From his shaggy, vermillion-dyed hair to his multitude of tattoos, Jutes is the image of a rockstar. Over eight years of making music, he’s amassed more than 20 million global streams, while experimenting with various genres, infusing them with his unique edge. However, he’s never made a full-on rock album. It wasn’t until he met his current partner, Demi Lovato, and participated writing sessions for her new punk-rock album HOLY FVCK, that he decided he should.

Jutes grew up as Jordan Lutes, on a farm in Kars, Ontario, about 44 km South of Ottawa, surrounded by 300 acres of forest; the nearest property was a five-minute walk away. He enjoyed his childhood, riding horses and hanging out with local kids his age, but he was far more interested in basketball and filmmaking. “I always felt like a black sheep,” he says. “Growing up, I just wanted to be in the city, and in the mix.”

He enrolled in the film program at Humber College, but quickly lost interest. He spent all his time in his dorm room, working on his new hobby, making joke raps on his webcam microphone with GarageBand. “I was skipping all my classes just to write these stupid songs,” he recalls. “I made the songs as a joke, ’cause I didn’t have the confidence to say, ‘I’m going to be a rapper now.’”

After deciding he wanted to make music, he dropped out of university, moved to downtown Toronto, got a job, and spent all his free time pursuing his dream. His first hit was “Cocaine Cinderella,” an angst-filled pop-rap song that garnered attention online in 2016, amassing thousands of streams. Recorded on his couch with his first real microphone, it showcased what made Jutes unique: his raw, emotion-filled vocals and highly personal lyrics.

After several years of consistently releasing tracks, he moved to Los Angeles. Initially signed to Capitol Records as a hip-hop/R&B artist, Jutes soon began to see himself working in a different genre. “I wanted to make pop-punk music,” he says. “We can still have hip-hop drums, but I want to make pop-punk.” After being urged not to switch, he compromised, adding more rock elements to his music; his popular singles “When You’re Around” and “Backseat (Kiss Me)” mixed catchy trap beats with big guitars and passionate vocals.

In 2021, during the pandemic, he parted ways with his label and became independent again. The following year was all about musical experimentation: Jutes attempted to write a song every week, and released Careful What You Wish For. In March of 2021, he told Nuance magazine, “I really live to write songs – it’s what I do every day. Sometimes at 3:00 a.m. before bed, sometimes while I have my morning coffee. It’s my therapy, and it’s how I first started being honest about my emotions and mental health, so my connection to it is very deep-rooted.”

Returning to L.A. from a Christmas holiday back home, he received a message from his manager asking if he wanted to participate in a writing session with Demi Lovato for her upcoming album. He was excited but nervous: he’d be working with Lovato and acclaimed producer Oak Felder. Was he the right fit for this? Listening to songs from Lovato’s previous project, he was unsure.

The session started, and they showed him a few of the already completed tracks: “Freak,” “29,” and “Heaven.” Anxiety quickly turned to excitement; he was helping Demi Lovato make a punk-rock album. “I couldn’t believe I was making the music I loved with Demi Lovato,” says Jutes. “It just felt comfortable immediately. We left that session as good homies. It felt like we already knew each other.”

Jutes was invited back for two more sessions, and is now a co-writer of three songs on HOLY FVCK: “Substance” (the video for which has more than 6 million YouTube views), a discontented call to arms; “CITY OF ANGELS,” a raunchy, raucous ode to L.A.; and “Happy Ending.” Lovato and Jutes became friends while working together, chatting and sending song recommendations back and forth. Eventually, they started dating.

Working in those sessions lit a fire under Jutes’ creativity. “Working with Demi and Oak, I was really inspired, and I wanted to make music that made me feel like that,” he says. He started working with a group of trusted collaborators on a new album. The upcoming record will have mostly live drumming, and include grunge, punk, rap, and some pop.

At the moment, Jutes is having fun creating whatever he wants, as evidenced by his most recent singles, “Hollywood Hillbilly” and “Out The Door,” two high-tempo, upbeat tracks. “It feels like for a very long time I chased what people wanted to hear,” he says. “[Now] I just want to make stuff that I would want to listen to non-stop.”

One of the more difficult aspects of a songwriting artist’s career is gaining a foothold in a competitive market.

