Maryze“I’ve always loved pop music, yet it’s a genre a lot of people don’t take seriously. Some say it’s not real music, that it’s like fast food… I believe a well-written pop song is something very powerful that can change your life, and that’s fascinating.”

You can hear the smile in Maryze’s voice when she talks about music. The Vancouver-born singer-songwriter is now based in Montréal, and closely studied pop music before releasing her debut album 8, a surprising mix of electro, HyperPop, R&B, hip-hop, rock, and emo – in other words, all the genres that have branded pop music over the past few decades.

Maryze is a huge Grimes and Lady Gaga fan, but she was raised to the sound of a rather unusual style of music: Celtic pop. One can even hear a few traces of it on her album, notably on  “Witness.” “My dad is from Breton and my mom is Irish-Canadian, so I’m Celtic on both sides! My first show was Loreena McKennitt, when my mom was pregnant with me. I’m sure I felt the sound waves and the bass,” jokes the 30-year-old singer.

As for her dad, a radio DJ in Vancouver, he introduced her to tons of music from all around the world when she was a kid. In her early teens, the young music lover took intensive music theory classes, and joined her high school jazz choir. Which is not to say her bond with pop was weakened. Like most of her friends at the time, Maryze grew up listening to Destiny’s Child and Justin Timberlake, two artists whose influence can be felt in an R&B-tinged piece like “Experiments.”

It wasn’t long before the pop-punk and emo waves got the best of her. The intensity of the lyrics, and the raw emotion of a band like Fall Out Boy, had something powerful and liberating for a troubled teenager like her. A song like “Emo” is an obvious tribute to that phase of her musical explorations.

“I felt alone and misunderstood. I couldn’t find my community at school,” says Maryze. “Sure, we had a great music program, and the choir was superb… but my school was mainly geared towards sports, and there I was, this skinny jeans-wearing emo girl. At home, there were difficult stories of depression… I was on the floor in my room, reading the lyrics of Fall Out Boy songs. I felt like the singer was talking to me, and that made me feel less alone. That’s probably what prompted me to want to reach an audience in their teens or early twenties through my songs. There’s a sense of community that is created through music.”

In other words, Maryze creates music that she herself would’ve loved to listen to in her teens. Hence the seemingly chaotic amalgamation of sounds that she offers, with the utmost sincerity and authenticity. Entirely written on her own, the album also benefitted from the expertise of some Montréal-based producers – notably her right-hand man and friend Solomon K-I, who was also in charge of mixing and mastering the album.

Armed with her university studies in creative writing, the adoptive Montréaler explores “the interconnected parts of our past that shape our lives, for better or for worse” in her lyrics. She weaves the heterogeneous songs of her album with a central image in mind: that of the infinite loop, symbolized by the title’s number 8. This infinite loop makes us repeat the same stories, the same mechanisms, and the same mistakes. The epitome of a cycle.

Carried by an ‘80s-inspired dance rhythm, “Too Late” is the perfect incarnation of the album’s central theme. Under the guise of a toxic love story, the song is actually a deep dive into the artist’s psyche. “That song is my relationship with me,” she says. “I’m my biggest hurdle in life. Every day I wake up and the day just flashes by in front of me. There are so many things I want to do, but I don’t know where to begin. The cycle repeats itself and I end up frustrated at myself. That frustration is mainly related to music, and my dreams. I sometimes get amazing opportunities, but it’s like I sabotage myself. And the pandemic just amplified all of that. I could literally do nothing… and I felt frustrated, bitter.”

“Squelettes” is a hard-hitting collaboration with Montréal rapper Backxwash that evokes a difficult episode she lived through in her twenties. “I started writing that one eight years ago,” says Maryze. “There was a lot of depression, anxiety, and addiction in my family. I was in a phase in my life where I repeated destructive cycles in my relationships, and with myself. I mistreated my body, mainly through excessive partying. And I ended up in situations that I had inflicted upon myself. Each time, I heard my father’s voice: ‘Maryze, why did you end up – again – in this situation that you don’t like? Why are you in this relationship that is toxic to you?’ That was one of my all-time lows.”

The album’s stripped-down opening and closing songs, “Mercy Key” and “Playing Dress-Up,”offer a glimpse of Maryze with her heart on her sleeve, accompanied only by a piano or her own voice. “I have to write on the spot when I live something that’s really intense,” she says. “I wrote hundreds of diaries when I was younger. It’s always been a form of therapy, a way to better understand me. It’s when I start writing, and ideas come to me, that I actually understand what I’m going through. It’s not something I would’ve understood by simply saying it out loud.”

Far from the silence and loneliness of her teenage years, Maryze has found a way to turn her frustration into something constructive. She’s found a way to break the cycle.


Nano Talrose has always used music as a tool to express his deepest feelings. While talking over Zoom from a recording studio in London, Ontario, he pauses for a second to figure out how to properly articulate the therapeutic value he finds songwriting: “Music helps me to express myself,” he says with a smile, “in a way I can’t while talking to a friend.”

In the past, most of his meditations have turned into soft, thoughtful pop ballads, but working on his debut EP, about a turbulent past relationship, he’s found himself taking new creative risks to express complex feelings. The result is a foray into a slightly edgier, more rock-oriented sound.

Talrose has always been interested in the rockier side of pop, and his favorite artists include Olivia Rodrigo and M83 – even though his early releases were gentle love songs. While working a job in the banking industry, he wrote music in his spare time to deal with emotional moments in his life. His first single, “Stay Quiet,” released in 2019, was a minimalist ballad that paired his lovestruck vocals with a finger-picked acoustic guitar. The sounds may have changed somewhat now, but his emotive, personal lyrics, and expressive vocals have remained the same.

