Allie X is a Leo. As the most glamorous sign in the zodiac, Leos want attention. They want to be noticed. And so, for the bold, vivid, Los Angeles-by-way-of-Toronto pop artist, this scans. Allie X has always wanted to be seen. But her personal Gospel of artistry and performance were at odds with her realities as a teenager growing up in a suburban Ontario town. Here, she was faced with the unfortunate truth that other teenagers totally suck, and they’ll make life harder on you if you’re different in any way.

“When I was in high school, I wanted to be seen so badly, but I wanted to hide socially as well, she says. “I was willing to accept people being kind of cruel in exchange for just being acknowledged.”

These experiences are at the foundation of Allie X’s sumptuous second full-length record, Cape God. This project seems like, on the surface, like a bit of a departure from her others, especially so when seeing Cape God set against the bubbly-plastic EP Super Sunset. Sonically, she swerves, gets quiet, propels herself during what she calls a “party segment.” It is different, but isn’t that what we expect from her anyway?

It was time, Allie says, to confront some of the harder experiences from her youth, because she never had before. So much of the conversation around Cape God in other publications and reviews relies on the anecdote of Allie being moved by a documentary on substance abuse called Heroin: Cape Cod, U.S.A.. Certainly, Allie says, the documentary has some importance to this record, but more than anything, it was an emotional opening for her to be empathetic to a younger version of herself.

“What the documentary did was put me in a headspace where I was able to tap into old feelings, because of the characters [in it],” she says. “I just related to the fear, the desperation, and the struggle. The isolation and the difficulties connecting to the family, and the shame, embarrassment, and not knowing what the future holds, on so many levels.

Writing Cape God came, surprisingly, very easily to Allie. Of all the work she’s done, including writing pop songs for others – like a recent BTS trackCape God more or less flowed out of her. She didn’t strain, or re-write songs. Tucked away in Stockholm, Sweden, Allie worked on this record with a few people, but her primary collaborators were Swedish producer Oscar Görres and co-writer James Alan Ghaleb.

The record opens with the pulsing “Fresh Laundry,” a melancholic, nostalgic track for some ordinary vibes. Impressions of what regularity or “normal” is appear all over the record, as in “Regulars,” or on songs like “Life of the Party” or “Super Duper Party People.” The album closer “Learning in Public” is perhaps the jewel of the album: it sounds more like a tribute to herself, a nod to what growth looks and feels like. (Difficult, always.) It bookends the record with opener “Fresh Laundry,” and she saysit’s a sequencing choice of which she’s proud.

Cape God is a liminal space but it’s also, as Allie confirms, a safe space. It’s a container of her own making, where she could sort outfeelings about her youth. “I wanted to make a place that was beautiful and that I could control the aesthetic of,” she says. “It’s a place that I got to control, and to curate, and [that could] safely exist. I think that’s maybe why writing this was such a pleasurable experience, as opposed to, like, a painful one.”

Allie says this project documents a period of her life that she never felt equipped to deal with until now – when maturation, growth, and a little bit of experience could cushion it. What she’s done is provide a sympathetic, tender conversation from one person (Allie) to another (teen Allie) that almost every adult can understand.

It;’s confusing being young. You’re confronted with a lack of experience, but also told this is the very best part of your life, and expected to determine and drive culture. Being artistic, and authentically different on top of that, causes extra strain. Allie’s wish to be seen, to be heard, to do something of note in her life, is happening now – but she couldn’t reassure her young self that any of it would happen at all. She just had to grow up and see it.


Jesse Zubot is a man of many talents.

It’s not enough that he plays a mean violin: his versatility stretches from recording JUNO Award-winning albums with Steve Dawson (as folk duo Zubot and Dawson), to bluegrass jazz concoction Great Uncles of the Revolution, and post-rock instrumentalists Fond of Tigers. He’s a touring sideman to Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq and producer of her 2014 Polaris Prize-winning album Animism and 2016’s Retribution, and has also hit the road accompanying Dan Mangan, Hawksley Workman, and Stars, among others.  Zubot has also been hired for session work with Destroyer, Mother Mother, and Alan Doyle, to name a few.

