From her humble beginnings in Bowmanville, Ontario, to her current position as a Canadian country/pop singer extraordinaire, it’s always been a musical journey for singer-songwriter Meghan Patrick.

Before starting out on her solo career, Meaghan fronted the popular Bowmanville new-country/bluegrass band The Stone Sparrows. She recently signed to Warner Music Canada and set to work recording her debut album. She focused on cutting her teeth as a songwriter, working with such varied top-line co-writers as Chantal Kreviazuk, Gord Bamford and Texas songwriter Rodney Clawson. “The whole process leading up to making this record has been amazing,” says Patrick. “I got to work with so many talented and wonderful writers down in Nashville, as well as Vancouver and L.A., who’ve become great friends.”

The resulting work payed off in a big way, producing her first solo album Grace & Grit, released in April of 2016. For the lead single, “Bow Chicka Wow Wow,” she even enlisted Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger, who co-wrote and produced the song, as well as a number of other tracks on the album. “When you’re able to make a connection with another writer the way I did, they help you turn your stories into a beautiful song, and it’s a truly special experience,” says Patrick. Attracting even more high-profile collaborators, Patrick teams up with multiple Grammy nominee Joe Nichols to deliver Grace & Grits’ duet, “Still Loving You.”

“I’m just chomping at the bit to get my music out there to new audiences, and get back to my roots of playing as much as possible!” says Patrick. She’ll be doing just that on the country festival circuit this summer.


In this age of ubiquitous social media presence, a world of tweets and snapchats and YouTube clips, even most new artists already have a digital trail longer than some of the more established ones. In 2016, it feels almost more strange to have a difficult time finding any information on someone, especially a new artist. That’s what makes Toronto-born, L.A.-approved singer-songwriter Saya such a mystery.

She currently has only one track out on her Soundcloud, but the sexy, sensual, catchy, genre-hopping single “Wet Dreams” delivers a strong message; Saya is going to be a force to be reckoned with in the years to come. She’s only 21, but her sultry R&B/electronic sound, and the striking look of her Instagram and press shots, shows an artist ready to make some serious waves. The track has been receiving lots of love from tastemakers like Complex and tuned-in music blogs like Pigeons and Planes.

What’s she up to next? “This summer,” says Saya, “I’m developing my sound and pushing my limits as an artist. Trying to grow creatively and working with a variety of people in Toronto and L.A.” There you have it, a quote as mysterious as the artist herself. Keep an eye out for a new single. Soon you probably won’t be able to miss her.


Born in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, Crissi Cochrane has the heart of an East Coast singer-songwriter with a twist of Motown soul. She started recording in her teens, moving to Halifax to begin her college and music career. Not only did she start releasing her own solo music including 2010’s independently released and critically well-received Darling, Darling, she started an indie band called Gamma Gamma Rays and contributed vocals to the album of fellow Halifax musician Rich Aucoin.

Relocating to Windsor, Ontario in 2011 her sound drew even more on her influences of jazz, country and smoky soul. And, with Detroit just across the river, the Motown sound as well. She released her latest solo album Little Sway in 2014. Soon she found her songs blowing up on Spotify, with her single “Pretty Words” getting more than 4.5 million plays and finding a placement in the hit ABC show Nashville. Soon after, she was selected as one of the Top 10 Artists nationwide in CBC’s Searchlight competition in 2014.

Working hard as a touring artist and behind-the-scenes songwriter since then, in 2016 she had an idea to write cute, personalized love songs for couples who contacted her for Valentine’s Day. The CBC picked up the story and it soon went viral, drawing her thousands of plays. Cochrane says she’ll work to make it an annual tradition.

“It’s a special joy to write songs for people to share with their loved ones, and to learn what makes each love so special and strong,” she says. What’s next for her in 2017? “Between filling song requests throughout the year, I’m pre-producing my next album and gearing up for recording this fall.”

Riding a wave of incredibly positive buzz, singer-songwriter Amélie Beyries ­– BEYRIES to the public – will release her first album in early 2017.

So why talk about it now? Because the self-taught musician will begin a tour in the coming days during which she’ll be able to fine-tune the fine tunes that will appear on that first album. Thus, BEYRIES is heading out West for a string of 10 to 15 small- and mid-sized concerts.

But other than that, why tour now? “Playing and sharing music, meeting new people and getting in touch with oneself through a healthy dose of nature and travelling,” says the young artist. “I’ve wanted to cross Canada for a long time. When we signed with Bonsound, earlier this year, we set up a schedule of what was coming until the album launch, and I realized I really needed stage experience. So crossing Canada seemed like a good way to get it. I also realized I had a lot of accumulated fatigue, and that now was the ideal time to embark on a long trip and take care of myself. It became an ideal project.”

In light of the vast amount of attention she got from the Québec media following the release of her first video, “Soldier,” in early June of 2016, it’s not surprising to see well-established names from the industry reaching out to help her burgeoning career as a songwriter. Such was the case of multi-instrumentalist, arranger, songwriter and jack-of-all-trades Alex McMahon – who offered to produce her album.

