Wednesday July 12th, 2017 – BX93’s Gone Country
How does someone get from Fox Island River, Newfoundland (pop. 198) to Nashville? The best person to ask is Jason Benoit, one of Canada’s fastest rising country stars. With his undeniable talent as a singer/songwriter, combined with his magnetic stage presence and devotion to his growing fan base, Benoit has already defied the odds.
His run of hit singles is set to continue with the release of “All Wanna Party” on July 27 through JV Records/Sony Music Canada. A barn-burning track that lives up to its title, “All Wanna Party” follows on the heels of Benoit’s previous smashes “Crazy Kinda Love,” “Waves,” “Cold Day Comin’” and the Top 10 charting “Gone Long Gone.” Benoit is also continuing to stoke excitement for his soon-to-be-released full-length debut album by winning over more and more new fans with each show.
Now represented by Invictus Entertainment, Benoit has been all over Canada with festival appearances at Cavendish Beach, Boots ‘N Hearts, Trackside (London ON), and Manitoulin Island, on top of sharing stages with Brett Kissel and Tim Hicks, as well as headlining the 2016 edition of the Young Guns of Country tour.
Although he’s been writing songs and performing since he was 17, it’s only been in the last several years that Benoit, now in his early thirties, has had a chance to really show what he can do. That momentum initially began building a decade ago when Benoit started posting original material on Facebook, which caught the attention of his future manager Jenson Vaughan.
Together, they began developing Benoit’s cache of original demos, although an unexpected breakthrough came during one session when Benoit casually launched into singing “This Is What It Feels Like,” the Grammy-nominated song Vaughan co-wrote with Dutch DJ Armin van Buuren and Canadian vocalist Trevor Guthrie. Benoit’s countrified take on the track suddenly opened up a whole new realm of creative possibilities for him, while introducing him to a brand new audience through its inclusion on the Sony Music compilation Country Heat 2014, alongside hits by the likes of Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert.
“I just started messing around with singing the song in between takes of my originals,” Benoit says. “When Jenson heard me doing it in my style, I saw the light bulb go on above his head and we recorded it right away. We sent it to Sony and they loved it, and that’s what really started opening up a lot of doors.”
Benoit re-recorded “This Is What It Feels Like” in Nashville with producer Dave “Dwave” Thomson, one of Music City’s many Canadian transplants whose credits range from Toronto electro-pop artist Lights to country duo Autumn Hill. The pair teamed up again for Benoit’s second Top 30 single, “Crazy Kinda Love,” released in August 2014, followed by “Gone Long Gone” in March 2015.
The success of “Gone Long Gone” led to Benoit’s celebrated appearance at the 2015 Cavendish Beach Music Festival, where he was named the winner of the Canadian Country Music Association’s Discovery Atlantic Award. This was soon followed by a nomination in the CCMA’s Rising Stars category, and a performance at the awards gala in Halifax. But, accolades aside, Benoit’s natural ability to command an audience whenever he performs live is proof enough that Benoit’s star is truly on the rise.
“That first time playing at Cavendish Beach was really the biggest and most exciting show I’d ever done to that point,” Benoit says. “It felt really special being on stage in front of that many people. It’s such an adrenaline rush that you can’t help but put everything you’ve got into what you’re doing.”
As Jason Benoit continues his path toward releasing his debut album, there are surely more defining moments such as these soon to come. But nothing happens without the music to back it up, and with “All Wanna Party,” he once again displays his uncanny ability to write a song that appeals to everyone. In some ways, that just comes with being a small-town Newfoundland kid. When music is all you’ve got, you put your entire heart and soul into it. Whether he’s alone with his acoustic guitar and a pen and paper, or on stage in front of thousands, making a connection with listeners is all that matters to Benoit, and that will never change.
Thursday July 13, 2017 – Virgin Radio Presents
Multi-platinum selling, Grammy and Golden Globe nominated recording artist Wiz Khalifa burst onto the scene with mainstream success with the release of his first major label debut, Rolling Papers in 2011. Rolling Papers spawned the hugely successful hits “Black and Yellow,” “Roll Up” and “No Sleep” and gave Wiz the platform to win the award for Best New Artist at the 2011 BET Awards and Top New Artist at the 2012 Billboard Music Awards. His sophomore studio album, Blacc Hollywood, debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Top 200 album chart and featured the hit single “We Dem Boyz.” Soon after Khalifa’s track, “See You Again,” off the FURIOUS 7 soundtrack, catapulted to the top of the charts across 95 countries. Holding the #1 spot for 12 consecutive weeks, “See You Again” broke records by being Spotify’s most-streamed track in a single day in the United States and in a single week in 26 countries. In addition to winning 3 Teen Choice Awards in 2015, “See You Again” continued its success by winning a Critics’ Choice Award in the category Best Song, winning two Billboard Music Awards in the categories Top Hot 100 Song and Top Rap Song, earning three Grammy Award nominations in the categories Song of the Year, Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and Best Song Written for Visual Media, and a Golden Globe nomination in the category Best Original Song – Motion Picture. Wiz released his album Khalifa in February of 2016 as a thank you to fans which includes the tracks “Bake Sale” featuring Travis Scott, “Zoney” and “Elevated.” On June 3 Wiz released TGOD Mafia Presents: Rude Awakening with his TGOD Mafia collaborator Juicy J. Wiz recently co-headlined The High Road Summer Tour with Snoop Dogg this past July. For more information please visit www.wizkhalifa.com.
2015 will be remembered as the year that Fetty Wap took over hip-hop. Right out of the gate, the rapper and singer did things that usually happen over the course of an entire career. He broke records. He topped charts. He went multi-platinum. He got everybody talking. He did it all without the backing of a major label, becoming the biggest-selling indie artist of the year. At the same time, he never dreamed any of this would happen.
The rapper and singer will admit, “I didn’t really think I would be an artist. Last year, I didn’t have an address. Now, I have five.” He grinded for it, and he ended up doing all of those things that seemed impossible—even before he released an album.
