Myles Goodwyn’s rock band April Wine has sold millions of records worldwide. He’s won six SOCAN Classics Awards, and earned the SOCAN National Achievement Award in 2002, as well as the East Coast Music Awards’ Dr. Helen Creighton Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003. April Wine were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame at the JUNO Awards in 2010. In 2009, at Canadian Music Week, the band earned the Lifetime Achievement Award and were inducted into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame in 2009. Here, in an excerpt from his 2016 memoir, Just Between You and Me, Goodwyn describes the band’s decision, taken at its origin, not to perform any cover songs.
With April Wine, the idea that we would play only original material and not other bands’ tunes right from the get-go is true, kind of… at least, I think so. Jim [Henman, bass] remembers that we wanted to do only originals. He said he didn’t think I would want to join the new band otherwise. I believe Ritchie [Henman., drums] feels the same way in that we decided to do only original tunes and no cover tunes. But David [Henman, guitar] remembers things a bit differently.
David recalls that we had our ﬁrst rehearsal in his mom and dad’s basement in Lower Sackville [Nova Scotia] and that our plan was to be original, but to play it safe and still do cover songs. The decision to go entirely original happened – or at least was put forth – when they heard me play a riff of a song I was working on. He says they were ﬂoored by how heavy it rocked, and that was the inspiration for the declaration by all of us that we would, henceforth, be a 100 percent original group.
“We sat down and Myles started playing a riff he was writing, and right away, the four of us looked at each other and said, ‘Okay, that’s it… no cover songs! This is what we want to do.’ We were so excited by this riff; it opened up all the doors.”
This is the way I remember it – David’s version. As a new band, April Wine needed to build a repertoire from nothing, so doing a mixture of original and non-original songs made sense. That was the initial plan, but that changed after I played an idea I had for a new song at that early band rehearsal.
The bottom line is that April Wine decided to perform only original material, and therefore, in the beginning, we didn’t have 90 minutes of original music for a concert, or even enough for several sets working in clubs. We needed lots of songs in order to make a living as a live band. We didn’t have lots of songs in the beginning, but we did have some.
Ritchie Henman says the band was pretty clearly deﬁned from the start. “David and I were the avant-garde side of things, Jimmy was going to contribute the folky aspect, and Myles was going to keep us grounded in rock ’n’ roll.”
I thought of April Wine as a rock band. I wanted to play music that was rock, and it didn’t matter to me at the time whether it was a fast tune or slow tune, heavy or otherwise, as long as it was in the rock vein. But I think I was the only one who felt the direction should be that simple.
I thought this new band was worth a try, as I wanted no part of a cover band. In my entire career, to date, I only spent approximately one year playing in a cover group professionally, which I consider an accomplishment of no small claim. I wasn’t great at learning other people’s material, I don’t think. I didn’t mind giving a song I liked a new arrangement, but re-creating a musical piece, note for note, was not my cup of java.
April Wine played original material all right, and the new material was the result of the diverse inﬂuences and writing styles of David, Jim, and me. Ritchie would later recall in an interview with Music Express magazine that “the sound of the band then was very heavy, very complex, a hybrid of a dozen different styles ﬁltering through three very different songwriters. Deﬁnitely a band with no direction.”
I disagree that early April Wine was really heavy, although I concur with Ritchie that we were without a uniﬁed direction. We never really did ﬁnd common ground during our short time together.
SOCAN Houses: An Inspirational Home Away from Home
Story by Eric Parazelli | January 17, 2017
SOCAN’s author, composer, and publisher members know it all too well: one’s environment can significantly influence songwriting and composing. Creating music away from home can sometimes trigger new ideas and collaboration, as well as unexpected and refreshing influences. Similarly, dreams of breaking onto a foreign market are hard to accomplish without being physically present in the coveted territory. In order to meet those objectives – stimulate songwriting, composing, and the exporting of music – SOCAN has, for many years now, offered its members free access to its SOCAN Houses in Los Angeles, Nashville and, recently, Paris. These are arguably three of the most important hubs of the global music industry.
