My friend since the 80s, Margaret Konopacki, launched the BIRDSONG NEW MUSIC FOUNDATION a few years ago to help remove the stigma associated with those living with a mental health issue, specifically supporting Canadian songwriters struggling with mental health diagnoses while trying to forge a career in the music industry. Her beloved musician son, DavidMartin (pictured below), passed away several years ago without receiving the necessary help or understanding from the doctors and other medical professionals from whom he sought help. After working with songwriters from across the country, she’s about to launch Birdsong’s first album, the double CD BIRDSONG: FIRST FLIGHT 101 on February 14th, Valentine’s Day – the international day of love. The album features 21 original songs composed by 12 unique musicians, many of whom claim that music saved their life. The music was recorded from Nov. 2017 to Dec. 2022 in Toronto at B Musique Studio’s, in Ottawa at Sound Decisions and in Vancouver at NYG Productions. The singer/songwriters on the album include: Jordan Gow, Paakwasi, Earl Johnson, Dustin Harder (Prairie Soul), Ashley Bell, Thomas Messenger, Allan Kinney, Robin Benedict, Matthew Johnston, Jhmal King, Statia, and David Martin. Margaret is the executive producer and Bryant Didier, Ted Adler & Nygel Asselin are the engineers. “It is the hope of the Foundation that this music will be respected and heard, and that the stigma of having a diagnosis of mental illness including substance use disorder will eventually be eradicated,” says Birdsong Founder Margaret Konopacki (pictured below with David) “it’s about creating hope through music and a village of people who can support each other musically and emotionally. I am watching music heal people, myself included. No mother should go through the trauma of losing their child to mental illness, but my son has directed this creation somehow through me – to have a different medical approach to treating trauma. There is no greater gift at this time than to listen to the incredible music from these Birdsong composers and hear their message and story.” She continues “We’re giving an opportunity to these individuals to work as spokespeople for their illness. Too often people with mental health issues are explained, stigmatized, or spoken for by others, and their feelings of hopelessness and loneliness is eventually what ends their life. Birdsong is a pro-active organization that spreads hope to the discouraged and is paving the way for a new approach to healing as part of a new psychiatric approach in Canada. We are giving the mic and power back to this marginalized, talented group. I wish that a program such as this had been available for David.” The album can be purchased online at: https://birdsong.hearnow.com/ and available on ALL streaming services on Valentine’s Day.All proceeds from sales will be split between the artists, who own the copyright to their songs, and Birdsong New Music Foundation, a registered Canadian charity.
My final story on my visit to Broome, Western Australia, and I maybe saved the best and scariest to last?! Am sure most of you are familiar with the late legendary croc wrangler Steve Irwin – he was a hero to the animals indigenous to Australia and created his Australia Zoo park to preserve hundreds of species and educate people on the importance of the tiniest or even the most vicious and terrifying beasties. This day, Suzi and I experienced the wonder of Down Under’s fiercest critters – the crocodile. The entrance hinted at things to come….off you go, Suzi, you first!About 15 minutes outside of Broome is the Malcolm Douglas Croc Sanctuary and Animal Refuge where we experienced this up-close-and-personal encounter with the crocs and oh my, was it ever exciting! I turned into a little kid, running from enclosure to enclosure ahead of the guided tour, seeing all the big and small reptilians and watching as the keeper (with several fingers missing!!) feed them.
I was just ahead of the crowd when I saw this monster…
The famous daily feeding tour showcases some of the largest crocodiles on display in Australia – you get to see both fresh water and salt water crocs who live behind safety barriers and chain link fences. Best thing was when Suzi and I got to hold a baby croc – even though he was tiny, his bite could take off several fingers, hence the elastic band around his snout. If you want to visit, check out the website for details, hours and directions. It really was a brilliant afternoon, never to be forgotten! https://www.malcolmdouglas.com.au/crocodile-park/
I’m thrilled to tell you about an exciting new boutique in Yorkville’s Holt Renfrew Centre (lower level) which promotes local African-Canadian designers and entrepreneurs offering clothing for both women and men, jewellery and home accessories. RÉVEILLER AFRIQ collaborates with quality black-owned brands that not only serve, but exceed, the needs of their loyal shoppers. Since opening her first store in Bramalea City Centre, Founder Juliann offers a genuine love and passion for quality retail and top-notch customer service which defines the store’s mandate.