Fetty came out swinging. However, he had no choice. A typical childhood in his native Paterson, NJ is all about survival. You aren’t dreaming about fame, fortune, or making history. You’re thinking about how to stay safe, get your next meal, and where you’ll sleep at night.
He kicked off his career with an untouchable streak of smashes. Over the course of 2015, his breakout hit “Trap Queen” went triple-platinum as his next two singles, “My Way” [feat. Monty] and “679” [Feat. Remy Boyz], reach gold and platinum status, respectively. His fourth single “Again” cemented his spot in history as the “first artist ever to simultaneously chart his inaugural four entries in the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot Rap Songs Chart.” Add to that his accomplishments becoming the “first artist since Eminem to land 3 songs in the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100” and the “first artist to take 3 spots on the Shazam Global 200 Chart.” Plus, he took home the “Artist to Watch” award at 2015 MTV Video Music Awards—his first VMA.
He’s lit up stages everywhere from the MTV Movie Awards mashing up “Trap Queen” with Fall Out Boy, BET Awards, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon with The Roots, and Jimmy Kimmel LIVE! to his hometown school, Eastside High [the real life school portrayed in Lean On Me]—where the mayor of New Jersey presented him the key to the city. Kanye West and Rihanna sing his praises, while Drake “blessed” “My Way” with an official remix. What do Taylor Swift and the Kansas City Royals have in common? Well, they’re part of his massive “pop-cult” following, both using the “Trap Queen” opening line, “1738,” during national interviews. Meanwhile, the pop superstar has performed the song with him live.
His original sound spoke to everybody and now it drives his self-titled full-length debut, Fetty Wap [RGF Productions/300 Entertainment]. Throughout the album, his voice will fluctuate from audacious melodies and brass bars into mesmerizing, hypnotic hooks that remain gripping. Fetty’s sound is fresh and fully flavored. Breaking the mold, he makes romantic gestures over trap beats, showing a whole lot of love for the ladies worldwide and giving people something to move to.
He describes it best. “When people ask me what I sound like, I just say, ‘This is Fetty Wap’,” he says. “I make ‘feel good’ music, if that makes sense. Anyone and everyone can listen to a lot of my songs together and have a great time. When you hear one of them, I hope you enjoy yourself. I don’t try to do what others are doing or follow trends. I’m humbled when I hear somebody say I’ve built a new sound for hip-hop. I just encourage everyone to stay true to what got you success in the first place and don’t try to change based on what this industry or anyone thinks you should do or sound like.”
It’s a style that he’s been working towards since childhood.
“As a kid, I played the drums and piano,” he recalls. “I never really took it seriously. It was more of a hobby. However, I guess music has always been in me, coming from a family of singers and musicians. It was a combination of things. Remy Boy Monty was a big part of me starting to rap. He would go to the studio, and I would go with him. Frank “Nitt The Gritt” Robinson was also instrumental in encouraging me to go for it. I didn’t start off wanting to rap, but being around him and my boys, it happened naturally.”
It’s also the reason why “Trap Queen” became such a defining moment. “I just knew that it would go,” he continues. “The first time I heard it on the radio, I couldn’t believe it. It felt special in the studio, but I never imagined this would happen. ‘Trap Queen’ means a lot. It basically changed my life.”
However, Fetty quickly released more “life-changing” tracks. “My Way” was a “fan favorite” from the beginning, as he put it, while “679” came to him as he celebrated his most recent birthday. “Again” offers a closer look at the artist from a different angle. “I recorded that when I was going through something in my personal life,” he goes. “It’s an important one.”
Fetty’s own label RGF Productions, owned by Danny Su Griffin, Frank Robinson, and Bernard Smith, created the perfect platform to launch the record in New Jersey prior to the partnership with 300 Entertainment.
“Lyor Cohen, Todd Moscowitz, and Kevin Liles all made me feel like family,” he smiles. “It’s never any pressure. When making a decision like that, you need to go with who you feel most comfortable with. I had that feeling since the first day and still have it with them. They always treated me as a person opposed to as ‘an artist.’ We’re a family.”
On the road, Fetty stands out as a dynamic and unforgettable live presence. He delivered his growing arsenal of hits to massive crowds during the One Hell of A Nite Tour with Chris Brown, but has his own big tour plans up ahead for 2016 and beyond. His shows bring that infectious energy from the record to life.
“That’s the chance for me to really connect with my fans,” he goes on. “I love getting out on stage and turning up with everybody. There’s nothing like it. I go out and give it my all.”
The album’s cover—a simple close-up of his face—makes a statement. Fetty wants everybody to look right at him and hear what he’s got to say.
“I just want fans to enjoy the record,” he leaves off. “It’s me. Personally, I’m most excited to be able to provide for my children. They won’t have to experience the same struggles I did as a kid, God willing. They’re my biggest inspiration, and I do this for them.”
Now, all eyes will be on Fetty for a long time to come. – Rick Florino, August 2015
DJ Mustard, born Dijon McFarlane, is an award winning artist and mega producer. The Los Angeles-‐born native has coined the “ratchet” sound, bringing a hot, new and different sound to hip-‐hop.
In just three years, DJ Mustard has sold over 20 million singles and constructed a registry of hits for the likes of Tyga (“Rack City”), 2 Chainz (“I’m Different”), Young Jeezy (“R.I.P.”), Kid Ink (“Show Me”), Y.G. (“My HItta”), and nabbed collaborations with Fergie, Jennifer Lopez, Wiz Khalifa, Trey Songz, and more. Mustard executive produced YG’s debut album “My Krazy Life” which peaked #2 on Billboard 200, #1 R&B/Hip-‐Hop, & #1 Rap charts.
This year DJ Mustard became the first artist to win both R&B/Hip-‐Hop Songwriter Of The Year and R&B/Hip Hop Producer Of The Year at the 2015 BMI R&B/Hip-‐Hop Awards. Mustard has also produced six charting songs on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-‐Hop Songs so far as well as six songs for the Billboard Hot 100. In 2014, DJ Mustard took over the airwaves with a peak of seven songs hitting the Billboard Hot 100 chart at the same time.
