Ingrid St-Pierre was only 17 when she left her hometown of Cabano, in the Lower St-Lawrence region, and relocated to Rimouski. Then, after spending a year in Québec City to attend Université Laval, the young woman backpacked for a while and landed in Trois-Rivières to finish her psychology degree. That is where she discovered a small place that was as intriguing as it was welcoming: Café Morgane. Unbeknownst to her at the time, that is exactly where her singer-songwriter career would ultimately take off.

“It was the happiest coincidence of my life, she chimes. If I have a musical career today, it’s because of a friend of mine who kept spurring me on; she insisted that I meet with the owner of the place. So I did and I played a few of my songs for him, even though I didn’t really know how to play. I didn’t have any kind of musical notion; I could barely accompany myself. But despite it all, he hired me and that is where I learned most of what I know, every weekend for five years. I also learned a lot of songs, as well as learning how to present myself on stage and engage the audience. For some, it’s the bar scene that was their school, for me it was this café.”

New Horizons

Armed with her newfound confidence, she moved to Montréal, participated in the Ma première Place des Arts contest and launched a delicate first album titled Ma petite mam’zelle de chemin, in 2011. Ingrid managed to seduce both the press and the public with her softly melancholic and pleasantly naive songs that are both ethereal and joyous. Then, last fall, she launched L’escapade, a second, more personal album with much more elaborated orchestral arrangements. That album, coproduced by Louis Legault (Dumas), surprises with its tangential love stories. One this is clear, the young lady has bloomed into a woman. “The first album was made of songs that I’d written many years ago, some of them almost 10. Needless to say the lyrics on many of them felt a little outdated. On L’escapade, I wrote all of the songs in a one-year period, so the content is much more relevant and introspective. For my first album, I’d written most songs with only a simple piano/voice arrangement. On this one, I could already hear bolder arrangements. I also allowed myself to use instruments I wanted to hear such as Erhu, the Chinese violin, and brass. I explored a lot deeper because I knew deep down that these songs would be able to bear heftier arrangements.  I also felt that my voice had matured, so I also explored that aspect. All in all it was a wonderful adventure,” remembers the 27 year old chanteuse.

With songs titled “Les avalanches” and “Feu de Bengale”, Ingrid has also demonstrated clearly that her writing has matured as well. Always the storyteller, she explains that her writing method is somewhat peculiar. “It’s kind of weird; I write in spurts, in phases. Sometimes I sit down at the piano and I record melodies on the fly on my iPhone of even on voicemail! I do that all the time. Once I’ve accumulated a lot of melodies, it feels harder to figure out which lyrics to pair with which music. What I truly enjoy is having an idea for a story, having an outline of where that song will be going, then sitting down at the piano and finishing that song. It’s always something magical.

The Shrew and the Shrewd

Even though she was deeply influenced by the music of Françoise Hardy, Richard Desjardins, Georges Moustaki, Bob Dylan and Neil Young, her biggest musical heartthrob came from her discovery of a New Brunswick-based artist. “When I was a teenager, I was watching TV and I heard this song… I was flabbergasted, I could not believe how strong the words were and how unique the voice was that sang them. I listened to the song snippet over and over for a whole week, trying to discover who that was. I finally found out that it was Marie-Jo Thério. I became a die hard fan because she showed me I could create my own musical universe, a world that is mine and is unlike any other. Her music proved that it was OK to do that and follow your will,” she reminisces.

“I’m still a beginner at this. I try to broaden my horizons as much as I can.”

Everything to Learn

Besides her many live dates and a trip to Europe this year, Ingrid is busy with many a project. A fan of film scores, she dreams of composing film music, as she dreams of collaborating with other artists and, eventually even, publish a book of novels. After writing a letter that was published in the Mille mots d’amour collection of short stories, Ingrid admits she’s growing increasingly fond of writing her stories. “I realized I loved writing in a form other than songs. I accumulated a whole bunch of story ideas and I was wondering how I would be able to condense of of it in three and a half minutes. In the end, I tried writing them as novels and I loved the experience. It’s a great source of inspiration. “I’m still a beginner at this. I try to broaden my horizons as much as I can. I don’t take anything for granted. I still have a lot to learn, but I enjoying learning new stuff everyday.”

“I sometimes joke that we’re the only publisher that can help you in Chicoutimi and Los Angeles,” says Patrick Curley, entertainment lawyer and president of Montreal-based music publisher Third Side Music.

The synchronization-focused licensing company recently launched a second office, in Los Angeles, to help service its film and television clients. Curley first became interested in music licensing after his band The Whereabouts had a couple of songs placed in the film Home Team in 1999 and he saw his SOCAN earnings jump from about $4 to about $500 in one quarter.