Juliann’s sister Jade showed me around the Bloor/Bay store this afternoon, introducing me to exquisite fabrics, jewellery, shoes, even home fragrances and skincare, all courtesy of local designers who trace their heritage back to Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda and other countries in Africa. The men’s clothes are colourful and stylish – no boring black, brown or grey suiting here! I was pleased to find one of the represented fashion entrepreneurs was visiting, too. Kisha of KissTheseFeet.com provides elegant sexy shoes for plus sizes, so if you (like me) have wide tootsies, these are the shoes for you!As you walk into the store, you’ll immediately notice the selection of home fragrances and hand-crafted candles handcrafted with organic, chemical-free ingredients….And there is also an extensive selection of totes and clutches…I particularly like these beaded ones that come with shoulder straps, too.But it’s the amazing fabric earrings that will stop you in your tracks!! So big yet so light to wear….Speaking of jewellery, there was some gorgeous unique neckwear hanging on display, finely beaded and real show-stoppers! One very talented artist creates these wall sculptures…. So if you want to add a bold statement to your wardrobe, drop into RÉVEILLER AFRIQ on the lower level of Holts, 50 Bloor St West, Toronto, and browse the racks – I guarantee you’ll find just the right thing! Follow them on IG @reveillerafriq or visit the website to learn about ALL the services they offer their clients: https://www.reveillerafriq.com/
Back in October of 2013, I was thrilled to work with Canadian writer/director TRICIA LEE, promoting her horror feature film Silent Retreat which made its World Premiere at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival that year. The film did very well with both audiences and critics and since then, Lee has been on an upward career trajectory.
The accomplished and versatile filmmaker earned her US Green Card as an “artist of extraordinary ability” with Canadian and British citizenship, and has directed 11 shorts and 3 award-winning features since starting out in 2004. And she directed newly-minted superhero star Simu Liu in her 2017 short film Meeting Mommy.
Tricia has been recognized as one of Hollywood’s Top New Writers on the 2020 Black List, CAPE List, Young & Hungry List, Athena List, and the BitchList. Her script pitch for Good Chance was an Academy Nicholl Fellowship semi-finalist, Francis Ford Coppola’s American Zoetrope Screenplay Competition grand prize winner, Cinequest Best Feature Screenplay winner, WeScreenplay Diverse Voices Features winner, Sundance Lab second-rounder and selected for the prestigious Producers Guild of America Power of Diversity Master Workshop. Attached are Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way, Janet Yang (Joy Luck Club) as producers and Kheng Tan Hua (Crazy Rich Asians, Kung Fu Series) as lead actress – BRAVO, TRICIA!
Currently, Tricia’s script for her next feature titled IDOL is part of this year’s “Breaking Through the Lens” program at the Toronto International Film Festival that just opened on September 9th so I was excited to chat with Tricia about that and her other achievements since we worked together in 2013. Tricia, you’ve worked consistently and successfully for more than a decade, creating some of the most innovative and exciting genre films – why is becoming a finalist in this year’s Breaking Through the Lens TIFF so important to you personally and for your career? Looking back on my career, it’s amazing to see how far I’ve come, but also how far I still want to go. In order to continue a long-lasting career, I have to keep innovating and creating new projects and telling new stories. Breaking Through the Lens choosing my new project, IDOL, to be showcased during TIFF is this project’s first walk outside! The opportunity to share the pitch with financiers and distributors is a great way to share this script with people who can potentially help make the film. I want to take my career to the next level and I hope that we can bring this film to the screen and touch, move and inspire people.
For a number of years, you were one of only a few female directors working in the horror genre – what attracted you to horror stories and did you have a different perspective that your male counterparts? What I love about genre, is that we can speak about deeper issues through metaphor. With entertainment, I always want to hide the pill in peanut butter, as they say. Is that how you get dogs to eat medicine? I thought peanut butter was bad for dogs, or maybe that’s chocolate… anyways…
I don’t know that my perspective was more female than my male counterparts. My perspective is simply… my perspective. It comes from the intersection of who I am, how I grew up, where I’m from, how my parents treated me, the significant others I’ve chosen, etc. And also what I wanted to talk about at that time in my life. My second feature Silent Retreat, which pre-dated the #MeToo movement, was about women being silenced. I wanted to make a film about women standing up and using their voices. And I collaborated with a male, Corey Brown, to make that film. That film was a combination our creative perspectives.
