In 2021, Dani Saldo and rapper Troy Junker were participants in the TD Incubator for Creative Entrepreneurship, presented by the SOCAN Foundation. It was an exciting opportunity, and both were eager to learn from, and collaborate with, other talented creators – especially during a pandemic that saw many artists like themselves isolated and unsupported. In no time, Saldo, a FilipinX-Canadian pop singer from Guelph, Ontario, recognized that the musical affinities between her and Junker, a Métis rapper from Saskatchewan, were attuned.
“I checked out Troy’s music and really loved his style in ‘We Up’ with Thea May. I resonated with his inspirational lyrics and wanted us to work together,” says Saldo, adding that she soon decided to reach out for a music session.
“When Dani told me she was coming, I set up a studio session,” says Junker. “It was our first time meeting in person. We hung out and got to know each before listening to beats or writing anything, and then we [each] listened to what the other was working on. We played a few beats, and when the beat for ‘Find A Way’ came on, she gravitated towards it, and we decided to jump in writing. I messaged my friend, Harmon1x, who made the beat, and he was excited that we were going to record it.”
For Saldo, making music has been a passion ever since her youth, helping her, literally, find her voice. “I began writing poetry, which helped me [overcome] being an anxious kid,” she says. “And then, because I was a big nerd, I began transcribing songs from Filipino shows, Japanese anime, and J-pop, K-pop, into sing-able English versions.”
Eventually, Saldo began writing her own songs. “When I lived in the Philippines, I took part in ABS-CBN’S [a television channel in the Philippines] Star Magic Workshops. But I didn’t get professionally started in music until 2019, when I asked a couple of friends from out of town to share an Airbnb with me in New York for a spontaneous writing trip. We hit it off, and ever since, we’ve been writing songs for film and TV under the group name ABSTRCT, as an international songwriting team.”
For Junker, who began DJ-ing in high school, making music was a crew affair. “I’d take my favourite instrumentals and then plug in a capellas [unaccompanied vocals] from songs I liked on Cool Edit Pro,” he says with a laugh. “Then one day, my friends and I wanted to make a song for a party we were going to, so we decided to start rapping and making original songs.”
After attending Music Business Management at Durham College, Junker moved to Toronto to transform his dreams into reality. “I began networking and putting out as much music as I could,” he says. “As well, I got involved behind the scenes for other artists, but I always continued to push my own [artistry].”
Their goal for the track was to create something inspirational and positive. “I like music that makes me feel hopeful and good, and once Dani started writing the chorus, I knew that it was exactly in the right direction,” says Junker.
“Troy was so much fun to write with, and it was fun getting to write rap,” says Saldo. “We did this little dolphin wave thing to get into the flow, and just spitballed ideas back and forth.”
For both songwriters, the final result hit the mark. “I love it,” says Junker with pride. “‘Find A Way’ just entered the Indigenous Music Countdown [at No. 26], and [we’ve] been getting great feedback from fans.” And for those bitten by the song, be prepared for another co-written track, “Boss Up,” with Saldo’s producer, Riki, coming out soon.