So, when a SOCAN-assisted showcase series in Los Angeles venues featured emerging, Montréal-based, Anglophone SOCAN members Aiza, Clerel, and Kallitechnis, each performer was grateful for the opportunity to showcase their music and network with key local music ecosystem personnel.

“It felt great to be recognized as an artist,” says singer-songwriter and actor Aiza, mentioning that a forced break of two-and-a-half years from performing, due to pandemic restrictions, made her “feel so disconnected.” R&B pop diva Kallitechnis says the invitation to perform was very much appreciated. “It was actually my first headlining show in L.A.,” she says. “I just felt really loved and supported. It felt great to be recognized as an artist.”

The monthly series – which began with Aiza in May of 2022 at The Love Song Bar, and continued in June and July of the year at Gold Diggers, with Clerel and Kallitechnis, respectively – was co-curated by Pop Montréal’s Evan Dubinsky and SOCAN Creative Executives Sara Dendane (Montréal) and Racquel Villagante (Los Angeles). The Canadian Consulate in L.A. covered travel expenses, and each artist enjoyed free accommodations at the SOCAN  House in L.A. during the week of their showcase.

Pop Montréal Executive Director Jennifer Dorner said the goal was to give a few local artists a boost, following the Federal government’s decision to literally shut down live entertainment overnight in 2020 due to COVID concerns. “Touring was pretty much halted,” said Dorner. “So, the goal was trying to keep up those connections with markets internationally, develop new markets, and  ensure that existing markets were maintained.  We worked with Evan to write a grant to the Canadian Council for the Arts, which had a focus on official language minority communities, so obviously that’s Anglos in Québec.

“I just felt really loved and supported. It felt great to be recognized as an artist” – Kallitechnis

“And we noticed throughout the pandemic that the groups, artists and communities who were hardest hit were those from marginalized communities – especially emerging artists. It was very obvious that those particular artists needed an extra boost, and support, to access new markets. So, it seemed like a perfect time, once the pandemic restrictions lifted, to go for targets and markets. And obviously, L.A is a very good one for music. We were very happy that we could partner with SOCAN and have someone locally on site. Having SOCAN House in L.A. was extremely helpful.”

With Dubinsky acting as point person, corralling industry contacts, and Pop Montréal injecting funds into L.A. marketing and promotion, Dorner says the event – which will continue in October and November 2022 with freshly-minted 2022 Polaris Prize winner Pierre Kwenders, and a TBA act, respectively – enjoyed packed venues, and was very successful. “We did manage to get radio play for the Canadian artists there, and interviews,” she says. “Having that visibility and airtime has been extremely helpful for those artists.”

Clerel said his participation allowed him to tread new ground, as this was his very first time in the city. “I spent 10 days there, and I met a lot of Canadian music professionals who were connected to Los Angeles,” says the R&B crooner enthusiastically. “The show was where I definitely met the most people. I got to play with amazing musicians from the U.S., met songwriters and producers, and ended up doing a couple of sessions while I was there. I spoke to some folks about distribution, so it was very positive, and made a million times better because of the access I had to SOCAN House. I look forward to going back in the future.”

Afropop/R&B artist Aiza, who rehearsed and hosted writing sessions at the SOCAN House, extended her trip “on my dime and time” to exploit further opportunities, including negotiating a pending U.S. music publishing deal. “It was really lovely,” she says. “The Love Song was packed, and I got to meet a lot of cool people. I spent the rest of the week meeting up with different artists, doing some recording, and catching a few shows. This is all lining up really well  for  the release of my debut album in 2023. It was nice ushering in this new phase.”

For Kallitechnis, it cemented plans to move the City of Angels. “The fact that I have entities like Pop Montréal and the Canadian Consulate co-sign me, must mean that I’m doing something right,” she says. “ That they’re willing to associate my brand with theirs is an affirmation that gives me incentive to move to L.A. It’s the next logical step. I got to see a lot of the collaborators, and a lot of the networks that I built over the years, so it was a nice full-circle moment to motivate me, and know I have a support system there.”