You’ve spent a great deal of time undertaking “shadowing mentorships” from Jeff Woolnough on SyFy’s The Expanse, Erik Canuel, producing director on CBS’ Ransom, Peter DeLuise on Freeform’s Shadowhunters and most recently, the highly-regarded powerhouse – Nancy Meyers on the “Walmart Box” Oscars® commercial. How has this benefited you as a story-teller as well as working with actors? This career is all about learning. I think life is about learning. I am so grateful for having been given the opportunities to watch these talented, experienced directors work. Everyone has a different style and approach, and in my own directing, I get to take tidbits from each shadowing experience to create my own process. I’m a person who makes a lot of lists, so I literally write down my process and anytime I learn something new from one of my mentors, I add it to my list. Being a director, I don’t get to practice my craft every day, so these lists help me remember what I’ve learned for when I do have the chance to get on set and work the directing muscle. Also, I practice working with actors to implement what I’ve learned. I work actors on their auditions, break down the beats, give them direction and help shape a performance.You have also worked on more family-friendly projects like Meeting Mommy starring Simu Liu (Marvel’s latest superhero Shang-Chi) and have been developing diverse and inclusive projects – what are your immediate goals and/or future projects? Layered, vulnerable dramas that are heart-warming and heart-breaking at the same time, with a sprinkle of comedy is where my natural intuition lies. I only started writing about 4 years ago, when I moved to Los Angeles. I asked myself, would I rather go through the pain of reading scripts or the pain of writing scripts. And I just found that people weren’t writing the kinds of stories that I wanted to tell. So I took on the pain of writing! And I’m glad, because it has been a way for me to explore my own voice I have been developing more stories that star Asian characters and have taken a deep look within myself to put my truth onto the page. I want to make films that give a voice to under-represented communities, not because it’s the fad right now, but because it breaks my heart that someone can hate or commit violence against someone else just because they are different. I will never run for president, so this is my way of reaching people, to touch, unite and inspire them and create powerful change in our culture. I want to tell stories that resonate deeply with audiences and unforgettably pierce their hearts.
Immediate goals are to secure financing for my scripts IDOL, a music biopic about William Hung (from American Idol – see below) and GOOD CHANCE (starring Kheng Tan Hua from Crazy Rich Asians) which was on the 2020 Black List.You and your husband Mark own a number of condos that you operate as AirBnBs, plus you’ve previously worked as a piano teacher and an experiential marketer….is there anything else you want to try, apart from making movies? No. Film is my life. I will not retire from this career. All the other things I’ve done in my life were side gigs, which allowed me the freedom and time to make my films. I took part-time flexible jobs so that I never had to ask for vacation or permission to make my films. When I was on set, I would just tell them that I couldn’t work that month. I have a crazy resume, but it has always been towards one goal: being a filmmaker.
Any advice you’d like to offer to aspiring filmmakers, especial women, and on the various career paths they can take to achieve success, life balance and happiness? Honestly, I’m not great at life balance. I definitely focus on career too much and am working on finding balance myself. I find that the scripts and movies that I’ve made that resonate with people the most are the ones where I dig into myself and tell my truth. I encourage all of you to take the time to sit with yourself. Think about why is it you want to make this film, what do you want to say with it, how do you want the audience to feel when they walk out? And make sure that every scene wraps around that nugget. When you put something of yourself on the page, it shines through. Those are the films that pierce people’s hearts and will help you take the next step in your career. It can be slow and long, or it can be a quick rise to the top. But never give up if telling stories through this medium is really what you want to do.Thanks for sharing your insights and advice, Tricia, and I can’t wait to see how your script faired at TIFF this year. Looking forward to seeing Idol when it hits cinema screens and the festival circuit. You can all follow Tricia on all her social media platforms linked on her website: www.tricialeedirector.com
Due to issues with a certain social media platform, news links from Aussie media cannot be uploaded in Australia so I’m hoping to help my Down Under friends by circumventing the system (hopefully) with embedded media links in my blog. Let’s see if this works….fingers crossed! Let’s see if this link works….
