2018 ARTISTS

 

a l l i e

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Drawing from the diversity of her early life growing up in the heart of downtown Toronto, a l l i e has gradually created a world all her own through an idiosyncratic approach to songwriting. Inspired by the vintage sounds of classic soul crooners like Otis Redding and Etta James, and equally infatuated with experimental modern artists like Flying Lotus and Little Dragon, she began to craft a sound that evokes feelings of both past and future.

Since the release of her debut EP Strange Creature in 2013, she has attracted international attention from key tastemakers and music lovers alike. In 2014, she became one of the first Canadians to be chosen as a Red Bull Sound Select artist, and as a result has supported international acts such as SZA, Kelela, Tink and more. In 2015, she continued to fan the flames by collaborating with prominent producers including Nick Wisdom (Bastard Jazz), Da-P (Soulection), and Elaquent (HW&W) on her newest EP Moonlust. Her full-length album, Nightshade, was released on July 21, 2017. Okayplayer named a l l i e “a chosen act meant to take experimental sounds to the next level.” Exclaim gave the album 8 out of 10, saying “the Toronto-based a l l i e has been touted as one to watch for a few years now, and Nightshade further validates the designation.” With the success of Nightshade, it’s clear that a l l i e is just getting started!

 

 

Carmanah

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Never one to shy away from speaking her mind, Laura Mina Mitic will always be the last one to tell you about herself. Instead, you’ll hear about music, bandmates, politics, touring and a deep reverence for humanity and the earth.

You’ll hear the same on Carmanah’s first national release ‘Speak In Rhythms’, a modern eleven-song album that overflows with emotion, after-hours cool, groove and tantalizing hints of gritty vintage flavours that influence its modern sound. It was during the six-week sessions that made up the bulk of the recording at Vancouver’s Warehouse Studios that producer Gus Van Go coined the band’s sound ‘West Coast Soul’. Having produced The Arkells, Sam Roberts, Fast Romantics, Wintersleep, Whitehorse and more, Gus along with co-producer Werner F set about showcasing Laura’s soulful lead vocals with a complement of strong harmonies, rich acoustic layers, multiple lead instrumentation all powered by a deft and driving rhythm. The result is a soundtrack that shimmers, dark and brooding at times and shining boldly in others, with lyrics that rival many of the great songwriters of our generation.

At home on Vancouver Island, Carmanah have built a large and enthused fanbase, selling out bigger venues and opening stages for international acts like Ziggy Marley, Clinton Fearon, K.D. Lang, Moby and Shakey Graves. Off the island, on their travels, both near and far, and consistent with their values, the band lessens their ecological footprint by fuelling their tour vehicle with used vegetable oil procured from restaurants along the way.

Carmanah was mentioned as a “BC musician to watch out for” by Vancouver’s Daily Hive. The Zone 91.3’s Jon Williams has called her, “the Stevie Nicks of our generation.” Times-Colonist reviewer Mike Devlin touted her opening act for K.D. Lang as a “solid six-song set highlighted by some impressive vocal runs and nifty acoustic guitar work.”

So, when presented with the opportunity, join in and be part of the experience. This is the beginning of a long journey, one that seeks to create a soundtrack for a new listener. This is music, this is love.

 

 

FOXTROTT


FOXTROTT is the sole musical domain of one Marie-Helene Delorme – a self-taught singer, songwriter and producer from French-speaking Montreal. Originally releasing remixes and supplying beats for other local talents, she broke cover as FOXTROTT with her 2012 debut, ‘Shields’, an emotionally arresting three-track EP. “I was making a lot of beats and stuff, but I needed to express something deeper’ she says of FOXTROTT’s gestation. “I wanted something more – something that resonated with my whole being.” Profile shows like those at Pop Montreal and M For Montreal followed in 2013, and in their wake came attention from Noisey, NME, Elle, Brooklyn Vegan and Line of Best Fit, all flagging FOXTROTT as One to Watch.

Now signed to One Little Indian, FOXTROTT spent much of 2014 maintaining a low profile while working on debut long-player ‘A Taller Us’. Quirky, catchy and highly original – of the creative impulses steering the record, Marie-Helene explains “My goal was to find the perfect balance between rhythms and frequencies, the production style that I wanted to put forward, and lyrics and emotional presence expressed by the voice. It was a big challenge I set myself,” she acknowledges.