Billboard also declared Mustard the No. 1 Hot R&B/Hip-‐Hop Songs Producer of the 2014 and No. 2 Hot 100 Producer of 2014.
DJ Mustard is actively touring and will be performing at his monthly residency at Light in Las Vegas as well as on stage at this summer’s hottest festivals including Lollapalooza, Hard Summer, The Roots Picnic, Wireless Festival, Outside Lands Festival, Made in America, Firefly Music Festival, and many more.
Casper has a captivating stage presence, having performed over 400 shows all across Canada and Europe, including opening for:
- Snoop Dogg
- Big Sean
- Wu Tang Clan
- Down With Webster
- Fat Joe
- Mobb Deep
- D.O Gibson
- Sheek Louch
- Waka Flocka
- Chevy Woods
- Kardinal Offishall
- Shad K
Casper has more stage time under his belt than most unsigned artists and brings all his energy and passion to the stage, always giving a solid performance whether it’s an audience of thousands or just a small crowd.
Born in Toronto and raised in Nova Scotia, Casper’s childhood was far from easy. At 12 he started living in foster homes after his mother passed away. Two years later he moved in with an aunt and uncle in London, Ontario, but was kicked out at 16 when his life spun out of control. He struggled through poverty, homelessness, and more. It was around this time that Casper started making and recording music professioally. He persevered through it all and was able to get his life back on track. In 2010 Casper became a father to his now seven year old daughter Marlee, a blessing that brought positivity to his life and motivation to progress in his music career. He formed the record label and band Treetop Entertainment with rappers TT LO and Kehmak, as well as producer and drummer Culture.
Casper also won the Ontario Freestyle Competition and the next year took home the Hip Hop Artist of the Year award at the 2012, 2013, 2014 & 2015 London Music Awards.
Casper The Ghost was the youngest person in history to be inducted into the London Music Hall Of Fame.
As well as taking home the Jack Richardson Music Award For Hip Hop Artist of The Year 2009 ,2011, 2013 and 2015. Casper is a staple in the Ontario hip hop music scene.
Every summer for the past 4 years Casper teaches Song Writing at the annual Rap Camp hosted by Kings College In London Ontario. After welcomig the birth of his second daugter Mercy this past summer Casper recently returned from a european tour sposnored by Factor Canada where he opened for artists such as The Chainsmokers in Amsterdam.
Friday July 14th, 2017 – Virgin Radio’s: I Love the 90’s – SOLD OUT
Saturday July 15th, 2017 – FM96 Presents
Rome (vocals, guitar): Eric Wilson (bass); Josh Freese (drums)
The wait is over! Sublime With Rome returns long at last with ‘Sirens’ (July 17, 2015, BMG Chrysalis), the effervescent follow up to the band’s 2011 debut, ‘Yours Truly.’
“We had more time, we know each other better now, and we’re even better musicians,” said Rome Ramirez, who was just 20-years-old when he embarked on this journey. Now 27, the singer, guitarist, and songwriter is truly flourishing.
With drummer Josh Freese (A Perfect Circle, Nine Inch Nails) now permanently installed behind the kit and Sublime bassist and co-founder Eric Wilson anchoring the group, Sublime With Rome are armed with an album that makes a real statement… their statement.
Co-produced by Rome and Paul Leary, who manned the boards for ‘Yours Truly,’ ‘Sirens’ is an expression of three musicians who truly get each other and who can communicate seamlessly through their instruments and while in their favorite habitat — the stage!
The luxury of time had a huge impact on their approach to this all-important sophomore set, especially since the band went into the studio without any demos or songs ready to go! That might sound terrifying to some musicians, but Sublime With Rome were invigorated by the situation.
“We didn’t have any songs in our pockets,” the frontman said, confessing that while he liked the spontaneity, it also lit a fire under their collective ass. “We showed up to this big studio and we had nothing, so we had to make it grassroots. It felt refreshing to make things on the fly. It really came together with all of us in the room and we loved the result.”
He furthered, “Everything was recorded live and together. It’s a little tighter and edgier than ‘Yours Truly.’ We have a lot of influence from Eric and it definitely shows.”
Wilson concurred, saying, “It was great to work with Paul again, and with Josh Freese on drums, our chemistry was excellent. We had a great time recording the album in a totally organic way. There was no stress, even though we came up with stuff the fly.”
“It is a whole different feeling now,” Ramirez admitted. “Josh is such a great guy and he is just as lighthearted, which is great on the road, since touring can be so serious and so tough. It has been more fun, really. It is a lot more relaxed, and that helps with everything. It’s like that everywhere. Studio. Stage. Bus. Wherever we are. We’ve moved forward, musically and on stage. He brings a great element.
And while Ramirez pays the utmost respect to the original Sublime entity, since, as he admitted in the past, they were the first band that made him want to make, as opposed to just listen to, music, he knows Sublime With Rome are worthy of fan’s undivided attention. “This summer, I want fans to say, ‘I went to see Sublime With Rome and the new album is sick as fuck.’ We can do that by continuing to make better and better records,” he said.
‘Sirens’ is overflowing with standout songs, such as the mellow yet buzzed out title track, featuring Dirty Heads. “This was a song where the drums and synths and beat that I did were for Mickey Avalon and I liked it so much that I decided to keep it and save it for Sublime With Rome,” Ramirez said. “I had a random idea and asked Jared [Watson] to hop on the track, even though it’s not what they do! They are gangster and they can handle anything.”
Then there’s “Skankin’,” which is a Fishbone song that Sublime used to cover in their own unique way back when. It was an unrecorded fan favorite that sounds like an old demo! “We’re covering Sublime covering Fishbone!,” Ramirez exclaimed.
An instant summer classic, the slow-burning and chill jam “House Party,” with a groove that transports listeners within the first few notes, or “Been Losing Sleep,” with it’s instantly memorable reggae groove.
Ramirez even stated that he isn’t so much interested in the endgame or results as much as he is interested in writing music that is honest. And it’s Wilson who summed up how Sirens is such an important record for the band. “I’m able play music for the love of music, just like I did back then. I am so fortunate to still be able to do it,” he said.
