For Tommy Genesis, being an artist isn’t confined to just being a rapper. The Vancouver-born up-and-comer is also a visual artist, a model and she attended the Emily Carr University of Art and Design for film and sculpture. As she says on her defiant single, “Execute,” she has a vision she wants to fulfill, and she’ll do it in whichever way and medium she needs to.

Genesis has been climbing the creative ranks since she caught the eye of Awful Records founder and rapper Father. In 2015, she released her first album, World Vision, a collection of raw and intense tracks that pushed her self-proclaimed brand of “fetish rap.” While her music is grounded in hip-hop, there’s also a strong thread of electronic production that begs comparison to one of her influences, Grimes. Genesis is brazen and confident, unafraid to bring a hyper-sexuality to her verses that both celebrates womanhood while rejecting traditional norms of femininity.

In 2016, she was hand-picked as one of 29 actors, musicians, athletes and models to star in Calvin Klein’s fall ad campaign, placing her alongside Young Thug, Zoe Kravitz and Frank Ocean. Fashion also brought her closer to another important musician: M.I.A.. The two starred in a Mercedes-Benz fashion film together earlier this year, which later led to the British rapper inviting Genesis to play at her Meltdown Festival in London. Many have gone on to call Genesis M.I.A.’s protégé, but she was already well on her way to building her own reputation.

Now signed to Downtown Records/Interscope, Genesis is currently working on a new album, which will include a self-directed video for the lead single. Now we can add that to her growing and wide-ranging list of accomplishments.

When Ottawa-born pianist Christina Petrowska-Quilico was only 10 years old, she performed Joseph Haydn’s Concerto in D Major with Toronto’s Conservatory Orchestra – and amazed the audience. By the time she was a teen, the New York Times was using such descriptors for her talent and skill as Promethean, phenomenal, “dazzling virtuosity” and “playing to perfection.”

Quilico went on to become the extraordinary adult talent one imagines possible when listening to a child prodigy perform. The praise and accolades, including four JUNO nominations, have continued to flow throughout the almost six decades she’s been recording and performing a diverse repertoire of solo, orchestral and chamber music on four continents.

Quilico’s music travels to space
In 2006, the tribute to her talent went out of this world. One of her 50 albums, a recording of the piano concerto written by David Mott specifically for Quilico, debuted in outer space when astronaut Steve MacLean took it with him on the space shuttle Atlantis. It became the first CD to put human music in the heavens. Quilico, who’s also a professor of piano performance and musicology at York University, walked into her class the morning the debut was reported in the news. “All the students were clapping,” she says. “I asked them what I had done. They said, ‘You didn’t see the newspaper?’  I had no idea. It was very exciting.”

The focus of her excitement now is in anticipation of her scheduled soloist performance of Claude Champagne’s piano concerto with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and maestro Victor Feldbrill on Oct. 21 and 22, 2017, at Roy Thomson Hall. Curated by Feldbrill and called With Glowing Hearts, the program explores Canada’s rich history of classical composers.

“The concerto I’m playing was written in 1948 and it’s wonderful,” says Quilico, who’s performed more than 35 concertos. “I get to do flashy stuff, and romantic stuff, and it’s nice to be able to play music that reflects that era of Canadian music. I love all music, but I really love playing concerto. I get a real high with an orchestra.”

The concerts also bring together two of the most respected champions of Canadian contemporary composers: Feldbrill and Quilico, who has premiered more than 150 contemporary pieces, including the work of such renowned Canadian SOCAN member composers as Violet Archer and John Weinzweig. That devotion earned her the 2007 Friends of Canadian Music Award from the Canadian Music Centre (CMC) and the Canadian League of Composers. And in 2010 she received the inaugural Harry Freedman Recording Award for composers as a co-recipient with composer Constantine Caravassilis. “I’ve wanted to support Canadian music because there are so many wonderful composers who get lost by the wayside,” says Quilico, who’s been especially recognized for her virtuosity in interpreting challenging contemporary compositions.

PULL QUOTE: ““I’ve wanted to support Canadian music because there are so many wonderful composers.”

In turn, Canadian composers have been so taken with her interpretation of their works that many, including SOCAN members Mott, Larysa Kuzmenko, Steven Gellman and Heather Schmidt, have written music specifically for her. The late Ann Southam, known for her minimalist style, was another composer who trusted Quilico profoundly with her compositions. “I really fought to have her music in the beginning, because music has its flavour of the year and at the time, and in the 1980s the flavour wasn’t minimalist,” said Quilico. The two first collaborated in 1982 when Southam asked Petrowska Quilico to do a demo recording of Rivers. “I found it quite slow,” said Quilico. “I was seven or eight months pregnant at the time, so I figured she wouldn’t yell at a pregnant lady. I called her and said, ‘You know, I’ve changed your stuff around quite a bit.’ She said, ‘Well, let me hear it.’ She just loved it and said ‘You can do whatever you want with my music.’”

The two developed a 30-year friendship and collaboration. In 2018, Quilico will be releasing an album of Southam’s early work. “There are some really neat surprises that are going to happen on that album, and it shows the wealth of her creativity,” says Quilico – who, between teaching, performing, and recording, keeps a hectic schedule.

