You may not have heard of SayWeCanFly (aka 20 year old Braden Barrie) but trust us…there are a lot of people who have.

The essence of the do-it-yourself (DIY) ethic, he began recording his brand of emo-influenced singer-songwriter anthems and shooting his own videos from his home in Lindsey, Ontario, and soon began amassing a large, dedicated online following.

Now he has more reach on social media than most established artists, with hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers and YouTube views, and more than half a million likes on Facebook.

“It’s been so amazing spending so many years connecting with people all around the world through social media,” says Barrie. “But now it’s time to put myself out there and reach them face to face.”

He’s been touring steadily around Canada and U.S. for the last two years, joining the Vans Warped Tour in 2015. His debut album, Between the Roses, comes out this winter.

Nothing pointed to the fact that Rafael Perez would become a manager, label owner, and certainly not a music publisher. Born in Québec City, he got to publishing almost by accident, after a few crucial meetings that led him where he is today, namely the head of Coyote Records, one of Québec’s most interesting record labels – thanks to its unique flair and very diverse catalogue.

Want examples? First, there’s Karim Ouellet, who’s the reason it all happened, and then there’s Klô Pelgag, Alfa Rococo, Antoine Corriveau, Claude Bégin, Julie Blanche, Félix Dyotte, Millimetrik, Ludo Pin, Peter Henry Phillips, Webster, Francis Faubert, and many more who’ve found a home in Coyote Records, formerly known as Abuzive Muzik.

After receiving many important awards, Coyote Records now figures among the most influential players on Québec’s cultural scene. “Up until about 2010, I was working mainly in the hip-hop scene, and then I signed Karim Ouellet and changed my company’s name to Coyote Records, which was my dog’s name,” explains Perez. He started out as the manager of the hip-hop duo Sagacité back in 2006, before creating Abuzive Muzik and becoming the main reference point on Québec City’s hip-hop scene. This jack-of-all-trades is still based in La Vieille Capitale.

Coyote Records Logo“Karim Ouellet marks the beginning of Coyote Records as we know it today, which is to say a more generalist record label that is open to all musical genres and where hip-hop still has its place,” says Perez. “We do it all: electronic music, reggae, rock, pop, folk. We built a roster that’s quite diverse and we also publish all kinds of works in many networks these days. We champion styles that are popular in commercial networks, but we’re still very active in alternative networks.”

A total neophyte when he started out, Perez thought he was headed for a career in the restaurant industry and ended up being one of the most important players in the Quebec record industry, respected by his peers and passionate about his work. He learned on the fly, motivated by boundless determination and an undying love of music in all its many guises.

“At first, I had no idea what music publishing was,” says Perez. “One thing lead to the next, I started looking into it, and into artist management and concert production. I took up classes offered by ADISQ, I bought many books on the topic, and slowly but surely, it turned into a passion. That’s when I entered the wonderful world of Québec’s music, production and publishing. But to tell the truth, when I started out I was treading in uncharted territory; I didn’t have a single clue about what SOCAN, SODRAC, SOPROQ, Musication, SODEC or the Fonds RadioStar were about… There were so many players it made me dizzy!”

Ever humble, Perez admits he still has a lot to learn, but his unique insight has so far helped him navigate tactfully and strategically through a period of rapid change – where what was true yesterday won’t be necessarily true tomorrow.

“It’s obvious there’s going to be turmoil, but with time and the appropriate legislation, the music world will experience a golden age again.”

“Coyote Records’ core business is publishing,” he says. “Selling records is increasingly difficult and it certainly isn’t going to get any easier. It’s not our strength, in any case. But when it comes to publishing, we’re doing quite well. In other words, we’re a publisher with added value, and not the opposite, as is the case for other record labels.”

No matter what, the Coyote Records boss remains down-to-earth, and has a clear vision of his trade and the challenges he faces; he’s well aware that it won’t be a walk in the park.

“Many challenges await the industry,” he says. “Traditional media, which are a major source of revenue for creators and publishers, are mutating. As is the case for the record industry – to which people are turning their backs in favour of digital and streaming – I think listeners will move away from traditional radio and towards internet and satellite radio. This transition will no doubt have a significant impact on the revenue streams of creators. The same goes for television.

“Therefore, the way we compensate those people will gradually evolve, even though it’s not always as fair as it should be. It’s obvious there’s going to be turmoil, but with time and the appropriate legislation, the music world will experience a golden age again. In the short term, it’s likely going to be difficult for creators and publishers, but I’m confident it will get better in the long run.”

