Welcome to SOCAN’s Top 10 for 2017 – ten of the many SOCAN-member artists that we, and especially our A&R Department, believe will be among the ones to watch as they strongly emerge, or even break through, this year. In alphabetical order…
Banx & Ranx
Duo Banx & Ranx – Montrealers Soké and KNY Factory – has been releasing an eclectic blend of various Caribbean, electronic, urban and pop offerings all over the borderless internet since 2014. The duo was Initially focused on their composition and production work for other artists, and their remixing skills, and armed with an impressive viral factor – their remix of Bob Marley’s “Jammin’” has over 2 million views on YouTube! They were offered a record contract by the British label Parlophone, home of (Coldplay, Gorillaz, and David Guetta), and their first hybrid nuggets will be released throughout 2017 as singles. Banx & Ranx’s list of collaborators includes music-makers from the U.K., Jamaica and Montréal, and they intend to capitalize on Québec’s expertise in visual creativity, a crucial element in their colourful musical fusion. Top this off with their sustained production, songwriting and collaborations with some of the biggest international talent, and you have a recipe for a bright and sunny 2017, both for them, and for listeners like us.
Pierre-Philippe Côté (a. k. a. Pilou) first hit the limelight as a singer, player and producer: a singer for Champion; a multi-instrumentalist for Ariane Moffatt, Jorane, Elisapie Isaac, and many others; a producer of albums for Marie-Jo Thério, Philippe Brach, David Giguère, and Sébastien Lacombe, to name but a few. He also released an album, The Origin, as an Anglophone singer-songwriter under his pseudonym, Peter Henry Phillips. That doesn’t mean he’ll neglect his own repertoire in 2017 – a new album is coming soon – but, increasingly, it’s TV and movie producers, and directors, who’ve become very interested in his scoring skills. American director, actor and screenwriter Quinn Shephard has tapped him to score her first feature-length movie (Blame, 2017), and we’ll also hear his work in Robin Aubert’s Les Affamés and Arnaud Brisebois’ short, Anime, which is set to tour the worldwide film festival circuit. On TV, he’ll be featured in the credits of the second season of Real Detective on Investigation Discovery, as well as in the third season of TV5’s Switch & Bitch. To top it all off, The Origin will be released by Universal, in France, in a deluxe edition.
This Grammy-nominated hip-hop producer contributed behind the scenes to D.R.A.M.’s huge viral hit “Broccoli” – now at more than 103 million YouTube views, and counting – as well as Wiz Khalifa’s “Incense,” Travis Scott’s “Upper Echelon” and many more, by the likes of Lil Yachty, Pusha T, 2 Chainz, and others. He also did the official re-mix for Lorde’s “Team.” A 22-year-old born and raised in Ottawa and now living in L.A., J. Gramm was signed in 2016 to a management deal with Scooter Braun (best known for managing Justin Bieber) and a publishing contract with BMG Rights Management in the U.S. He’s a beat-maker who’s definitely on the way up.
Electronic/pop singer-songwriter Kai’s song “I Choose Me” was licensed in a national campaign for First Choice Haircutters in 2011. She wrote “Sweet Talker” for Jessie J, and was featured on Adventure Club’s “Need Your Heart”, the Jack Ü (Diplo and Skrillex) project song “Mind” and rapper Childish Gambino’s “Crawl.” Kai – along with Australian producer Flume – was also featured on the song “Never Be Like You,” which hit No. 1 in Australia and went Top 20 in the U.S. It also topped the iTunes Electronic charts. Kai’s debut solo full-length album is expected in 2017.