Many years ago, when jones’ing for a little taste of home, I found THE AUSTRALIAN SHOP at one of the big expos in Toronto and ever since then, I’ve been a fan as well as a customer. Owner, JOHN KEATING (pictured below) has been carefully curating his catalogue of coats, jackets, hats and all sorts of other accessories and treats for the North American market for 40yrs and this year, due to Covid, has taken sales online.I recently spoke with John about the challenges of taking his business from the popular in-person sales booths at agricultural and downtown shows and expos, and he assured me that his Aussie products are still available and people can call to place orders, allowing him to chat with each purchaser and find exactly what they want or need. Contact details are at the end of this story. I recently asked John a few questions about THE AUSTRALIAN SHOP and he kindly shared his story with me….
What inspired you to import the Australian-style clothing and accessories? We were very inspired by the success of the Australian tourism campaigns in North America in the 80’s, probably due to the influx of Aussie films and the overwhelming popularity of Paul Hogan (Crocodile Dundee). It was very evident that people had become intrigued and aware of the practicality, quality and style of the authentic Aussie oilskin clothing which was well-suited to the N. American lifestyle and outdoor pastimes.When/where did you first open the Australian Shop as a bricks-and-mortar location and how do you manage sales now that you’re an online only store? Our Australian clothing business started some 40 years ago, primarily frequenting various shows and exhibitions including provincial Highland Games, Border Collie dog shows, sheep shows, horse shows, The British Show, the Calgary Stampede, Spruce Meadows International Equestrian Show and the Canadian National Exhibition. Now, due to Covid, 2020 has seen a loss of public events so we’ve focused more on online sales which are progressing favourably.Did movies like Crocodile Dundee and The Man From Snowy River (pictured below) from the 80’s help boost sales? Sales were tremendously boosted once the Australian “new wave” of films hit North America. The Australian theme of the Canadian National Exhibition (the country’s annual expo of products and fun-fair held in Toronto) also did much to feature Down Under fashions, foods, lifestyles and tourism. They certainly highlighted the Akubra hats and oilskin coats.Apart from clothing and hats, do you sell any other Aussie products? Currently, we have a great carry-all bag which is great for weekends or even daily work chores and laptops. Plus we are very proud to offer Aboriginal crafts such as boomerangs and didgeridoos, although we don’t offer lessons for those! One of the most famous and esteemed didge players is Indigenous musician David Hudson so you can search YouTube for his performances as well as lessons.
Do you sell and ship across Canada AND the U.S.? Yes, we ship across Canada and the U.S., as well as overseas. Everything is based on weight and size of package. During Covid, deliveries may be slower than usual so if you’re buying as gifts, please allow enough time to arrive for that special day.
What do your find are the most popular items? Our oilskin coats, jackets and vests are always the big sellers. The world-famous Akubra hats worn by many Aussie outback folks are always in demand, too.Your customers are not just horsey or farm folks, right? Urbanites who love the outdoor lifestyle also order from you and I guess dog-walkers are also frequent customers? The outback or drover coats and jackets are always in style – something about the rugged image of the Aussie mate, be it a man or woman, is always an attractive factor. Businessmen and women can also be seen in downtown centres around the world in the fashionable and durable oilskin coats.
What’s so special about Australian oilskin clothing? The oilskin material is produced in Australia. This increases the quality of the clothing. It’s a material that wears very well, is rain resistant and offers protection from the wind as well. For many years, we sold the clothing at the annual Canadian National Exhibition and Royal Winter Fair here in Toronto as well as major dog and horse shows and rural exhibitions across Canada – we even journeyed to Scandinavia to showcase our clothing.If you’d like to learn more about The Australian Shop and see John’s full catalogue, visit the website: www.australian-shop.ca and you can follow the Facebook account: www.facebook.com/australianshopto and Instagram: @australianshopto
Thank you for supporting a Canadian small business!
