Mental health, once a private conversation, is no longer only talked about behind closed doors. Those messy, unexplainable feelings are now more common, especially among youth. Statistics show that in any given year, one in five Canadians experiences a mental illness. Post-pandemic, according to Katherine Hay, President and CEO of Kids Help Phone, that number is closer to one in one.

“When COVID-19 hit three years ago, we were ready to scale and meet this increased demand,” she explains. “Since 2020, young people have connected with Kids Help Phone more than 14 million times.”

On March 2, 2023, to amplify those connections, the national charity launched its latest campaign, Feel Out Loud – the largest youth mental health movement in Canadian history – with the anthem “What I Wouldn’t Do (North Star Calling).”  Produced by Grammy nominee Bob Ezrin, Randy Lennox, and Carrie Mudd, Artists for Feel Out Loud features more than 50 Canadian musicians. SOCAN members from a variety of genres lent their voices and volunteered their time, including Serena Ryder, LOONY, Boslen, Johnny Orlando, TOBi, Roy Woods, JESSIA, JP Saxe and many more.

Kids Help Phone, Artists for Feel Out Loud

Click on the image to play the Artists for Feel Out Loud video ““What I Wouldn’t Do (North Star Calling)”

And, as befits a truly national charity, the Francophone counterpart of Kids Help Phone – Jeunesse, J’écoute – was equally involved in the initiative, Libère tes émotions. Among the Francophone SOCAN members who joined in to sing on the charity anthem were 2Frères, Dominique Fils-Aimé, Jeanick Fournier, Jonathan Roy, Marie-Mai, Naya Ali, Preston Pablo, Rêve, and Zach Zoya.

The charity song combines the melody of Ryder’s hit “What I Wouldn’t Do” with Leela Gilday’s JUNO-winning “North Star Calling.” In two months, the YouTube video has earned 1.2 million views, and the single has been streamed more than a million times. Kids Help Phone has also seen a 31 percent increase in its service volume.

For more than 30 years, the organization has offered free, 24/7, e-mental health services for youth. The charity set a campaign fundraising goal of $300 million by the end of 2024, to expand its confidential mental health services and reach even more equity-deserving communities. All proceeds generated from “What I Wouldn’t Do (North Star Calling)” will be donated to Kids Help Phone.

“You’re not alone” is the campaign’s main message. Feel Out Loud is about breaking down barriers to mental health services and supports by creating more space for young people to express themselves, feel seen, heard, and have their feelings validated, safe from judgement. It’s no surprise Serena Ryder was involved; the multiple-JUNO-Award-winner’s last record, The Art of Falling Apart, explored her mental health journey, and she frequently talks about her emotional struggles.

“The whole idea of feeling out loud is the most important thing I feel in my life, not just as an artist, but as a human being,” says Ryder. “It was truly amazing to have all of these artists come together, because they’re affected, and because they know what it feels like to have mental and emotional wellness struggles.”

Dominique Fils-Aimé

Dominique Fils-Aimé

Dominique Fils-Aimé was happy to participate. “I want to help get rid of the taboos surrounding mental health, that have no reason to still exist,” she says. “Our emotional universes are complex, so imagine how overwhelming that can be for a young person. Having had to struggle with depression as a teenager, I know I was fortunate to have access to support – I can’t imagine what I would’ve done without it.

“Young people swiftly realize the absurdity of the world we leave them. I believe it’s our duty to make sure organizations like Kids Help Phone are there to validate their emotions and support their mental evolution. By giving them those crucial tools at a younger age, we make sure they have even better odds of becoming fulfilled, mentally healthy adults equipped for the rollercoaster ride that is life.”

Growing up in Scarborough, ON., Canadian R&B artist LOONY (aka Kira Huszar) recalls watching after-school TV and seeing Kids Help Phone commercials. She never reached out, or used any of their resources, but one of her friends called a couple of times and had a good experience; she knew that Kids Help Phone was always a resource she had “in my back pocket.” Though she never picked up the phone as a teenager, when the ask arrived to participate in Artists for Feel Out Loud, she said yes immediately.

“I am a super-anxious person and have ADD [attention deficit disorder],” admits the 2020 SOCAN Songwriting Prize nominee, during a break from recording her next project. “Like everyone, I’ve been through situations and traumatic events. I’m usually pretty insular in the way I work. I don’t do a lot of collaborations or features and I’ve never been in a commercial, but I figured if there was ever something to be a part of, this was it.”

When it comes to her mental health, what helps LOONY is to be aware of the signposts and the triggers that affect her mood. “For me, that means to get outside, remember to eat food that nourishes me and just notice the things that make me feel good and do more of that,” she says.

For Vancouver-based alternative hip-hop artist Boslen, music is the eternal saviour that always helps him heal, and keep the darkness at bay. The 23-year-old spent his formative years in rural Chilliwack, B.C., hunting with his dad and “chasing bees and lizards.” When his parents divorced, he was only 12 years old, and didn’t know how to express his feelings. Clarity came when he first heard the song “Up Up & Away.”

