Edmonton native Darren Fung didn’t need to take home the 2021 Canadian Screen Award for which he was nominated (in the Best Non-Fiction Music category) to feel like he’s won.

He already had two, for The Great Human Odyssey in 2016 and Equus: Story of the Horse in 2019. The latest nod was for A Bee’s Diary, and all three have been CBC co-productions.

“It sounds so cliché,” he says, “but it’s really such an honour to be nominated and, in my mind, the nomination means more than the actual award. The nomination is from a jury of your peers; they’ve taken the time to watch it and say, ‘Hey, this stands out from the rest.’ I mean, we can get into the politics of voting and all of that stuff, but for me, the nomination is really the big thing. I’m obviously very proud, very humbled by it.” The awards will be presented on May 20, 2021.

Fung, a McGill graduate, has more than 100 TV and film scoring credits to his name, including his re-imagining of the nationally treasured “Hockey Theme” for CTV and TSN. While all three of the aforementioned documentaries have been nature-oriented, Fung applies the same exacting criteria for his work on more conventional commissions.

“In my mind, [they’re] not different,” he says, on the phone from his home in Los Angeles. “At the end of the day, you’re telling a story; it’s all about storytelling through music. The tools are the same, whether you’re doing a fiction film, or a documentary, or, quite frankly, a commercial. You’re calling upon that same palette… I’ve always said that I don’t treat the genre of film any different than any other. It’s always a question of, how do we tell the story, and how can my music complement that?”

Writing music to order for someone else’s project is vastly different from writing for yourself. “The screen composer’s job isn’t to write the music that they want for it, it’s to write the music that’s right for the film and for what the filmmakers want,” says Fung.

“That’s one of the big challenges for young screen composers. Everyone has some sort of romantic vision of what a screen composer is, but the reality is that you have to accept the fact that someone else is calling the shots. There’s a lot of people who go into this profession not realizing that, and they get really disenchanted. They don’t get to write what they want to write. You [might] write an amazing piece of music, but it just doesn’t work, and it can be really disheartening at times.”

On the other hand, when you get it right, you might be taking home an award for it.

Streaming Status: Where Composers Stand

(May 30, 2019), Fung had an opinion column published in the Toronto Star advocating for more discussions between various trade organizations and the government about regulating “brutally unfair” subscription services. “In an era of record profits from streaming services and internet service providers, we are seeing the rich get richer and a creative middle class that is shrinking.” Has he seen any progress? “I think that right now, there are people who are on the case, in terms of putting the right pressure on the right people with the new changes to the Broadcast Act,” he says. “I think SOCAN, together with all of the trade organizations – like the Screen Composers Guild of Canada, SPACQ, the Songwriters Association of Canada – I think we’ve played our cards fairly well in terms of advocating to the right people in Ottawa, and saying, ‘Hey, that to sustain the industry in this way, we have to re-imagine it.’ The battle is a long one, right? That’s one of the frustrations that a lot of music creators have. We’re so used to working on quick turnaround times, and from gig to gig, so it’s hard to see the long picture with the amount of time and energy and advocacy we put into it. It’s frustrating that it’s not moving faster. But that’s sort of the way that Ottawa and policy change on that big level works. Is change in the air? Yes. Has change happened? Not quite yet.”

David Lafleche had been gestating his Americana album for awhile. Country-tinged folk, cleverly crafted, introspective songs, reminiscient of James Taylor or Jack Johnson. It’s a project that was in no rush. His project. His nine songs.

The album is called Everyday Son.

“It’s a gentle portrait of my life, an album about my family,” says Lafleche. “I decided to quit the world of television last fall. I don’t want to work like a madman and then dress up before going onstage. It’s all very well to work at the MELS (studio) 16 hours a day for something that no longer exists the next day, but after all these years, I feel like I’ve come full circle.”

