successful in this world, on many of the songs. Though so much around us feels stagnant, life is still moving, and we gotta keep moving, too!”
Her latest release “Occasion” is indicative of the sheer, raw talent possessed by this With touring at a standstill, Haviah consistently conscious rapper: eagerly waits to get her explosive live show back on the road. Her captivating “On this record, I focus on the conquest in-your-face intensity and fast, technical to continue working towards dominating flows have earned her the opportunity to as a music creator. I’ll continue to create open for the likes of Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, through honest introspection, and a Rick Ross, Nelly, Redman and Method Man desire to lead rather than follow – even if it and so many other huge names. Until she makes others uncomfortable. Essentially, is able to perform in front of a physical this song is about the low expectations audience again, Haviah is dedicated to that people have of those that don’t follow staying creative in the studio and actively or fit the status quo, and how I’ll push advocating for change in the community.
Q +A :
Q: What can you tell us about your new music? (Creative process / themes / lyricism / production) The creative process was different in that, with COVID restrictions, I spent most of my time alone in my studio, building and fleshing out ideas as opposed to collaborative sessions. Instead of sitting down with the producers, they would send their stems remotely and we’d work that way. I had to be more self-sufficient in ensuring the songs developed. Lyrically, I focused on impactful songwriting and relatability, and using newfound introspection to explore existing and new themes. This year has introduced many of us to a new way of thought and living, what with a pandemic, jobs being stifled, and connectivity being heavily restricted. Connection through dance is explored on a couple of the records. Being alone with your thoughts is a theme I also explored. Of course, with the political climate, there is some focus on what it means to back marginalized communities, and zeroing in on further recognition of those setbacks. Though times are tough, we can’t succumb to the uncertainty of the changes around us, and I dig into still wanting to achieve, grow, and be successful in this world, on many of the songs. Though so much around us feels stagnant, life is still moving, and we gotta keep moving, too! Q: You’ve achieved tremendous and authentic success with a purpose. As an artist, how important is it to use your platform to address the injustices of the world? What is it that personally drives you to passionately dedicate your art to speaking out on social issues? An artist’s job, from my perspective, is to connect with the audience. As a musical artist, I use sound as my main basis for connection. But what inspires that sound, the lyrics that sit over top, and the supporting visuals? Things that connect us, and relate to us in masses, are the things I often explore to create my art. It’s important to me to create in the real world, and not in illusion. I am driven
to speak on themes that affect many of us, to evoke empowerment and selfpositivity. Though I don’t consider myself an activist, being aware of social issues is important on a human level. Living in your own bliss and disregarding other people’s setbacks is, to me, a blind way to live. And this world is full of lessons, designed for us to learn and grow. Being cognisant of what’s going on, is what gives us that knowledge for learning and growth. Sometimes I will use my platform to address injustices in the world, because we all live in this world, and nothing I create is independent of the issues that surround us. We can’t live in a state of ignorance, and considering I also speak to themes of the ignorance that specifically impacts me as a young black woman living in Canada, I have to implore myself and the audience I reach to push all types of ignorance out of our comfort zone. Q: In what ways does the music industry need to change and grow to become more inclusive? There’s a lot of things that need to change in this world, for that to happen. The WORLD needs to become more inclusive. If I feel excluded as a woman, or as a BIPOC, or as a person that identifies on the LGBTQ spectrum, and these things are not readily accepted in the real world, they won’t be accepted in the music industry. Not truly. I find the music industry very reflective of our real world, so we see the same life hardships hustle their way into the music industry standards. Within my camp, we are working towards shifting what standards look like. And mostly, I think that’s what needs to happen. My existence doesn’t qualify in any pre-existing category so just by creating music as myself, just by being a dark skin black woman with dreads who raps, who is from Canada, just by not conforming to gender norms in my branding, I hope to be a representation of shifting standards. The music industry needs to welcome more creatives pushing these boundaries and societal norms. Q: Are there BIPOC organizations or resources that you recommend? Searching for alternative organizations/
businesses/resources that are BIPOC owned has become easier than ever. It really depends on the product or service you’re looking for, but there are tons of lists that have been put together, and are readily available on Instagram/ Twitter/Facebook. A simple Google search will render you results. Doing a bit of extra work, to support small start up businesses, or groups/communities who inevitably have less, usually benefits you as the customer anyway. They put that hard work and personal touch into said product or service in a way a massive corporation simply cannot. But these businesses can’t advertise the way the big companies can, either. So dig a little. If you’re local/GTA, I would start by checking out the BlogTO list of 100 Black Owned Businesses in Toronto Right Now. If you’re not local, there are probably lists like this for your area. Perhaps you’d like to support womendriven initiatives, or the Indigenous community - now, more than ever, all you need to do is type it into a search bar! Q: How are you getting through these unprecedented times? Trying, like everybody else. I’m staying distracted from everything going on, but trying to still pay attention to it all. I’m managing my mental health and trying not to induce trauma by what I’m exposed to, but also trying to educate myself and stay informed. I’m focusing on my body, and how it’s aging. I’m trying to eat better. I’m loving myself, and those around me. And I’m just trying to open my eyes and ears even wider, to receive information and understanding. More than ever, I’m learning to connect with others. Ironically, in a pandemic where social distancing has become our new normal, I’ve found more ways to connect with people and remind myself that although I make music, I am also human. Q: What’s next for Haviah Mighty? More music! Lots and lots of music! I’m excited to start releasing some new singles and of course, as they roll out, I’ll be working on new music again. It’s a revolving door of creative expression. Luckily, life never stops giving you inspiration.