Benny AdamBENNY ADAM
Signed to the Universal Music Publishing Group, Montréal singer-songwriter Benny Adam now finds his name on the lips of every record label and music publisher in Paris. His debut album, due in 2019, is being handled by Valéry Zeitoun, a renowned music executive in France, who was the distributor there for U2 and Amy Winehouse. Managed by Sebastien Catillon (Diam’s, Ben l’oncle soul…), the album is expected early in 2019.
Watch the video for the Benny Adam-produced “Mon Lit,”  by Leila Lanova featuring Fababy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MorMorMORMOR
MorMor (born Seth Nyquist) writes, plays, and produces almost everything on his songs, an eclectic mix of psychedelic, soul, shoegaze, and R&B. “Heaven’s Only Wishful” has earned him almost three million YouTube views, and a signing to September Management (alongside Adele, Rick Rubin, King Krule and Rex Orange County), and critical acclaim from Pitchfork, NPR, and The Fader. He’s expected to tour in 2019.
Watch the video for “Heaven’s Only Wishful.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peach PitPEACH PIT
Indie band Peach Pit went from regional obscurity to international sensation when their song “Peach Pit” went viral on YouTube (currently at more than 20 million views). Now they’ve toured North America, Europe, India, Thailand, Singapore, and Indonesia; signed a worldwide deal with Columbia Records; and continued to expand their stylistic range all the while.
Watch the video for “Peach Pit.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Savannah ReSAVANNAH RÉ
One of Toronto’s hottest emerging R&B artists, Savannah Ré is working closely with renowned beat-maker/producer Boi-1da and went on a fall 2018 North American tour alongside Jessie Reyez. She’s also caught the attention of producers Jordon Manswell and Babyface. According to The Fader, “she blends… casual confessional writing with a more traditional approach to melody and delivery — a real treat.”
Hear “The Best is Yet to Come.”

 

 

 

 

SORANSORAN
A self-taught multi-instrumentalist, SORAN has earned 102,000 Instagram followers, and more than 10 million streams. Making music that blends dance, reggae, funk, and soul, he was busking in Montréal’s subway when someone from La Voix [the Québec franchise of The Voice] walked by and convinced him to sign up. He didn’t win, but gained massive TV exposure, and a record deal followed.
Watch the video for “Emma.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alexandra StreliskiALEXANDRA STRÉLISKI
Alexandra Stréliski has a million monthly listeners on Spotify, over 30 million streams across all platforms, and her music has been used in filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallée’s last four projects, from Dallas Buyers Club to Sharp Objects. She’s just started her live-concert career, and is signed to Secret City Records, a home for high-quality, exportable music. Billboard magazine calls her “one of the foremost new stars in modern classical.”
Watch the video for “Changing Winds.”

 

 

 

 

Tenille TownesTENILLE TOWNES
As a young prodigy, a teenaged Tenille Townes toured throughout Canada, and made frequent visits to Nashville to co-write. Now living there, she’s signed a publishing deal with Big Yellow Dog Music and a record deal with Columbia Nashville, both U.S.-based. In 2018, she toured with Miranda Lambert and Little Big Town, and she’ll open a 2019 tour for Dierks Bentley.
Watch the video for “Somebody’s Daughter.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zach Zoya

Photo: Thomas Dufresne-Morin

ZACH ZOYA
An Anglophone rapper who emerged from rural Abitibi-Témiscamingue in Québec, Zach Zoya saw his first single, “Superficial,” streamed more than 325,000 times on Spotify, and his second, “Who Dat,” reaching more than 100,000 in one month. Zoya has opened shows for Loud and Alaclair Ensemble, and has already performed at the Festival d’Été de Québec and the Montréal International Jazz Festival.
Watch the video for “Who Dat.”


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Although Jennifer Wilson has long had an appreciation of film music, when she first re-located from Toronto to Los Angeles in 1990 to study Scoring for Motion Pictures at the University of Southern California, she was simply looking for a new direction to take. After completing a Bachelor’s degree in Theory and Composition at the University of Western Ontario, and a Royal Conservatory of Music certificate in Piano Performance and Pedagogy, Wilson says, “I was toying with getting my Masters, but just felt I wanted to try something else.”