Hailing from an extended musical family, FOXTROTT’s musical palette draws inspiration from disparate points on a wide spectrum, some more surprising than others: From old Cumbia to gospel, from hip-hop to reggae and from early dancehall to singer-songwriters (“I stay away from “fusion” she stresses, wisely) – all have played a significant part in shaping her special musical DNA.

“I make ‘electronic’ music because of the total range of tones, colours and feel available to you,” she says. “You can pick the exact vibrations you need to carry an emotion or message. I chose to write songs with the most emotionally honest lyrics possible because singing heals me, and it’s the only way to get some emotions – that I couldn’t otherwise express – out of my system. It was a very transformative process for me, and I reached states of joy while working that I didn’t think were possible.”

With an empathetic production style that compliments the disarming honesty of the lyrics, FOXTROTT shows a deft hand for pop melody, addictive bass lines and texture – striking the perfect balance between courage and vulnerability. “I didn’t want to “get weird” or bury my emotions under layers of effects or vague words,” Marie-Helene explains. “I wanted the emotion to be as earnest as possible, even with the risk of sounding corny or ridiculous. This was very important to me.”

 

 

Haviah Mighty

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“This girl BEASTS on the track!” captions the TeamBackPack video that launched Haviah Mighty to two million Facebook views in 2016. The positive praise from her involvement in the International Women’s Day cypher that featured four rising female rappers in Toronto (who, including Haviah, went on to form the supergroup, The Sorority) has since propelled Haviah’s profile to new levels. The Toronto-born, Brampton-raised artist began her artistic journey in 2009 (when she was only 17), remixing songs by popular artists and adding her own unique voice to them. From there, her flow evolved into her signature confident, in-your-face rapping style that has since gained her considerable recognition. With new school production and a forceful and focused delivery, this multidisciplinary talent is a rapper, singer, producer and DJ, all mushed into a 5’1” ball of fury.

Gifted with a name that carries a touch of destiny (yes, that really is her name), Haviah Mighty, 25, has captured the imagination of vast audiences through her powerful live performances and is rapidly becoming one of the most thought-provoking, viscerally entertaining and magnetic rap artists in Canada. Her most recent EP, Flower City (March 2017), which spent 8 weeks in the top 3 on the CMJ Hip-Hop charts and was named one of Complex’s Favourite Canadian Releases of 2017, is a watershed moment in her blossoming career, and is a work of linguistic elegance, rhythmic ferocity and soulful sincerity that is overflowing with an insistent energy. Haviah is currently working on her follow up album (to be released in 2019) alongside award-winning producer, Tim ‘2oolman’ Hill, of A Tribe Called Red.

Haviah’s explosive live show, filled with fiery intensity and her fast, technical flows is quickly garnering attention from tastemakers within the Toronto scene. Receiving enthusiastic reviews from the likes of Exclaim! and NOW Magazine (who deemed her set during Canadian Music Week 2017 to be one of the most memorable festival-wide), she is quickly developing a reputation as one to keep an eye on. Haviah has been invited to perform at key events like TDOTFEST, Manifesto, Honey Jam, So You Think You Can Rap Canada (a competition which she won), and has opened for acclaimed artists like Nelly, Desiigner, Kranium, A Tribe Called Red, and the legendary Snoop Dogg, who did a DJ set at the London Music Hall on his Snoopadelic Tour.

Female empowerment has never been stronger, and Haviah Mighty wants to champion this message wholeheartedly through her music. Proving that lyrical ability isn’t a gender or age-restricted art, Mighty is recklessly edging her way into music as a new face in Hip Hop and R&B.

 

 

The Jerry Cans

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The fast-rising northern stars, The Jerry Cans, create music inspired by their hometown of Iqaluit, Nunavut. With their unique mix of Inuktitut alt-country, throat singing, and reggae, the Jerry Cans are a distinctly northern, one-of-a-kind group. This group brings the listener into their world with every song and even their name has a story attached to it. In the beginning stages of the band’s career before they released any music the drummer, Steve Rigby, tried to create a drum set out of old jerrycans, and they knew they had their name.

The band perform many of their songs in Inuktitut and are passionate about preserving the language even as the north and their home community of Iqaluit evolve. They are committed to representing northerners and to challenging common misperceptions they have encountered about life in the Arctic; their music evokes the contemporary north and the spirited people that reside there. It is not only the political motives but their rapidly developing reputation for getting elders and young people dancing, that has forced people to start noticing this high-energy group.

