You wouldn’t guess it – especially when listening to “Uebok,” a song sung in Russian that’s been viewed nearly two million times on YouTube – but Apashe lives and works in Montréal. It’s in his Mile End studio that he composed Renaissance, an orchestral/electro album recorded in Prague with a 65-piece orchestra.

ApasheJohn De Buck, a.k.a. Apashe, is a special case. Born in Belgium, his Francophone parents chose to enroll him in a Dutch-language school, and the now-trilingual producer completed a degree in electro-acoustic music at Concordia University before his career exploded. To this day, he’s written music for ad campaigns by Budweiser, Adidas, and Samsung. Famous franchises such as Marvel and Fast and Furious have also availed themselves of his services.

We meet with him in the office of his record label, Kannibalen Records, also home to Black Tiger Sex Machine. It turns out De Buck is the antithesis of his music, which is full of abrupt drops, intense buildups, and frenetic crescendos. The man is calm and affable.

The secret of his success? Following his instinct. “My team and I work in a very organic way,” he says. “We create music, we put it on the internet, and we wait and see. It grew very naturally, to be honest, we never really tried to push things. But we’ve now gotten to a point where the projects we get are huge!”

Huge? The word could hardly be more appropriate. SOCAN members who see and hear their sheet music played by a horde of seasoned musicians in Prague’s Dvořák Hall are few and far between. After seducing the dubstep world and ad agencies, Apashe was chosen for a substantial subsidy, the first of his career.

“Up to this point, I’ve always been 100% independent,” he says. “We were so used to doing things on our own that now, if someone gives us the financial means, we’re like ‘Yo! Let’s go all out!’ Without FACTOR’s help, I wouldn’t have had the chance to work with the orchestra. I owe them that.”

We already knew he had a knack for epic, opera-like creations. But this time around, he’s not re-mixing a Mozart concerto. It’s his own creations. “I listened to a lot of classical music when I grew up, all the great composers,” says Apashe. “Now I’m exploring the lesser-known composers. I listened to a lot of movie soundtracks, and they’re generally classically-trained composers who work with orchestras. People like Daniel Hoffman, Philip Glass, or even Hans Zimmer… People always tell me I make cinematic music, but the thing is, when I try to do something else, I just can’t.”

Apashe’s love of strings, and especially sacred music, has been well-known for a long time. He also loves foreboding and heavily treated choirs, to add another level of intensity to his music. “I’m not sure exactly where that comes from, it’s quite strange,” he says. “I just love grandiose and supernatural sounds. Just like bass music! It’s heavy and immense, like classical music. That’s why I want to bring them together.”

This penchant from dramatic sounds doesn’t mean he can’t flirt with hip-hop, such as when he collaborates with Instasamka. Their collaboration might have seemed improbable at first, but it was unavoidable. “I wanted someone to rap in Russian over the melody of ‘The Little Birch Tree,’ a very popular folk song in Eastern Europe,” Apashe explains. “I asked my contacts over there, and she [Intasamka] was highly recommended. They told me she’s more of a comedian and influencer, but that she had just dropped a kick-ass album. I listened to it and thought it was perfect. I wrote to her manager and he told me she knew my 2014 track ‘No Twerk.’ She said yes right away, and within a week everything was done.”

The video, which was filmed between his appearance at the Sziget Festival in Budapest and à concert in Nizhny Novgorod, is articulated around Russian stereotypes. A ride on a tank, bare-chested hunting (à la Vladimir Putin), a face-to-face with a bear… The images that play over “Uebok” allow Apashe to add a touch of humour and self-deprecation. Clearly, aspiring to excellence hasn’t gone to his head.

 



High Priestess is a brand new player in Canadian music publishing, but it sports an impressive pedigree. Launched in February 2020, it’s a partnership of Toronto-based music company Six Shooter Records and Kim Temple, Six Shooter’s Director of Licensing & Publishing, and a 20-year veteran of different facets of the publishing business.

As Six Shooter founder and President Shauna de Cartier explains, “Kim has been managing our publishing catalogue [published under the name Girl on a Horse] for some time now. She was always interested in setting up co-writing initiatives with our artists, so we signed Lyle Bell, a member of The Wet Secrets, as our first songwriter.

“One great synch placement can fund their next tour or their next album.” – Kim Temple of High Priestess

“He was writing for other artists, in other genres. This was an exciting new branch of the business that we weren’t yet involved in. Six Shooter’s core interest lies in artist development, whereas Kim’s interest lies in songwriter development, so we wanted to create a new company where she would be able to fully explore that area.”

Temple says, “Shauna and I were both very interested in diversifying the catalogue and finding emerging artists who excite us, and with whom we definitely want to work , but who perhaps don’t fit the label. High Priestess really opens it up for us to bring more people into the family.”

The High Priestess roster has launched with four songwriters and producers, working in genres separate from the primarily roots-focused Six Shooter brand. The list comprises Polaris Prize short-listed singer-songwriter Zaki Ibrahim, dance artist James Baley, Toronto R&B/hip-hop artist Witch Prophet, and producer/DJ SUN SUN  (Above Top Secret, Witch Prophet).

