INTERVIEW – Virtual Indie Week 2020
On November 10th thru 14th, I had the honor to have been included for the 4th year in a row, to review the fabulous Indie Week Canada. This year was the 1st virtual conference I attended during the global pandemic 2020. I was thrilled for the opportunities over the last 4 years to wear several hats when attending Indie Week, which ranged from volunteer media journalist and photographer for The Wire Megazine during my 1st Indie Week in 2017, to doing the same plus being a Judge in 2018 and 2019, and this past year, 2020, I was a media delegate.
I was over the moon excited to have received the IWC confirmation email that I was also selected to be inside the fast moving breakout rooms on Media Row on November 12th, where I got to interview up to 12 artists, industry insiders, and another fellow media reps too. Here is how the 1 question for each interview went.
From 6 till 8 pm, I got placed with Sean Beaver, Oscar Furtado of Tandemtracks Radio Promotions, Michelle Treacy, Thor Simonsen, Jesse Read of Dropout Entertainment, Brian Asselin of The Commotions Band, Collin Middleton of Bent Roads Tavern Band, Keats Conlon, Bobby McAloney of Focus Your Audio, and Sophie Noel. Although we only got to introduce ourselves and I managed to ask 1 question to each, with most getting the answers forwarded except for a couple, as the room switched overly too quickly. I promised those artists that I would catch up to them via email and perhaps obtain a full interview with them, and that has been very successful. Keats Conlon has already been featured in December of 2020, Brian Asselin is online now for January 2021. I have Sean Beaver for February, Collin Middleton of Bent Roads Tavern, and Sophie Noel up for March, and finally, Thor Simonsen for April. All interviews will appear inside the Wire MEGAzine’s column, Seeing Shows on the Road with Deb Draper, and will be available at both www.thewiremegazine.com and The Wire MEGAzine Blogger at www.seeingshowswithdebdraper.com
Here’s my time with the ever-engaging superstar, Michelle Treacy. DEB: Hi my name is Deb Draper of the Wire MEGAzine how are you, Michelle? MICHELLE: Great. DEB: Due to the short time in these rooms I have only 1 question prepared to ask you, Michelle. Can you highlight aspects of your cultural background that makes your music unique? MICHELLE: “I got my start in music when I sang with Lady Gaga as she pulled me on stage in Montreal at the Bell Centre. After that, I got signed to Sony and had my song Armageddon on the Billboard Hot 100 for 16 weeks https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ym29GAdgkD8 2 years later I ended up on CTV’s The Launch and won my episode. I was launched with a song produced by Nile Rogers called Emotional. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5T8-cMZLv_A Fast forward another year which brings us to today. I just released my NEW SONG on Oct, 30th called Time Off From A Let-Down. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9uPR2-4V6I It’s very different for me, it’s shoegaze rock (which is an 80’s dream-pop subgenre of indie and alternative rock) which is really cool and I just wanted to put my art out into the world that was different. I got to talk about how I’m feeling right now. This song itself is about being kind of done letting myself down by putting others first. The pandemic has taught me to always put myself 1st and I am really focusing on myself and my art, who I am, and who I want to be, and how I feel, it’s awesome.” DEB: I had a bit of time remaining, so I went for question #6. Michelle, some artists are reluctant to talk about how frustrating and baffling the whole experience of navigating through the music realm generally is let alone add in COVID-19 or how hard they still persist to try to get their music recorded, heard, seen, and sold. How are you currently pursuing your career with going after opportunities and list some ways you have chosen to lately engage your fans, whether it’s within the top echelon of international circles or based on your involvement virtually within your local community despite the challenges the pandemic presents with regards to bringing your art to the new formatted online scenes? MICHELLE: “Awesome question, what a fully loaded question. Obviously, being in the music industry to get heard is hard unless you have a big backing behind you aka like a label. At the moment, this is my 1ast time putting something out independently and it’s been interesting to see the reach. It’s reached quite a few people, which I’m happy with, and it hasn’t reached as much as I wanted it to, but it’s a whole new experience for me. I thought why the hell not as this is a good time to experiment and try things out….what could go wrong really? as we’re already in a pandemic. I’ve been doing virtual shows on every platform I can for my fans and I have created a fan club that gets to hear and like my music through zoom parties. I choose 10 fans to be apart of those rooms, and it’s been really fun and thoroughly helped me decide my merch and what songs should come next. I find it’s really interesting and zoom wasn’t really a thing I was using before the pandemic but it’s been a really fun way to connect with people and I am really enjoying myself. I like the pandemic because I love being at home as I’ve never been at home this long, but, I hate the pandemic as I miss shows and I miss everybody.” DEB: I totally get that. My last in-person shots were with the sold-out shows with Bowie Lives in Oshawa at the Regent Theatre, as well, across the street at Oshawa Music Hall inside the sold-out 40th Anniversary tour show with 80’s icons, the SPOONS, both on March 7th, 2020. MICHELLE: “my last concert was Carole Pope in Hamilton and the show was awesome. She is so good, you have to see her live, it was epic! Thanks, for chatting with me Deb, I appreciate it. I hope to see you at some shows in the future.” DEB: Thanks so much for your time Michelle. Fans can stay in tune with Michelle by visiting her website at http://www.michelletreacy.com as well, Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MichelleTreacyOfficial also by visiting Twitter at https://twitter.com/MichelleTreacy and you can get emotional by stopping in at her Youtube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnnltSZHY4pKS6MIBHv3TLA