The group’s debut album Nunavuttitut was released in 2012 and following this they were awarded a Canadian Folk Music Award at the 9th Canadian Folk Music Awards for Aboriginal Songwriter of the year in 2013. They also received two nominations in 2015 after the release of their second album Aakuluk at the 11th Canadian Folk Music Awards for Aboriginal Songwriter of the Year and Pushing the Boundaries. The Jerry Cans are so dedicated to spreading their language and way of life that they created the first Nunavut Music Week to showcase other artists from their territory. As they begin to build a community for Inuktitut music they are also pulling attention from critics and audiences across Canada.

Although the group has not released an album since 2016, Inuusiq/Life, they continue to grow and inspire multitudes of listeners. This year The Jerry Cans were exposed to a much larger audience when they performed at the 2018 Juno Awards and were nominated for Breakthrough Group of the year as well as Contemporary Roots Album of the Year. This truly unique band will take you on a stroll through the streets of Iqaluit to share a glimpse of life in the Arctic.

 

 

Kayla Diamond

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Kayla Diamond was supposed to be a lawyer but fate had a different plan.

The seeds of change were planted in a dream she had the summer before starting law school. Awaking with a melody in her head, lyrics poured out in a stream of divine inspiration; before she knew it, she had written her first song, “Crazy”. “Crazy” would eventually end up as the winning song in Slaight Music’s 2015 “It’s Your Shot” competition, land her a recording contract with Cadence Music and serve as inspiration for her debut EP Beautiful Chaos. “The song that started it all – it made me realize that […] everyone you meet was put there for a reason,” says Kayla.

A Toronto native, Kayla was raised in a modern orthodox Jewish family; a career as a pop singer wasn’t something she had ever imagined for herself. Although she studied classical piano at The Royal Conservatory growing up, she had always pictured herself practicing law. After completing her undergraduate degree she started law school, heading far from home and experiencing life on her own for the first time. “I spent a lot of time isolated from my family while studying which gave me time to reflect on my life,” says Kayla, who would end up embracing her new-found independence. After falling in love and having her heart broken for the first time, Kayla turned to music as an outlet; pain and sorrow became the driving forces behind songs that seemed to pour out of her. Songs like “All on Me”, about her first heartbreak and “What You’re Made Of”, an ode to growing up and moving away from family, are two examples that would help shape the Beautiful Chaos track list.

In 2015 Kayla stumbled across Slaight Music’s “It’s Your Shot” contest and, with no expectations, submitted a video of her performing “Crazy”. Several months later, she received a phone call from the Slaight Music team informing her she had been crowned the winner. With her “It’s Your Shot” prize including a recording contract with Cadence Music, Kayla made the difficult decision to postpone her academic studies so she could focus on her music. As Kayla explains “I wanted to become a lawyer in order to represent individuals and fight for those who need it. I’ve come to the realization that the task is no different for a musician. As musicians, our job is to provide a voice for those who cannot express their truths on their own.”

With her full-time commitment to music solidified, Kayla embarked on the recording of her debut EP Beautiful Chaos and has barely left the studio since. Whether backed by a driving beat or a simple piano accompaniment, Kayla’s vocals soar with a bluesy yet modern feel, something that has really impressed the EDM community On top of recording her EP, she’s been collaborating with several DJs – a cover of Mike Posner’s “I Took a Pill in Ibiza”, with Kiso Armic, has received over 5.5 million streams on SoundCloud, and her most recent collaboration with Anevo, “Feel Something”, has hit 5 million+ streams on Spotify since its release in December 2016, and her latest October 2017 release with Kiso Armic,”Blanket”, has garnered just under 1.4 Million streams. Those collaborations, along with several others, have received notable praise from the likes of Tiesto, Gareth Emery, Axwell and more.

Beautiful Chaos teams Kayla with noted Toronto-based writer/producer Craig McConnell. The songs are a look into Kayla’s life over the last few years, each track inspired by a different person or experience. The lead single ‘Carnival Hearts’ embodies the theme of abandonment, a subject Kayla explores throughout the EP and is “Inspired by the concept of isolation and being lost in your own world.”

“This is about me creating life within and from emptiness. I started writing when I felt empty. It’s a revival of something presumed to be unusable and abandoned,” she reflects. Regarding the EP itself, Kayla mentions, “Beautiful Chaos is inspired by the chaos in my life. It represents that ability to find beauty in what others perceive as sadness. It also represents my life until now- there have been many ups and many downs to get to where I am today, and that to me is beautiful and chaotic. And I wouldn’t change a thing.”