For SOCAN’s A&R director, Rodney Murphy, the organization’s capacity to offer lodgings to its members in Los Angeles, Nashville and Paris allows it to positively influence their careers on a national and international level. “SOCAN’s ability to offer our writer, composer and publisher members accommodations in these cities has played a huge role in enhancing our members’ careers, on both domestic and global markets. SOCAN members from across Canada use our international houses for the creative development of their craft, allowing them to connect with their fellow creators and music industry contacts in those markets, often with the help and facilitation from SOCAN A&R representatives. Ultimately, our goal is to do our part to seed the Canadian music ecosystem, and help grow the careers and business of our members around the world.”
Paroles & Musique asked a few of its members who’ve stayed at one of the SOCAN Houses in the past year to share their impressions, and find out what their objectives were, and how they came to fruition, thanks to their presence in those foreign territories.
Singer-songwriter Pierre Lapointe was one of the first to stay at the SOCAN House in Paris, a private apartment in the ninth arrondissement, near the Pigalle metro station, just a stone’s throw from the legendary Moulin Rouge, La Cigale, Les Trois Baudets and “guitar street.” “I frequently stay in Paris, and I know that accomodations are the most expensive part of those stays,” he says. “Revenues aren’t always the main reason that makes us want to spend some time in Paris. So knowing you don’t have to worry about the cost of accomodations in your Parisian budget is extraordinary.
“The goal of this trip was networking and songwriting. I met with some people who run a record label there, and with whom I’m quite likely to work with in the coming months, and I met with my concert production team. I worked on writing and researching arrangements for new songs with David François Moreau, and also with Matali Crasset, who’s in charge of designing the backdrop for my next stage show (Amours, Délices et Orgues), to be presented at the Maison Symphonique. So, co-writing songs that’ll be on my next album, and work on my next live show, both benefitted from my stay at the Paris SOCAN House.”
Toronto-based singer-songwriter Royal Wood stayed at both the Nashville and Los Angeles SOCAN Houses in 2016. To him, there’s nothing more important than co-writing constantly, and networking, to quickly develop one’s career: “To make it in this industry, you need to be highly creative,” he says. “But you also need your music to land in the right hands and be able to count on a team you believe in. Good music without a solid team, sadly, won’t help you pay the bills. As my father would’ve said: ‘It’s like winking at a cute girl in the dark. You know you’ve done it, but she doesn’t’.’
“Nothing is more inspiring than a change of environment or scenery. For example, looking out the window at the L.A. SOCAN House and seeing the sun set on the hills and the palm trees of Silver Lake. The energy of the city and the cars driving by. The smell of the dry desert air. Staying at the SOCAN House allowed me to create songs that captured moments that I could not have captured otherwise.
“My most recent stay was in Nashville. After I signed my publishing deal with peermusic, I stayed at the SOCAN House to work for two weeks. During my stay, I wrote new music every day, and I was able to attend meetings with my manager and team. It was all very fruitful. I’m going back to Nashville early this year because I was so inspired by how successful that last trip was.”
For Montréal electro-pop band Le Couleur, their stay at the Los Angeles SOCAN House was an occasion to collaborate with Eric Broucek, a renowned mixer who’s worked with several DFA Records artists (LCD Soundsystem, Shit Robot, The Juan McLean). As Le Couleur’s manager Julien Manaud, of Lisbon Lux, explains, “Our goal was, on the one hand, to finish the mixing of the Pop album in the studio, while also starting to develop a network in L.A. I attended a SOCAN party where I met quite a few people. Among them was American agent Pete Anderson. We stayed in touch for several months after that. He really enjoyed Beat Market’s Sun Machine album, and set up two showcases in Los Angeles in January 2017.”