With Sirens, those missions are dually accomplished. The album is seamless and has flow. It plays out like the work of musicians who complete one another’s sonic sentences.
Indeed, Sublime With Rome are making their definitive statement with ‘Sirens.’
In October of 2012, July Talk celebrated the release of their self-titled, independently released debut album before a couple hundred bodies crammed into the claustrophobic, low-ceilinged confines of Toronto’s legendary Horseshoe Tavern. Three years later and roughly 20 tours later, they were playing a homecoming date at Ontario’s WayHome Festival for tens of thousands of ecstatic souls shouting the words of their songs back at them. Sure, a lot had changed in the interim: Their debut record had become a staple on modern-rock radio, earning the band a gold record in Canada and a Juno Award for Alternative Album of the Year, while worldwide deals with Island, Polydor and Universal had spread the good word overseas. But one fundamental quality of July Talk’s performances had remained unchanged: the jugular-seizing power of their confrontational, sensuous rock + roll. Whether you’re experiencing it in the dingiest basement dive or the biggest festival field, a July Talk show makes you feel like you’re part of some secret-society congregation. It’s a gathering of kindred spirits united by a desire to escape the institutional pressures and LED distractions of our daily lives to reconnect with something real—a primal, fiercely physical remedy for mind-numbing, glassy-eyed smartphone addiction.
When it came time to draft the action plan for album number two, July Talk turned to the only focus group that mattered: those sweat-soaked fans slithering up against one another to lose their minds and morals at the band’s electrifying concerts. That’s the space where the blinding contrasts in July Talk’s music—Leah Fay’s crystalline communiqués vs. Peter Dreimanis’ three-cartons-a-day bark; greasy southern blues vs. urbane new-wave cool; sexual tension vs. cathartic release—collide with thundercloud force, and their new record, Touch, represents its perfect, lightning-in-a-bottle distillation.
“It was easy to create a vibe and sound direction for the new record,” says Dreimanis, “because we literally just looked at our live show and what was fun about it, what kind of people came, and what sense of community you felt in the room. We’ve never been about drawing the stage line—that was our mandate from the beginning, and with our live show, we’re really about breaking that down so that we’re in the room as much as our audience. We wanted songs where we can grab people by throat and show them something unique—the kind of songs that feel incredible in a sweaty room.”
“Thematically, Touch has been inspired by our human experience over the past few years, just as much as our time spent as a band on the road.” Fay adds. “Touring constantly provides a strange view of the world because you’re in transit more often than you’re still. We became sensitive to the varying reactions we’d get from any given audience depending on the cultural norms and politics of a place. Because humans love to categorize in an effort to understand, Peter and I were often perceived as these opposing forces, representing “light vs. darkness”, “female vs. male”, “sweet vs. scary” blah blah blah, with each of us just dying to get a word in edgewise. These types of assumptions had a massive influence on the way we wrote the lyrics for this album because we knew we didn’t want to feed into that sort of boring archetype. We became drawn to the idea of what it actually means to be a living breathing human. It’s messy and visceral and unpredictable.”
“It seems to get easier every day to disconnect from the people around you,” Dreimanis observes. “Leah and I started to see human touch as this pure thing—this antidote to a world that had become obsessed with mirrors and screens. We became fascinated with that moment where two bodies can actually touch and experience each other honestly. There are so many substitutes for that now, there are so many ways you can get a lesser version of that feeling elsewhere. And that’s terrifying. You’re always able to keep that slight amount of distance from actually having a face-to-face, eye-to-eye conversation with somebody.”
“When you’re touring, you have very fleeting and sometimes vacuous relationships with people outside of the band,” adds bassist Josh Warburton. “It puts you in a perfect mindset to start looking at the various technological interactions we have and see them in a different, potentially dehumanizing way.”
On Touch, human connection becomes a full-contact sport: Dreimanis and fellow guitarist Ian Docherty power songs like “Ask You” and “Johnny + Mary” (not a cover of the namesake Robert Palmer classic) with punked-up aggression, while the glam-rock stomp of “Beck + Call” (featuring guest growls from throat-singing phenom Tanya Tagaq) showcases the wrecking-ball swing of Warburton and drummer Danny Miles. And throughout it all, Fay holds court in the fray with a switchblade-wielding swagger she only hinted at on the first album. If that record channeled the blues, this one’s all about the bruise. And that in-your-face immediacy was further encouraged by the album’s producer, Ian Davenport, tapped for his work with kindred spirits Band of Skulls.
“There was a real warmth to the records he had made,” Warburton explains. “You could identify the personality of the performers in the songs. Sometimes, you can get fairly automated when recording on computers. Ian encouraged us to not use any click tracks, and we did very limited overdubbing. Generally, we would just track a song until he was up in the control room dancing. He had this little captain’s hat on, and if he was up actually physically moving and dancing, you knew you were onto something.”
For July Talk, that collaborative spirit goes beyond recording—it’s crucial to the very way the band presents itself to the world. Warburton and Dreimanis come from a filmmaking background, while Fay boasts a contemporary-dance and performance-art pedigree; together, those multi-disciplinary skills have yielded a visual aesthetic every bit as striking as the band’s music. “Because our experience extends outside of music, we’re always working as a collective,” Dreimanis says. “We want everything created under the July Talk moniker to come from the same place.”
That philosophy extends from the stark, black-and-white videos, to the mugshot-style photos, to the brutalizing ballet of Fay and Dreimanis’ onstage interactions, all of which serve to reinforce the fuck-or-fight showdown at the core of July Talk’s signature songs. Touch continues to play up that dynamic, as the lascivious “Lola + Joseph,” the dirty-disco grind “Push + Pull,” and the bittersweet, smoke-ringed serenade “Strange Habit” revisit the sort of dialogue-driven, pop-noir narratives that drove first-album favourites like “Guns + Ammunition” and “Summer Dress.” But true to the album’s communal intent, Fay and Dreimanis’ relationship here isn’t so much “he said”/“she said” as “we said,” whether the two singers are taking the piss out of macho misogyny over the “Passenger”-styled shuffle of “Like a Man”, or skewering coked-up, self-absorbed hipsters on the searing “Johnny + Mary.”
