One of the more difficult aspects of a songwriting artist’s career is gaining a foothold in a competitive market.

So, when a SOCAN-assisted showcase series in Los Angeles venues featured emerging, Montréal-based, Anglophone SOCAN members Aiza, Clerel, and Kallitechnis, each performer was grateful for the opportunity to showcase their music and network with key local music ecosystem personnel.

“It felt great to be recognized as an artist,” says singer-songwriter and actor Aiza, mentioning that a forced break of two-and-a-half years from performing, due to pandemic restrictions, made her “feel so disconnected.” R&B pop diva Kallitechnis says the invitation to perform was very much appreciated. “It was actually my first headlining show in L.A.,” she says. “I just felt really loved and supported. It felt great to be recognized as an artist.”

The monthly series – which began with Aiza in May of 2022 at The Love Song Bar, and continued in June and July of the year at Gold Diggers, with Clerel and Kallitechnis, respectively – was co-curated by Pop Montréal’s Evan Dubinsky and SOCAN Creative Executives Sara Dendane (Montréal) and Racquel Villagante (Los Angeles). The Canadian Consulate in L.A. covered travel expenses, and each artist enjoyed free accommodations at the SOCAN  House in L.A. during the week of their showcase.

Pop Montréal Executive Director Jennifer Dorner said the goal was to give a few local artists a boost, following the Federal government’s decision to literally shut down live entertainment overnight in 2020 due to COVID concerns. “Touring was pretty much halted,” said Dorner. “So, the goal was trying to keep up those connections with markets internationally, develop new markets, and  ensure that existing markets were maintained.  We worked with Evan to write a grant to the Canadian Council for the Arts, which had a focus on official language minority communities, so obviously that’s Anglos in Québec.

“I just felt really loved and supported. It felt great to be recognized as an artist” – Kallitechnis

“And we noticed throughout the pandemic that the groups, artists and communities who were hardest hit were those from marginalized communities – especially emerging artists. It was very obvious that those particular artists needed an extra boost, and support, to access new markets. So, it seemed like a perfect time, once the pandemic restrictions lifted, to go for targets and markets. And obviously, L.A is a very good one for music. We were very happy that we could partner with SOCAN and have someone locally on site. Having SOCAN House in L.A. was extremely helpful.”

With Dubinsky acting as point person, corralling industry contacts, and Pop Montréal injecting funds into L.A. marketing and promotion, Dorner says the event – which will continue in October and November 2022 with freshly-minted 2022 Polaris Prize winner Pierre Kwenders, and a TBA act, respectively – enjoyed packed venues, and was very successful. “We did manage to get radio play for the Canadian artists there, and interviews,” she says. “Having that visibility and airtime has been extremely helpful for those artists.”

Clerel said his participation allowed him to tread new ground, as this was his very first time in the city. “I spent 10 days there, and I met a lot of Canadian music professionals who were connected to Los Angeles,” says the R&B crooner enthusiastically. “The show was where I definitely met the most people. I got to play with amazing musicians from the U.S., met songwriters and producers, and ended up doing a couple of sessions while I was there. I spoke to some folks about distribution, so it was very positive, and made a million times better because of the access I had to SOCAN House. I look forward to going back in the future.”

Afropop/R&B artist Aiza, who rehearsed and hosted writing sessions at the SOCAN House, extended her trip “on my dime and time” to exploit further opportunities, including negotiating a pending U.S. music publishing deal. “It was really lovely,” she says. “The Love Song was packed, and I got to meet a lot of cool people. I spent the rest of the week meeting up with different artists, doing some recording, and catching a few shows. This is all lining up really well  for  the release of my debut album in 2023. It was nice ushering in this new phase.”

