For two days at the 2018 BreakOut West festival and conference in Kelowna, BC, the SOCAN Song House provided 12 member participants the opportunity to develop the craft of writing songs. The session was led by hit songwriter/producer Brian Howes, and organized on-site by SOCAN A&R Representative Racquel Villagante.

The participating songwriters, all from Western Canada, were Rebecca Emms, Brady Frank, Scott Henderson, Zach Kleisinger, Rebecca Lappa, Olivia Lunny, Sam Lynch, Dylan MacDonald (of The Middle Coast), Sammi Morelli, Jacqueline Muzichuk, Aaron Parker, and Tatiana Zagorac (a.k.a.TallTale).

BreakOut West, SOCAN Song House, 2018The first day of the workshop they presented half-written songs and were given individualized feedback and critique by Howes. They re-worked these songs and re-presented them to the group. On the second day, they were partnered up, and co-wrote with each other to come up with new songs that fused their styles and strengths together.

All 12 SOCAN songwriters came away with new co-write connections, new songs for their repertoire, and a more comprehensive understanding of what it takes to write a hit song.

Sammi Morreli left the Song House saying, “I’m still buzzing from an incredible week at the #SOCANSongHouse! Sooo grateful for SOCAN providing songwriters like us with incredible opportunities to grow and connect like this! Huge shout out to Brian Howes for leading the workshop, and Racquel Villagante for making it all happen!”

Tatiana Zagorac, published by Cymba Music Publishing said, “Thank you so so much to SOCAN for including me in your Song House at Breakout West this year. I couldn’t imagine a kinder and cooler group of artists, a more fun and sassy organizer than Racquel Villagante, or a better mentor than Brian Howes. I’m gonna really remember this one.”

Dylan MacDonald said, “I just wanted to say thanks for a great experience this week through the SOCAN workshop. You did such a great job of facilitating a fun, comfortable and creative space. I have returned home feeling very inspired.”


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Dear Rouge won the SOCAN-sponsored Songwriter of the Year Award for their song “Chains” at the 2018 edition of the Western Canadian Music Awards (WCMAs) in Kelowna on Oct. 14, during the BreakOut West conference. The same night, the duo also won the Pop Artist of the Year honours.

The Grapes of Wrath was enshrined in the Western Canadian Music Association Hall of Fame, while Terry Jacks received the 2018 Heritage Award. “Home for a Rest” by Spirit of the West was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall Of Fame.

Among the other winners were Jocelyn Morlock, who won the Classical Composer of the Year honour; Snotty Nose Rez Kids who earned the Rap/Hip Hop Artist of the Year Award; and Alexis Normand, who took home the Francophone Artist of the Year recognition. The complete list of nominees and winners is available here.

SOCAN also presented a Song House writing camp during BreakOut West 2018, allowing our member participants the opportunity to develop the craft of writing a hit song.


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SOCAN presented a “Cooking Beats” panel with beat-maker/producer Bijan Amir at the SOCAN-sponsored 2018 edition of IMSTA FESTA, a free, one-day music tech conference held in the Rogers Communications building at Ryerson University on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018.

Amir is a 21-year-old, Toronto-based, up-and-coming producer, who blends melodies of all genres with a progressive approach. His variable skill set has enabled him to work with both emerging artists like Sean Leon and Rory Fresco, and seasoned veterans like PARTYNEXTDOOR and Belly. Bijan’s inspiration for producing came from the influence of Lil Wayne, Boi-1da, Wondagurl, and T-Minus, leading him to create, and to pursue his craft.

Young beat-makers, producers, artists and managers jam-packed the room for the panel, moderated by SOCAN A&R Representative Aidan D’Aoust. Amir explained and demonstrated some of the technical secrets of his trade, breaking down the construction of the beats he created.

The fast-rising producer also preached the importance of patience. He met his most high-profile collaborator, Metro Boomin, in 2014 at a Battle of the Beatmakers in Toronto (where Bijan was a contestant, and Metro a judge). He introduced himself and then maintained a relationship via e-mail. After a couple of years, he sent Metro a beat pack and that eventually led to Bijan’s biggest placement, “Ric Flair Drip.”

Bijan also talked about the importance of time management as an aspiring producer – he mentioned going to university, and having to work his butt off both in the classroom and at home in the studio. And he chatted about his approach to production, which is that everything he makes is unique to his own sound. He doesn’t produce instrumentals that sound like other people’s beats, and in fact, dislikes when he’s in the studio and artists ask him for tracks “that Young Thug would rap over” or “like something DJ Mustard would make.”

There were also various other panels, booths, demonstrations, and master classes available to all attendees at IMSTA FESTA 2018.

Written with files from Aidan D’Aoust


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