“The easiest thing to write about is heartbreak and exes and failed love,” Fay explains, “and I feel like we covered that on the first album. Time passes and your worldview expands, and suddenly injustices are pissing you off more than the thought of your ex-lover. You notice one messed up thing about the way society functions and suddenly realize how deep-seated close-mindedness and a lack of communication are at fault for almost everything wrong with the world. It’s like, we can only do so much and get so far by staring at each other, engaging in a two-way yelling match and letting our egos duke it out on stage every night. We can shed more light, and connect with more people while facing outwards standing side by side, listening just as much as we speak… or sing, in this case.”
“It all comes back to that community we feel in the room when we play,” Dreimanis adds. “I’m constantly drawing on the moments I’ve seen in rock ‘n’ roll that changed my life forever. Like, I remember walking into the Starlite Room in Edmonton when I was underage, and the door guy let me in to see the Constantines play, and it was the same way people talk about going to church for the first time. It was the most powerful thing I had ever seen. I felt the same way the first time I saw Iggy Pop. When I step out on stage, I want to make people feel alive and like they’re in a very special place and provide them with a little hope and faith in rock + roll and its power as a borderline religion.”
And you’ll find no more persuasive sermon than Touch’s closing title track. As the song steadily builds from desolate dissonance into a raging, piano-pounded anthem, Dreimanis and Fay reassert the album’s key mantra in no uncertain terms. “We get so tired and lonely,” they declare with gospelized gusto. “We all need a human touch.” It’s a reminder that no Snapchat selfie is a substitute for an intimate conversation, that no emoji provides the warmth of an embrace, that no YouTube concert video can instill that exhilarating feeling of leaping off the stage to crowd surf. Touch is music of the flesh—the product of hoarse-throat howls, bloodied fingers slashed on the fretboard, and sticky bodies pressed against the barricades.
Bleeker are steadily building a rock solid name for themselves in their native Canada. But despite an altered band name and a slightly revamped lineup, Bleeker‘s aesthetic and work ethic remain as sturdy and as unshakable as ever. Musically, Bleeker cross-pollinate the swagger of The Rolling Stones with psych-tinged groove, and therefore they fall among Royal Blood, The Black Keys, and Jet in the alt rock spectrum. But what sets them apart is an ever-so-subtle current of loose cannon danger that courses through every riff, note, and melody of their latest album Erase You.
Vocals / Taylor Perkins
Guitar / Cole Perkins
Bass / Mike Van Dyk
Sunday July 16, 2017 – Virgin Radio Presents
When Marianas Trench’s lead singer Josh Ramsay came up with the title Astoria, he saw the album as a concept record based on 1980’s fantasy adventure films; specifically The Goonies, which is set in the seemingly doomed town of Astoria, Oregon.
The idea was to let a classic coming of age movie inspire the music and overall feel of the record. Then, however, Ramsay had no idea the circumstances in his own life would result in a personal journey that took him from the highest high to the darkest point in his life and career. “A couple of years ago I felt on top of the world,” he says: “My band, finally, after years of work, signed a huge American record deal. We were headlining arenas in Canada. I’d been nominated for a Grammy for ‘Call Me Maybe,’ (Carly Rae Jepsen). I was engaged to the love of my life and it was like, this is my moment.”
Soon afterwards, Ramsay’s mother – who, along with his entire musical family, he credits as his most important influences – was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia – a debilitating, fast-acting “cross between Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.” That and the self-imposed pressure of writing and recording Astoria put him into a tailspin. “I worked myself into not being able to write at all. My mother got sicker. I wasn’t coping well and I became incredibly difficult to be around.” So difficult, in fact, his relationship with his fiancé deteriorated swiftly and ultimately ended.
The pressure to start work on the next Marianas Trench record intensified even more, until, in early 2015, he was briefly hospitalized. “It was the lowest of my low moments, but then something shifted. I thought; I can’t make my mom better or fix my mistakes. The only thing in my power was to write Astoria, follow every artistic impulse I have and see where it goes.”
Within 24 hours of his release, Ramsay was in his Richmond, BC studio with new material pouring out of him, but ultimately moved, lock, stock and console, to his Gastown apartment, which he christened ‘The Benhouse Studio’ (named for his Labrador Retriever, who gets an executive producer credit on Astoria). “I thought why not record here? It’s more accessible and I liked the idea that the place I’d felt the worst in my life could maybe turn into the place I did the best thing I’ve ever done.”
The band decorated the space with 1980’s movie posters and album jackets, and packed it with recording and instrument technology that would only have been available in the eighties. But while Astoria has a decidedly eighties feel, it’s far from a throwback. “I was trying to make the record as if I’d been a contemporary at that time. I pulled from that time in my own way.”
“Josh was like, ‘we’re going to live it,’” says guitarist Matt Webb. “He said: ‘I’m going to show up everyday in leather pants.’ So we tightened up our pants, threw tank tops on and pretended we were eighties rock and roll stars.”
Ramsay and the rest of the band researched sounds relentlessly, drawing on their large collection of vintage gear. “If we were looking for a part that sounded like the Eurythmics we’d find out what guitars, mics and preamps they used and sit there with giant grins on our faces when we got those sounds,” Webb says.
“What I wanted to do once I had the Benhouse set up was have people, musicians or not, who’ve meant something in my life, and get them on the record,” Ramsay says. Among them; The Odds’ Craig Northey, 54-40’s Dave Genn and Roger Joseph Manning Jr., of one Ramsay’s favourite bands, Jellyfish. “But my favourite thing is that Astoria ends with an a cappella refrain sung by my family, including my mother.”
