chorus

Vanessa, Neel, Blair, Linda, Michael, and Phil

Canadian songwriters rock the nineties

Maybe you didn’t ask for it but we did it anyway – the 90’s song draft – this time with Canadian songwriters. Blair Packham sat in for a sick Bruce, Vanessa joined the gang for her song picks, and much fun was had. Of the many writers of the Great White North, here are a few highlights:

  • Alanis Morrisette
  • The Tragically Hip
  • Bruce Cockburn
  • Tal Bachman
  • The Odds

Listen to the whole show

Julian Taylor – dual roots and great songs

Julian Taylor is a Canadian singer-songwriter formerly with the band Staggered Crossing. His songs have appeared in television series including Degrassi: The Next Generation.  He now fronts the Julian Taylor Band. Julian dropped by the studio with his daughter Ella. We talked about:

  • Skookum Music Festival, Vancouver
  • Basic core band members together for 24 years!
  • Music first or lyrics first?
  • Finding a “treasure chest” of memorabilia in the attic
  • New album called Avalanche
  • Checking the quality of the melody – whistle
  • Sweeter – unusual song structure, lots of Canadian references
  • Love Connection – cool structure
  • started writing songs at age of 4
  • Mohawk/West Indian musical background

Listen to the whole show

Vanessa, Phil, Michael, Norm, Sherry, and Bruce

Harpin’ Norm: songwriting with a harmonica

Virtuoso harmonica player and singer-songwriter Harpin’ Norm Lucien joined us to talk about two of his songs and why you need many, many harmonicas, ideally on a Batman-style utility belt. Sherry Jacoby filled in for Neel – thanks Sherry! We talked about:

  • how to write simple songs that are also nuanced and have substance
  • starting your songs with the chorus or the title
  • how to incorporate sing-alongs in your performances
  • our How to Approach the Media episode

Listen to the whole show:

Download the lyrics for I Wish I was the Strongest Man and Strong Enough for Love

Linda, Neel, Bruce, Michael P, Michael Thorner, Vanessa, and Phil

Michael Thorner turns a webcast into an album

Toronto singer/songwriter Michael Thorner dropped by the studio for a chat about his music. He brought two catchy tunes from his recent webcast/album release The ehMTee Show; Don’t Let it Go and Point Edward Fair. We talked about:

The Lyrics

Don’t Let It Go

Point Edward Fair

The Links

Facebook

Soundcloud

Spotify

Get the DVD

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Dokter Nomi – writing the pop song

What a pleasure to have Dokter Nomi back in the studio to share his hooky pop tunes. This time, one of them was produced by our very own Neel Modi. During the show we talked about:

Listen to the whole show

Dokter Nomi’s lyrics

Dokter-Nomi-Party-in-NYC-Lyrics

Fallen-Star

Linda, Bruce, Vanessa, Allister, Sean, Dave, and Phil

Fathers Day Special with Allister Bradley and Sean Bertram

For a special Father’s Day episode, we invited father and son Allister Bradley and Sean Bertram to share their experiences working on music together and independently. Friend of the show Dave Miner filled in for Neel – thanks Dave!

We talked about:

  • Sean starting out with piano lessons, Guitar Hero and Rockband
  • Allister finding the balance between helping his son and keeping out of Sean’s journey as a songwriter and artist
  • The role of music teachers and how to find the right one
  • Starting a song with the bassline
  • Sean’s song Holes
  • Key modulating in your bridge

Listen to the show

Download the lyrics for I’m No Good for You and Still Wild

Phil, Bruce, iLLvibe, Linda, Vanessa, and Neel

All about hip hop with iLLvibe

Toronto-based hip hop recording artist iLLvibe dropped by to share his music and his thoughts. Runner up to Drake for Toronto Rapper of the Year in 2016 and winner on “Canada’s Smartest Person” it was indeed an entertaining and informative hour!

We talked about:

Listen to the whole episode

Vanessa, Neel, Linda, Frank, Phil, and Bruce

All About Key Modulations with Frank Horvat

Good friend, manic composer, and musically big brained Frank Horvat joined us to talk all about key modulations, with three example songs. We talked about:

  • the difference between borrowing chords and modulation
  • chromatic alteration, where a single semi-tone difference can change the contour of your chord progression
  • referring to the circle of fifths to see modulation that are close or far from your base key signature
  • using pivot chords to bridge the gap between key signatures
  • key modulation between different sections of a song vs. repeating your last chorus as a modulation
  • modulating up vs. modulating down

Listen to the show

The song examples

Starman by David Bowie

Perfect Illusion by Lady Gaga

The Infanta by The Decemberists

Adi, Bruce, Linda, and Neel

Songs about mental health

It was Canadian Mental Health Week‘s 66th year and we thought we’d put a spotlight on songs that talk about the challenges of maintaining mental health.

This year’s hashtag is #getloud.

For this special show, we had guest host Adi Aman from Beige Shelter, and four songs that talk about mental health.

We talked about:

  • Beige Shelter’s mental health advocacy song, Light Your Way
  • Song Meanings, a great site to see others interpretations of popular songs
  • suicide
  • addiction
  • the role of music and art in mental health
  • Loving Vincent
  • Oliver Sacks and his work with Alzheimer patients and the power of music

Listen to the show

Download the lyrics for the show to follow along:

The songs

Vanessa, Phil, Robert, David, Linda, Bruce and Neel

Robert Priest – how to write songs for children

We had the pleasure of having the prolific Toronto poet, novelist, and singer/songwriter Robert Priest (with David Hynes on guitar) back in the studio to share a couple of his children’s songs. We talked about…

  • testing a song on a 6-year old
  • moving from writing for adults to writing for children on the same day
  • chord choices for children
  • writing for younger and older children (the differences)
  • kids deserve quality songwriting
  • Inchworm” (an old favourite)
  • repetition in kids’ songs
  • using words that kids will have to look up (why not?)
  • the work habits of a prolific writer
  • Gilbert and Sullivan style (The Ships of Bath)
  • do you have to have kids to write for children?

Listen to the whole show

Robert-Priest-Lyrics

Watch the live performances