For Kallitechnis, it cemented plans to move the City of Angels. “The fact that I have entities like Pop Montréal and the Canadian Consulate co-sign me, must mean that I’m doing something right,” she says. “ That they’re willing to associate my brand with theirs is an affirmation that gives me incentive to move to L.A. It’s the next logical step. I got to see a lot of the collaborators, and a lot of the networks that I built over the years, so it was a nice full-circle moment to motivate me, and know I have a support system there.”


Writing music for videogames is unlike scoring film or television for one simple, or not-so-simple, reason: every time a gamer plays, be they novice or experienced, the path of the game will be different. Every single time. That requires what’s called “dynamic” or “adaptive” music. Nine times out of 10, it’s instrumental, with perhaps one or two show pieces.

“The fundamental difference is that videogames are inherently non-linear,” says Shaun Chasin, who’s scored Ring Of Elysium, Quell 4D, and Apple Arcade’s Way of the Turtle. “In a film, you always know that at this moment in time, on this frame, something specific will happen – and it will happen that way for every viewer of the film. But even if it’s a straightforward, linear game, some players will take different amounts of time to do things, or do things out of order.”

While a player can also use the volume slide to shut music off altogether if they find it distracting, for those who let it enhance their playing experience, music might be heard, for example, when they peruse the game menu; or when they’re shooting at a mortal enemy; or when they’re sneaking through the corridor of a castle. Music that’s part of the actual game is called “diegetic.”

So, what’s required of a songwriter who wishes to get into videogame scoring?

Being a gamer is Number One; knowing not just how to play a game, but how a game plays.

Jake Butineau calls it “game literacy.” He’s been in the gaming industry for the past seven years, creating the music for such titles as Super Animal Royale, Destiny’s Sword, and Dune Sea.

“It’s very important,” says Butineau, “because the music is following the player’s actions, in almost all cases for games. If you can’t go in and provide those actions, and provide a player experience, for you to see how the music would react to a player, then it’s really tricky to score it.” Butineau is so dedicated to the field, for a next step he wants to get into actual game design, “to even further immerse myself in this mindset of, ‘How do games work?’ because that will help me score,” he says.

“I learned all of the skills I needed to at the game jams” – Jake Butineau

Newcomer Aaron Paris, who considers himself “a little bit” of a gamer, just worked on his first gaming project. The Kilometre Music Group signing, who’s involved with Frank Dukes’ Kingsway Music Library, and has a credit on Ye’s DONDA 2 album, was invited by renowned, award-winning Canadian screen composer Keith Power (who’s scored the TV shows Hawaii Five-0, Magnum PI, MacGyver, and Heartland) to co-compose the trailer for the game Soulframe.

“He sent an outline of chords and a rough skeleton of the composition, and then he gave me a bunch of references of what he wanted it to sound and feel like,” says Paris says. “From there, I added a whole string arrangement, some vocals, guitar, and bass.” The game is still in production, but he’s set to work on the entire soundtrack.

To get his start a decade ago, Chasin actually minored in videogame scoring at the esteemed Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he also participated in numerous “game jams” – a kind of high-pressure song camp/hackathon for scoring videogames.

“Those are amazing,” says Chasin. “Typically, you get put in a random team with people you’ve never met before. Say, it’s a Friday night when you meet them, and then everything is due Monday, and you stay up all weekend and just make a game with these people. It’s a wonderful way to learn. It’s a wonderful way to network. There’s some people that I met doing game jams that I still work with now.”

Butineau agrees. “The really nice thing about getting into the videogame audio space is that you can have as many of the skills as you like, because you’ll find a team in which you fit,” he says. “A great way to see what skills you want to learn, and to practice working with a  team, is through game jams – which they have in-person in big cities, but there’s also a lot of online game jams.

“That’s really how I got my start. I learned all of the skills I needed to at the jams, because you just immerse yourself in the process.”

From his shaggy, vermillion-dyed hair to his multitude of tattoos, Jutes is the image of a rockstar. Over eight years of making music, he’s amassed more than 20 million global streams, while experimenting with various genres, infusing them with his unique edge. However, he’s never made a full-on rock album. It wasn’t until he met his current partner, Demi Lovato, and participated writing sessions for her new punk-rock album HOLY FVCK, that he decided he should.