With free form epics such as the opening title track and album closer ‘End Of An Era,’ emotionally raw offerings like ‘Wildfire’ and ‘This Means War,’ Astoria is a fitting follow up to Marianas Trench’s Platinum-selling, concept-based releases Masterpiece Theatre (2009) and Ever After (2011). Channeling influences as diverse as The Beatles, Queen, Tears for Fears, Michael Jackson, George Michael and Depeche Mode, among others, it’s Marianas Trench’s most ambitious record to date: unapologetically cinematic, constantly surprising and featuring lush orchestral textures that segue seamlessly into spare, but powerful songs like the standout ‘Dearly Departed.’
Tracks like ‘Shut Up And Kiss Me’ and ‘While We’re Young’ take on the best and worst moments of Ramsay’s recent life, but as deeply personal as they are, they’re the kind of songs anyone with a pulse can slip into and see their lives reflected in. And nowhere more so than on lead single, ‘One Love,’ which poses the question, ‘What if the one true love’s the only one that you get?’ “There’s not a lot of metaphor there,” Ramsay says. “It’s a bleak fear I feel, but at the same time it’s hopeful.”
While ‘One Love’ will resonate with virtually anyone on the first listen: “I wasn’t going for that at all. I didn’t give a fuck about people relating. I just did, artistically, what I wanted to, but it’s so lyrically candid I’m actually nervous; it’s like someone reading your diary. Still, the record has a lot of hope in it, too. It’s my personal best and the band is better than ever,” he continues; crediting guitarist Matt Webb, bassist Mike Ayley, and drummer Ian Casselman for giving him time to sort his life out. “Nobody pushed and I don’t think I’d have made it through without that support.”
On Astoria, the band members were more a part of the process than previously, and, more than ever, their four-part harmonies are a centerpiece of the record. “It’s like Josh creates a baby and we help pick out the clothes and give it a haircut,” Ayley says.
“But the process was really open,” Casselman puts in, “particularly when we were doing gang vocals with up to 20 people and Josh would say ‘just sing whatever comes to mind.’”
In the end, the band is closer than ever. “I don’t laugh as hard with anybody else,” Webb says, mentioning the band’s often hilarious entry to award shows in everything from oversized hamster balls to a bouncy castle. “Some of the ideas we’ve had have us in tears, laughing about how inconvenient and uncomfortable it’ll be, but one of the reasons we’ve remained so strong is we laugh, a lot.”
Although they’ve toured extensively in the States, when Astoria is released on October 23rd, 2015 on 604 Records in Canada and Cherrytree/Interscope worldwide, it will be their first physical release in the US, and the band can’t wait: “I feel like this is our best moment. For me, Astoria is the record of my career so far – at least until we start the next one and I go crazy again,” Ramsay says, laughing.
Music industry professionals, journalist and artists alike are fond of saying ‘the album is dead.’ Now and again, however, a band like Marianas Trench comes along and puts the boots to that assertion. Put bluntly, each song on Astoria is as strong as the record as a whole and, like the very best of recordings, tells the raw, unvarnished truth, candidly and absolutely fearlessly.
About Marianas Trench: Since their 2006 debut, Fix Me, the Vancouver, BC-based four piece have had two Certified Platinum-selling records (Masterpiece Theatre, Ever After), chart topping hits including ‘Fallout,’ ‘Haven’t Had Enough,’ and ‘Stutter,’ garnered multiple SOCAN and MMVA Awards, number 1 videos on MuchMusic, and JUNO nominations, and won the 2013 JUNO Award for Group of the Year.
Over time Marianas Trench have toured relentlessly in Canada and globally; headlining tours in Australia and New Zealand, and the US. They’ve also headlined events at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, as well as in the Philippines and South Korea.
“Three years before I performed on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, I visited NBC Studios with my high school drama club. We toured the Tonight Show set. I remember the guide not letting me touch Jimmy’s desk. So I ran to his monologue mark –the little X he stands on when he delivers the monologue– and told myself ‘I’m going to be here one day.’ I shared this story with Jimmy when I first performed on his show. He walked me to the monologue mark and said, ‘Alessia, you’ve made it.’ It proved to me that all of my dreams are valid.”
For once, Alessia Cara’s voice betrays her; it breaks in the anecdote’s retelling.
And why not? The unassuming 20-year-old from Brampton, Ontario has captured the hearts and minds of listeners worldwide: four JUNO [Canadian Music Award] nominations in 2016, including a win for Breakthrough Artist of the Year; a tour with Coldplay; a performance with Taylor Swift after which Taylor proclaimed herself an Alessia fan; the cover of Billboard Magazine’s Grammy issue; a 2016 AMA nomination for New Artist of the Year.
From drama club to the inner circle. From yearbooks to year-end Best Of lists.
From wide-eyed high-schooler to blushing ingénue to reimagined pop star.
“It’s kind of ironic,” Alessia waxes, hours before she takes the stage at New York’s iconic Radio City Music Hall—a stop on her Know-It-All: Part 2 tour. “My pride in not having a brand has become my brand.” Indeed, Alessia has found the most precious of spaces, the thing many artists agitate for their entire careers: a niche.
She is, by her own admission, “a regular person who makes songs. There’s nothing glamorous about me.” Relatability has become her calling card, first imprinted by the improbable smash single, “Here.”
The musings of a disenchanted teenage partygoer who longs not for popularity but for the couch and comfy clothes, “Here” struck a chord with fans delighted to see a kindred spirit elevated to star. On the song’s genesis and the ethos of her debut album, Know-It-All: “As an unknown, I didn’t know what to expect. All I had to go on was A) my gut instinct and B) how I wanted to be represented. ‘Here’ showed my perspective and personality and I was comfortable with the song speaking for me. I would rather completely fail and be myself than succeed and be someone I hate. The album title was tongue-in-cheek. Just my stubborn self speaking on what I presume to know about the world; that doesn’t necessarily make it true. So I never thought so many different people, of all ages and backgrounds and situations, would relate to my music.”
Relate they have. Alessia recounts that a listener approached her at a radio station meet-and-greet and confided in her that she, the listener, would be coming out of the closet. Further, it was Alessia’s music that had given her the courage to embrace her true self. This girl had yet to share the news even with her family; Alessia was the first to know. Alessia Cara is registering a lot of firsts.