“Shauna has supplied the capital for High Priestess,” says Temple, “but has basically given me free rein as President, saying, ‘Go for it.’ Her support is phenomenal.”

De Cartier can also take credit for the striking company name. “I like names that evoke imagery and immediately capture people’s imaginations,” she says. “I was riffing on Kim’s last name, and this landed instantly. I love High Priestess, because it both inspires confidence and conveys our spiritual connection with music and artists.”

“My aim with High Priestess is to provide mentorship and guidance,” says Temple. “I want to make sure our writers’ work is properly registered and represented around the world to help generate a revenue stream for them, allowing them to keep making art while growing their own businesses. My goal is to allow these amazing artists to be self-sufficient. One great synch placement can fund their next tour or their next album.”

While High Priestess takes care of Canada, peermusic administrates its publishing internationally. “Peermusic has offices around the world, and it’s important for us to have a bigger partner,” says Temple.

Asked about her creative approach, Temple says, “I can’t but think I’m going to be unconventional in some way. I come from a different background, starting in indie bands [Nerdy Girl and ‘90s JUNO Award nominees Bodega], and I’ve always been surrounded by visual artists. I’ve not been in the commercial pop realm, where a lot of music publishers have naturally gone to generate income.”

Her indie-rock past gives Temple a deep and genuine empathy for songwriters and artists, though she notes a real change in their outlook. “When I was coming up in the ‘90s, it was very taboo to write music other than for your own project,” she says. “If somebody wanted to put your song in an ad, it was, ‘No way. I’m not going to sell out.’

“Now, being a songwriter has evolved to where you don’t have to pigeonhole yourself. If you’re a hip-hop artist but you can write EDM or pop, why limit yourself?”



After Steve Waxman graduated from NYU in 1982, with a screenwriting and acting degree, he stumbled into the music business. It was the tail end of the recession. Waxman took a Madison Avenue gig as an errand boy for Aucoin Management (KISS, Billy Idol). Two hours into his first day on the job, he knew he belonged in this business.

Nearly four decades later (the last 27 in publicity, promotion and marketing at Warner Music Canada) Waxman uses his talents and experiences today to help artists discover their story with his recently launched business: I.M. Steve Waxman. Just like landing that first job with Aucoin, finding this new calling at 60 was a “happy accident.” The epiphany came after many coffee conversations. He stresses his service is not a consultancy; rather, he offers entertainment career guidance.

“You need to define the narrative first”

Waxman is a storyteller with a curious mind, and a conversation with him is a lesson in listening. He rambles from one anecdote to another. Each sentence starts with, “Did I ever tell you about the time…?” From stories of dressing up in KISS’ outfits in Aucoin’s warehouse along the Hudson River to launching Scott Helman’s career, what emerges is this: Waxman knows his narrative. The value of an authentic story, well told, pairs with the most important lesson Bill Aucoin taught him: we’re all facilitators.

“If the artist has a vision, it’s our job to make sure they succeed at their vision, but so many artists don’t even know who they are,” Waxman explains. “They want to put themselves in the hands of the ‘experts’ and let the ‘experts’ guide them. Bill taught me to do it a different way. You need to sit together and figure out how we can get out of you what your vision is, but you need to define the narrative first. Sometimes you just need an unbiased third party to ask all the right questions until you figure it out, but it has to come from you.”

Once an artist has a clear vision and a compelling story, Waxman works with them to determine what steps to take next, and what actions make the most sense at that particular stage in their career, by asking the right questions. Do they need a manager? What about a publicist? Just because you made a record or uploaded some songs to Spotify, Waxman says, this alone is not a story. You need something that defines you or your band, and makes you stand out.

“My goal is to help as many artists as I can get into a position where they can successfully take the next step, whatever that is,” he says. “From getting out onstage to finding a manager or agent. Your best friends are always going to be wowed by what you do. You need an unbiased truthsayer if you’re going to take your career seriously.”

Connect with Steve to learn more about how he can help you navigate your career and define your narrative: https://www.imstevewaxman.com/

Steve’s Top Five Tips

  1. Set goals. A lot of times people don’t set goals, or they set goals that are too big, like ‘We want to fill an arena one day.’ That’s a big goal that’s hard to get to, unless you have a whole bunch of smaller goals you can achieve first.”
  2. “Ask questions like, ‘What makes you special?’ Define your narrative and start to create your unique story. Then, figure out how to get this story out to the world.”
  3. Be original. Chasing what’s on the radio, or someone else’s sound, is pointless.”
  4. Develop your live experience. People often don’t think about that enough. What are you doing to entertain your fans? Envision what your greatest performance looks like, then scale it back to what you can afford. Keep that vision in your head, so when people see you perform, it always looks bigger.”
  5. Get social. Create content online that’s consistent, and matches your narrative and vision. Many artists fear social media; they think you have to be everything to everybody, all the time. Instead, you need to strategize and plan.”