Montréal’s DJ Killa-Jewel – who many Québecois discovered this year as the house DJ for the TV rap talent show La fin des faibles – has renewed her musical approach on Sagittarius. The four-song EP is her very first release on a record label, namely Hydrophonick Records, the hip-hop branch of Indica Records.

Her previous project Reckless, released independently last year, featured the talents of several rappers (Wasiu and Nate Husser in particular), but Sagittarius is a “true” solo project, on which Killa-Jewel’s music lives on its own terms. Only one of the tracks – the bona fide earworm Without You – uses a non-sampled voice: her own. “Producing music with the intention of collaborating with a rapper or singer is very different from composing instrumental music,” she says. “It led me to create a more dynamic style of music whose goal is to entertain and engage the audience. This translates into a much broader creative freedom.”

With its trip-hop and techno influences, its soaring sounds, and its references to astrology, Sagittarius offers a rather unique astral trap signature. Killa-Jewel’s scratching parsimoniously peppers her amalgamation of sounds and styles. “I wasn’t even sure I would scratch over those songs,”: she says. “I didn’t know if scratching was still relevant in 2021. But they [the Hydrophonik people] said I absolutely had to include some scratching, because it’s my signature. They offered me a great opportunity to marry my original style and my new direction.”

In addition to embodying the celestial mood of the project, the title of the EP represents the zodiac sign and personality of the DJ, producer, and singer-songwriter, who turned 42 in November. “A Sagittarius is someone who loves their freedom,” she says. “It’s a sign associated with passionate people who like to take risks and who want to live their lives to the fullest. That’s exactly how I live my life. It’s been a wild ride!”

DJ Killa-Jewel, SagittariusWith her head in the stars since childhood, this Star Trek ultra-fan got her start as a DJ in the mid-‘90s. “My first boyfriend taught me the basics of DJ-ing when I was in high school,” she says. “We’d spend hours every day playing and mixing records on his turntables. Then we started playing at house parties. Music was my drug.”

A few years later, a phone call changed her life: it was DJ Qbert, the American master turntablist. “I was still living at my mom’s when I got that phone call, says Killa-Jewel. “The person on the other end said: ‘Hi! It’s Q!’ I was speechless. I asked him how he got my number and he said, ‘I just heard of you.’ He explained that he was producing a tutorial DVD on the various scratch techniques, and that he was looking for up-and-coming DJs willing to participate in the production. He asked me to scratch for him right there on the phone, just to make sure I was good enough. In the end, he just said, ‘OK, it’s perfect! Send me a video and I’ll include it on the DVD!’”

The DJ then shared the stage with Qbert a few times, including alongside MixMasterMike (another turntable legend) during the X Games extreme sports competition a few years ago.

On a local level, however, it was her early encounter with another renowned artist that was pivotal: Robert Lepage. In the 2000s, the playwright and stage director tapped Killa-Jewel for his plays Zulu Time and The Busker’s Opera, experiments that went far beyond music.

“When you work with Robert, you have to expect that he’ll use everyone’s talents in different ways,” she says. “For The Busker’s Opera, he made me sing opera, play a role, play the piano, and scratch, too. It was a golden opportunity for me… And now when I’m onstage, I try to think out of the box, like Robert does. It makes me strive to make my shows as dynamic as possible. I do live-looping, I sing, I play the piano, I scratch… It’s a real one-woman show.”

Killa-Jewel’s experience alongside Lepage also allowed her to discover the world. Released in 2014, her debut album Saudade is the result of a crate-digging quest that took place mostly during her theatrical tours. “Saudade is made with sounds that I found along the way,” she says. “It’s a travelogue. The problem was, there were just too many samples, and I just didn’t have the budget to clear all of them,” she adds, referencing the independent release, essentially limited to her website and Bandcamp page. “It was an important learning experience,” she says

And the learning hasn’t stopped over the last few years. Killa-Jewel switched from the MPC-2000 and samples, to Ableton Live and composing. “My productions definitely have a more electronic sound. It literally changed my style,” she says.

First hinted at on Reckless, her new style is confirmed on Sagittarius. And the new musical direction is matched by a similar one in her career – symbolized as much by being signed to Hydrophonik, as it is by her participation in La fin des faibles, the TV talent show whose second season was recently green-lit.

“When the pandemic started, I spent as much time as possible in the studio to really fine-tune my productions,” says Killa-Jewel. “I started shopping around for labels, and in the meantime, I got the call from Urbania [the production company of La fin des faibles]. It was an extraordinary and totally unexpected [case of] momentum. I’m unbelievably lucky.”

But it’s not just a question of chance… After all, Sagittarius is known for being extremely resourceful.

 



Breakout country singer-songwriter Lindsay Ell played a pre-CCMAs show at the new Axis nightclub in downtown Toronto on Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021. Check out our photos from her explosive performance below!