The fan had been moved by “Scars to Your Beautiful,” Alessia’s gut-wrenching take on female identity, on body image, on deleterious behaviors in the name of beauty. Alessia walks listeners through heartache but concludes with strains of promise: “So to all the girls that’s hurting/ Let me be your mirror, help you see a little
bit clearer” and the touching refrain: “There’s a hope that’s waiting for you in the dark / You should know you’re beautiful just the way you are.”
The words arrive with a poise and poignancy that belie her years. And they soar over a rousing drum track, one which Alessia thumps out during her live show. In fact, the lyrics have transcended the liner notes to become manifesto. Alessia has partnered with I AM THAT GIRL, a national initiative to empower young women. “Scars to Your Beautiful” serves as IATG’s anthem and also underpins the organization’s curriculum: five talking points, each culled from a song lyric, aim to bring women together in a community of self-love.
“The timing is perfect to spearhead to such an important movement,” Alessia states emphatically. “I’ve never set out to be a cause, but it’s been a label applied to me because I’m a girl who believes in a lot and has a lot to say. And IATG really hits close to home. Lately, I’ve been getting flak for how I look and how I dress. What’s most frustrating is that many of these comments come from other women. It speaks to how brainwashed we all are and just how much of a need there is for these kinds of conversations. I’m pushing this idea of being yourself; who cares what shoes I have on? How does that affect how talented I am? Capable I am? Smart I am? The art I make? If you can listen to me and enjoy what I do without worrying about how I look, then maybe we all need to recalibrate our expectations. It’s not about being easy on the eyes. It’s about being smart and ambitious and thought-provoking.”
Alessia Cara has certainly given us reason to think but also cause to rejoice.
Having crisscrossed Europe, she’s currently making America’s stages her pulpit on the Know It All: Part 2 tour, her brainchild: “I’m so proud of this tour. I conceptualized everything down to the minute details. I didn’t want to just give people the album. I wanted to challenge myself vocally and creatively. I wanted to give them an experience.” It is very much an experience unlike any other—disarming, endearing, wholly intimate. The quiet moments between songs are to be savored equally: Alessia interjects uplift, confessionals, life lessons, vignettes about navigating fame. She narrates a video loop celebrating a woman-centric message. All the while, she seems as wowed and grateful as the listeners staring back at her. “I hope the fans know that I’m figuring things out, too,” she confesses. “I think when you look up to someone, you expect them to do everything right. We’re all people with feelings and I’m trying to make sense of everyday things. I mean, I still get weirded out hearing my own music.”
Alessia Cara manages to own the dichotomy of understated pop star. The big voice in the small frame. The small town charm gracing big city stages. Perfection in imperfection. The irrepressible smile and the timeless message that we all have something to offer. Alessia Cara has invited us all in. “I’ll be over here,” she reminds us. And we’re all rushing to meet her.
So much has happened so quickly for 20 year old Canadian singer /songwriter Ruth B. You might think her beautifully rendered viral hit “Lost Boy” has transferred its notions of ‘arrival’ to her own personal story, but it’s the song that takes flight under Ruth’s stunning vocal command. Blessed with keen songwriting instincts and intimate phrasing, there’s a touching heartache to the artist’s delivery that brings authenticity to every whispery verse.
Note the organic way she went about posting the first staggered snippets of “Lost Boy” on the short-form video sharing service Vine – looping snatches of the song in haunting, six second reveals. Such patient handling reflected the quiet confidence in her own muse – a crucial indicator as to how a complete unknown could go on to garner nearly two and a half million followers on YouTube, blaze a self-propelled sales-trail on iTunes, and ink a major label record contract all in a six month window.
Despite her strength for piano-tinged ballads, Ruth’s music is never subdued. She elicits an enlivened narrative on “Lost Boy” that glides over her striking piano accompaniment and the trill of her mesmerizing vocals. Ruth also recorded a host of other songs she wrote in a burst of creativity after “Lost Boy” caught the attention of viral music fans. Lyrics tumble out with amazing profundity on the radiant gem “Golden,” a grateful confessional that captures her hypnotic delivery and sparingly delivered arrangement, as does the sultry tremble of “Dandelions” – also tenderly crafted; And then there’s the uplifting cascade of “Young,” a gentle, tumbling anthem of hope that is sure to inspire the Vine generation that embraced her; All effortless story-songs that place her in the company of a prescient lineage of evocative female singer/songwriters such as Janis Ian, Norah Jones, and Sarah Bareilles; Artists who grasped early on in their careers how the power of understatement can translate into sublime emotional richness for the listener.
Ruth recognized the power of storytelling at a young age, always reading and writing stories growing up. “It’s funny but I always remember thinking, even when I was a little kid, that music was what I was called to do,” she says. The immediacy and connectivity of social media’s role in her incredible rise, notwithstanding – you get the feeling there’s an old soul lurking deep inside the Edmonton native. She is quick to cite her Ethiopian heritage, another patch in the quilt of bold threads infusing her songs with that magical blend of innocence and gravitas; All the more remarkable when you realize she only took up songwriting less than a year ago. “I took piano lessons for five years starting when I was 8 years old, so I always used music as my solace whenever I was feeling lost or inspired or bubbling over and needed to express myself. But as far as sitting down and completing whole songs, I only began to seriously write this past January.”
Ruth’s tightly knit family life and solid middle class upbringing grounded her. Being able to attend a new public school for her senior year of high school also galvanized her creatively. “The new school was a lot more diverse,” she says, which led to a wide range of musical influences, “from Lauryn Hill to the Beatles.”
“After starting to use Vine right out of high school, little by little, people started to follow me. People gravitated more towards my six second originals versus the covers”. The idea for “Lost Boy” evolved after a friend suggested she watch the TV drama Once Upon A Time. “I don’t know why she suggested that show,” marvels Ruth, “but it had been on for a couple years so I binge-watching on Netflix to catch up. One of the seasons had a Peter Pan storyline, and the next thing I knew I was down at my keyboard making up the first couple lines to what would become ‘Lost Boy.’ It just seemed to come out of nowhere.”