It’s the day after the world première at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) for Viking, the new feature film by director, screenwriter – and, in a parallel life, singer-songwriter – Stéphane Lafleur. About 15 people involved in this story, which mixes psychological drama, comedy and science fiction, attended the screening at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, “an incredible theatre,” as Christophe Lamarche-Ledoux puts it. He’s the one who wrote the music with his accomplice in the band Organ Mood, Mathieu Charbonneau. “Usually, at a première, we try to hear our music in the mix,” he says, “but last night the sound was so loud!”

“The whole team was there, it was electrifying,” says Charbonneau, thrilled by the fact the public was also there. “It was fun to feel people’s reactions,” which seem to echo Viking’s early rave reviews. The film will open in Québec on Sept. 30, 2022.

Coincidentally, Bravo Musique will be releasing Organ Mood’s soundtrack, an assembly of selected excerpts that dress up the scenes of Viking, as well as several other compositions left on the cutting room floor. All of that represents good 30 minutes of instrumental music where synthesizers fade away in favour of the saxophone, guiding the listener through the themes, textures, and atmospheres created by Lamarche-Ledoux and Charbonneau.

“I bought an alto sax to record the music,” says Lamarche-Ledoux, joined by Charbonneau in their Toronto hotel room, before returning to Montréal. This isn’t the duo’s first film-scoring rodeo: Charbonneau already has almost a dozen productions to his credit, including the music for Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette’s La Déesse des mouches à feu (2020) and Geneviève Dulude-De Celles’ Une colonie (2018). Lamarche-Ledoux recently composed the music for Félix Dufour-Laperrière’s animated feature film Archipel (2021) and the sultry Saint-Narcisse (2020) by Bruce LaBruce.

On top of that, they’re both members of the folk-rock outfit Avec pas d’casque, alongside one Stéphane Lafleur, who writes, sings, and plays guitar for the band. It is, so to speak, complicit that the director called upon his friends to imagine the sound design of his strange feature film.

“Stéphane thought about the music while he was working on the film,” Lamarche-Ledoux explains. “He didn’t want an orchestral film score with tons of synths. Before we even looked at the task at hand, he’d done his research; he actually envisioned the music as more jazz, and that’s the path he set us on before we even saw any footage, just by reading the script, right at the beginning of the process.”


Photo: Caroline Désilets

Jazz? Perhaps something along the lines of Sun Ra, the master of cosmic jazz, a pioneer of the afro-futurism concept, the man who claims he was once teleported to Saturn? They talked about it, Miles Davis, too, and “ambient music” such as Lamarche-Ledoux and Lafleur create together with their feu doux project (styled in lowercase, referring to the low heat setting on a stovetop). “He obviously knew he had hired Organ Mood, so that’s the sound he was after, but slightly different at the same time,” says Charbonneau, who’s also involved in an ambient/avant-garde project with composer and cornetist Pietro Amato.

As a matter of fact, Lafleur and Organ Mood experimented with a new modus operandi for all of them while working on the music for Viking. “Most of the time, we write the music after the final editing of a film because that way, we know the exact duration of each scene. This time around, we had plenty of time before and during filming which afforded us some images to work from to create a lot of music,” says Charbonneau. Thanks to this approach, “we really captured the film’s ambiance. I never suspected it would work this well and, for Stéphane, it was interesting because it was his first time working with composers who were creating at the same time he was. And since we’d recorded tracks before filming even started, it allowed him to quickly edit some scenes with the music.”

“Plus Stéphane is such a close friend that there are a lot of informal aspects to this process,” adds Lamarche-Ledoux. “We’d have dinner at his place, and we’d talk about other stuff than work or the movie, but we always circled back to that. There’s so much informality and friendship in this process that I think it was the perfect context to try to work in such an organic way. Usually, with the directors, you send in your proposals and you wait for them to reply via e-mail; this time, in the critical moments of the film’s final touches, we were on the phone every day. Communication was very easy, and for composers of visual music, immediate feedback is the key. We can immediately adjust the music to the scene.”

The saxophones suggest a recurring musical theme, in one form or another, throughout the film. “We really wanted to try and set the tone,” says Lamarche-Ledoux. “The movie is quite funny at times, but the music was there to prop up the dramatic side, rather than try to make things lighter, or highlight the punchline. That’s why, more than once, viewers are caught off-guard when a series of jokes follows serious music.”