Lafeleche is the musical director at the ADISQ Gala, musical director for several years at La Voix and Bons baisers de France, composer of the soundtrack to the movie Starbuck. His hectic and high-profile life, which he shares with Marie-Mai, had become exhausting.

“My TV job was a lot of things, not just music director or conductor,” he says. “At 49, I felt like re-inventing myself and jumping into the unknown. I’ll still take on the occasional contract for TV work.

“What I found hard was to prioritize myself. Caring for myself. Not just for one day,” says the man, also the father of a four-year-old girl. “I don’t have a songwriting muscle that I can just flex, and out comes a song! I had to find out what my voice is, what my style is, what I want and have to say. It took awhile, and wasn’t easy to give myself the space and time to do all that.”

Co-produced with Connor Seidel, who has notably worked with Matt Holubowski, Everyday Son was born in Nashville. Lafleche had made a few pilgrimages to Music City before, but this time he was reunited with an old friend he met at the Berklee College of Music when he was 18, drummer Fred Eltringham.

“We were reunited by chance, 25 years later, on the set of La Voix!” says Lafleche. “He was playing with Sheryl Crow. It was like being reunited with your best friend. Then two years ago he was named the best drummer in Nashville!”

Banjo, violin, standup bass, pedal steel guitar; Lafleche surrounded himself with seasoned luminaries of their instruments. “I recorded my record with strangers who have an unbelievable track record,” he says. “I had so much respect and admiration for them that I just let them do their thing. I was in the middle and just played my songs.”

He used only one guitar for the album, his beloved 1946 00-18 Martin. “Had it been just me in my studio having fun with my electrics, the album would’ve been entirely different,” says Lafleche. “My love of music starts with an instrument that vibrates. I would finger-pick and ideas would emerge.

“I’m constantly recording 20-second snippets of melodies on my phone. For example, sitting on my stoop watching a loon will make me feel an emotion which I translate into music and save for later. I then drew on all those ideas during my five-week stay in Nashville.

“We had to deliver, and I’m good in that kind of situation, that’s my strength in the TV world. When I flew back to Montréal, all the instrumentals were recorded. The only thing left to do were the voice tracks and that’s where Connor [Seidel] came in.”

Listen to “Training Wheels,” and the resonance of the purring guitar. Gentleness all around. Or “Counting Lights,”  where David tells us about driving back and forth on highway 15, the melody caressed by Russ Pahl’s pedal steel guitar. “We Collided,” a Jack Johnson-esque ballad, certainly isn’t out of place in this Americana bouquet.

“My partner Charles-Émile Beaudin, who did the recording on site for these sessions, just had to lift the faders, there’s never anything in the way of anything else, that’s how I work,” Lafleche explains, about the sonic clarity of Everyday Son. “Joe Costa put all his skills into the final mix of the album.”

Marie-Mai co-wrote eight of the nine songs, and she sings on one of them, giving the lion’s share of the vocals to Julie Da Silva, the guitarist’s inseparable backing singer from La Voix. On “Better Run,” our diva duets with her lover. “My challenge right now is to remember my lyrics,” says Lafleche. “Marie-Mai will listen to a song once and be able to sing the whole thing back to you!”

But the real crush on this accomplished record, beyond these brilliantly constructed and lovingly concocted songs, is his voice. It’s unbelievably efficient, poised, and never fake. It’s a genuine leather voice. You don’t just hear it, you feel it.



At 23, Jeune Rebeu displays stunning lucidity on Business et sentiments 3, the third instalment in a triptych of albums that saw him evolve both on a human and artistic level.

“I don’t see it as a duality, but rather as to things that complete each other,” says the Montréal-based rapper, when asked on the scope and meaning of the title of his trilogy — which started unfolding in 2018. “People tend to put business and feelings in opposition, especially in the rap world. Some will be more revealing of their feelings while the tougher ones will say they’re more business minded… And I’m not talking specifically about the macho rappers, but rather the ones who play a game and hide [a part of themselves]. More to the point, I’m talking to rappers whose masculinity is misplaced. I just try to be as authentic as I can. I’m a sensitive person and I try to rid myself of the shyness about my sensitive side, that others repress.”

