If you asked Dave Pelman in 1995 where he saw himself in 23 years, you can guarantee his answer wouldn’t have been, “composing songs for an animated TV show, broadcast on the Internet, based on a videogame.” Heck, the nascent Net in the mid-‘90s was mainly a vehicle to send and receive e-mails. Yet, in 2018, that describes one of the SOCAN members’ main gigs.

It’s also apropos, since Pelman, like most in the industry, has always had to adapt, and remain responsive, to market demands. He landed in the City of Angels armed with big dreams, and a degree from Boston’s Berklee College of Music, at a time when the business was in a state of flux.

Shifting Gears
“I got to L.A. right around the time record stores were closing,” says Pelman, who was born in Vancouver, and spent his formative years in Calgary. “I remember arriving, looking for Tower Records, and it was closed. Record companies were being conglomerated and recording studios were shutting down left and right. I had to switch gears and figure out what to do. Most of my graduating class of friends have stories about having to jump ship and shift gears.”

Initially, Pelman found steady work as an engineer on records, while composing on the side. As the studios started to close and the record industry contracted, he transitioned more into the creative side – scoring TV commercials for brands such as Honda. Years of writing for this medium saw many of his compositions left on the cutting room floor.

“When you write TV commercials, or anything for the advertising world, you write a lot and end up with a bunch of music that doesn’t get used or sold,” says Pelman. “So you start to stockpile a lot of music.”

Sitting on a ton of music, Pelman decided to put together a music library and open up a boutique publishing company, DP Music, to license his compositions to the TV and film industries. Select credits include So You Think You Can Dance (Fox), American Idol (Fox), Ultimate Beastmaster (Netflix), S.T.R.O.N.G (NBC), The Briefcase (CBS), and The Jacksons: Next Generation (A&E).

Pelman started playing piano from the moment he could walk, and there were always musical instruments lying around the house. “It was obvious I would stay on that path,” he says. “I can’t imagine doing anything else … this is what I’m wired for.”

That path today is one that shifts faster than the tectonic plates at California’s core. Pelman’s most recent project: scoring the music and songs for an original online series called Clash-A-Rama! The free show now streams on iTunes, Google Play, and Clash YouTube channels. It’s based on the popular mobile games Clash of Clans and Clash Royale, and is written by the writers/producers of The Simpsons. What started as 11-minute episodes are now 22 minutes long. They feel like you’re watching a 30-minute sitcom without the commercials. The series, which just finished filming its third season, averages more than 20 million views per episode.

“What is interesting about this project is that while it’s geared solely towards the YouTube format, the process of making it is no different than a TV episode in terms of how it’s written and how it’s animated,” Pelman explains. “Actors are hired, the scripts are written and revised, and we follow a traditional sitcom production schedule, except for one difference: there’s no hard deadline. This allows you the opportunity to make it a really cool, great production, without feeling rushed, or having the pressure of a deadline, or a roomful of executives having to weigh in before it’s broadcast.”

The series is written in an upbeat, humorous style, with lots of dry pan. The variety of characters, and disparate themes, in the show allows Pelman to stretch his compositions in many directions. “Each episode might have a theme, but it takes many tangents throughout the show, so it makes sense for the music to jump all over the place,” he explains. “The music needs to support the jokes.”

That also makes writing for a show like Clash-A-Rama! so challenging. “You need to be as fresh as you can from one moment to the next,” says Pelman. “There are constantly different styles of music, from barbershop quartet stuff, to Broadway, to rap.”

Besides scoring Clash-A-Rama! And running his own music publishing/library/licensing company, Pelman composes music for a variety of other Hollywood productions. But just as he did that first day he set foot on the streets of L.A., nearly three decades ago, the musician remains nimble, ever ready for what’s next.

“At the end of the day, I work really long hours, and do a multitude of different things… I wear four to five different hats every day,” says Pelman. “It’s like the Wild West out there. Things are changing on a monthly basis. You have to stand fast and be ready to adapt quickly and jump on opportunities while the irons are hot. That’s my life!”


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Carole Facal’s atypical journey once again captivates listeners with the release of her fourth, electro pop-tinged album. It’s obvious even on the first listen: Symbolism sees Caracol elegantly and masterfully treading new artistic paths.

CaracolWorking with Los Angeles producer Joey Waronker (Beck) and husband and producer Seb Ruban (ex-DJ Champion guitarist, who’s also worked with Radio Radio), singer-songwriter Carole Facal, aka Caracol, presents us with a new batch of English songs, served over a bed of synths and beats.

Five years after her latest effort, in a solo career that started in 2008, the ex-member of Dobacaracol has previously released three albums – L’arbre aux parfums, Blanc mercredi and Shiver – as well as an EP, Les yeux transparents, released earlier this year.

During that hiatus, the mother of three wrote lyrics for Valérie Carpentier and Ludovic Bourgeois, winners of the talent contest La Voix [the Québec franchise of The Voice TV singing copetition], and, more recently, for New Brunswick singer David Myles (over half of the songs on his most recent Francophone album). “That’s how I earn a living: copyrights,” he says. That’s why she set up her own publishing company, Lady, which handles all her other projects besides Caracol.