A familiar voice, a singular viewpoint, a nonchalant attitude, a friendly face. With such a combination of qualities, you’ve got to take heed, or risk missing something precious. That’s exactly what Lydia Képinski is. The singer-songwriter left the 2016 edition of the Festival international de la chanson de Granby with nine awards, including the SOCAN Best Song Award for her bittersweet earworm, “Apprendre à mentir” (“Learning to Lie”), and she’s commanded everyone’s attention ever since – most notably Bonsound, who’ve signed on to book her live concerts. Her first four-song EP, released last November on the Shivi Shivi imprint, was produced by ex-Hôtel Morphée member Blaise B. Léonard, and offers definitive proof that this musician (who also delves in visual arts) has a lot to offer. We’re addicted, and her first full-length album is slated for the fall of 2017.
Murda Beatz started making beats when he was 17, and achieved his first placement in only three months, Soulja Boy. By 22 years old, he had deftly networked his beats on social media, hustling his way into the eardrums of many respected hip-hop crews. The fast-rising, behind-the-scenes Beatz has contributed to Migos’ “Pipe It Up”, PARTYNEXTDOOR’s “Like That,” French Montana’s “No Shopping,” and Drake’s “With You.” With longtime expert hip-hop producer Boi1da as a mentor, Beatz is well on the way to becoming an irreplaceable contributor to some major hit songs. And he can craft a beat in less than 20 minutes, as he proved during SOCAN’s “Cooking Beats” showcase at the IMSTA FESTA tech conference in Toronto in 2016.
Singer-songwriter Jessie Reyez initially dove into music when she was undergoing major heartbreak after the sudden end of a relationship. She was part of the Remix Project in Toronto, an arts academy that helps youth from low-income households. Daniel Daly, from DVSN, was a key early mentor, and before too long Reyez was featured on King Louie’s song “Living in the Sky.” Her video for the heartfelt, pain-exorcising, guitar-and-vocal song “Figures” has independently now reached more than 700,000 views on YouTube. She’s featured in SOCAN’s “Members to Millions” video, and her upcoming album, The Archives, will be a collection of music that draws inspiration from her entire life.
Sophie Rose is self-described as edgy pop with a touch of princess. At 16 years old, Sophie has written more than 300 songs, collaborated with some of the top writers and producers in pop music, and is currently signed to a publishing joint venture between hit songwriter Ester Dean and Dr. Luke’s Prescription Songs. She began writing songs at age 9, deeply inspired by Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars and Katy Perry. Sophie’s song “Friends Forever” was licensed by MasterCard for their Stand Up to Cancer campaign that aired during the 2015 and 2016 Major League Baseball season on ESPN. Her song “Attention” is the theme song for the AwesomenessTV original series Guidance, airing on go90. “Aces High,” a song co-written by Sophie, aired on Fox’s Empire this fall. Sophie uses her talents to help others by supporting charitable causes including ACT Today! Autism Care and Treatment and the American Red Cross.
In nine months, rapper SAFE (a.k.a. Saif Musaad) went from uploading his first track on Soundcloud to selling out Toronto’s Mod Club. It’s an impressive feat for anyone, but especially for an artist who’s just 18 years old, and the rapper has already caught the biggest eyes and ears of the city. SAFE was invited to work in the OVO pop-up shop by Drake’s right-hand-man Oliver El-Khatib, which eventually led to “Don’t Worry” being featured on OVO Sound. In the fall of 2016, he released a single and a dark, gritty video, “Eternity,” that was “dedicated to the youth of Toronto that have been lost to incarceration and gang violence; and all others that have fallen victim to unruly environments.”
We’ve already told you how much we love Gabrielle Shonk in the August 2016 issue of Paroles & Musique. She’s also received more than enthusiastic reaction to her first single, “Habit,” from such influential music publications as Noisey and Buzzfeed. This grandiose, soulful yet venomous ballad – addressed to a guy with decidedly bad habits – landed her numerous offers from local, national and international labels. So much so that her first self-produced album, that’s been ready to release for months now, will finally come out before summer 2017, if all goes according to plan. It’s an introspective, authentic, soul- and folk-tinged album written mostly in English, but with a few French songs sprinkled in. Shonk staunchly insisted on it, as a reflection of her reality, since this 28-year-old bilingual singer was born in the U.S. Get ready to be deeply moved.