Welcome to Ocean Coral Spring Resort & Conference Centre in Trelawny, Jamaica – just 45mins East of Montego Bay. Can you imagine holding your corporate events or team building exercises where this is your view each morning? Ah, Paradise… what a perfect location for motivating work and play!As part of it’s brand new resort on Jamaica’s sunny north coast, the Ocean Hotels int’l group has created a full-service, fully equipped Conference Centre that can accommodate up to 800 visitors in its main showroom which can also be divided into 2, 3 or 4 separate spaces, depending on the client’s needs. It will offer full A/V services, catering and furnishings. Additional local event suppliers and support businesses can be coordinated thru the resorts’ professional events office. The beautifully appointed accommodations feature all the luxury mod cons and the staff are charming, friendly and most efficient. And the resort has its own private beach with palapas, loungers and beach towels available for guests. Here’s Director of Sales and Marketing, Tanesha Clarke, to tell you all about this unique location for your upcoming meetings….
Thank you for sharing all this information, Tanesha, it was a pleasure experiencing the resort and all its facilities first-hand. The resort itself opened in December and its imposing conference centre is undergoing the final tweaking and decorating stages, and should be open and ready to present your events by late Spring (2020). Between or after meetings and business activities, there are multiple dining venues and activities for you to enjoy as a group, or just relax on your own…If you’d like to learn more about Coral Ocean Spring Resort & Conference Centre, visit their resort website:www.hoteloceancoralspring.net
or contact Tanesha directly to receive the corporate events information package (and ask for the wedding package, too, if you’re planning a destination wedding):
Tel: (876) 615-8100 Ext. 9150
Mountain Spring Bay – Coral Spring Trelawny Jamaica
Email: email@example.comYour rum cocktail is waiting for you in the lobby bar (above). Come check your group in today!
SKINHEADS, FUR TRADERS and DJs An adventure through the 1970s
Book launch party at The Rivoli on Queen West, Toronto, this coming Sunday Sept. 10 @ 8pm
When I heard that tv personality and music media insider Kim Clarke Champniss was writing his autobiography covering his childhood and teen years in England and his 70’s adventures in Canada, I knew I would be reading much about my own history…but with just a few geographical differences. I was born at the end of 1953, a few months before Kim came into the world, so we were both exposed to the same popular music of the Brits and American rock-and-roll in the mid to late 50’s. But while Kim experienced the whole mods’n’rockers evolution in person, I would only hear about it from far off Australia to where my parents had emigrated in ’59. Unfortunately my family would end up way out in the bush, cut off from any form of entertainment other than 4 radio stations and two television channels that only broadcast from 11am until 10pm. Kim, as he tells it in his book, was right there at ground zero in London for the changing social moods and music styles, going from bovver boys to The Beatles. So it was with a touch of envy that I turned the first page…..
Champniss writes like Jackson Pollack painted: bold colourful strokes with trickles of familiar music history, lobbing in droplets of names that suddenly come back to me – Régine, Slade, Lyons tearooms and Marc Bolan. Then once the reader arrives with Champniss in Canada’s far north, his descriptions of living and working for the Hudson’s Bay Co in the isolated, snow-bound Eskimo Point during the early 70’s will have you pulling a blanket up around your ears – so cold, so windy and wild you can almost feel the biting gusts of Arctic air whirl around you.
The pages turn easily as the reader follows Kim’s journey back to civilization (Winnipeg?) then several road trips across the States and through Canada, with the music of the time playing in your head: glam rock, Motown hits then disco. His brief 1975 return to England plugged Champniss into the emerging sounds of new pop and rock music along with an increased social and political awareness – these were also the days of random IRA bombings and economic unrest as the European Common Market developed. Upon returning to Canada, Champniss soon found his calling as a DJ, working in top nightclubs around Vancouver and he enthusiastically shares his memories of the dawn of the disco era.
Apparently, our lives had intersected in Perth, Western Australia, my childhood home and Kim’s home for a short time in the mid-70s while waiting for entrance into the University of Western Australia (my alma mater). He and his (by now) wife Lily even lived close to where my family had once resided, the beachside town of Cottesloe. But Oz didn’t work out as expected and they soon returned to Canada’s west coast where Kim immersed himself even more in the music scene. Rock, pop and soul would be joined by punk and new wave, and reading through the artists’ names Champniss notes, the clubs, the cities that gave rise to the new music, gives readers of a certain age that warm feeling of remembrance that sends one off to the basement to pull out the old vinyl and dust off the ancient turntable.
