He goes by the artist alias Konrad OldMoney and his music company is entitled Vintage Currency, but there’s nothing retro or old-school about the creative process of Konrad Abramowicz.

From his current Vancouver base, the Polish-born producer/composer/songwriter tells Words & Music, “I’m all about staying on top of new technology and new movements we have in music. Nowadays, I’ve been really diving into AI-guided music. I’ll probably end up putting myself out of a job,” he laughs. “I just need a way as a businessman to own a piece of it, and then I’ll be fine – ‘OK computer, you think it up and I’ll take the credit!’”

Over the past decade, OldMoney has made a serious splash, placing his music in internationally renowned video games (including many EA Sports titles), films, TV series, and commercials. He also produces other artists and releases his own music in various forms, resulting in a well-balanced current career that’s both prolific and highly successful.

A recent coup has been contributing music to the highly-anticipated video game Cyberpunk 2077 (regardless of the its ultimate reception by gamers). ”I have 27 placements on the game, and I believe that makes me the highest-placed producer on the project,” says OldMoney. “Getting that gig was interesting. I had just signed on with my Vancouver agency, Core Agency, and at an L.A. meeting we had, they said, ‘There’s a Cyberpunk thing happening.’ The way I pitched was to take the one game trailer online and remove all the sound. I redid all the foley and sound effects myself, so it’d have a nice bed, then re-composed the music in two different ways, and submitted it.”

To boost his chances, OldMoney seriously researched the music of the game’s three core composers, Marcin Przybyłowicz, Paul Leonard Morgan, and P.T Adamczyk. “I noticed there are a lot of edgy, harsher sounds in their work, so I wanted to ensure my mixing style and choice of sounds complemented that. You’re doing that out of respect for what they do, but also because you’re competitive. That extra five percent of energy exponentially increases your chances.”

OldMoney has also dominated on two of the game’s associated radio stations, 30 Principales (Latin) and The Dirge (hip-hop).

“The Cyberpunk project was fun, but very labour-intensive,” he says. “I made sure to document the process, so when the game dropped, I released behind-the-scenes videos for every song I contributed, and used that to launch my YouTube channel. There are 27 high-quality videos, of six to nine minutes each, on there.”

“I see myself as a Swiss army knife, genre-wise”

A potent weapon in OldMoney’s arsenal is his proficiency in a wide number of genres. Old-school ‘90s hip-hop was his first passion, but he quickly expanded his range.

“After moving to Canada in 1993, I became a voracious consumer of cultural influences,” he recalls. I wanted to learn all kinds of music from all over the world. At the beginning of my career, people doubted my acumen. They think if you do four different genres you can’t be that great at any of them, but then they’d listen to the music and give me a chance.”

“One of my biggest assets in the studio is that I can go in there with punk, dancehall, Korean, or Latin artists. I see myself as a Swiss army knife, genre-wise.”

That versatility helped him score spots in last year’s Justin Bieber YouTube documentary series Seasons. “I have 10 songs placed on that. I’ve done lots of both pop music and tropical crossover, so that was perfect for me.”

OldMoney continues to collaborate with other artists, including fellow British Columbians Johnny4Graves and Cerbeus. As well as working together on Cyberpunk 2077, OldMoney and Graves recently recorded “We Got The Spin,” selected as the opening theme for Beyblade, a famed Japanese animated TV series with a large global following.

Since 2018, OldMoney has carved out time from his busy schedule for a solo project, Single Friend. He describes its focus as “lo-fi underground hip-hop, music to chill out or study to,” and the material he’s placed on Spotify has generated millions of plays per month.

“Single Friend is basically a passion project for me, so I make a very concentrated effort on it – so I’m not neglecting my other focuses,” he says. “My multi-media music for videogames, movies, TV, and commercials is still the majority of my work. Still, Single Friend is on my mind constantly, as it’s a rather weird reflection of who I am. I do it on my downtime, so instead of riding my motorbike I’ll spend an hour on it.”

Over his two-decade-long career, OldMoney has worked on projects with such notables as Future, The Roots, Run The Jewels, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, and Illmind (in the acclaimed band Smokey Robotic). He singles out his interaction with RZA, of Wu-Tang Clan, as a life-changer.

“I programmed Wu-Tang-inspired music for RZA’s line of Boombotix speakers,” he says. “I told him I’d spent my formative years idolizing what he’d done. He advised me, ‘Get out there more, travel more, keep re-defining things, and push forward.’ That was super-inspirational.”

Who would have guessed? It was a bold move. In the wake of the #MeToo movement that led to the hasty departure of record company Dare to Care/Grosse Boîte’s founder, one of the artists on its roster decided to buy the business. That’s unprecedented. Such a move has never been seen among Québec independent music labels.

Taking advantage of the professional lull caused by the pandemic, Cœur de pirate, a.k.a. Béatrice Martin, decided to dive in head-first. Is she a businesswoman? She’s been a businesswoman since the very beginning of her career in 2008: “All artists are freelancers and entrepreneurs,” she explains to Words & Music. “Now I’m on the other side of things, and I’m really enjoying the challenge. I’m really happy.”

