“It’s my duty to let people know what I think is great in general, as a DJ. And now as a producer, I can take that to the next level, where I can actually make songs with these artists and I can put them on stages with me – because I was just looking at myself like a conduit to be able to connect things and people.”

Kirk St. Cyr, better known as DJ 4Korners, is talking not only about his role as a DJ playing music in clubs around the world, but also as a fully-fledged artist who’s just released his debut album. Much like the releases of many other Canadian DJs in the present day, 4Korners of the World not only highlights his songwriting and production skills across a variety of music genres, it also incorporates the constantly evolving roles a DJ increasingly takes on in addition to their foundational, well-honed, and essential skills of rocking a party crowd.

4Korners of The World mashes up a number of different genres, incorporating musical styles that range through afrobeats, hip-hop, R&B, and electronic music, into a seamless extension of his sets as a DJ. Recruiting a number of newly emerging artists from across Canada, 4Korners of the World is a truly eclectic mix.

“The reason why I chose these particular artists is, number one, they’re all dope,” says 4Korners. “Second, because of the concept of the album, I specifically sought out people from the diaspora, and first-generation Canadians of other-worldly descent. I think that we carry a unique experience. I think we see the world in an interesting way, we see Canada in an interesting way. And I believe that that really comes through in the music.”

For 4Korners, the album is a logical extension of the music he plays in clubs, and at basketball games as the official DJ of the Toronto Raptors. As his brand game is strong, 4Korners recently launched an artist showcase called Wonderful in Toronto. “The mission is to showcase emerging and established BIPOC artists, celebrate our music and cultures,” says 4Korners about the combined concert and party showcase.

Another DJ determined to showcase new and emerging artists is Toronto-born, Los Angeles- based DJ Rosegold.  “I do love to introduce new artists and new music that I think that no one knows about,” says the DJ, born Dahlia Harper. “And I do it selectively, by putting in a new song… sandwiched in between two songs that I know everyone in the club knows, no matter how old you are, how young you are, what your race is.”

“As a DJ, it’s my duty to let people know what I think is great… as a producer, I can take that to the next level” – DJ 4Korners

Describing her sound as  “the music that you didn’t know that you wanted to hear,” DJ Rosegold has manifested her eclectic disc jockeying on her Rosegold University: Homecoming EP, where she pays homage to her reggae roots, and her forthcoming music, expected in early 2023.

Not only does the music she produces herself showcase musical styles from across the diaspora, it’s also evident in the eye-catching merch from her Rosegold University line that she recognizes the importance of branding in a social media age. This has led her to DJing events for Barack Obama and Lauren London, among many others.

However, Rosegold wishes that such an emphasis on branding wasn’t necessary. “Now, it’s like talent isn’t the main thing that people focus on, unfortunately,” she says. “So, for me as a DJ, the majority of my bookings are from word of mouth, or people finding me on Instagram. My bookings are heavily reliant on what my brand looks like on social media.” Rosegold has adapted to this reality and turned her confident, driven personality to her advantage, creating a talent agency called House of Milo.

But at the end of the day, whether you’re a DJ or an artist, it comes down to bringing your inimitable style to the music. Junia-T’s 2020 Studio Monk album was short-listed for a Polaris Prize, a couple of years after his stint as a DJ for Jessie Reyez on her first global tour. He initially made some noise as an MC, and now identifies mainly as a DJ/producer, so Junia-T has some insight into the mindset a DJ brings as an artist.

“I keep them one and the same,” says Junia-T of his approach. “Not every DJ is like that, but I like to play the same way I select music for a project. I like to just play the stuff that I really enjoy. I don’t care if people know it or not, because it’s a test of my taste.”

DJ Rosegold mirrors this attitude. “The thing that I think is so cool about me crossing over into production is, I know what goes. By that, I mean that I know what the people want to hear in the party,” she says. “Because I see the reactions, I see what gets people excited, and I put myself in the shoes of the partygoer… So that’s kind of how I fuse the two together, and that’s why I’m really happy that I started first in DJing and then going into production –  because I was able to really identify what it is that people want to hear.”

For 4Korners, who grew up in a Trinidadian household in Toronto, and enjoyed a childhood where he loved everything from soca to funk to rock, there’s a similar mentality when looking at the fluidity between being a DJ and an artist.

“It was only natural that I played all the music that I love, so it’s always been a wide variety of things,” he says. “Now that I’m a producer and an artist, and I’m making the music that I play, it’s just the same thing. I have so many different types of music, and there’s so many sounds from so many influences, that it wouldn’t be me if it didn’t come out like this through my music. There’s no way I can do one specific thing. It’s just not who I am.”



As we look forward to 2023, Words & Music and Paroles & Musique also remember and celebrate 2022, with Top 10 Lists of SOCAN members’ songs from some of our regular contributors. Happy Holidays!

 

Eric ParazelliEric Parazelli
Eric Parazelli is the Editor of SOCAN’s online magazine Paroles & Musique and Manager of Francophone Communications for SOCAN.