And don’t expect her to bore us to tears with any pretensions her album might contain. “Give me a pen and a piece of paper and I’ll write you a song,” she says. “My life ain’t boring, I’ve got plenty of subjects to write about. I’m constantly inspired, constantly writing,” she told us recently, in the offices of her record label, Indica.

“Song camps have set off a creative explosion in my brain.”

Symbolism is a kind of rebellious spirit,” she says, “like when I used to snowboard (100 days a year, including several competitions), the return to a more savage birth. When I was a teen in Sherbrooke, I was into punk rock, and my favourite band was Grimskunk.” It’s no coincidence that Franz Schuller, Grimskunk’s frontman and Indica label boss, was also her manager for 13 years.

“My inspiration comes from one event to another,” says Caracol. “[That’s been the case] since 2015, when I was lucky enough to spend two weeks at the SOCAN House in Los Angeles, and to participate in the Kenekt Song Camp. I didn’t have a specific plan, I was going on intuition, and it turns out I was inspired by the symbolism of those encounters, and 75% of the album was written there. Since then, I’ve been doing a lot more co-writes, like American songwriters do. These song camps have set off a creative explosion in my brain, and helped me get out of my usual patterns.”

The most immediately striking thing about Symbolism – aside from Caracol’s unique voice – is a feeling of musical maturity. There’s a lot going on, instrumentally speaking. “I’ve re-connected with percussion and beats, more tribal, more pop, but I wasn’t sure if my audience would get it,” she says. “I had this history that I wasn’t banking on enough, and my music is a hybridization of genres, my strength is being able to gather a wide variety of things.

“Instead of being negative about the rather morose situation of the record industry, I decided to work with less, while being more creative. When I was in L.A., Waronker and I played keyboards. I’d never played keys before. I can play many instruments, but I’m not a virtuoso on any of them. Seb Ruban is the one who put in the most work on this album, and Toast Dawg put his touch on two of the songs. It definitely is a production album!”

Her productions already possessed heart and soul, but she can now boast greater depth, thanks to another SOCAN Kenekt Song Camp in Nova Scotia; performances at Canadian Music Week and South by Southwest; and a writing workshop at Gilles Vigneault’s place in St. Placide in 2017. Caracol is constantly improving her talent. “I’ve acquired a lot of precision in my writing, which is important to communicate,” she says.

“I’m a very bohemian woman, but I’m also very hard-working,” she adds. “I come from a family where everyone has a doctorate, which means I’ve spent my entire life following my instincts, and staying away from the family path.”

Symbolism will quite likely unite all of her fans, dating back to the Dobacaracol era, as well as those who are more into modern, high-tech productions.

 

 


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Ria Mae

Ria Mae

Over the past several years, SOCAN has organized and hosted its annual Kenekt Song Camps in British Columbia, Québec, and Nicaragua. Now, SOCAN is pleased and proud to report that some of the songs created at those camps are seeing the light of day with commercial releases, assisting the co-writers and performers, and their record companies and music publishers, in furthering their careers.

Begonia’s brand-new seasonal song, “It Won’t be Christmas (Till You’re Here)” – co-written with Wes Marksell and Jason Crouse of  Darcys – was created at the 2017 SOCAN Kenekt Song Camp on Pender Island, BC, inspired by community – and the cold.

“Wes and Jason’s production room was in this beautiful cabin overlooking the ocean,” says Begonia (a.k.a. Alexa Dirks), “BUT IT HAD NO HEAT! We were drawing a blank on where to start that day, but we were freezing cold, so we let that inspire us and decided to write a Christmas song! We basically used every holiday-related word we could think of: mistletoe, snow, fire, gifts, reindeer, stockings… and CHRISTMAS, FIVE MILLION TIMES! We finished the song and showed the [full] songwriting group at the end of the day. A few people laughed, while others said that it was kind of annoying and                                                                                                 that they couldn’t get the chorus out of their heads… I think this song reflects both our experience                                                                                                     at the retreat, and the spirit of the holidays!”

Savannah Re, Ralph

Savannah Ré, Ralph

Inspired more by the thought of a hot climate than the experience of a cold one, Samito, Rymz, and (with later contributions from Realmind and Connor Seidel) co-wrote “Sunny Day,” which became a hit for Rymz (feat. Samito) at the 2018 SOCAN Kenekt Quebec Song Camp, in Rabaska Lodge, on the shores of the Baskatong Lake, in the Laurentians. The song is published by Maisonnette and Joyride.

“It was the last day at the camp,” says Samito. “After breakfast, I bumped into Rymz while heading to the recording studio. Neither of us had a very clear plan for the day. Rymz said, ‘Yo! Let’s do a song… I feel like doing something tropical.’ We decided to go see Neo who, in just a few minutes, cooked us up a beat with an amazing vibe. Fifteen minutes later, Rymz had written and recorded an intro and a verse. I then jumped on the mic and recorded a chorus and a verse… The vibe in Neo’s studio was so amazing that we were done in an hour.”