“Kid Cudi and that song saved my life!” says Boslen. “He was the first artist to ever say his dad wasn’t around. As a kid, you don’t know why you’re feeling depressed when you are just hanging out at the playground… You don’t know why you have anxiety. But when somebody else says it, you’re, like, ‘Oh yeah, that might be a reason!’ As a man, you have to be open to growth, and putting your ego to the side sometimes. Music is the best therapy for that.”

Like LOONY, Boslen jumped at the offer to get involved in the Feel Out Loud campaign. “I love the message behind it, and I’ve always wanted to try something in this world where it’s not just me,” he explains. “As artists, everybody on that song can relate to this fact, we constantly slave ourselves to our own music to make it perfect. I felt like with this song, we were doing something selfless for other people. How can you say no to that?”

Kids Help Phone’s Kathierine Hay is filled with gratitude that no one said no, and she thanks all of the artists, and the corporate partners, that helped make the Feel Out Loud campaign possible. For the senior executive, the following lines in the song’s second verse, sung by 2023 Breakthrough Artist of the Year Preston Pablo, are the most poignant: Life can bе like a river/ That you are floating down /You may not be a swimmer/ But I’ll never let you drown.

“That’s the most common feeling that our frontline staff say kids calling us share,” says Hay. “Our message back to all kids out there is this: We won’t let you drown. We’re here for you.”



Exactly six years after La grande nuit vidéo, Philippe B is releasing Nouvelle administration, an album on which he’s recognizable in every story and melody –  or just about. The singer-songwriter is back with everything people always loved about him: a malleable, fictionalized “self,” in which one ends up seeing one’s true self, at some level.

Philippe B, Charlotte Rainville“I love the irony of a restauant that changes owners, and you can read the large sign that says Under New Ownership, but the soup continues to be made by the same dude,” says Philippe B, explaining the title of his second album. The restaurant’s menu hasn’t changed through his entire life; what’s changed is life itself. Becoming a father a year before the start of the pandemic, Mr. B wrote all of the words and music of Nouvelle administration inside a new family dynamic, one that modified the album’s main theme.

“This album is about Philippe B writing in the style of Philippe B during the pandemic,’ he says. “I wasn’t trying to re-invent myself, but instead [I was] in the process of checking whether I still existed.” The similarities between the new and the old pieces were reassuring in the context of isolation. “The fact that my character, i.e. myself, had changed after becoming a dad was renewal enough for me,” says B. “Those are songs that say something more, and I managed to control my normalcy.”

As the boss of the new administration, B built everything himself. Guido del Fabro (violins), Émilie Laforest (voice), José Major (drums) and, in this case, Philippe Brault (bass) join the singer-songwriter, who takes care of the arrangements, mixing, and production. “It was the first time I was also looking after the mixing,”he says. “Guido was my second ear for everything. He came along rather late in the process, but I gave him that responsibility. He can adjust the frequecencies, and the arrangements, and the words, all at once. Above all, he knows me inside-out.”

Becoming a parent can change a life, and that change can be felt throughout the album. “For a long time, we were stuck in a place where I meant me, and you meant my girlfriend, or some other character,” says B. “But since my daughter was born, we is a threesome, and you is a duo.” That’s the case with ‘Les filles,’ a song depicting the whole range of anguishing thoughts, large and small, that can haunt a vulnerable man, who realizes the possible pain that he might inflict on the very people he’s trying to protect.

Philippe B. Marianne S'ennuie

Click on the image to play the Philippe B video “Marianne s’ennuie”

Outside of his personal life story, two stories took shape in spite of the fact that they’re not being “played” by his character: “Marianne s’ennuie” and “Souterrain.” In the first one, B chooses to tackle the idea of polyamorous love, and all the possibilities that lie behind the “love” concept.

“The chosen name is Marianne, Leonard Cohen’s girlfriend,” says B, adding that he didn’t want to shape this story too clearly, either. “I wonder how Marianne would have faced that sort of aggressiveness today,” he says. “She was Cohen’s muse, and their long-distance love had several peculiarities, although in the end the pretty things that one heard in the songs all came from him. I acted as if, for once, one were passing the mic to her.”

The story of “Souterrain” was written in the peculiar ambience of Sophie Dupuis’ 2020 film. “To keep my brain active during the pandemic, my record company offered me, and some others, a project that represented a false order, as if we had to write a song that would be the film’s credit,” says B.

Nouvelle administration took its time coming out, and many other songs of the album took life multiple times. “I would write them, and allow enough time for me to forget about them,” says B, “before coming back to them, re-discovering them, and making sure I still liked them.” He adds that he’d adopted a creative process that made him feel “more lonely than ever before.”

At the end of the album, “L’ère du verseau” brings a conclusion to the 10 stories – unrelated ones, in spite of the songwriter’s intention of wanting to stick to his main theme of fatherhood. “Talking about your new family is a nice thing, but turning it into songs sounds a bit cheesy,” says B with a laugh. “I also wanted to make sure that a guy who has zero children could come up with his own interpretation. I wanted to go back to Philippe the chameleon, who can be just about anybody. I think, or least I hope, it worked.”