“I can honestly say that it’s because of him that there’s an album project underway,” says Beyries. “I wasn’t in top shape when we recorded my EP last summer. I was exhausted and lacked self-confidence, but he supported me and spurred me on. I’m so grateful. He’s got an uncanny talent for making songs shine. We really enjoy working together. I was also privileged to be able to work with my childhood friend Guillaume Chartrain (bass, mix) because he had just started working on other projects with Alex. I was really happy to see him in the studio; it meant a lot to me. Guillaume and I grew up together, he was my first friend. Alex offered to also work with Joseph Marchand (guitars). One could hardly have a better team,” says the singer, adding that she also got the chance to collaborate with Louis-Jean Cormier on the only French song on the album.

“When we finished the EP, we sent it to a few industry people and my songs made to Louis-Jean Cormier’s ears,” she says. “He liked the music and we offered him a new song to record, one I’d written with Maxime Le Flaguais, who wrote the lyrics. Louis-Jean agreed to produce and sing with me. I’m really touched that he accepted doing so; I really admire his talent. That song was my first team collaboration, and the only one in French. It moves me every time I hear it.”

For BEYRIES, this is one of many concrete examples that music can sometimes surprise the unsuspecting. She concludes, visibly happy to have been wrong about the following: “Making music my trade was never an option for me. It has always been something personal that I didn’t share much with the people around me. I chose a more conventional career. That’s what seemed the best decision for me in my early twenties.”

Jean-Michel Blais Some people create chamber music, but Montréal-based pianist Jean-Michel Blais does apartment music. His living room is actually where he recorded Il, an album he sold online before it was picked up by Toronto’s Arts & Crafts imprint, last April.

“There was talk of recording that album in a chapel using a grand piano, but in the end I figured that music was best recorded in the exact conditions it was born in,” says Blais, an artist who loves to talk about daily-life sounds. Baby cries, birdsongs and other random sounds are scattered throughout this surprising album. Two of the album’s tracks bear the title “Hasselblad,” the brand of camera his photographer friend used to shoot the album’s artwork and, when listening closely, one can hear the camera’s shutter clicking distantly between the notes on the piano. The music is ethereal, uncomplicated, alive, a reflection of the 32-year-old composer and improv player who borrows as much from Romanticism and minimalism as he does from pop music, attracting, as his label has put it, fans of Radiohead as well as of Debussy.

Over the past few months, Jean-Michel Blais’ music has travelled well beyond the confines of his Mile End apartment in Montréal. For the Toronto launch of the album, he undertook a residency in the atrium of the Art Gallery of Ontario, where he proceeded to charm his eclectic and enthusiastic audience. Since its launch, the album has accumulated consistent rave reviews and a few major concerts – including one at the Montréal Jazz Fest – have begun appearing in his calendar.

If, at first glance, his presence in the catalogue of the Arts & Crafts label — a champion of indie bands – might seem awkward, he’s not the first iconoclastic ivory tickler to call the label home. The infamous Chilly Gonzales has long been a mainstay of the label, and the Montréal-born pianist also bridges the divide between the pop and classical traditions.

“I make no bones about it, he is totally an influence of mine,” says Blais. “But that one trait we mostly have in common is our communicator side. Just like he does, I love talking to the audience. I love to explain what I’m doing, because I feel it democratizes the experience and gives meaning to the music.”

“Except for the sound engineer’s salary, the record basically cost nothing to record, so I almost felt guilty for selling it, initially. Now that I’ve been signed, I can tell you that my label doesn’t share that feeling!”

Jean-Michel Blais And to think that until not very long ago, Jean-Michel Blais had given up on a career in music. “I got to where I am thanks to a series of happy coincidences,” explains the artist. “When Cameron Reed (Arts & Crafts’ boss) got in touch with me to tell me he stumbled upon my Bandcamp page and wanted to release my record, I thought it was a joke. I was a teacher in CÉGEP and I never thought I’d have a career in music. Except for the sound engineer’s salary, the record basically cost nothing to record, so I almost felt guilty for selling it, initially. Now that I’ve been signed, I can tell you that my label doesn’t share that feeling!” he says, laughing. |

Earning a living with music is a topic that will come up often throughout our conversation. Ever since graduating from the Trois-Rivières Conservatory, he’s had a surprising view of the classical music trade. “When I came out of the conservatory, I knew I wasn’t cut out for the academic worl,” says Blais. “I felt like piano and concert music were bourgeois entertainment, so I left to work in a Guatemalan orphanage.” Over the years, the young man travelled the world on humanitarian endeavours and took up studying psychology, leaving music behind for many months at a time.

“Sometimes, one needs to know when it’s time to leave one’s field fallow for a while,” he says. “That’s a rule of thumb in agriculture, but it applies to music, too.” The analogy is not a coincidence: between two explanations of his love of improv, he launches in a tirade about his aversion to boundless capitalism and our artificial and insatiable needs that drive us to produce, produce, produce… So when he starts talking about his desire for minimalism, one starts wondering if he’s talking about music or a broader state of voluntary simplicity.

“My music is by far more poetic than political,” he says immediately. “I like for people to make it their own and use the images they wish. But simply playing is an act of communion. When I travelled South America, I saw first-hand how much music can rally people. I understood the social role it can have, and felt I, too, could contribute.”