“I thought, ‘If I’m able to do this with my own small indie rock band that nobody’s heard of, what could I do with a real catalogue?’” says Curley, whose company now handles a repertoire of more than 20,000 tracks by about 1,000 different acts.

Third Side Music was born when Curley’s publishing operations (initially called Plateau Musik) merged with the North American operations of one of his legal clients, Ninja Tune Records, in 2005. The Ninja Tune catalogue still represents “easily over half” of TSM’s business. Though the company handles master use licenses and collects mechanical royalties (for Bedouin Soundclash and Lisa LeBlanc, for example), it mostly works in synchronization (or “synch”) licenses.

“Music supervisors are looking for the hot new thing, so we try to provide it for them.” – Patrick  Curley, president of Third Side Music

Curley’s not sure what TSM’s percentage is for successful pitches (from five up to 15 percent), but estimates that the company’s three-person licensing team secures between 50 and 100 individual synchronization (or “synch”) licenses a month. One of the challenges, as the company grows by its own estimate of 25 to 30 percent a year, and the catalogue expands, is making sure that the licensing team of the eight-person company is familiar with the music that they’re selling. “We have search tools that we use, and a tagging system,” says Curley. “But to a large extent it’s done just by virtue of my team really knowing their shit.”

Third Side recently placed Jenn Grant’s song “Gone Baby Gone” in a TV ad for El Jimador tequila in Mexico. At press time, the staff were excited about Toronto’s Wildlife, whose song “Lightning Tent” they placed in a Corona beer TV ad that aired frequently on Hockey Night In Canada, and accumulated more than a million views on YouTube. At the time, the band had another song due to be featured in a Miller beer TV ad in the States.

“For a new band, that’s a lot of visibility,” says Curley. “It’s really helping with their album campaign.”
Curley says that the briefs TSM receives from music supervisors typically come with a price range, as well as a description of the kind of music they’re looking for, which provides plenty of opportunities for emerging artists.“Music supervisors tend to see themselves as the new A&R,” says Curley. “They’re looking for the hot new thing, so we try to provide it for them.”

Is there any particular kind of music that TSM itself is looking for? “We basically find music that we like,” says Curley. “It’s got to be awesome.”

“Dumbing down” is a phrase usually applied to pop music, but the frontman in loud noise-rockers Metz says that’s almost what they set out to do with the songs for their self-titled album, released independently and later picked up by the renowned Sub Pop label.

The Toronto-based trio – guitarist/vocalist Alex Edkins, drummer Hayden Menzies and bassist Chris Slorach – had released a series of singles since forming in 2008, and wanted to concentrate on songwriting for their first full-length album.

“It was a process of dumbing it down, almost, making everything really simplistic.” – Alex Edkins

“For us, what it meant was really stripping our songs back to the essential idea or feel,” explains Edkins. “Prior to this record, some of our songs were more complicated and convoluted. For this album, we wanted to just focus on the essential idea [of each song] and highlight that.

“So it was a process of dumbing it down, almost, making everything really simplistic. Everything that made the record was very direct and hit the listener full-on.” For example, Metz made every effort to boost the vocals, compared to past releases.

While the recording of the album was quick, it was preceded by considerable honing and demo-ing in pre-production to get the songs up to snuff. The bed tracks were then recorded over a week in a converted barn in Stoney Creek, Ont., with Graham Walsh of Holy Fuck, while the overdubs, vocals and mixing were done back in Toronto with Alexandre Bonenfant (Crystal Castles) over several weekends.

“Everything that made the record was very direct and hit the listener full-on.”– Alex Edkins

“I like to think of it as being self-produced,” says Edkins, “but those guys were invaluable as far as the technical side and making sure the ideas were translating properly to tape.”

From “Knife In The Water,” whose tension-building boom-cha-cha intro is a nod to Phil Spector-produced girl groups, to the classic three-chord punk of “Get Off,” Metz’s intention is to make “good solid songs that have aspects of pop and aspects of punk, a nice middle ground where there’s the best of both worlds happening,” Edkins says. Dictated by the vibe of the music, Edkins says the album – which includes such titles as “Sad Pricks,” “Rats,” “Nausea,” Headache” and “Wasted” – is naturally about darker content.

“I’ve tried, but it just doesn’t seem to work to write a happy song or a love song over that music. It doesn’t seem to make sense. So a lot of the stuff on this record was [about] frustration and paranoia and some of the pressures of living in a big metropolitan city, and the pressures of the modern age that most people can relate to in some way.”