Hometown: Edmonton, AB
Ann Vriend's newest album depicts tales of tough inner-city life in her McCauley neighbourhood against the backdrop of explosive soul harmonies. "For The People In The Mean Time is essential listening for any lover of thoughtful, innovative, funky, modern soul... 4/5 Stars."-- Beat Magazine (Australia).
Vriend's musical journey started early: When her parents discovered their 3-year-old could play nursery songs on a Fisher Price xylophone they enrolled Vriend in violin lessons. At age nine Vriend took piano lessons from an elderly woman down the street who charged $5 per visit. In high school, in order to be allowed to submit her homemade recordings for a school project, Vriend was coerced into performing 3 of her compositions at the school talent show.
Accolades from her fellow students then translated into projects with older students in bands, scholarships at music college, 1st place in a songwriting contest which paid for her debut album, interest from major record labels, and continuous praise from critics.
Vriend has also a powerful live performer, winning the nation-wide “She's the One” contest at the Ottawa Bluesfest in the solo category, while her show with her band garnered 4/4 stars in Die Rheinpfalz, Germany in April.
Hometown: Vancouver, BC/Montreal, QC
Bellwoods is a Toronto musical collaboration centred on the talents of founding members Montreal’s Alan Snoddy and Vancouver’s Morgan Cameron Ross. Both artists release projects on their own and also have past history with such bands as Stars and Birds of Wales.“In the modern world of music there is no need to tie a musician down to on band” according to Morgan Cameron Ross. “Bellwoods is a collaboration, a collective. We are like-minder performers, producers, and artists who relish the opportunity to create and work together”.So far the band have finished recording their debut EP (Release in Early 2015) which saw them work with the likes of Mary Lambert (Macklemore & Lewis), Cone McCaslin (Sum 41), Todd Clark (Pilot Speed, Phillip Phillips), Miranda Mulholland (Great Lake Swimmers, Belle Starr), Japanese visual artist Tomori Nagamoto and L.A. based producer and hit songwriter Justin Gray. Ross recently co-wrote the platinum single “Bubblegum” by Bobby Bazini and Bellwoods have toured extensively with the Quebec chart-topper. On his most recent solo EP Alan collaborated with members of Sloan, The Trews, The Sam Roberts Band and Serena Ryder. Whether working as Bellwoods or on their own Morgan Cameron Ross and Alan Snoddy could be considered one of Canada’s most creative duos. Debut Single “Live It Up” was #1 Most Adds Week of Nov 17, 2014 on AC Format.
Hometown: Langley, BC
Vancouver based Indie-Rock outfit Derrival combines synth-heavy elements of bands like Phoenix and Chvrches with guitar driven hooks and melodies reminiscent of Two Door Cinema Club and Young The Giant.
Formed in 2009 by combining high-school bands, the 5-piece quickly developed a bond like brothers. Since graduating, they have each pursued different post secondary studies to develop the skill sets of a record label for independently releasing their own music. The band’s latest EP “Departure & Arrival” (release date: August 21, 2015) is a decompression of the group name Derrival. The EP’s first single entitled “Original Script” debuted in 2014 and led the band to winning a highly coveted top prize in the BC PEAK Performance Project. Derrival will be touring across North America in late summer/fall 2015 to support the newly released EP.
Hometown: St. John's, NL
Fortunate Ones is a Newfoundland pop-folk duo made up of singer/guitarist Andrew James O’Brien and singer/pianist/accordion player Catherine Allan – endearing audiences with wide-eyed energy, pragmatic optimism, and an earnest mission for connection.
Andrew and Catherine grew up on opposite sides of the island of Newfoundland – Mount Pearl and Corner Brook respectively. It was in St. John’s where the pair met and began to sing together. One night in 2010, Andrew heard Catherine sing harmony with her brother at a private gathering in downtown St John’s. He had to sing with her. The next day he got up the nerve, left her a note, she acquiesced, and within 48 hours they were singing together on stage. While it was a road from that evening to the formation of Fortunate Ones in 2013, their beginnings are in keeping with one of the core messages they carry. That sometimes the most important decision you can make is to just say YES.
From a musical family, the Allan home was a constant eclectic flow of instruments, singing and the stereo. Catherine studied classical piano, taught herself guitar in secret, and discovered the accordion by chance when her brother brought one home over Christmas in 2011. Musical exploration was the norm. After moving to St. John’s, Catherine’s induction to the East Coast music scene was rapid – performing with Andrew, recording and touring extensively with JUNO award-winning songwriter Amelia Curran, and appearing at festivals with Curran and East Coast songwriter Don Brownrigg.
Andrew James O’Brien launched his music career with a well-received solo album Songs for Searchers (2011) – nominated for Best Pop Recording at the 2012 East Coast Music Awards. He toured heavily in Canada and the UK, opening for artists such as Sharon Shannon and Paul Brady. Catherine accompanied him. It was on a UK tour that they realized the direction their collaboration was taking. The appreciation shown by UK audiences bolstered the pair’s sense of purpose. Their music began to evolve to represent both of their sensibilities, skills and sounds.
“We put a name on something that was naturally occurring, and then we took steps to follow it up. We would share equal duties vocally, musically, and conversing with the audience. It wasn’t Andrew James O’Brien with Catherine Allan anymore – it was already Fortunate Ones.”
Plain and simple, they consider themselves fortunate to pursue their dreams. Their name reflects shared experience with audiences. It is about connecting people of all kinds, to make strangers friends, to elicit feelings of joy, hope, sadness, and contemplation – and the spirit that we are all in this together.
Produced by multi-ECMA winner Daniel Ledwell, THE BLISS was recorded at Lake Echo in Nova Scotia during the winter of 2014, and features guest appearances by East Coast favorites Jenn Grant, Don Brownrigg, and Kinley Dowling. The Bliss was released on JUNO award winning songwriter Rose Cousins’ record label Old Farm Pony Records on February 10, 2015.