He was born, raised, and remains based in Toronto, but Sean Fischer’s multi-hyphenate career as a songwriter, musician, composer, producer, and re-mixer is flourishing because of his global approach.

Via major success in such markets as Mexico and South Korea, Fischer’s music has accumulated more than 100 million streams. He co-wrote and arranged “Black Clouds,” a song on Korean pop group NCT 127’s Billboard world music charts-topping album 2 Baddies – one that sold more than 3.5 million copies. Elsewhere, the song “Sr. Tigre,” recorded as part of Fischer’s solo project, French Braids, went viral in Mexico, notching more than 20 million streams.

NCT 127, Black Clouds

Click on the image to play the NCT 127 video “Black Clouds”

“I just follow where there are sparks. There have been a lot of those in the K-pop world, and I’ve been diving in there head-first,” says Fischer. “I’ve found that being there in person really helps bring success. I just got back from 10 days in the studio in Korea, being worked to the bone by SM Entertainment, the big label there. I’m always on the road.”

Aiding Fischer’s cause are his language skills (he’s fluent in English, French, and Spanish) and proficiency in a wide range of musical genres. “I may be up there as one of the most diverse producers in Canada,” he says. “I go from working on a Celine Dion ballad, to a Mexican tropical house re-mix, as French Braids. That diversity keeps me refreshed creatively.”

The Dion song referenced is the superstar’s new song “Waiting on You,“ featured in the movie (in which she also appears) Love Again, and that’s a career-boosting placement. “That song came out of a writing session with Liz Rodrigues six years ago,” he recalls. “For Celine, they took my demo and fully re-created it, with a 70-piece symphony orchestra. When I heard it, I literally dropped to the ground and started crying my eyes out. It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard!”

Fischer has amassed impressive credits with other Canadian artists as well. He was a writer and producer on Jazz Cartier’s gold-selling “Tempted,” and other recent cuts include those by BANNERS, La Zarra, Banx & Ranx, Preston Pablo, and Dragonette, alongside international artists Fitz and the Tantrums, A Boogie wit da Hoodie, Tim Atlas, Now United, K-pop star Taeyeon, and Inna & Farina.

 His unconventional career path included early jazz piano studies with the legendary Hilario Duran, and at Humber College; similar studies at McGill University, and in Havana, Cuba;  and, back in his late teens, a stint in a rock band in Toronto.

YoSoyMatt, French Braids, Sr. Tigre

Click on the image to play the video “Sr. Tigre” by YoSoyMatt, French Braids, and Eva De Marce

“We signed to Sony, but after about a year I decided it was too much of a hustle,” he says. “After slogging it out in clubs for $75 a night, and fighting with my bandmates, I decided there had to be something else in store. I started doing internships for film composers, including The Hive studio. I basically forced them to let me pitch on projects for free, and I landed theme songs for HGTV and CTV News, for which I still get royalties 10 years later. That was the first stepping stone to my true producer career.”

Fischer balances two parallel creative identities, one as a songwriter, producer and re-mixer for hire, and the other as French Braids. In the former role, he has a publishing deal with Honua Music, while  French Braids is signed to a joint record deal with Sadboy Records and Armada Music.

“It can be a headache with many overlapping deals,” he says. “My lawyers hate me, as I have to carve things in and out of contracts, but I do my best to keep the brands separate. French Braids is very pure electronic, dancefloor re-mix bangers. My Spotify for it has a cohesive sound of electronic, vibe-y re-mix stuff, with none of my pop cuts there.”

A collaboration with Mexican artist YoSoyMatt brought Fischer/French Braids stardom there. “During the pandemic I started reaching out to random producers on Instagram, offering to re-mix their stuff for free,” Fischer recalls. “I found YoSoyMatt, re-mixed his track ‘Sr. Tigre,’ and it went viral, with close to 15 million streams. That took me to Mexico, where we’ve played big festivals, and people recognise me on the street. Thanks to this Mexico magic, my own artist page has almost a million monthly listeners.”

Three tips for novice professional producer/songwriters

  • “Think globally. I love Canada and SOCAN and all our beautiful systems, but at the end of the day, this is a tiny market on the world stage. It is so easy to set up a Zoom session in Australia or Korea. Open yourself up to markets that are way bigger than ours.”
  • “Remember that a songwriting session is such a personal and social event. Be the kind of person a co-writer or artist would just like to have a beer with, or hang out with. Don’t make it all business, or people will be turned off so fast. I learned this from my publisher, who’s Norwegian, so every session we start off with coffee and a chat about life.”
  • “This is easier said than done, but be really familiar with the song and the songwriting, the melody, the lyrics. If a producer can’t sit by a firepit and sing through the hit songs on guitar or just singing, then you are pretty limited as a producer. To me the best producers can in theory do it all themselves.”