An Elton John favourite and Rolling Stones opening act, rocker grrls The Beaches played the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto on Friday, Feb. 27, 2020. Check out our photos from their explosive performance below!

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High Priestess is a brand new player in Canadian music publishing, but it sports an impressive pedigree. Launched in February 2020, it’s a partnership of Toronto-based music company Six Shooter Records and Kim Temple, Six Shooter’s Director of Licensing & Publishing, and a 20-year veteran of different facets of the publishing business.

As Six Shooter founder and President Shauna de Cartier explains, “Kim has been managing our publishing catalogue [published under the name Girl on a Horse] for some time now. She was always interested in setting up co-writing initiatives with our artists, so we signed Lyle Bell, a member of The Wet Secrets, as our first songwriter.

“One great synch placement can fund their next tour or their next album.” – Kim Temple of High Priestess

“He was writing for other artists, in other genres. This was an exciting new branch of the business that we weren’t yet involved in. Six Shooter’s core interest lies in artist development, whereas Kim’s interest lies in songwriter development, so we wanted to create a new company where she would be able to fully explore that area.”

Temple says, “Shauna and I were both very interested in diversifying the catalogue and finding emerging artists who excite us, and with whom we definitely want to work , but who perhaps don’t fit the label. High Priestess really opens it up for us to bring more people into the family.”

The High Priestess roster has launched with four songwriters and producers, working in genres separate from the primarily roots-focused Six Shooter brand. The list comprises Polaris Prize short-listed singer-songwriter Zaki Ibrahim, dance artist James Baley, Toronto R&B/hip-hop artist Witch Prophet, and producer/DJ SUN SUN  (Above Top Secret, Witch Prophet).

“Shauna has supplied the capital for High Priestess,” says Temple, “but has basically given me free rein as President, saying, ‘Go for it.’ Her support is phenomenal.”

De Cartier can also take credit for the striking company name. “I like names that evoke imagery and immediately capture people’s imaginations,” she says. “I was riffing on Kim’s last name, and this landed instantly. I love High Priestess, because it both inspires confidence and conveys our spiritual connection with music and artists.”

“My aim with High Priestess is to provide mentorship and guidance,” says Temple. “I want to make sure our writers’ work is properly registered and represented around the world to help generate a revenue stream for them, allowing them to keep making art while growing their own businesses. My goal is to allow these amazing artists to be self-sufficient. One great synch placement can fund their next tour or their next album.”

While High Priestess takes care of Canada, peermusic administrates its publishing internationally. “Peermusic has offices around the world, and it’s important for us to have a bigger partner,” says Temple.

Asked about her creative approach, Temple says, “I can’t but think I’m going to be unconventional in some way. I come from a different background, starting in indie bands [Nerdy Girl and ‘90s JUNO Award nominees Bodega], and I’ve always been surrounded by visual artists. I’ve not been in the commercial pop realm, where a lot of music publishers have naturally gone to generate income.”

Her indie-rock past gives Temple a deep and genuine empathy for songwriters and artists, though she notes a real change in their outlook. “When I was coming up in the ‘90s, it was very taboo to write music other than for your own project,” she says. “If somebody wanted to put your song in an ad, it was, ‘No way. I’m not going to sell out.’

“Now, being a songwriter has evolved to where you don’t have to pigeonhole yourself. If you’re a hip-hop artist but you can write EDM or pop, why limit yourself?”

When Basia Bulat started working on her fifth studio album, the singer-songwriter decided to free herself from the idea of working to a prescribed timeline. “It didn’t make sense to push the process for a deadline,” she says. “The best things take the time they need to take.”

Stepping away from the process, Bulat – who’s been shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize three times, and received three JUNO nominations – put her attention on matters closer to the heart, from grieving the death of her father to falling in love. When she turned her attention back to the album, almost a year later, it was with a new vulnerability and rawness.

“No matter what you do, if you’re a songwriter, your life is going to come through your work,” she says. “It would be strange for me if it didn’t.”

The resulting album, Are You In Love?, out March 27, 2020 (the first single, “Your Girl,” came out Feb. 5), sees Bulat working through what she describes as “big emotions” like grief and fear, and also feelings like compassion and forgiveness.

“I think it [all] requires confronting fear,” she says. “Having compassion for yourself and others requires taking a plain look at all the things that may be holding you back from seeing yourself, or others, for who they truly are.”

As a result, she refers to the album as “the advice that I needed to hear,” referencing her 2016 JUNO and Polaris Music Prize-nominated album, Good Advice, and the fact that it was “a record about how I don’t listen to advice.” That album, which received rave international reviews in publications like Paste, The Guardian, and Rolling Stone (Italy/Germany), has since been streamed more than 10 million times.

Though Bulat, who grew up studying piano and guitar, had roughed out many of the songs for the new album in her home city of Montréal, it was a series of trips to Joshua Tree, California, that ultimately cemented the feel of the album.

“It is a place that encourages deep listening to what’s around you, and what’s inside you, inside your soul, and what kind of vibrations are trying to get out,” she says of the desert environment. “Patience is important. You have to harmonize with what’s around you.”

Bulat grew fascinated by the Joshua trees themselves, which take decades to reach maturity, finding a metaphor for her own extended creative process in their incremental annual growth. Hunkering down in the desert with her ideas and producer Jim James (My Morning Jacket), who also produced Good Advice, Bulat started to find a shape for the new album.

“I always think of songs as blueprints.”

Drawing on practices like automatic writing and improvisation, Bulat used the breathing room she’d created for herself to experiment with lyrics and sounds – whether playing things backwards, or challenging herself to find many different ways to express a single idea.

A multi-instrumentalist known for her prowess with the autoharp, Bulat also experimented by working out her melodies on different instruments. But it was the resident Nashville-tuned guitar* at Joshua Tree’s Hi-Dez Studios, where Bulat recorded her album, that most captured her attention. “It really fit with the place we were in,” she says, describing the instrument’s light, airy sound, and its ability to draw a different meaning from her songs.

Basia Bulat, Are You In Love, album, cover“I always think of songs as blueprints [for buildings],” she says, describing her musical process. “Then you decide if the house is going to be made of wood, or brick, or stone, and whether it will have big windows or small windows.”

For Bulat, each song, once mapped with that blueprint, will take its own shape, depending on how she’s inspired – most often with lyrics suggesting themselves to  melody. It’s also why she likes covering other artists. “I just love how other people draw their blueprints, and I want to live in them for that reason,” she says.

Are You In Love?, which both CBC Music and Exclaim! have included among the most anticipated albums of 2020, also features lyrics by Bulat’s friend Meg Remy (U.S. Girls), and desert field recordings by Bulat’s husband, Andrew Woods, whom she married last year.

But while enthusiasm mounts for the new album, Bulat, who’s shared stages with Sufjan Stevens, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, The National, and Arcade Fire, among many others, doesn’t let it phase her.

Even as her team prepares to give Are You In Love? a big push forward, and Bulat herself prepares to embark on an ambitious international tour that will kick off with an appearance at South by Southwest, her focus remains on staying in the moment with her music – no matter what opportunities her career might bring.

“Every single day that I get to be present and play my guitar or sing, it’s just such a gift,” she says. “I have such gratitude that I get to do this.”

Nashville tuning is when you take the “high” six strings of a 12-string set, and use them on a standard, six-string acoustic guitar.