Bell Centre, May 9, 2003. Two-thirds of the way through a Ginette Reno concert, Jean-Pierre Ferland steps on stage to duet with the evening’s star on “Un peu plus haut, un peu plus loin” (“A little higher, a little further”). The concert was part of a series that celebrated Reno’s decades-spanning (‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s) career and hits, and Ferland’s appearance took on the air of a major event in and of itself.

As I sat in seat 5, row M of section 123, I thought to myself that the surprise guest could also show up during the next night’s concert, where her hits of the ‘70s would be performed. It is, after all, during that decade that the singer made Ferland’s classic song hers. But there was no chronological mistake, since the song was indeed written in the sixties.

The song, a true monument in the “Chanson Québécoise” catalog, has, it turns out, quite an uncommon story. It’s a song that was a hit twice, with two different titles, and many, many singers, and its very meaning has evolved with time.

“I wanted this song to be an anthem for hope. A song is the reflection of the songwriter’s mood.”

How does a homegrown hit come to be? Sometimes, they’re born on foreign soil. “It was composed and written in a small hotel room in Paris’ eighth arrondissement,” Ferland recalls.

Jean-Pierre FerlandBack in 1969, the singer-songwriter was signed with Barclay Records. “Un peu plus loin” was its original title. It would become the title song of the upcoming 1969 album, which also contained “Les femmes de 30 ans” and “Qu’êtes-vous devenues?

It would also be featured on the greatest hits compilation launched three years later – Les grands succès Barclay de Jean-Pierre Ferland – but it wasn’t released as a 45 rpm single, and was overshadowed by Ferland’s other hits at the time. “Je reviens chez nous,” the 45 launched in June of 1968, became a huge hit and his signature song. Then came the album Jaune, in December 1970, which firmly established Ferland’s output in the ‘70s.

The artist, however, has a different explanation for the the lack of initial success for “Un peu plus loin.”

“The song didn’t get to have much of a solo career,” he says. “When I first recorded it, it was with a large orchestra. But that didn’t work. When we started singing it in a more pop, and sometimes even rock, way – after re-recording it in 1972 – that’s when people started noticing it.”

In the meantime, it had also found its way onstage. Renée Claude, who’d been singing Ferland’s songs since 1962’s “Feuille de gui,” frequently sang “Un peu plus loin” during her shows. But the song’s true renaissance would come during the 1975 St. Jean-Baptiste Day (Quebec’s “National Holiday”) celebrations in Montreal.

On June 24th – which also happens to be Ferland’s birthday – of that year, he was the star of a free concert on Mount Royal that also featured Ginette Reno, Renée Claude, Emmanuelle, and many more.

“Ginette was just back from her foray in the U.S.,” remembers Ferland, who the previous year had recorded the duet “T’es mon amour, t’es ma maîtresse” with her. “She felt like her trip was somewhat of a failure. She’s the one who asked to sing “Un peu plus loin.” She thought it was ‘a good song for (her) comeback.’ I asked Renée Claude if she minded letting Ginette sing it. Renée was incredibly generous to agree and the rest, as they say, is history.”

The rest, in this case, is a mythical interpretation of “Un peu plus loin” by Ginette Reno in front of hundreds of thousands of people. That night’s rendition became epochal, and is still flabbergasting to this day.

That is also the exact moment where Ferland’s song took on a whole different meaning, where it transformed into something else in the collective mind. What was, at first, a song about broken love, became a whole people’s anthem for hope and emancipation in a tense political context.

“Contrary to popular belief, it was a song about breaking up,” confirms Ferland. “I’d just lived through a painful breakup and it was my own personal way of finding solace. But I also didn’t want it to be overly sad. I wanted it to feel like a hymn to hope. One story ends and you move on. A song is the reflection of the songwriter’s mood. Yet, a song can have several layers of meaning: revolutionary song, love song, dream song…”

Ironically, Ferland never thought “Un peu plus loin” would become a hit, but that was before he sang it alongside stellar signers such as Reno, Mireille Mathieu and Céline Dion.

“I never thought it could become a hit. No more than ‘Le petit roi,’ for that matter. But I knew all along, however, that ‘Je reviens chez nous’ would be a huge hit.”

Nowadays, the song is known as « Un peu plus haut, un peu plus loin. » It’s been inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. Goes to show a song can, through time and popular recognition, not only become a major pop song but even change titles.