As of September 2017, Quilico had already performed more than half-a-dozen-times in the year, including a recital featuring the solo piano works by her late first husband, Michel-Georges Brégent, at the 50th anniversary celebration of Montréal’s Société de Musique Contemporaine du Québec. She released Worlds Apart, a double-album recording celebrating Canadian composers. She’ll also give a concert of solos by women composers for Winnipeg’s Groundswell series, Global Sirens, on November 28, 2017.  And she’s working with David Jaeger, who’s setting to music a selection of poems she wrote in her youth.

It turns out the child prodigy was also a talented poet, whose work was published in the New York Times. “I did speak to one of the editors, who said, ‘You have to make up your mind. I love your writing, but if you go into writing, then you can’t also be a concert pianist,’” she says.

Luckily for Canadian composers and the classical music genre, Quilico chose to be a concert pianist. “I found playing was really easy so I just went along with it,” she says. “Music is sound and emotion and there are no boundaries. It’s always changing. I like it. It gives me a sense of adventure.”

hard logoThe explosion of new media all around the globe – things like Netflix – has brought about a real change and growth in the production music industry over the last half decade.”

So proclaims Ross Hardy, a composer, former SOCAN staff member, and music publishing executive, founder and CEO of the production library/label hard, established in June of 2013.

“Ten or 15 years ago, you’d probably have to search through 5,000 tracks of music before you could find one that would have a vocal on it,” says Hardy. “Nowadays, production music companies and labels, like ourselves, represent very real and powerful opportunities for artists who are composing, or writing. There are new models out there in the production music industry that service artists almost like an A&R/management team. Production music is essentially becoming the new record-label model.

“In essence, every production music company is a record company and publisher in one, that’s what makes them so effective. It streamlines our licensing to film and television and other media, and allows us to control the masters and to control the copyright. The uniquely-themed compilation albums we produce are really no different than any other albums.  The main difference is that the main driver of our distribution is solely the media and not the mainstream music business.”


CraigMcConnell of/de hard

This is good news for SOCAN’s #ComposersWhoScore, as well as for “crossover” writers, artists, and producers looking for another revenue stream, and a way to diversify their creative offerings.

In some ways, the current vitality of the production music business is the silver lining to the storm clouds which had hung menacingly over the careers of many film and TV composers. “Five or six years ago, after doing lots of reality and factual entertainment television, I started to notice cues from production libraries popping up on cue sheets, and I started getting fewer calls from clients,” explains hard partner and President Craig McConnell, a veteran, award-winning film and TV composer, record producer and songwriter, and Screen Composers Guild of Canada (SCGC) board member. “This was now something I had to compete with as a composer, and I decided that I needed to start my own production music library. Innocent thought at the time, because I had no idea what was entailed.”

That dilemma was solved when a mutual friend at ole – where Hardy was working to build their first production music catalogue, MusicBox – introduced the two of them. When Hardy departed ole – he refers to it as “ole university,” given how much he learned about the music publishing business while he was there – he decided to start a label. He’d been a composer for so many labels over the years, had amassed a huge catalogue of music, and gained a wealth of knowledge about the business. One of the first calls he made was to McConnell. Within the first year, hard released 12 production music compilation albums and had distribution in four major territories.

hard’s new deal with APM
“Once we started talking to people about it [hard’s all-Canadian roster], ears really began to perk up. That’s when APM Music came forward and said, ‘We control the market share in Canada and we have very little Canadian music!’ says Hardy, referencing the fact that APM – a worldwide, Hollywood-based production music library player and custom music house – recently signed a deal to add hard’s repertoire to its catalogue. “The fact we’re 100 per cent Canadian resonates in the global market,” Hardy continues. “As a side story, it was always a contentious thing for Craig and I that the majority of the music from production music libraries used in Canada, even at our major networks, mostly originates with composers from jurisdictions other than Canada.”

“Three years later, we’re up around 50 albums, and a roster of close to 50 artists and composers with whom we’ve worked, all of them Canadian,” says Hardy.

Though most of the artists are well-established – the company has worked with six JUNO Award winners – hard still leaves the door open for emerging talent. “We’re really becoming an artist-driven label which supports new talent,” says Hardy. “We’re a record company and a publishing company, one and the same. We take pride in the fact that we have an offering here for artists who may not – or will not – see the type of market exposure that we’re offering. Their product could benefit from our distribution into more than 80 countries around the world, and placement into media productions to which they could only dream of being exposed. We tell our artists, ‘We’re not going to pigeonhole you. You give us what you do best! You have a blank canvas.’”

There are some technical parameters that have to be adhered to. To work with a company like hard as an artist, you have to have the ability to record your own works, professionally produced and mixed. “Twenty years ago, it was a tall order finding that kind of situation, but not so much anymore,” says McConnell. “You look at a guy like Skrillex. He makes his records on a laptop, from a tour bus. There are a lot of people out there like that, and not just in the EDM world, who have the technical expertise, with their computer set-up, to make world class sounding recordings. Those are the people we want to work with.”