This book definitely leaves the reader wanting more…and fortunately, there is a lot more as Champniss ends this story just before he heads to Toronto to join the new music and video tv station that we came to know as MuchMusic.Not only is this an autobiography with exciting adventures we can relive with the writer, it is a great music history lesson to be shared with younger readers. I first met Kim when he had arrived in Toronto from Vancouver whilst hanging out at renowned music publicist Richard Flohill’s apartment in Cabbagetown. I remember thinking what a bright, energetic young man Kim was, full of music trivia and fascinating stories of his many adventures around the world. I cannot wait for the next chapter when I know he’ll have some great tales to share.
SKINHEADS, FUR TRADERS and DJs An adventure through the 1970s
Published by Dundurn Press
200 pages, 29 illustrations, black & white
Available in Paperback $23.99 ISBN: 9781459739239
Or eBook $11.99 ISBN: 9781459739253
Kim Clarke Champniss (a.k.a. KCC) is an award-winning broadcaster who was a popular VJ on MuchMusic and special assignment reporter for The NewMusic. KCC is also the author of The Republic of Rock ’n’ Roll. He lives in Toronto.
ABOUT THE BOOK
A true story of an adventurous pop-loving teenager who, in the early 1970s, went from London’s discotheques to the Canadian sub-arctic to work for the Hudson’s Bay Company. His job? Buying furs and helping run the trading post in the settlement of Arviat (then known as Eskimo Point), Northwest Territories (population: 750). That young man was Kim Clarke Champniss, who would later become a VJ on MuchMusic. His extraordinary adventures unfolded in a chain of On the Road experiences across Canada. His mind-boggling journey, from London, to the far Canadian North, to the spotlight, is the stuff of music and TV legends. Kim brings his incredible knowledge of music and pop culture and the history of disco music, weaving them into this wild story of his exciting and uniquely crazy 1970s.
Move over all you insipid little girls with guitars…here’s the real deal: hard rockin’ singer/songwriter LAURA ROCK is heading back into the studio to record her 3rd album in as many years.I met this talented lady a few years ago when she was launching her first solo album of pedal-to-the-metal, hard-driving contemporary rock music and she won me over completely upon first listening…I got hooked on her ballsy songs. But this lady is not just your typical “rock chick”; Laura is all heart and can frequently be found mentoring and encouraging young emerging artists, sharing her stories of performing live in clubs of varying sizes, recording studio protocols to dealing with dodgy club owners. This lady has been there, done that, written the songs…and she’s happy to impart her knowledge and expertise with those just coming up through the ranks.
Earlier this summer, Laura performed to a packed house at Toronto’s Hard Rock Cafe, proving once again that Rock’s Not Dead…. which just so happens to be the name of her current album and lead single! As she heads back into the studio, I sat down with her and asked a few questions…..
Where were you raised and has that influenced your music or performance style?
I originate from Newfoundland..let me count the ways that my home town of St. John’s has influenced me both musically & performance style! Musically, growing up I was blessed with some great folk-rockers along with many other genres. Newfoundlanders are know for being friendly and outgoing. Our storytelling abilities and sense of humor shines through – in the way we speak and in my case, write lyrics and sing. The term “front person” comes to mind. People say that my Newfie hospitality and genuine love for what I do translates well to stage.
Who were your musical influences?
Hmm, that’s a hard one. Don’t make me choose!! I mean it’s massive, there are MANY. Areosmith! Areosmith!! Areosmith!!! Did I say Steven Tyler? LOL!! Can’t forget AC/DC & OMG! Can you say Sammy Hager? Also Tom Cochrane,Kim Mitchell, Colin James, The Guess Who, Nikki Sixx, Eddie Veder, Dave Matthews, Matthew Good, Jane’s Addiction, MatchBox Twenty/Rob Thomas, Heart, Lita Ford, Holly Woods, Sass Jordan, Melissa Etheridge, Biff Naked , Allanah Myles, Holly McNarland, Mae Moore. And I can’t not mention my fellow Newfs Kim Stockwood, Ron Hynes, Great Big Sea, plus Hey Rosetta, Belinda Metz, Buffy Ste Marie, Joni Mitchell, Ricki Lee Jones, Joan Osborne, Pink, Chantal Kreviazuk, Van Halen, But seriously I could go on and on and on and….Do you play any instruments and how do you compose?