Dropout Entertainment where their goal is to share the songs and stories of Canadian artists, where they bring you artists from across this beautiful country, so no matter where you live you can discover live videos and interviews with artists from B.C to the Maritimes and everything in between! If you’re looking to discover some of the amazing musical talents that this country has to offer Dropouts got you, I got to chat next with Dropout Entertainment’s videographer, writer, editor, and musician Jesse Read. This was a neat perspective as we both do the same side of media. Here’s a tad bit of our conversation. DEB: Hey, my name is Deb and I am a 7-year volunteer journalist with The Wire Megazine that’s been active on the scene 30 years free since 1989. How are you today? JESSE: “Nice to meet you, I am from Dropout Entertainment.” DEB: I have only prepared 1 question for each interview, I do believe I have you for question 4. Jesse, Contrary to popular belief making it the art of music isn’t merely a game of luck it requires talent, strategy, the determination based on vision and goals. Explain your creative studio process and any awards or accolades you have received and how you have developed your career? JESSE: “Nice. That’s a great question. Luck, I think is kind of a funny thing. When I was younger, It was a word that got thrown around all the time. I used to go across the country and heard people tell me that I was so lucky to tour the country and when I started Dropout, people would say that I am so lucky to be able to do that kinda stuff. I would say you know my Father always said, “you’re not lucky, that’s not what lucky is….you were prepared at those points in time,” and I would always repeat that. It is something I think a lot about as I hear those comments but it does take more than luck. When an artist blows up overnight, they’ve actually been doing it for years and luck is being prepared at the right time to be in the right place not just having things fall into your lap for ya. I haven’t won any awards yet. Dropout used to spend all our time out at concerts with photography and doing live videos, meeting the bands, and it was all about the live music, so when that came crashing down, we realized that if we wanted to keep the music going and keep Dropout going that we were gonna have to make a switch. So we started doing live-streams concerts and live stream interviews. We actually launched an online radio station, we are taking lots of pivots to keep things moving. I feel like it’s been great, our viewership has actually gone up as now everyone is at home and seeing us more often. It’s been a crazy year but there have definitely been some positives especially on the Dropout end.” DEB: Fabulous and our room got switched over. Folks, pop on over to your multimedia source for Canada’s best independent music from coast to coast with https://dropoutentertainment.ca and keep up to speed on their socials at http://www.youtube.com/user/dropoutentca and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DropoutEntertainment/ and https://www.instagram.com/dropoutentertainment
The next conversation was with the Founder/Director of National Radio Promotions (Canada) where he is a Radio Tracker named Oscar Furtado from Tandemtracks Radio Promotions, They have been thriving upon the music scene for over 13 years, since 2007 with their full-service commercial radio promotions company. They build campaigns that are specific to each client’s needs. Their main goal is to build further familiarity, via commercial radio, for an artist/band to increase their value which will result in an increase in opportunities. I had the unique pleasure of digging deep on question 6 once we shared our intro’s, and here is what we had to share. DEB: Hello Oscar Furtado. How are you? OSCAR: “Great Deb. I’ve worked with Pit Bull, Random Jewels, Billy Ray Cyrus, LP, Rehab, and other spectrums of musical artists from all over the world.” DEB: Oscar, some artists are reluctant to talk about how frustrating and baffling the whole experience of navigating through the music realm generally is let alone add in COVID-19 or how hard they still persist to try to get their music recorded, heard, seen, and sold. How are you currently pursuing your career or how are you going after opportunities? As well, list some ways you have chosen to engage your fans, whether it’s within the top echelon of international circles or based on your involvement virtually within your local community despite the pandemic challenges regarding bringing your art to the new online virtual formats? OSCAR: “With my business, it continues to move forward as the label’s artists are still looking for radio promotions and they still have the budgets for them or they may have in place, funding secured through Factor and elsewhere and even labels are doing extraordinarily well. I work with BMG Music Canada based in Toronto, and they are doing amazing as well, Dialogue Records in Toronto and they are doing incredible too. They have budgets in place to hire radio, promotors, and publicists. There is definitely a big question mark in terms of the future. So navigating through it, communicating with folks, talking, and making sure that folks know that I am here in my business doing my thing, Also, meeting new people who share the word around and staying in touch with my current clients, past clients, and business contacts. I deal with a lot of picking up the phone, emailing, texting, and staying connected. Social media is great to stay connected to and engaging with folks and is a big part of what I have been doing, keeping that pedal to the metal. COVID is here, it’s shitty yes, you just got to battle through it. I stay engaged as I work with Indie artists and they continue to make music. What else can we do? We can’t just stop as we have to keep making it right? Go after the funding if there’s something local in their province or Factor or Star Maker or whatever they can get, constantly making music and pumping it out. The usage of Spotify and Netflix is going up and there might be opportunities there, right? With Netflix pumping out so many shows like Disney Plus and Amazon they are always looking for music (Indie artists) and they have healthy budgets. So get your stuff and make sure you keep pumping Spotify with music and the same with other streaming services.” Foks can stay in tune by visiting their site at http://www.tandemtracks.com
One of the last connections I made on November 12th was with artist Bobby McAloney of Focus Your Audio. He is based from Vancouver, BC with his duo which also features no stranger to Bobcaygeon, with Sarah McArthur. Their flavor is a seamless weave of folk, Americana, and rock and roll. I got to throw a question Bobby’s way and this is how it went. DEB: Hey, Bobby, nice to meet you. My name is Deb of The Wire MEGAzine and I have been a volunteer journalist for 7 years. BOBBY: “Nice to meet you, Deb.” DEB: Contrary to popular belief making it the art of music isn’t merely a game of luck, it requires talent, strategy, a determination based on vision and goals. Share with the audience your creative studio process and how you have developed your career currently during the pandemic. BOBBY: “My partner in crime is a day to day at home together process. It is quite easy during COVID because we live together and it’s extremely easy to write together. We just released a new single and we recorded it during COVID, which was quite different, going into the studio and making sure you are socially distanced. We made sure everybody went into the studio at different times, as we can only have a certain amount of people in at a time. The nice thing was getting together with our producer and it was just me and Sarah, easy to be socially distanced that way, and he is very much a part of our bubble so that didn’t change too much.”