Lately,  he’s been pursuing another passion.

“I felt many years ago that I wanted to eventually focus on film scoring,” says Zubot, who’s especially earned praise for his score to the movie Indian Horse. “I just naturally evolved into the area of creating soundscapes, and working a lot of ethereal, surreal effects into my album and session work. With Tanya, I started creating this sound that seemed like a good direction for scoring.”

“I just naturally evolved into the area of creating soundscapes”

Zubot said he let acquaintances know that he was interested in pursuing the pastime, and was hired to provide some short film soundtracks. “My first big feature happened when my friend Dan Mangan asked me to help him arrange and create the score for Hector and The Search for Happiness,” says Zubot. “A pretty big thing, because the lead actors were Simon Pegg and Rosamund Pike. That catapulted me into a new realm.”

The film’s producer, Christine Haebler of Vancouver’s Screen Siren Pictures, liked what she heard, and helped Zubot secure scoring duties for other feature films, including Two Lovers and A Bear, starring Tatiana Maslany and Dane DeHaan, and directed by Academy Award nominee Kim Nguyen. Zubot has just finished scoring Monkey Beach, based on the Eden Robinson novel, and The Whale & The Raven, a documentary directed by Mirjam Leuze. Other projects in the pipeline include an NFB documentary on Tagaq. “Right now, I pretty much have a score or two going at all times,” he says.

For Indian Horse, a film that chronicles the life, within the residential school system, of an aspiring indigenous hockey player – loosely based on former NHL player Reggie Leach – Zubot employed three singers: North Vancouver Métis singer-songwriter Wayne Lavallee;  Squamish First Nations Shaker Church Minister and Cowichan Tribe member Eugene Harry; and Toronto Anishinaabe singer Marie Gaudet.

“I scattered their work throughout the film to make sure that there was some real indigenous content,” says Zubot. “That was a challenge – to create music for a story about the residential school system that supported the story, but didn’t overtake it. Subtle, but spare, it gave me the space to do what I do.”

Directed by Stephen Campanelli, Clint Eastwood’s longtime camera operator, Indian Horse – based on the Richard Wagamese novel and executive-produced by Eastwood – has a score largely determined by extemporization.

“Usually I’ll get a script three or four months beforehand, slowly make my way through it and get a subliminal feeling of the story,” says Zubot. “I’ll try not to think about it too much. Then I’ll get some first drafts and different scenes from the film – even if they’re not colour-corrected or fully edited – and start improvising to video.  I’ll create and let what I’m feeling about the story combine with what’s onscreen to guide me when I improvise. I’ll create the initial sketches and build things from there. It’s about emotion and feel for me.”

With numerous scores under his belt, Zubot is now eyeing Hollywood. “I want to spend more time in Los Angeles, and work with U.S. filmmakers that I respect.”

Drake may be the most famous Canadian who’s worked with R&B rising star Summer Walker, but he’s not the only one. Featured on the opening track of her latest album, Over It, is a sample by Vancouver singer-songwriter/producer Teddi Jones.

“We found out only a week before the album dropped,” Jones says, of finding out that Walker has picked up one of the samples she’d created alongside producer Coop the Truth. “It was a really fun experience.”

For Jones, music has always been a hobby, dating back to the age of 9 or 10, when she first started writing songs – a process that she remembers being therapeutic. But it wasn’t until this past year that she realized she wanted to turn that into a true profession. “There are so many avenues you can take in this industry,” she says. “It’s really exciting to have the freedom to express creativity in so many ways through music.”

Another artist Jones has worked with is Montréal-based R&B singer-songwriter Shay Lia. Jones is credited on two songs from Lia’s debut album, Dangerous: the slow groove “Rock Baby,” and the more rhythmic “Find a Way.”

So far, Jones has learned to “trust your intuition and never stop learning,” something she’s trying to apply to both her work and life. Whereas 2019 was “a year of preparation,” Jones is ready to transform all her experience into even more new music in 2020.

The key, to Jones, is to connect with artists who “share a mutual love and respect for music and people. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s about for me.”