She’s since, scored film and TV projects including Rebellious (1995), Marry Me or Die (1998), and Del’s Crazy Musical (2010), and composed music for Princess Cruises, Ringling Bros., and Disney on Ice, among others. More recently, however, Wilson has been focusing on her online publishing platform, sheetmusicdeluxe.com, and developing new techniques and methodologies for music education.

Over time, her work in film composition, and a “visual sense” she says has always been part of her musical approach, have substantially influenced both her efforts as an educator, and her advocacy for composition as an integral part of the learning process for young music students.

“There’s something about movement – biking, walking, anything – that activates the creative process for me.”

Wilson was an early adopter of digital technology, but generally focuses on the act of composition over the technology with which it’s associated. “I made the decision a long time ago that I didn’t want to get caught up in the technical arms race of the business,” she says, adding that her preference is for a decidedly analog, “pencil and paper” approach to composition.

“I like laying everything out – over whatever surface area I need – because I like having everything visually in front of me,” says Wilson. “Left to my own devices I’ll mull over a harmonic palette and get comfortable with the musical DNA of the story, but I also like to move [while composing]. In Toronto I’d write on the subway. There’s something about movement – biking, walking, anything – that activates the creative process for me, and helps me get a sense of tempo, and a feeling for the characters.”

Working from the notes she makes in a variety of sketchbooks she carries with her, Wilson begins to visualize the overall structure of a work. “I basically lay things out like an architect would,” she says. “Then there’s a watershed moment where all of a sudden the notes start to fill themselves in.”

Wilson’s Tips for Young (and Not-So-Young) Composers

  • “Get comfortable composing without an instrument – letting things drop in, rather than making your fingers find everything.”
  • “Knowing is revealed by doing; so if you want to learn to write in the style of a Beethoven sonata, compose a sonata in that style.”
  • “It’s imperative to compose – commit to more composition, and don’t be afraid to fail.”

Having faith that that will be the case, even on challenging projects, is in part, a product of studying with legendary composers like Henry Mancini and Jerry Goldsmith, among others, from whom she took a valuable lesson: “It doesn’t matter how high up you get, you’re always going to have insecurities when you start a project,” she says. As an example, she references a story Goldsmith told about being in a spotting session, and being asked what he thought the music should be like. “He said he was thinking, ‘I don’t know. Why are you asking me? What am I doing here?’ So, even after scoring so many movies, you can still have a level of insecurity going into it, which in a way is reassuring.”

Assuaging that type of insecurity in students, particularly children, remains integral to Wilson’s work as an educator, and was a primary driver of her 2005 book, Composition for Young Musicians: A Fun Way for Kids to Begin Creating Music. “Children are really good at the creative process,” she says. “My personal belief is that composition should be a core part of music education. And at that time, it wasn’t emphasized in the private piano lesson environment. That’s what the book was about.”

In essence, it’s an effort to foster a love of composition in children, without limiting their innate creative instincts. “If a kindergarten teacher hands out a bucket of paint and a brush,” says Wilson, “children know what to do. The book was about getting to compositional tools and devices without going through the theory door.” And without a teacher showing the student 75 percent of the ‘how,’ and having them fill in the rest.

“It’s about learning by doing,” Wilson says. “I came at it very much as a film composer, saying, for example, ‘Let’s make music that sounds like snow falling. How can we do that on a piano? Well, the white keys look like snow.’ Later you can say, Okay, that’s called a pentatonic scale, and tell them why it can sound like snow falling, but you don’t say that going in.”


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Not many people get to sit at the foot of a master to learn their trade, but musician, composer, and producer Mikel Hurwitz has experienced that golden opportunity twice.