My instrument is my voice. Regarding composing, well I can hack a guitar but I’m not all that great. For the most part, I am a lyricist. It all comes to me in waves…it feels like it’s channeled from somewhere else, I swear! I often hear guitar riffs or drum beats in my head but I am absolutely blessed to work with a fantastic producer, Brian Gagnon, who helps interrupt my ideas. Sometimes I go in with the lyrics and he creates the music – sometime I add some musical ideas or sometimes he has the music and my lyrics are created afterwards. Sometimes it’s a simultaneous process.
Who has been your guiding light in the industry? Wow, good question. I think I have always followed my own heart, but one “guiding light” in particular was the late great Nik Beat of CIUT’s Howl! radio show. Nik’s incredible belief in me and my music lead me to L.A. and many other places. He introduced me to so many talented people in Toronto that I otherwise would never have known.
Remind me of your previous albums and the hit singles off each…and haven’t you won some pretty awesome awards, too?
My first album was called Law of Attraction, which was released in late 2011 and my current album, Rock’s Not Dead was released towards the end of 2014.I’m happy to say that my music is played on many internet stations across Canada, the US and the UK – as I say: “all the web’s a stage”. Regarding awards, well, I’m proud to mention that I was nominated for 6 HMMA awards in L.A. (Hollywood In Media Awards) which has resulted in some amazing opportunities and business introductions for me. I was nominated for the following songs:
November 2014 Lightning
July 2013 Law of Attraction
Mar 2013 98.5
Jan 2013 Get Your Rock On
July 2012 Blindsided
June 2012 Light My Fuse
You’ve played some pretty great venues over the past few years…. I’ve played many venues in Toronto as both a cover band artist and as a original project. Sadly, a lot of clubs have shut down in this city but more recently I played the legendary El Mocambo before it was sold and closed, and in June we did our official CD Launch for Rocks Not Dead at the Hard Rock Cafe.Can you tease us with a little news about your next album?
I’m heading back into the studio to work on my third album but I’m still promoting Rock’s Not Dead which I sadly had to put on hold due to the death of my mother, father & best fiend all in a very short span of time last year. But you know what they say….what doesn’t kill you makes you write more music! So this next album is about love, loss, and the key phrase…Bait & Switch! You spend a lot of time mentoring emerging young artists, sharing knowledge about the business of making music. For you, what is the most rewarding aspect of that? The most rewarding aspect of that is simply watching them grow as an artist. After speaking with them about several subjects, particularly “critical opinions” – as you know, we live in a society that always has something to say about whatever we do. I always like to let young artists know that there will always be a critical opinion and I offer ways on how to deal with it, how to protect your creative ego. Once they overcome this, they soar….that’s the fun part to watch.
In a city the size of Toronto where there are a lot of performance stages, why aren’t we seeing more accessible multi-genre music stars rising from the ranks? In other words, how easy/hard is it for young performers to play on a main stage AND make money?
The music landscape has changed drastically – it’s not just localized to the city you live in. With access to the web, you are your own record company, your own manager, and this is the concept I try to instill in to younger artists. You can make money in the music industry if you’re motivated enough to put in time and effort into your art. The simple fact is, if you love what you do, there are going to be hurdles in the way and you will have to compromise, especially when it comes to the financial part of the business. Having said that, I think no one should play for free…know you’re worth and stick to it.Any ideas how we, the fans, can help improve the music scene and support the artists?
You can do this simply by buying their music online or showing up at live venues. At the end of the day, the music business is a business and everyone needs to make a living.
So what’s in the future for Laura Rock?
Music is a way of life for me, it’s not a destination…I try to live in the moment for the most part, because I feel so good making music…it’s like heaven on earth. But having said that, I do aspire to write for other artists or help/mentor those who need a little guidance. I love films so having one of my songs in a movie soundtrack would be the biggest dream come true!
You can learn more about Laura Rock, buy her music and keep up with news on her new album and upcoming shows by visiting: http://lrockmusic.com/