 

1. Lydia Képinski – “Depuis”
2. Vulgaires Machins – “Aisle”
3. P’tit Belliveau – “Demain”
4. Les Louanges – “Facile”
5. Les Trois Accords – “Pâté chinois”
6. Ariane Roy et Lou-Adriane Cassidy – “Fille à porter”
7. Marilyne Léonard – “Dans la foule”
8. Lisa LeBlanc – “Gossip”
9. Rymz – “Hédoniste”
10. Gab Bouchard – “Trou d’eau”

 

Howard DruckmanHoward Druckman
Howard Druckman is the Editor of SOCAN’s Words &  Music online magazine.

 

 

1. Julian Taylor – “Wide Awake”
2. Jessie Reyez – “Only One”
3. TOBi – “Flowers”
4. Fortunate Ones – “Day to Day”
5. Beaches – “I’ll Grow Up Tomorrow”
6. Lisa LeBlanc – “Gossip”
7. Daniel Caesar featuring BADBADNOTGOOD – “Please Do Not Lean”
8. Bros. Landreth – “Shame”
9. Snotty Nose Rez Kids – “I’m Good”
10. Moonfruits – “Brittle Earth”

 

Olivier Boisvert MagnenOlivier Boisvert-Magnen
Contributor to Paroles & Musique Olivier Boisvert-Magnen is a journalist, researcher, columnist, host, curator of music lists, and on-air director for ICI Musique/Première, QUB Musique, Stingray, and CISM.

 

 

1. Loud – “Peinture à l’huile”
2. Thierry Larose – “Des noeuds dans les doigts”
3. 1969 Collective et Safia Nolin – “Tu danses, condessa”
4. gabwan – “L’école Sacré-Coeur”
5. Shreez – “Tout c’que j’connais”
6. Raccoon – “C00N”
7. Ariane Roy et Lou-Adriane Cassidy – “Fille à porter”
8. Julie Aubé – “Changer le mal de place”
9. SeinsSucrer et Figure8 – “Un thousand pounds de pression par slap”
10. Bkay – “Post Mortem”

 

DDel Cowieel Cowie
Words & Music contributor Del Cowie has worked as a writer, producer, and researcher for the Peabody and International Emmy Award-winning Netflix documentary series Hip Hop Evolution. He’s also worked as a producer for CBC Music and was hip-hop editor at Exclaim! magazine for more than a decade.

 

1. Kaytranada feat. Anderson .Paak – “Twin Flame”
2. Planet Giza – “While You On Road”
3. Faiza – “Benchmark”
4. Tanika Charles featuring DijahSB – “Different Morning”
5. Pierre Kwenders – “No No No”
6. Dylan Sinclair – “Open”
7. Drake – “Massive”
8. allie – “Soundboi”
9. Jully Black – “Half Empty”
10. Savannah Ré – “About U”

 

Phil RenaudPhilippe Renaud
Paroles & Musique contributor Philippe Renaud has been a music journalist, columnist, and critic for some 20 years, during which time he has been read, seen, and heard at La Presse, Radio-Canada (ICI Première, ICI Télé), L’Actualité, and Le Devoir.

 

1. Jonathan Personne – “Un homme sans visage
2. Pierre Kwenders (featuring Anais) – “Heartbeat”
3. Modlee – “Grass in Blue”
4. Les Trois Accords – “Pâté chinois”
5. Lash – “Maldita”
6. Sophia Bel – “You’re Not Real You’re Just a Ghost”
7. Vulgaires Machins – “OK”
8. Bayta – “Princesse de Laval”
9. Poirier & Ms. Bella – “Shake Mama”
10. Salimo “Porte”

 

Nancy DutraNancy Dutra
Words & Music contributor Nancy Dutra is a writer and editor who loves to read, write, and sing about the human condition.

 

 

1. William Prince and Serena Ryder – “Sing Me a Song”
2. Scott Nolan – “Candy”
3. Lynn Hanson – “Hundred Mile Wind”
4. Allison Russell, Brandi Carlile – “You’re Not Alone”
5. The Sadies – “More Alone”
6. Les Cooper – “Keep It Down”
7. Lydia Persaud – “Good for Us”
8. Ron Sexsmith – “What I Had in Mind”
9. Shawnee Kish – “Mr. Tie”
10. Tanya Tagaq – “I Forgive Me”

 

Elise JetteÉlise Jetté
A contributor to Paroles & Musique for the past five years, Élise Jetté heads the musical web magazine Feu à volonté, and has hosted the show Les Charlottes on CISM for the past 12 years. She also writes articles for many print magazines such as Cool! and Clin d’oeil.

 

1. Pataugeoire – “Emoji fraise”
2. Vulgaires Machins – “Aisle”
3. Bolduc Tout Croche – “D’où c’que j’viens”
4.  Larynx (feat. Helena Deland) – “Beau beam”
5. Les Shirley – “It’s Time”
6. Les Louanges – “Facile”
7. Lucill – “Et tout s’effondre”
8. Lydia Képinski – “Vaslaw”
9. Ariane Roy – “Le paradis de l’amour”
10. Mon Doux Saigneur – “Jojo”

 

Errol NazarethErrol Nazareth
Words & Music contributor Errol Nazareth is the host of Frequencies, a global music show that airs every Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. ET on CBC Music.