 

 

Kayo

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Kayo Guevarra was born and raised on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. Inspired by the likes of Bob Marley, The Fugees, Kardinal Offishall, 2Pac, and Jay-Z, Kayo began honing his talent through poetry at the age of 14. Eventually, Kayo turned his poetry to songs, that “sugar with the medicine” approach to songwriting is the basis for what Kayo’s music is all about – combining the sounds of rap, dancehall, and soca creating a uniquely aggressive and penetrating sound while penning songs with substance and purpose.

 

 

Lost Cousins

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For the indie psych-rock outfit Lost Cousins, grappling with life transitions—and the domino effects of those choices—is at the core of their sprawling, celestial-sounding debut LP to be released in 2018 via Pheromone Recordings. The record is a sweeping, anthemic tribute to the things one loses or gives up; the places one longs for, especially as one grows up and moves on. Pushing forward and leaning into change isn’t as easy as it looks. It’s a record that spans the entire country and collapses back into itself; feeling like a swelling tide in the ocean with a significant, sweet comedown like when the tide settles on the beach. The band has toured throughout Canada and the United States, including opening spots for The Strumbellas, Hollerado, and The Wooden Sky. Recent Canadian festival performances include sets at Wayhome (2015), CityFolk (2016), NXNE (2017), and Hillside Festival (2017). Lost Cousins is Dylan Cantlon Hay (bass guitar), Cam Duffin (drums), Lloyd McArton (guitar, saxophone), and Thomas Dashney (keyboards).

 

 

Neon Dreams

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Neon Dreams is a band that defies genre pigeonholing, as they draw freely upon pop, rock, EDM, hip-hop and reggae elements, integrating and blending them in seamless and thrilling fashion. They have rapidly emerged as one of the brightest new stars on the Canadian music horizon but their success story has long and deep roots. Frank Kadillac, Adrian Morris, and Matt Gats have been playing together the last nine years resulting in a tight-knit band with a strong personal and musical foundation.

They first made an impact on Canadian radio in 2016 with their breakout single “Marching Bands,” featuring Kardinal Offishall. Certified gold, the smash hit brought Neon Dreams victory in the Best New Group or Solo Artist (Dance/Urban/Rhythmic) category at the 2017 Canadian Radio Music Awards in Toronto. They charted Top 40 twice more in 2017 with their follow up single “Find A Way” and “Confessions.”

Following on from the recent release of the critically-acclaimed Wolf, Princess & Me and Acoustic Sessions EPs, Neon Dreams are unveiling a new single that confirms the gold-selling Halifax trio just keeps on getting better and better. “Shape Of My Mind” was released on the band’s label imprint, Dreaming Out Loud Records, on January 19 and distributed through Warner Music Canada.

Winning new fans with every high-energy show they stage, their performance prowess has earned them coveted spots on the summer festival circuit and opening for hot acts such as The Chainsmokers. They now set their sites on a 17 date tour of Canada in October 2018 supporting Shawn Hook.

 

 

Soran

photo of Soran
Born on the south shore of Montreal from a Japanese mother and a French father, Soran grew up surrounded by his dad’s musical instruments. He experimented with them, even though his father didn’t accompany him during this learning process. At age four, Soran played drums, but his brother refused to join him on bass, so he abandoned music for the first time. After a few years playing percussion in high school, he once again moved on in order to focus on visual arts.

Around the same time, he stopped listening to music, satisfied to catch whatever he heard around him. During a trip to New York, he bought a guitar from a homeless person and rediscovered the pleasure of playing right away. Music came back into his life with a pure dose of inspiration. He recorded a fifteen-second video in his bedroom that received hundreds of reactions on social media, much to his surprise. Several other videos followed – often outstanding covers of songs he’d heard only once, and then recreated in his own style. In order to remain humble in the face of this exponential online success, he would perform anonymously in the metro. This is where La Voix noticed him. A few months later, all four coaches of the TV show turned their chair during his reggae version of Hotel California.

Fond of playing music more than of listening to it, Soran returned to songwriting, putting his unique touch on catchy pop compositions that make people want to dance and sing along. Before committing to one of the labels that offered him a record deal, Soran decided to play guitar in the metro again. He also traveled across the province to give a series of self-produced concerts, just for the fun of playing and sharing his music on stage. Then in Fall 2016, Audiogram announced it had signed the young sensation, who will release his first album of original songs in 2018.