Hometown: St. John's, NL
Repartee want to make you dance. In fact one publication says they can make you dance ‘without giving a f*ck about how foolish you look’ (the Muse).
Consisting of members Megan Warren (Vocals) Robbie Brett (Guitars/Vocals/Keys), Nick Coultas-Clarke (Drums) and Josh Banfield (Keys/Synths) Repartee have spent their time feverishly and passionately touring. Aiming to expand their fan-base outside of their home in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The band have showcased at the Halifax Pop Explosion, the East Coast Music Awards, and Canadian Music Week as well as embarking on a cross-country tour, having shared the stage with Tegan and Sara, Arkells, Mother Mother, Dragonette, Great Big Sea, Joel Plaskett, Hey Rosetta!, and Matt Mays. In 2012, the band won all five MusicNL Awards they were nominated for - FACTOR Album of the Year, Group of the Year, Rising Star, Fan Choice Entertainer of the Year, and Pop/Rock Artist of the Year. They were nominated for Rising Star Recording of the Year at the 2013 East Coast Music Awards where they performed at the ECMA Gala along with Classified, Rich Aucoin, and many more. Signing to Sleepless Records in early 2015, Repartee have been working diligently in the studio to place final touches on their debut release scheduled for fall 2015.
Hometown: Toronto, ON
Somewhere between the nostalgia of ‘80s new wave and the more experimental reins of modern electronic and shoegaze, ROLEMODEL are crafting a sound of their own, which has them set to become one of the most notable and exciting acts to come out of the Toronto scene yet.
ROLEMODEL began as a solo project for musician Jordan Allen after moving to London, Ontario to study music production and engineering. What started as an outlet for noise and sonic experimentations soon developed into a more refined, song-based project, combining elements of dream pop and shoegaze with its own brand of electronic tranquility.
After a series of EPs, ROLEMODEL’s debut full-length album, Before Then Was Now, was released in 2013 to favorable reviews. As the project’s sound blossomed, so did its live act, with the addition of new members Michael Laing (drums), Luke Duross (guitar), and Lisa Lorenz (keyboards). Having shared stages in early 2015 with acts such as Hamilton Leithauser (the Walkmen), Big Data, and Viet Cong, the band have started a new chapter; one that looks towards a promising and electrifying future.
Hometown: Winnipeg, MB
Slow Leaves is Winnipeg's Grant Davidson. His songs, genuine and honest, spare nothing in creating vivid images and heartfelt connections. 2014's Beauty is so Common, like a California country-folk record newly discovered in your parent's attic, straddles the line between new and old, revealing an album deceptive in its simplicity, rich in melody, and immediately classic.
Winnipeg born and raised, Davidson cut his teeth in Winnipeg's coffeehouses before assembling a band for his first official release, the hard-luck roots record Tired Limbs for Ashes (2009). His next release, 2011’s Dust and Violets, showcases a beautifully understated production that focuses the listener on the honesty and emotional power of Davidson's words.
For his most recent project, Beauty Is So Common, Davidson, impressed by the production choices on Imaginary Cities' debut album, sent a letter to producer Rusty Matyas. When they met as near strangers in a downtown Winnipeg jam space, the potential of their collaboration was instantly obvious. With Davidson's songwriting, rooted deep in folk and Americana and Matyas' keen sense of pop harmony and arrangement, they stumbled on that subtle and elusive quality that anchors all great recordings: the capture of a special moment in time.
Hometown: Toronto, ON
Some things are just part of your DNA when you’re a young Toronto rock ‘n roll band. Mainly, it’s the echoes of smoky nights in Yorkville coffee houses when Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot found their voices, while a few blocks away on Yonge Street, The Band was forging the sound Bob Dylan would soon make his own.
It’s all ancient history to the young members of Sun K, but no one ever had to explain the significance to them. It came out the moment they began playing together in 2013 and has been the foundation of a sound that has quickly evolved to embrace the edginess of the early New York underground scene and the glowing, complex harmonies of west coast folk rock.
Sun K’s unshakable desire to add their link to the chain of all this great music is at the heart of the group’s full-length debut album, Northern Lies, out March 10 on MapleMusic Recordings. Produced by Cone McCaslin of Sum 41, whose production credits also include The Strumbellas and Operation MD, the eight-song collection is the first statement from a band eager to make its mark straight out of the gate, but also wise beyond its years in the knowledge that this is a seed from which a body of work will eventually grow.
Hometown: Toronto, ON
Towers is an indie rock band from Toronto that captures the raw spirit of rock ‘n roll through a modern lens. Conceived in 2013 by Tom Sawa and Nathan Jesionka, Towers’ sound quickly developed a unique contrast between foot stomping rock and melodic savvy. With the addition of Scott Hannigan, the band released a self-titled EP and began performing at notable venues throughout Toronto.
With razor sharp guitar and day dreaming harmonies, Towers borrow from artists like Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and other classics without being slated as a revival band. Said to be similar to the Black Keys and Tame Impala, Towers' sound continues to draw on the best rock from all decades. Love, Towers.
Hometown: Whistler, BC
Willa is Ali Milner come into her own. Having honed her chops in the jazz world at a young age, she has since evolved her eminent voice to bring her distinct sound to life. This brave new sound is electronic pop coloured with synths and carrying a touch of darkness – landing her music video on heavy rotation as the only independent artist on Much Music, Canada’s premier music channel. A respected singer, songwriter and collaborator, Willa has recently performed at the Canada Winter Games, headlined her first West Coast tour and will soon hit the stages of Squamish Valley Music Festival. Get ready, Willa is coming.