Aside from his solo career, singer-songwriter Bobby John is signed with Les Éditions Bloc-Notes Musique and has invested a lot of energy in co-writes for other artists, such as Serena Ryder, Olivier Dion and Maxime Proulx, to name a few. He stayed at both the Nashville and Paris SOCAN Houses in 2016 in the hopes of creating contacts in the U.S. and in France, and to check out the local music scenes. “When I went to Nashville and Paris, I had the chance to explore the musical universes of those cities, and I met incredible people who inspired several songs,” he says. “New technology is a great communication tool, but it’ll never replace the creative energy that happens when two songwriters work together in the same studio. That, in my opinion, is how the best collaborations and solid relationships are built.
“Producer/songwriter Éric Collard came with me when I went to Nashville. Thanks to the help of my team at Bloc-Notes Musique, we planned a full week of co-writing and networking. When we came back, we had six potential songs for the album, new ideas about production and recording methods, and made contact with new co-writers for future visits. There’s no doubt that our week at Nashville’s SOCAN House was very productive.
“Not long after, we were invited to co-write with several other songwriters in Paris. I had the chance to work with phenomenally talented artists. A total of nine songs were written during my stay in Paris and, there too, my list of contacts grew considerably. My week at SOCAN’s Paris House could not have been more productive and positive.
“In both instances, the location was ideal. Nashville’s SOCAN House is located in a quiet area, so we were able to set up our equipment and not have to worry about disturbing the neighbours. The songwriters with whom we worked didn’t all have studios of their own, so we used the SOCAN House as a meeting and recording space on more than one occasion. It’s really super!
“As for the Paris SOCAN House, the location is magnificent. The apartment is in a small building in a really interesting and music-oriented area, just a few steps from the metro. Once again, my week was filled with writing sessions and meetings. Being so close to my meetings was ideal. I thank SOCAN for offering its members the opportunity to use the SOCAN Houses, because without them, we wouldn’t have been as productive!”
Paul-Étienne Côté has won several SOCAN Awards in the National and International Television Music categories and is the founder of Circonflex, a musical agency. The prolific composer stayed at the Paris SOCAN House mainly for networking purposes: “The SOCAN House is ideal: it’s Pigalle, it’s central. It’s like living in Montréal’s Mile End, but times 3,000. It’s perfectly located amidst the best venues, terrasses and bistros, and it’s next door to the ninth, second and tenth arrondissements. All of the Paris music industry is a stone’s throw away. I would use the Vélib [a bike-sharing system] to travel everywhere I needed to go from the SOCAN House. I even went all the way to Clichy on one of those bikes because the SOCAN House truly is near everything (but also because I needed to burn all those calories from charcuteries, foie gras, baguettes, escargots and babas au rhum).
“Besides, being able to get accommodations for next to nothing is incredible. It allows you to invite potential clients to dine and drink champagne rather than citronnade. When I was there, I met several new producers, with whom I worked with just last week on four fabulous projects!
“Here’s an anecdote about my stay at the SOCAN House. On October 9, 1871, Victor Hugo moved rue de La Rochefoucauld. He lived there from 1871 to 1973. In 2016, it’s the SOCAN House that’s located rue de La Rochefoucauld, and its members stay there.”
For more information about the Los Angeles SOCAN House, click here.
For more information about the Nashville SOCAN House, click here.
For more information about the Paris SOCAN House, click here.
In the exclusive interview below, conducted by Paroles & Musique Editor Eric Parazelli via Skype, Carole Facal (a.k.a. Caracol) takes us on a guided tour of the SOCAN House in Los Angeles, where she settled down for a week to work on new songs. She also took this opportunity to make new contacts with the help of her record label, Indica Records.
Photo by Marc de Guerre
The Back and Forth of Rose Bolton
Story by Jennie Punter | January 13, 2017
Among the ambitious works staged at the 2016 edition of Toronto’s Luminato festival, Song of Extinction struck a particularly powerful and timely note, due in large part to the emotional musical journey through geological time created by composer Rose Bolton.