Says Rymz, “Personally, I love getting out of big-city stress and working on music all day, from dawn ‘til dusk. I also appreciated the fact that everyone at the camp was a seasoned professional.”

Matthew V, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, Robyn Dell'Unto

Matthew V, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, Robyn Dell’Unto

Rymz was also a co-writer – along with Stephanie Boulay and Ingrid St-Pierre – of Boulay’s single “Sorbet Collant,” also created at the SOCAN Kenekt Québec Song Camp, produced by Connor Seidel, and published by dare to Care and Joyride. In fact, Boulay was so inspired and touched by her experience there, that she released an official video for another song, “Des histoires qui ne seront jamais finies,” entirely composed of footage she shot at the camp by Boulay and Xavier Martel (of Forum).

Ria Mae’s last two songs uploaded to YouTube, the acoustic “It’s Not Me It’s You” (co-written with Lowell, Nathan Ferraro, and Scott Effman [ASCAP], published by Concord Music, Hyvetown Music Publishing, Kobalt Music Publishing and Nettwerk Music Group Publishing) and the single “Hold Me” (co-written with Lowell, John Nathaniel, and Frank Kadillac of Neon Dreams, published by Hyvetown Music Publishing) were both created at the 2018 SOCAN Kenekt Song Camp, in the remote town of Maderas, Nicaragua.

L I O N C H I L D – the songwriting/production team of Lance Shipp, Nathalia Marshall, and Rachael Kennedy – and Laurell co-wrote “Lil’ Touch” at the 2017 SOCAN Kenekt Song Camp in Nicaragua. It has since become a single for Girls Generation, the first Asian girl group to achieve five music                                                                                                            videos with more than 100 million views each on YouTube. The song is published by Universal                                                                                                          Music Publishing.

Kenekt Québec 2018

Kenekt Québec 2018

Similarly, Cassie Dasilva’s single Welcome to my Castle was co-written with Fintan O’Brien and Ian Smith, and published by CYMBA Music Publishing, at the 2016 SOCAN Song Camp in the town of Gibson, on BC’s Sunshine Coast. “likefck” (sic), the debut single for laye, a Quebec-based singer-songwriter signed to Sony Music Canada, was co-written at the 2018 Kenekt song camp in BC, by Kevvy Maher and Joel Stouffer, published by Sony/ATV Music Publishing Canada. A SOCAN Kenekt Song Camp was also the creation location for Delhi 2 Dublin’s “Get Loud,” co-written by band members Tarun Nayar and Sanjay Seran, with Kevvy Maher, and performed by Delhi 2 Dublin (featuring Navv Inder). Phrased Differently publishes the song.

The same goes for “Piece by Piece,” co-written and performed by Heartstreets’ Gab Godon and Emma Beko, with Ariane Brunet, produced by Realmind, and performed by Heartstreets (feauturing L.i.s.l.e.). Two other songs created at the 2018 SOCAN Kenekt Québec camp wiulkl be featured on the group’s next album, due in 2019: “Lost,” which Godon and Beko co-wrote with Pilou, and “Good Things,” which they penned together with A-SHO and Connor Seidel.

Frank Kadillac, Neon Dreams

Frank Kadillac (of/de Neon Dreams)

“The song camp experience is unlike any other,” says SOCAN’s Melissa Cameron-Passley, who often organizes and oversees the Kenekt events. “Watching the writers grow from day one to five, and connecting them with new co-writers to create songs together, in such nurturing environments and inspiring locations, is a beautiful experience. It’s a great way of adding value to our members’ creative efforts. Some of the working relationships established in the camps continue on, and some of the songs created there have reached a wide audience. A huge shout out to all of our publisher members, labels, managers, and taste-makers who submit their stellar songwriters for the opportunity.”

Participating songwriters and producers thrive on the experience. Here’s what a few of them had to say…

From the 2018 SOCAN Kenekt Song camp in Nicaragua:

  • “Still on a high from what was one of the BEST WEEKS EVER,” say Jayli and Hayden Wolf, “bringing all these beautiful and inspiring people together in the jungle. It was pure magic.”
  • “An unbelievable songwriting camp,” says Lowell. “Probably one of the best times I’ve ever had, in regards to writing.”

From the 2018 SOCAN Kenekt Song camp on Pender Island in BC:

  • “I’m leaving this camp a better writer, and with some amazing memories and friendships,” says Matthew V.
  • “Each day of writing was filled with such great moments, and memories that’ll live forever in the songs we created,” said Kayo. “It was a life-changing experience.”

And from the 2018 SOCAN Kenekt Québec Song camp:

  • Ingrid St-Pierre: “I’m still surfing that wave. The wave made up of complicit glances, giggles, grandiose micro-doses of happiness, profound talks, night-time friendships, sparkling thunderstorms, games of statues, beautiful humans expressing themselves, bacon grilled-cheese sandwiches, warm afternoon soup, teary eyes, campfires, immense smiles, new-born but already legendary, true, and magnificent friendships.”

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