Running a record label must involve a lot of patience—we can only imagine the onslaught of clueless blues dads and ProTools jazz-pop moms cluttering inboxes on a daily basis. There’s so much music out there that a lot of good stuff must slip through the cracks, and let’s be honest, no one’s really getting signed from just a demo in 2014.
That said, there are a lot of Canadian artists spread across the country who’d do really well if they had the right label behind them. While the list is far from complete (we know you deserve the time of day too, blues dads and jazz moms), here’s a small taste of some emerging Canadian talent that deserves a break. Far be it from us to tell you how you should do your jobs, A&R folks, but here’s how you should do your jobs.
When Vancouver’s Woolworm quietly snuck their debut album Believe in Ourselves onto Bandcamp in 2012, it was one hell of an arrival. After a handful of cassette releases and MySpace demos, here they were with a sprawling, fully formed LP. Complete with succulent earworms, heavy guitars and hard-hitting rhythms, the record draws on elements of hardcore, shoegaze and indie pop, sounding at once familiar and singular. Even the cover art is begging to house a nice black slab of wax. Worst/best of all, it predates the current crop of rock-leaning acts emerging from the hardcore scene. It’s not too late, though—someone press this LP immediately and get Woolworm out on the road with Nothing or something.
Samantha Savage Smith
Calgary-based singer-songwriter Samantha Savage Smith released her debut album Tough Cookie to critical acclaim in 2011, striking a distribution deal with Arts & Crafts and doing relatively well on college radio. Thing is, it was more of a traditional, straightforward pop album—in an interview for Fast Forward Weekly last year, Smith told me, “A lot of moms like that first album,” and joked that she might name her second record Moms Love This Shit. While she hasn’t named it just yet, she has completed a full sophomore LP and it shows an astonishing development in sound—the guitar parts are more complex, while the general feeling is more subdued. Think Sarah Records, as filtered through the icy pop of Smith’s other band, Lab Coast. It’s not weird enough to isolate the normies who liked the first one, but it’s a remarkable and welcome evolution for the artist.
Watching the video for “Big Momma Thang” is captivating — Ayoo Angie and her entourage, sporting fur coats, exude cool confidence as they strut around a city environment. For those who live in her native Calgary, it’s also kinda hilarious to think that they’re just walking around the busy downtown lunch hotspot Stephen Ave. right in front of the Indigo bookstore. That’s the thing, though—Angie gives off as many 2014 Calgary vibes as she does ’90s New York ones. In the end, she could be coming from anywhere. Her lyrics are witty, her flow is timeless and she’s a force to be reckoned with live. With a savvy release campaign behind her intentionally limited online content, there’s no question she’ll find a label home. But anyone who knows what they’re doing would be wise to start competing for her attention.
Jean Sebastian Audet
In April, Jean Sebastien Audet turned 18 years old. Last week, he went to prom. But Jean Sebastien Audet isn’t an average teenager—to date, he’s recorded hundreds and hundreds of songs under various monikers, including Faux Fur, the You Are Minez, Darren Wantz and his rap alter-ego, Zouk Fuck. Currently bored with mere pop music, however, he’s already onto some next level post-punk with his current active act Un Blonde. Here, he effortlessly plays rhythmic post-punk that sounds like it’s nearly twice his age. We think it’s high time that Audet was handed a wad of cash and free reign in a studio to make a solo album under his own name. After all, this boy genius has recently become a man.
Considering the fact that approximately half of Canada’s signed artists are currently or were once members of Broken Social Scene, Toronto-based producer Harrison’s got a good chance of getting signed—after all, he is managed by BSS drummer Justin Peroff. That said, whoever’s going to ink the deal better speed up the process—one visit to the young producer’s Soundcloud page, and you’ll be treated to lush, forward-thinking production that spans everything from French touch-influenced house through sexy soul and funked-up hip-hop. It’s quality production that bucks trends in favour of the creative spirit. Pay attention already.
Alongside Harrison (and many of Canada’s other top electronic musicians at various stages in their careers), Montreal synth-pop artist Foxtrott attended the Red Bull Music Academy Bass Camp in Montreal earlier this year. It makes perfect sense—aside from her strong, addictive vocals, the performer born MH Delorme is a master at cobbling together unique, timeless synth suites that’ll have you singing along like you’re alone in your bedroom no matter where you are. Her 2012 EP Shields is an astonishing collection of perfect pop, and there’s little doubt that she’d produce on a larger scale.
Heaven For Real
Heaven For Real are about as Halifax as they come, playing pristine pop music built on vocal harmonies, playful guitar interplay and forward-thinking rhythmic changes. That said, the Halifax pop explosion is one worth paying attention to—few bands bring the laid-back-yet-complicated vibes like the current crop of Maritimers, and Heaven For Real have already proven a knack for both songcraft and commitment. Currently in the midst of a west coast tour, they’re primed for a bigger chance.
The former Makeout Videotape member Alex Calder is hardly a new name to these parts. Hell, he dropped an EP on the hotly tipped Brooklyn house Captured Tracks last year. Now a free agent, however, Calder recently dropped his wonderfully weird Strange Dreams LP online. Real talk: a publicist could post these songs on tumblr with a #macdemarco hashtag and watch the crazy teens jump on board, but they wouldn’t even need to. Calder’s proven that he’s more than able to carry himself in the full-length album format. Some record label should pull up to his apartment with a dumptruck full of money. That’s how it works, right?