Ruth was sufficiently inspired to post a snippet of her singing the first part of the song on Vine. Positive comments followed immediately, with fans urging her to finish the song. She had surpassed 80,000 likes by the end of the week, and continued to add to the newly-crafted “Lost Boy.” Ruth completed the track and posted it on YouTube, waking up the next morning to more than 100,000 views. That was in January of 2015 and since then, “Lost Boy” has been streamed more than 35 million times on Spotify around the globe. In November of 2015, Ruth released her debut EP, The Intro, which includes “Lost Boy” and three new original tracks: “Superficial Love,” “Golden” and “Two Poor Kids.”
A few hours outside of Toronto lies the quaint town of Deseronto in Eastern Ontario. A quiet town rocked by 17-year-old Ryland James Clark, better known as Ryland James. He’s ready to take his music to the big city while staying true to his small town roots. Ryland is packed and eager to take the world by storm, armed with his powerful vocals and guitar in hand.
As Ryland prepares to embark on this journey, he has his parents Andrew and Melissa to thank for the core values they have instilled in him. Being the son of two determined athletes who are also firm believers in the importance of pursuing dreams, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Ryland lives his life in the same fashion. His Dad was drafted to the National Hockey League (NHL), while his Mom, also an avid hockey player, competed for a spot on the Canadian Olympic hockey team. Being the older brother of two sisters, Ryland understands the importance of being a positive role model. A job he does not take lightly. He wants to continue to use his platform to spread a positive message while connecting with his audience. His family’s go get’em attitude further ingrains the importance of determination when reaching for the stars.
Family is at the heart of the Clark household and so is their love for music. It is safe to say that Ryland’s family has deep roots in music. His Great Grandfather, Ron, was renowned within their community for his involvement in the Gospel quartet at their church. His Grandmother, Karen, is a skillfully trained pianist and his Mom grew up playing the drums. It’s only fitting that Ryland gravitated toward writing and creating music from an early age. Music is a multi-generational trait within their talented family.
At the age of 10, Ryland found himself enthralled by the Jackson 5 classic, “Who’s Loving You,” and he thought, “This is something that I could do.” He began to perform the ballad in his living room in front of his first audience. His family sat in awe, captivated by his talent. Ryland was thrilled by their reaction but found himself wondering if a larger audience would greet him with the same enthusiasm. His family’s encouragement did not end that day; instead, they pursued an audition for Ryland on Canada’s Got Talent. Although, his audition was not accepted, he was not willing to give up. His unwavering determination led him to audition for The Next Star, a youth music competition on YTV. During this competition, Ryland proved to himself that he was destined to perform as the judges advanced him to the top 12. Eager to perform for the guest celebrity judges, Ryland beat out stiff competition each week before securing his place within the top 6 finalists. His charm and smooth vocals captured the attention of viewers nationwide. After weeks of giving it his all on the stage, he advanced to the show’s finale. It was during the finale that guest judge and renowned Canadian music producer, Mark Spicoluk (Avril Lavigne, SUM41) said to Ryland, “You are definitely born for the stage.” This professional endorsement further affirmed his talent.
His involvement with the competition was the ember that caught on fire, further igniting his passion for performing. Being a student in the music industry, Ryland listened carefully to the advice the judges shared with him. One of the most influential lessons they taught him was the importance of utilizing social media when building a brand. He continued to post videos on his social media platforms; including YouTube, Vine and Instagram. After realizing how integral social media is for emerging artists, Ryland dove in headfirst. It’s not uncommon to find thousands of views on his videos along with hundreds of comments.
With new fans emerging and his dedicated fan base from The Next Star rallying behind him, Ryland began strengthening his musical repertoire by teaching himself to play both the keyboard and guitar. He decided it was time to connect with his audience on a more personal level by putting his pen to the paper; an intimidating task for an emerging artist. However, once he began writing there was no stopping him. He unveiled his skillful lyricism with resounding support from his followers…a fan base that was eager for more Ryland.
In April 2016, one of Ryland’s contemporary influences, pop phenomenon, Shawn Mendes, sent him a nod of approval by tweeting, “…Checked out some of your covers! Keep it up man! Sounds great.” An accolade many young and aspiring artists only dream of receiving.
Another musician who has been amazed by Ryland is Juno nominated singer/songwriter, Tyler Shaw. After watching his covers online, Tyler knew he had stumbled across something big. Through social media, Tyler was able to connect with Ryland to initiate a writing session. Ryland, excited to further develop himself while growing his prominence, met with his now manager, Danny Reiner. Danny, who has over ten years of experience in the industry with with music mogul Chris Smith, brings an impressive resume to the table. His history working with and managing the careers of Alessia Cara, Francesco Yates, Fefe Dobson and Tyler Shaw, proved that he was the proper fit for Ryland and his growing stardom.
Within days of their introduction, Tyler and Danny began collaborating with the young artist. Tyler’s keen eye for talent and musical aptitude coupled with Danny’s ingenuity and business expertise ensure that they are the perfect team to help develop Ryland’s talent while staying authentic to the career he envisions for himself.
Ryland’s music is led by strong pop vocals and is reminiscent of OneRepublic, Gavin Degraw and Shawn Mendes. His family’s deep roots in Gospel music bleeds through on a vocal level; however, you won’t necessarily find his music at church on a Sunday. The future is bright for this teenager and he is ready to take the next steps in his musical career. He states that he is the happiest when his music is bringing joy to others, a testament to his maturity and desire to share his music with audiences worldwide.
His hard work proves that music is his priority. Aside from completing his high school education, Ryland is investing his all into his career. With the unwavering support from his family, he is ready to forge ahead in the industry. Ryland is about to bring his small town values to the big city. “I want my music to evoke emotion. I want to be the voice guiding you through tough times and the voice that brings you joy. I want to be the person you can turn to.” His dreams are about to take flight and he’s ready to go big. With so much to achieve, he’s not ready to go home.
*Rock the Park is a rain or shine event
*Artists are subject to change
*All ticket sales are final
*Tickets purchased are for the festival not individual artists
*Lawn chairs not permitted