Described as an immersive visual and sonic exploration of the Anthropocene era (the newish buzzword many now use for our current epoch), the 50-minute, multi-media production encompassed many of the forms Bolton has been engaged with during her impressive, productive career: chamber music (performed by Music in the Barns Chamber Ensemble); vocal music (Tafelmusik Chamber Choir members, and VIVA! Youth Singers); pop music (“using a popular song format, with lyrics and vocals front and centre,” she explains); and live electronics (executed by Bolton).
Song of Extinction evolved out of a collaborative back-and-forth between documentary filmmaker Marc de Guerre, Order of Canada-inducted poet Don McKay, Music in the Barns director Carol Gimbel, and Bolton. It continues the exploratory method Bolton’s enjoyed since age nine, when she played every instrument she could get her hands on (from piano to violin to Salvation-Army brass instruments) and started to write music.
“I wanted to be more like painters, who create a work and then it exists, and they don’t have to give it to someone who renders it.”
Awards and commissions came early to Bolton, who received a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Western Ontario in the early 1990s, then took a couple of years off to study privately with Toronto composer Alexina Louie and write. She then earned her Masters in Composition at McGill University, which she completed in 1998. Bolton had relished her creative adventures in the electronic-music studios of Western and McGill, but she kept getting commissions for instrumental work and picking up accolades along the way, such as the Toronto Emerging Composer Award in 2001.
In 2005, after a busy year that included the world premiere of a major commission for Esprit Orchestra, she took a step back. “I started to look at my body of work up to that date and realized that I wanted to have control over the future of my own writing,” she recalls. “In those early years, I allowed commissions to guide me. I also got involved in traditional Irish and fiddle music, I played in a country band and folk ensembles, wrote orchestrations for pop bands. It was all about being part of a scene – playing gigs, then being a composer. It was great, it kept me busy. And I didn’t have to think about what I should be doing.
“But I wanted to be more like painters, who create a work and then it exists, and they don’t have to give it to someone who renders it,” she continues. “So I got serious in 2005 and started building my own studio. [Graphical modular software music studio] Reaktor started to happen, so all I needed was a better computer. I got an early version of Logic, and a digital recorder to collect samples. By 2007 I had a commission.”
Bolton now spends half the year composing score music for her partner Marc de Guerre’s artful social-history-themed docs, such as Who’s Sorry Now (CBC, 2012) and Life After Digital (TVO, 2014), and the other half writing concert music (both commissions and personal music). Her studio light is pretty much always switched on.
When she started working in film eight years ago, she would create early sketches. “But often you don’t know what the mood is going to be before the film is edited, you might only have a few minutes of footage,” she explains. “For the documentary genre, Marc likes electronic music, and I often end up blending in instruments. I’ve developed my skills of how to produce and mix – the whole process has really changed the way I think about music.
“As a concert composer, if you’re commissioned to write music for a string quartet, once you know who you’re writing for… that’s it,” she laughs. “But when I’m doing a documentary soundtrack, sometimes an instrument won’t work, so I try different sounds – try a horn, try a synth, try a sample, let’s try bells! But with a commission, well, you can’t fire your horn player!”
Bolton says de Guerre, who was a visual artist before turning to film, had the idea for Song of Extinction a few years before they met. As they began to discuss his ideas, Bolton knew she wanted to use a chamber choir and instruments, but the music didn’t take shape until she began working with McKay. “I had music sketches, he would write a poem and send it back – poetry and music were happening simultaneously,” she recalls. “Don would say, ‘You can do what you want with the words,’ so I would turn his poem into something more like song lyrics, boil it down to its essences, which he was fine with.”
The ideas for the instrumentation kept changing until Music In The Barns came on board, but Bolton always intended to use a chamber choir. “My idea was to have humans singing about extinction,” she says. “In the end, we had singers from Tafelmusik and 30 singers from a youth choir. So they would sing together, as opposed to having a soloist, and the two choirs would sing back and forth, similar to human discussion among friends or on the news.
“There’s always a back and forth,” she says. “It’s the way that ideas take shape.”