Watch out: it’s contagious. From the very first notes of the One Step EP, you know you’re on to something. It sounds like Michael Jackson’s back, with his famous choruses and his dancing swagger. The Foundation, the collective of seven musicians behind the song, propels this hit-to-be with a solid dose of urban soul. We re-discover the inexorably visceral, climatic voices of Frédéric Varre and singer Mel Pacifico.

 Fredy V and The Foundation“This [six-track] EP is a transition for me as a producer,” says Fredy Varre. “Self-isolation forced me to improve in that field. With The Foundation, our goal is to pick up the torch [of ‘70s funk and soul] and take it into the future.”

“Your Own Way” is just as thrilling, and could just as well have been recorded by the British combo Brand New Heavies, with its lush vocal harmonies and driving beats. “It Could Be,” although it doesn’t exactly re-invent the wheel, is irresistibly pumping, while “Funghi” is a techno-house instrumental that still fits perfectly well with the other songs on the project.

“Mel and I sometimes choose to not include vocals on a track,” says Varre. “Funghi takes us to another dimension, and it’s a bit of a moment to take a breath.”

“45” is One Step’s other big hit: featuring the line “You make me spin like a 45,” it has everything an earworm requires. “Gimme The Check” is a heavy, two-speed funk song that’s as dirty as it is brilliantly assembled. Varre and his production partner Caulder Nash have succeeded in finding the right balance of songs, each assembled down to the smallest detail.

“For me this EP is also a transition from solo artist to band member,” says Varre. “I felt like experiencing what it’s like to compose a song alongside six other people.” The experiment took a year. The band’s improvisations are recorded, then tweaked to perfection.

“We knew we wanted songs you can dance to, not slow stuff,” says Varre. “Something festive and inclusive, that makes you vibe and dance. We also wanted to have international potential, with a touch of nostalgia, and a modern essence. Knowing these musicians are going to collect royalties, now that they’re SOCAN members, that’s what gets me going. We try to create music that’s original, to create jobs, because music is not an eternal vehicle!”

The new EP finds Fredy V.  following up It Takes a Village, his first one, released in 2017, and Varsity Vol. 1 (2014). Many enjoyed his work with Kalmunity, singer Shay Lia, and Kallitechnis, all Montréal-bred R&B projects, not to mention the homage to Prince at Métropolis in 2016, alongside The Brooks, where Varre burned the place down with his falsetto interpretation of “I Wanna Be Your Lover.”

“The Brooks are like big brothers,” he says. “Alan Pater, their singer, is my main mentor, he’s my Jedi master! The Foundation and The Brooks are basically like the yin and yang of Québec R&B. We’re more in the Prince vibe, whereas they’re more classic.”

Fredy V. and The Foundation have adapted their true passion to the techniques and sounds of modern studios. Therein lies their strength. And the result is a project that could only have grown in the fertile ground of a cosmopolitan city like Montréal.

As for the urge to play his new songs onstage, Varre is epically realistic, and he truly impressed viewers – with only four musicians to back him up – during the recent virtual edition of the Montréal International Jazz Festival.

“I’m like a boxer who just wants to fight,” he says. “My dream right now is to get back onstage with this project. The world is getting smaller and smaller, and we have to go global, I want to move funk and soul forward. The Foundation is bigger than the sum of its parts. We represent a brand, a movement. A village.”

Michael McCarty is leaving SOCAN on Nov. 30, 2020, after seven years as our Chief Membership & Business Development Officer, which included such huge accomplishments as bringing Drake and Joni Mitchell back as members; re-branding membership recruitment staff as the cooler, more talent-friendly “A&R”; and making some tech decisions that helped bring more royalties to creators, more quickly and accurately. McCarty will be providing consulting services until April 2021, to help transition to what’s next.

“I started looking back on what my job was when I came in, which was to re-build the membership, and get all the people back that we’d lost, [and] make sure we keep the next generation of top creators and publishers. When you look at it from that point of view, it’s mission accomplished,” says McCarty, who was inducted into the Canadian Music & Broadcast Industry Hall of Fame in 2019 after more than 40 years in the business.

McCarty comes from a creative background. A drummer himself, he started his career in the 1970s as a recording engineer and producer working for the late Jack Richardson (The Guess Who) and Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper, Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel) in Toronto. His first industry job was as creative manager at ATV Music Group Canada, then on to CBS/SBK and SBK Records and Publishing in Los Angeles. He made his biggest mark as President of EMI Music Publishing Canada for 17 years, signing and developing such acts as Billy Talent, Sum 41, Three Days Grace, Alexisonfire, LEN, esthero, The Matthew Good Band, and Moist. Then, in 2009, after EMI was sold, he became the President of music publishing company ole for three years.

When SOCAN brought him in, his job was two-fold: Chief Membership Officer, responsible for recruiting, retaining, and re-patriating members (the three Rs), and Business Development Officer, helping to bring SOCAN into the 21st Century, get songwriters paid more quickly and efficiently, and make sure no potential royalties were falling through the cracks.

As the Chief Membership Officer, one of his first moves was to re-build the department and create an A&R team. “You have to have talent assessment skills,” says McCarty. “You have to have a nose for who’s going to be important. You have to have talent development skills. How does a person get from point a to point B in the industry and how can we help them do that? Or how can we, using that knowledge, know where the next stars are? And then, finally, you have to have people networking skills. So it’s A&R. It doesn’t matter what you call it.”

The department “knocked it out of the park,” he boasts. “We re-patriated virtually everybody we lost,” naming Drake, Boi-1da, Noah “40” Shebib, The Weeknd, Shawn Mendes, Alessia Cara, as well as the legendary Joni Mitchell.