Now, he might not characterize it that way himself, but having chosen film scoring as his profession, being able to observe two giants in the field, at work – John Welsman and Danny Elfman – altered his early life plan, moving him from the world of Latin American politics to a universe of sound. An award-winning composer in his own right (for Ron Taylor: Dr Baseball, a documentary about the World Series-winning pitcher who became team doctor for the Toronto Blue Jays), Toronto-born Hurwitz now lives in Los Angeles and works as the “technical score assistant” for Elfman, on films including Justice League, Fifty Shades Darker, and re-boots of The Grinch and Dumbo.

Serendipity has played a large role in Hurwitz’s life. Although he always had interest and ability in music, at 19 he left Toronto for the University of British Columbia, eventually earning a BA Honors in Political Geography and Latin American Studies. While studying in Vancouver Hurwitz had a regular gig on Saturday nights with a jazz trio. “I could have taken a minor in music,” he says, “but the School of Music at UBC was very conservatory-ish, and felt really dry.” His studies led him to become a human rights observer during 2006 social upheavals in Oaxaca, Mexico. “It was a time of pretty intense political unrest,” he says. “I was working for an Indigenous human rights group. It was the early days of YouTube and they were making all these little documentaries. I helped them put together the videos, but they also needed some music.”

This is where the first instance of serendipity came into play. It just so happened that John Welsman, currently the president of the Screen Composers Guild of Canada, but then merely the country’s premier, award-winning master of the craft, was a close family friend and had earlier noticed 15-year-old Hurwitz’s musical talents.

“He invited me to one of his orchestral sessions. It was the first time I saw that whole process,” says Hurwitz. The memory sat dormant in his mind for years, until the scoring opportunity arose at Oaxaca. It was after this second episode of serendipity that he realized, as he says, “Hey, this music thing can go well with my philosophical/political [endeavors].” The experience was so life-changing that, four years after his UBC graduation, Hurwitz traded coasts and careers, moving to Boston to attend the Berklee School of Music, where he’d earn a Music BA in Film Scoring. Since then, he’s worked on national advertising campaigns, feature films and music for television and theatre, as well as collaborations with other highly regarded composers and producers.

The Lessons of Elfman

Hurwitz has been working with Danny Elfman – who’s earned two Emmy Awards, one Grammy and four Academy Award nominations – for three years and seven films now. Asked what lessons he’s learned that he’s applied to his own work, he comes up with three.

“The first big lesson,” he says, “is kinda boring. It’s file organization.  He’s had a career that spans so many different incarnations of technology. He started out in the early days of orchestral demos, where you would take a sampler, and there are millions of wires, and there’s lots of outboard gear ,and you’d put together an orchestral demo on a four-track or eight-track recorder, [using] the early Macintoshes.” Hurwitz’s first job for Elfman was compiling the sound library from has decades-long career. “I learned a lot from that, because it allows me to organize myself so that, 20 years, 30 years down the line, if I’m lucky enough to have a career that long, I’ll be able to go back and be organized, look at my earliest projects and say, ‘Oh hey, that’s where this thing is.’

The second lesson? “We’re living in a self-scoring world now, that’s dominated by the Hans Zimmer model of very, very, very light on melody and very heavy on rhythm and sound design,” says Hurwitz. “The melodic score is still there, but it’s not the trend. Yet Danny has maintained an ability to write a melodic score for big superhero movies and make it work, make it relevant to modern audiences. There’s a certain genius to that, and it’s really interesting for me to see how that plays out.

“The third lesson, also a musical thing, [came from hearing] some of his demos, his basic sketches for either his concert music, or his film scores. It’s invigorating, from the standpoint of my own compositions because you realize that, ‘Wow! Everything has to start somewhere.’ We’re often used to hearing a composer’s final product. It’s for full orchestra, it’s mixed, it has tons of different, really interesting orchestration elements. You don’t really think about how it started out as a piano sketch, a really simple idea. I’m lucky enough to hear those germs of ideas. I think what that allows me to do is respect the germs of my own ideas. Before I was working for him, I would have this little seed of an idea, and then I’d take ‘X’ amount of distance, and think, ‘That’s crap,’ and move on to something else. Now I never think of a piece of music that I write as insignificant, because there’s always a way to take it to the next level from a production, orchestration, mixing, and compositional standpoint. It’s enabled me to learn about and respect my process.”


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