ONE YEAR ago December 7th, 2019, they released their self-titled debut EP under the creative force of producer/engineer @sheldonz23 and this family of musicians @johnny5andrews @mikeyoungbass @marcgladstone Finn Mannichewe @davegotsinsta for co-writing on two of the tracks on the EP with huge thanks to the @thewarehousestudio for the opportunity to record in such creative space and this EP has generated over 100,000 streams on @spotify. This EP was recorded analog at the iconic Warehouse Studio in Vancouver, BC. Gathering the incredible talents of Mike Young (bassist – Mother Mother), Johnny Andrews (percussion – Hey Ocean), Marc Gladstone (keys – Prism) & Finn Manniche (Cello). Under multi-Canadian award-winning & nominated engineer/producer, Sheldon Zaharko this EP became instrumental in guiding their musical direction. These songs showcased their exquisitely intimate yet powerful sound. Sarah’s voice is tremendously passionate and raw. Their lyrics derive straight from the basements of their bleeding hearts. Their songs are beautifully emotive and tremendously moving. They embarked on a tour in western Canada with American award-winning folk artist Tobias the Owl. With having the privilege of opening for Juno nominated Canadian artist, Samantha Martin & The Delta Sugar at the iconic Ironwood Stage in Calgary Alberta, to celebrate the release of this marvel of a record.
Hit Shades was released back in June of 2020 by the stellar duo, Canada’s Focus Your Audio and truly reveals the vulnerability of letting something burn and allowing regrowth to take root, this song is sensitive to the building of emotion with luscious harmonies and layers of instrumentation rich to the ears. With over 115,000 streams on Spotify, this song continues to resonate with its audience in moving and impactful ways. With Canadian powerhouse producer/engineer/musician, Mike Young a bassist with Mother Mother and percussionist Johnny Andrews of Hey Ocean. This collaboration became a creative whirlwind for delving into FYA’s rich sound.
Bobby and Sarah released on November 6th, 2020, their lastest Focus Your Audio single, “Over There,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayAxWcg6Vds and this song is about the ones we love when caught in the storms of life. We wonder how did we get here? How are you over there when I’m over here? How do we navigate this? Making a conscientious decision to agree to disagree so that we don’t ruin ourselves as we weather those storms. Letting the foundation of love win every time. It’s easy to understand why they’ve been coined “one of Vancouver’s best-kept secrets” by legendary Canadian producer, Adam Hurstfield. Their new Roots-infused, Country/Americana track was produced by Canadian music powerhouse Mike Young (bassist – Mother Mother) and engineered by Karl Dicaire (Mother Mother, Iskwe, Big Wreck). You will want to keep in tune as The east coast charm and west coast grit flawlessly fuse together in their music. Drop in to see what Focus Your Audio is up too by visiting their site at http://focusyouraudio.ca or over to Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/officialfyamusic or at Spotify https://open.spotify.com/artist/6w3jlOmjXGUk2GgNUYW5By?si=0zEFqYMkT2SIQ0UFUFM3JA or try them at https://twitter.com/fyamusic and on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbRkoI0u81jKliHNIyglV0Q/featured
CLICK ON OVER TO https://www.seeingshowswithdebdraper.com and enjoy further interviews with
Keats Conlon https://www.seeingshowswithdebdraper.com/live-music-reviews/december-interview-with-keats-conlin online now, released for December 2020.
Brian Asselin, online now for January 2021 https://www.seeingshowswithdebdraper.com/
Stay tuned for February’s interview with multi-award-winning Sean Beaver, March interviews with Collen Middleton of Bent Roads Tavern, as well, with Sophie Noel, and in April with Thor Simonsen.