And have a look at https://www.lindsayell.com/tour/ for upcoming shows!



The Canadian Liberal minority government has promised to re-introduce legislation to reform the Broadcasting Act within the first 100 days of being re-elected.  

A stated objective is to ensure “foreign web giants” contribute to the creation and promotion of Canadian stories and music. Put another way, the government is looking to even the playing field between traditional and digital media. 

You may be wondering a few things from that statement. First, why do we need regulations to “even the playing field,” and second, why did the previous efforts to update and revitalize the Broadcasting Act not succeed? 

The Need for Digital Canadian Content Rules 

In 1971, the Government of Canada recognized a problem: Canadian music wasn’t being played on Canadian radio, but foreign artists (mostly American) were. 

This meant that non-Canadian artists received the vast majority of radio airtime. Money flowed from Canada to support foreign talent rather than our Canadian talent. 

As a result, Canadian Content (“CanCon”) rules were implemented for radio stations. The CanCon rules require that at least 35 percent of music broadcast by radio stations during peak hours must meet a defined minimum level of “Canadian.” In Québec, the level increases to up to 65 percent for French-language radio stations. The rest of the “traditional” sector (television and cable) also has its own CanCon rules.  

Those rules have been enormously successful in ensuring that Canada has its own cultural industry and Canadian voices, creating, sustaining, and building a significant source of monetary, emotional and cultural value. There are few, if any, aspects of Canadian culture that foster as much national pride and value as the success of music made in Canada. 

Today, we’re facing a similar but new challenge: Canadian music isn’t sufficiently prominent on internet-based services. 

As digital services become the primary source of music consumption for Canadians, this lack of prominence presents a major issue for Canadian creators. 

A comparison of SOCAN’s royalty distributions to SOCAN songwriter and composer members demonstrates the disparity between traditional media (radio and TV) and digital media (online music services): 

Traditional Media Royalties Graph

English Digital Media Royalties

Without modern CanCon rules built for now and the future, we will continue to see a catastrophically unfair decline in the success of Canada’s music makers – from 34 percent of royalties collected on traditional media distributed to SOCAN writer members, to barely 10 percent of royalties distributed to Canadian songwriters and composers through digital media.  

The transition from traditional media to digital media continues to increase as more and more Canadians turn to digital services to discover and listen to new music. 

So, the question is: How can we safeguard the success of Canada’s creators on digital services?  

The answer is to bring the Broadcasting Act into the digital era, to enable the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (the CRTC) to explore rules relating to a modern and fair version of CanCon. 

It is impossible simply to transpose traditional CanCon rules to the digital world. That is, to require 35 percent of all content on digital services be Canadian. The digital realm works differently. 

Traditional services “push” content to consumers. It’s possible to mandate that some of the content that’s pushed must be Canadian Content. 

By contrast, users of digital services “pull” content from those services on-demand. It’s not realistic or even possible to mandate that users pull Canadian Content. 

These are complex issues that would become open to review by the CRTC as part of a broader regulatory mandate over digital media services. 

The CRTC has shown itself to be an effective administrative means of implementing Canadian cultural policies in traditional media. The organization can continue to play that role in the digital world, now and in the future, as new solutions are crafted.  

Bill C-10: The First Attempt to Reform the Broadcasting Act 

The previous federal government introduced Bill C-10 to allow the CRTC to regulate online undertakings. However, the initial draft of the bill excluded social media services, which meant that these digital platforms—some of which are the largest and fastest-growing in the world—could escape regulation. 

The social media exemption was ultimately removed from the bill, but other amendments were added to state explicitly that users (and the programs they upload) were not being regulated by it. As a result, Bill C-10 targeted the broadcasting activities of the platforms, not Canadians.  

Despite this clear exemption, critics of Bill C-10 continued to conflate in the media that the freedom of expression of users was under attack. This controversy ultimately overshadowed what the bill worked to accomplish: to level the playing field between traditional services, which operate under CanCon regulations, and digital media services, which do not.  

The controversy around Bill C-10 was an unfortunate distraction from the vital issue: The Broadcasting Act must be reformed for the digital era. For a law that hasn’t been updated since 1991, it’s imperative to continue to sustain and build Canadian-made music, so that we can continue to benefit from this nationally and globally successful industry and source of invaluable cultural pride. 

Unfortunately, Bill C-10 ultimately expired on the order paper when the federal election was called in August of 2021, leaving the obvious, necessary and vital addition of digital services to the Broadcasting Act in limbo.  

What’s Next? 

The newly elected government has confirmed Broadcasting Act reform as one of its top priorities, promising to introduce new legislation in the first 100 days of coming into office. 

This will be a watershed moment for Canadian cultural policy.