The last few years have been a period of transition for the singer-songwriter. He left his job and used three years of savings to pursue his pop-star dreams full-time. Moving from Niagara to London, Ontario, he had to connect with a whole new community of musicians. Eventually, he met a drummer, bassist, and electric guitarist, building new creative partnerships that led to him taking new risks with his music. Now, Talrose meets with guitarist Hayden Dyson once a week to record demos and flesh out song ideas. “It’s great working with him, because he’s helping me experiment with more rock elements,” says Talrose. “‘He shreds. He’s a great guitar player.”

It seems to be working. Early in 2022, Talrose was briefly interviewed nationally by CTV’s eTalk, which called him “an up-and-coming star you’re going to want to keep your eye on this year.” To that end, Talrose and Dyson have been working together on the upcoming EP, which will tell the story of a fluctuating relationship he was in from 2017 to 2021, and the rollercoaster of emotion he experienced. Talrose plans for the EP to follow the narrative arc of an love story, going from the honeymoon period to the heartbreaking end. Working with new sounds has helped him express himself: “I have more options now with what genres I want to throw in,” says Talrose.

He released several singles last year, co-written with producer Damian Birdsey. Talrose penned “Strangers”  back in 2020, about a sorrow he experienced; but a year later, he re-tooled and released it as a more danceable song. In October of 2021, he released his latest single, “Falling Deeper,” about going head-first into new love. His voice works well with the new instrumentation, as syncopated drumming and prominent guitar strums elevate the song to a greater intensity.

Talrose has grown a great deal in a short time, finding his voice – and in working on his EP, the singer-songwriter has also located his inner rockstar. “It’s super-satisfying to be able to let this side out of me,” he says.

A six-year journey that multi-hyphenate Che Kothari set out on is about to come to fruition.

WondaGurl, 2020, Cameron Corrado

WondaGurl. Photo: Cameron Corrado

About 16 years ago, he started out as a photographer, who then migrated into video production, music production, and launching Gifted Management, then founding Toronto’s annual Manifesto festival,  ultimately turning to life coaching and philanthropy. As an advocate, one of his most important achievements was co-founding the movement, which raises around $18 million per year for public youth arts initiatives in marginalized communities, by putting a fee on the billboards in Toronto. Kothari has lately focused his abundant organizing skills on an urgent environmental emergency: soil extinction.

Kothari is currently putting together a series of projects that will raise awareness for the cause. First up will be several songs – including one written and helmed by Canadian hit-making songwriter/producer WondaGurl (Mariah Carey, Jay-Z, Drake, Ye) – to be released internationally.  According to the United Nations, more than one-third of the world’s top layer of earth is endangered, Kothari explains. “To call soil ‘soil,’ it has to have 3 percent organic content, otherwise you’re growing your food in sand,” he says. “If you remove organic content from soil, it becomes dead. Forty percent of climate change could be mitigated it we have healthy soil.”

The seeds for the project were planted six years ago, when Kothari was working as a manager for the soca star Machel Montano. After what seemed like 40 years of constant touring and recording, Montano was trying to slow down his pace. Kothari turned to yoga and meditation as essential elements of the effort, and introduced Montano to the teachings of Jagadish “Jaggi” Vasudev, aka Sadhguru, the Indian yoga guru and proponent of spirituality. Yogic practices and daily meditation gave Montano the relief he so desperately desired.

After meeting Sadhguru personally, Kothari (and Montano) became devotees. Kothari then launched the Conscious Music Circle (CMC): an effort to give those tools of “inner technology” to the arts community, offering them online, in private settings, and also at Sadhguru’s ashrams in India (where 6,000 people live) and in Tennessee. Collaterally, members of the Circle became enthusiastic proponents of the guru’s main cause, the prevention of soil degradation. On the phone from Los Angeles, where he was working with WondaGurl to record the first of three proposed tracks to shed light on their efforts. It’s March 22, the day after Sadhguru set off on a 100-day motorcycle excursion from the U.K. to India, to raise soil extinction awareness.

The track, as yet unnamed, will feature Dhee (an Sri Lankan-Australian songstress whose current hit, “Enjoy Enjaami,” has 405 million views on YouTube), which will ensure international attention. It was written in Malibu, where 25 members of the CMC (artists, producers, songwriters) gathered and listened to Sadhguru as he spoke to them about the soil issue. Afterwards, Kothari claims, “for five days, in three studios, morning to night,” they worked on it. Dhee’s contribution will have an Indian flavour, but other elements will include Afrobeat and Reggaeton artists to add to the inclusive appeal. At press time the final lineup was still being finalized, but they plan to release the track when Sadhguru is “around half-way, day 50-ish,” of his journey. “We’re not putting out a song that’s, ‘Save soil! Save soil!’ it’s a contemporary song that you’ll hear played on the radio,” Kothari says, “that touches on these themes but doesn’t specifically name them.”

That song will be followed by two more, a reggae track and another, written by WondaGurl, that Kothari describes as “Beatles-ish.”

And while all this is going on, Kothari is still deeply involved in this year’s upcoming Manifesto Festival, which he says, “is all about empowering young people through arts and culture in physical and digital spaces,” and its year-long side projects, the Discovery series and FSTVL SZN. The former is an incubation program supporting new young talent, while the vowel-free latter is, “for behind-the-scenes actors – everything from production to graphic design to fashion.” Both programs “graduate” at the festival, scheduled for Aug. 12, 2022.

The ultimate purpose for releasing the soil extinction track isn’t to raise money, but to raise awareness, says Kothari. “Ultimately, I see the role of the artist as being storytellers,” he says. “How do we get these artists to tell these stories that are most pressing? How do we get them involved in advocacy? To me, music is about celebration, but also about moving people towards higher consciousness.

“Sadhguru says it best: ‘I’m not interested in seven billion dollars; I’m interested in seven billion people.’”