Jutes grew up as Jordan Lutes, on a farm in Kars, Ontario, about 44 km South of Ottawa, surrounded by 300 acres of forest; the nearest property was a five-minute walk away. He enjoyed his childhood, riding horses and hanging out with local kids his age, but he was far more interested in basketball and filmmaking. “I always felt like a black sheep,” he says. “Growing up, I just wanted to be in the city, and in the mix.”

He enrolled in the film program at Humber College, but quickly lost interest. He spent all his time in his dorm room, working on his new hobby, making joke raps on his webcam microphone with GarageBand. “I was skipping all my classes just to write these stupid songs,” he recalls. “I made the songs as a joke, ’cause I didn’t have the confidence to say, ‘I’m going to be a rapper now.’”

After deciding he wanted to make music, he dropped out of university, moved to downtown Toronto, got a job, and spent all his free time pursuing his dream. His first hit was “Cocaine Cinderella,” an angst-filled pop-rap song that garnered attention online in 2016, amassing thousands of streams. Recorded on his couch with his first real microphone, it showcased what made Jutes unique: his raw, emotion-filled vocals and highly personal lyrics.

After several years of consistently releasing tracks, he moved to Los Angeles. Initially signed to Capitol Records as a hip-hop/R&B artist, Jutes soon began to see himself working in a different genre. “I wanted to make pop-punk music,” he says. “We can still have hip-hop drums, but I want to make pop-punk.” After being urged not to switch, he compromised, adding more rock elements to his music; his popular singles “When You’re Around” and “Backseat (Kiss Me)” mixed catchy trap beats with big guitars and passionate vocals.

In 2021, during the pandemic, he parted ways with his label and became independent again. The following year was all about musical experimentation: Jutes attempted to write a song every week, and released Careful What You Wish For. In March of 2021, he told Nuance magazine, “I really live to write songs – it’s what I do every day. Sometimes at 3:00 a.m. before bed, sometimes while I have my morning coffee. It’s my therapy, and it’s how I first started being honest about my emotions and mental health, so my connection to it is very deep-rooted.”

Returning to L.A. from a Christmas holiday back home, he received a message from his manager asking if he wanted to participate in a writing session with Demi Lovato for her upcoming album. He was excited but nervous: he’d be working with Lovato and acclaimed producer Oak Felder. Was he the right fit for this? Listening to songs from Lovato’s previous project, he was unsure.

The session started, and they showed him a few of the already completed tracks: “Freak,” “29,” and “Heaven.” Anxiety quickly turned to excitement; he was helping Demi Lovato make a punk-rock album. “I couldn’t believe I was making the music I loved with Demi Lovato,” says Jutes. “It just felt comfortable immediately. We left that session as good homies. It felt like we already knew each other.”

Jutes was invited back for two more sessions, and is now a co-writer of three songs on HOLY FVCK: “Substance” (the video for which has more than 6 million YouTube views), a discontented call to arms; “CITY OF ANGELS,” a raunchy, raucous ode to L.A.; and “Happy Ending.” Lovato and Jutes became friends while working together, chatting and sending song recommendations back and forth. Eventually, they started dating.

Working in those sessions lit a fire under Jutes’ creativity. “Working with Demi and Oak, I was really inspired, and I wanted to make music that made me feel like that,” he says. He started working with a group of trusted collaborators on a new album. The upcoming record will have mostly live drumming, and include grunge, punk, rap, and some pop.

At the moment, Jutes is having fun creating whatever he wants, as evidenced by his most recent singles, “Hollywood Hillbilly” and “Out The Door,” two high-tempo, upbeat tracks. “It feels like for a very long time I chased what people wanted to hear,” he says. “[Now] I just want to make stuff that I would want to listen to non-stop.”