Young Rebeu has long been a sensitive one. He remembers hearing two songs that left a lasting mark on him when he arrived in Québec in the early 2000s: “Parce qu’on vient de loin” and “Seul au monde,” by Corneille. “It was a tough period for me,” he says. “Not only was I coming from far away, but there was death in my family back in Tunisia,’ he confides. ‘There was a sensitive side to Corneille’s music that spoke to me. I didn’t speak French that well when I got here, but I felt a connection to his emotion.”

Twenty years later, the young rapper’s destiny intersects with that of Sonny Black, the multi-instrumentalist who composed, arranged, and co-produced Corneille’s brilliant first album, from which these two powerful pieces came. Like a little nudge from fate. “It’s crazy!” admits the young man, who benefited from Black’s expertise and rigour as artistic director and principal music composer of BS3. “I really dig the way he works. He made two of my songs way better than I could even imagine.”

With its warm sonic signature. where acoustic guitar, trap rhythms, and Latin influences reign supreme, Business et sentiments 3 marks a leap forward in Rebeu’s career. Ten years after his introduction to rap, which took place during a rap writing and interpretation workshop at a community centre in Côte-des-Neiges, the artist (based in the borough of Lasalle), has clearly evolved immensely, far beyond his collaboration with Sonny Black.

Somewhere between the spontaneous side of the first part of the trilogy, and the more melancholic one of the second, Business et sentiments 3 strikes a balance between the rapper’s strengths and emotions. The girl he’s been talking about for three years, this “Valentina” whose presence has coloured the writing of a sizable chunk of his trilogy, has now left his life.

The result: Rebeu sees more clearly now.

At least that’s what he shows us on “BS Story,” a striking, five-minute-plus conclusion that sums up the Business et sentiments era. Time to move on. “I was in a cabin to write, last August, and I’d just gotten out of that relationship,” says Rebeu. “I wanted to mark the occasion,” he adds, devoid of any hard feelings. “I had no regrets. I thought it was a shame [that everything ended], but I had no regrets. I just wanted to tell it the way it happened. Some people have a diary. My diary is my songs.”

He was lucky to benefit from another small gesture from the hand of fate: he met Dubmatique’s OTMC (aka Ousmane Traoré). “I met Ousmane at the moment I lost that relationship,” says Rebeu, still a bit shocked. “Life is balance. Everyone needs to find their balance.”

At the time, Traoré was putting together the basis of what would become Yokobok Records, his brand new record label.”‘I played him the demos of BS3, and he really liked them. He said: ‘Let’s go! You’ll be my label’s first contract!'” the young rapper remembers. “We’ve gotten to know each other better, since then. We’re friends, business partners. We’re constantly giggling.”

Now on a solid professional track alongside one of the best-selling rappers in Québec’s history (Dubmatique’s La force de comprendre has sold more than 100,000 copies), Rebeu has grand ambitions. “For the longest time I’ve had a ton of ideas, but no tools. Now, with Ousmane, I have the tools I needed to flesh out the ideas I dreamt of,” he says.

BS3’s opener, “J’suis pas désolé,” embodies the “business” side of the title-cum-mantra of his trilogy. “Je fais ça pour le butin/Pour marquer le but hein ?” (“I do this for the loot / To score the goal, y’know?”) he claims, evoking both his mission and his empathy, hidden somewhere in the cold .

“Money to me is a vector of ambition and dreams. It’s not an end in itself,” says Rebeu. “When I rap about money, it’s not with stars in my eyes. I’m not at all attached to brands or luxury. Unlike others, I understood early on during my childhood that money wasn’t going to save me. But I do know it can help me reach my goals. It’s all a question of knowing how to invest it wisely.”