As the Business Development Officer, he says, “One of the seeds that I’ve sewn that I’m most excited about is we developed this API strategy — [API stands for] application programming interface — that’s a fancy way of saying, it’s a way that one computer platform talks to another.

“I believe unshakably that in the future [of] the worldwide music industry, from creation to distribution to consumption, is going to be one giant, seamlessly integrated network. And in order to participate in that network, you have to use APIs.

“So we have APIs now for virtually every capability of our platform. For instance, registering songs or registering concerts with us,” he says, referring to the creation of SOCAN Labs, which came up with a new member portal that recommends set lists to an artist based on their previous submissions. SOCAN also partnered with Calgary’s Muzooka, a metadata-sharing app for the live music ecosystem.

“They built a connection to our APIs, so that if you’re a SOCAN member using the Muzooka app, you can get into your SOCAN account, look up your repertoire, make a set list. Then you press a button and send that set list and all the concert information to us,” McCarty says. “That’s been incredibly successful. We’re processing hundreds of concerts that way, which makes it easy for the member and more efficient for us.”

McCarty isn’t revealing yet exactly what he’ll do next, but he says it will involve re-patriating Canadian intellectual property.

“Canadian music is killing it,” he says. “The problem is that almost all the intellectual property [IP] has left the country, is owned by non-Canadian companies, and almost none of the intellectual property revenue, copyright revenue, comes back to Canada,” he says. “My passion is going to be built around re-patriating the IP, and revenue from the IP, in order to help ensure a sustainable ecosystem for future generations of Canadian creators, so that we can keep the success train rolling.”

With production credits for the likes of popular hip-hop artists like Young Thug, 2 Chainz, and the late Pop Smoke, among others, PittThaKid is one of Toronto’s fastest-rising producers / beat-makers / songwriters. Given the high profile of those placements, you’d think that being a knob-turner for some of the genre’s most successful artists was a long-term goal that Pitt The Kid had cherished since childhood, but it didn’t actually start out that way.

“I used to rap and I needed beats to rap over, in my later years of high school,” says PittThaKid. “So, you know, I didn’t want to pay for beats, and I’m, like, ‘Okay, let me just try to figure out how to make beats myself.’  And my rap career might have lasted a month, because after I started making beats, I just fell in love with it.”

Starting out with FL Studio, PittThaKid continued to work on his craft by entering beat battles with organizations like The Beat Academy, while he studied business at Laurier University. Eventually, his first big break came in 2016 when he landed a placement with Lloyd Banks of G-Unit fame.

“I had known this engineer out in New York, and he was sending in stuff for Banks,” says PittThaKid. “He asked if I had any records. And then he just texted me one day and said, ‘Hey, we got one.’ And then, you know, the song literally came out the next day,  it was on Halloween. And I remember sitting in my room, just playing the track back, like, at least 50 times, man, ‘cause I couldn’t believe that he was on my beat.”

Since then, PittThaKid’s musical style has changed from the straight-up boom-bap sound he favoured in those days. “I think what I mainly try to do is just, you know, blend the old school with the new school, you know, as far as it’s kind of blending, but across genres,” he says. “I usually like to take the vintage influences and mix it with the modern stuff. I guess that’s kind of what I’m known for.”

PittThaKid has a penchant for incorporating guitars into his sound, which often arises from a collaborative approach. “A lot of the times, if I can, I’m in the studio with other producers,” he says. “So it’s kind of, like, I start an idea, then someone might come in and add, some keys, or some different instruments, might lay the drums down. And then a lot of the times, too, I create samples, so I’ll create the musical idea. And then I’ll e-mail it off to the producer.”

Sometimes these musical ideas take on a life of their own. PittThaKid sent off a musical idea that featured a chopped-up kids choir sample to multi-platinum producer B-Rackz, who brought it to the attention of high-profile Atlanta producer Mike Will Made It.

“[B-Rackz] ended up using something that I sent him with Mike Will, and then they made the whole beat, and then you had 2 Chainz, Schoolboy Q, and Eearz ended up hopping on [“Kill ‘Em With Success”], and it just became like one big banger,” says PittThaKid. “And then I found out that [it]  was going to be [in the] movie Creed 2 [soundtrack] with Michael B. Jordan. So you know, I ended up going to the theatre and seeing my name on the credits, which is pretty crazy. So definitely a blessing.”

But the song that’s had the biggest effect on Pitt The Kid’s career is “Boy Back,” from Atlanta MC Young Thug’s So Much Fun album, featuring Nav, another Toronto representative. For PittThaKid, the song represents more than a beat; it’s a reflection of his career arc to date.

“I think it’s a bit of a full-circle moment,” he says. “”Cause early in my career, I tried to do a lot of work in Toronto, and it just wasn’t really bringing me to where I needed to be,” he says. “And I realized that I needed to expand my horizons a little bit. So back at the end of 2018, I started, like, really focusing on the States, trying to work with as many American artists as I can. And then, I said to myself, ‘Once I gained a lot of traction in the States, then I’m going to come back to Toronto,’ and show love. So it kind of happened for me… It’s my biggest placement in the States, Nav’s on it, they’re shooting the video in Toronto.”

True to his vow to show love to Toronto, now that he’s found some success, PittThaKid is willing to work with emerging producers who e-mail him directly at “A  lot of the time when I was coming up, I didn’t really have an opportunity from people to get my music heard,” says PittThaKid. ”And anyone wants to work with me, or send me stuff, I’m listening all the time for new stuff. You know, I just want to give out opportunities.”