 

 

(In no particular order)
Pierre Kwenders – “Coupé”
Wesli – “Rara Mawoule”
Balaklava Blues – “Shelter Our Sky”
Kobo Town – “Shades of the Living”
Empanadas Illegales – “Batidora 3 In 1”
Bruno Capinan – “Tara Rara”
Daniela Gesundheit –  “The Great Confession”
Tanya Tagaq – “Tongues”
Joy Lapps –  “Lulu’s Dream”
Tallies – “Special”
Waahli & Poirier – “Teke Fren”

 

Claude CoteClaude Côté
Paroles & Musique contributor Claude Côté is a columnist, host, and freelance writer for La Presse, ICI RDI, ICI Première, and Ted Magazine, in addition to working on several industry juries, including that of ADISQ. A journalist for Voir from 1993 to 2003, host and programming director at CIBL in 1994, he’s been active in the field for 40 years.

 

1. Steve Hill – “Don’t Let The Truth Get In The Way (Of A Good Story)”
2. Navet Confit – “Prétentieux d’être en vie”
3. Durham County Poets – “Back at The Groove Shack”
4. P’tit Belliveau – “Depuis que la neige a fondu”
5. Shane Murphy – “Going Back to Brownsburg”
6. Les Shirley – “It’s Time”
7. Paulo Ramos – “Lua Vermelha”
8. Justin Saladino – “Sink or Swim”
9. Scott-Pien Picard – “Nipa minuenten”
10. Luc De Larochellière – “Le Pont Viau”



It’s safe to assume that few artists appreciate the benefits of home recording more than Tlicho singer-songwriter Digawolf (born Jesse James Yatlayi). Deeply committed to remaining in his hometown of Yellowknife, NWT, the double JUNO Award nominee is keenly aware of the logistical and fiscal challenges of having to travel far afield to make an album.

The making of his 2009 LP Distant Morning Star entailed a lengthy stay in a Toronto studio, and 2019’s full-length Yellowstone – that earned him a JUNO nomination for Indigenous Artist or Group of the Year – was recorded in a barn in Denmark.

The just-released album Ini was primarily recorded in the basement studio of Digawolf’s home in the far North, reflecting his increased proficiency in DIY recording techniques. “There aren’t a lot of options when it comes to the North,” he says. “You have to wear many hats here. You can’t just call up a producer, engineer, or songwriter, and there aren’t many available musicians here, either.”

The project initially started as a collaboration with Toronto-based producer/DJ Jason Spanu. “The idea was to explore ideas and run them off each other, co-producing the full album,” says Digawolf. “We worked together on the tracks ‘Seiga Dahte’ and ‘Ehtsee,’ but then I kept working on the other tracks, using techniques Jason showed me for using Ableton [a digital audio workstation].”

Ini features adventurous, atmospheric sonic explorations, and songs that reflect upon Digawolf’s experience of living and working in Yellowknife. All of them are written in Tlicho, the language he spoke growing up in Behchoko, the capital of the Tlicho nation in Nunavut. “Part of me is really honoured that I can still speak the language, as I know there are many people losing their languages,” he says.

The ambience of the album evokes his surroundings. “The idea of trying to capture the essence of the North is something I always strive for, and hopefully I succeed from time to time,” says Digawolf. “I started off as a cartoonist and painter, and I still keep the paintbrush in the back of my head. I feel as if I still paint, but with audio now.”

Digawolf credits the classic Tom Waits album Rain Dogs for changing his life early on. “I was maybe 12 when I rescued that CD from the garbage,” he says. “Someone here was throwing it out, as he thought Tom sounded like the Cookie Monster, but I listened to it like crazy. I have five older brothers, and growing up I always followed what they were listening to. With Tom Waits, I finally found my own music. I still have to listen to that album when I’m starting a new project.”

Digawolf’s gruff voice and spoken-word vocal style often elicit comparisons to the likes of Waits, Leonard Cohen, and Robbie Robertson, while reference points for his sonically manipulated guitars include Daniel Lanois and Robert Fripp. Citing the former as a real inspiration, Digawolf expresses a desire to work with Lanois in the future.

Doubtless Lanois would be intrigued by Digawolf’s penchant for sonic experimentation with the guitar. “That was my first instrument, and I still love exploring new ideas and sounds on the guitar,” he says. “Trying to find the latest guitar pedal is rather an insane obsession. Right now I’m into the lap steel, using an e-bow on it with two fuzz pedals and using delay. You can hear that on [new track] ‘Ini.’”

Despite the challenges of life in the North, Digawolf is proud that he works on his home turf. “A long time ago, I thought about moving South, but the North is my home,” he says. “It’s a wonderful thing to be doing something you love, and be at home.”