Bravo MusiqueRe-christened Bravo Musique, the label owns the catalogues of (among others), Émile Bilodeau, Maude Audet, Jean Leloup, part of Fred Fortin’s, Chocolat, Jimmy Hunt, Gab Bouchard, Jérôme 50, Malajube, and… Cœur de pirate. A transaction worth its weight in gold.

Béatrice Martin has surrounded herself with new associates, but the Dare to Care personnel already in place aren’t going to change anytime soon. “It’s still a company that’s been around for 20 years,” says Martin. “For sure, some of the people who were at Dare to Care are no longer with us [General Manager Laurie Boisvert has just left], but they were extremely loyal and showed me a lot of empathy when I needed it. I kept what’s good and moved on towards a mindset that’s closer to my own.”

In any case, that loyalty and empathy are among the cornerstones of its corporate culture. Obviously, a clear code of conduct regarding the behaviour of its employees is in place. The cause seemed to have been heard after the departure of Les soeurs Boulay. “Some of my values are different from what Dare to Care used to be,” says Martin.

Hence another challenge that was missing from Martin’s universe: Artistic Director. “I won’t be there every day, but I intend to go to the office as often as possible,” she says. “I’ll finally learn how to create a proper Google doc! I do intend to closely monitor the Artistic Director, and supervise the planning, and I have a super-fun team that’s there to support me. I provide my feedback for all the aspects of the business!”

Singer and dancer Naomi is the first new artist to sign with Bravo Musique. “We’ll keep paying homage to the artists who are already part of the company’s DNA,” Martin confirms. “And to look after their interests. I’m confident that we’ll discover artists who will take us into this new decade.” In other words, Bravo Musique intends to carry on recruiting Québec’s best Francophone talent.

“2020 was horrible for artists in development; we have to find solutions now”

Although it’s not teeming with new finds, Bravo Musique, the flagship, has changed flags. To start with, Bravo is more festive. And the offices will move to 513 Saint-Joseph, in Montréal, says Martin. One thing is certain, the revenue linked to the different playlists and streaming will also be at the heart of the company’s priorities. “We’re facing some unexpected and challenging things right now, it’s forcing us to re-think certain structures; I find it more exciting to find solutions,” she says.

Coeur de Pirate

Photo: Caraz

But don’t you go believing Cœur de pirate is putting her own career on hold. “I’m still very active as a musician: I don’t have a choice,” says Martin. The year 2021 already sees her playing several dates in the U.S. this spring and in Europe in October… “It’s not about conquering new markets as much as it is returning to cities who are anxious to have you back!” she says. “Just to give you an idea, I played in Mexico City and the crowd knew every single lyric of my songs. Obviously, as an artist, you want to live moments like that over and over again.”

Her fifth album, En cas de tempête ce jardin sera fermé (2018), marked a clear musical evolution for the singer-songwriter and pianist. Her international stage experience and understanding of these markets reflect positively on her knowledge of the music industry. There’s no doubt that Bravo Musique will benefit from all that.

“I’m anxious to see when we can start doing live again, especially for the musicians,” says Martin. “2020 was horrible for artists in development. We have to find solutions now, and I’m actively involved in that process.”

It’s clear that Cœur de pirate is closely monitoring her investment. We should never lose sight of one thing: she intends to take care of Bravo Musique’s roster on a human level, too… and that’s excellent news.



The expression we’ve been using the most over the last year certainly was “OMG.” While becoming an incubator for unborn talents, the pandemic has also spurred existing talents to take things to the next level. That’s certainly true of  Laurence Nerbonne, who’s quietly releasing OMG, a French-language album whose English title proclaims what Laurence Nerbonne, and all Québec women, are or should be.

“The album’s final cut, ‘Queens,’ is an important song for me because it plainly states how all these women can take power, and how there’s nobody around to take it back from them,” says Nerbonne. A member of Hôtel Morphée for nearly 15 years, she embarked on her new mission as soon as she left that band in 2015. By 2016, she’d already grown solo roots with her debut album. “Since then, I allowed my style to change so I could increasingly become who I had always wanted to be,” she says. “It’s taken me all these years to learn, but OMG is the first album I’m able to control all the way to the final product.” Ultimately, everything in it is a reflection of her.

From start to finish in the making of an album, creativity may take a variety of forms and rhythms. In Nerbonne’s experience, inspiration can be something that you build on, or something that just happens.

“Inspiration is often described as a flash of light that happens in the middle of the night and comes out of nowhere, and it’s true,” she says. “However, that kind of inspiration only hits you once in a blue moon. The rest of the time, I keep working on the same piece, the same beat and the same chorus for days on end. I re-write, I start over again, I refine. You can seldom say you’re really done.”

The isolation dictated by the pandemic, and an intimate desire to take creative control, were both factors in the singer-songwriter’s desire to bring her pop music closer to rap’s traditional purview. “Upbeat female rap, sung in French, made by women, is something you never hear, and I don’t understand why,” says Nerbonne. “Recently, a number of industry people have lamented that all you hear on commercial radio are the same artists. Female music rarely exceeds 30 percent of the programming, and when it does, it’s always the same stuff. If male artists can have commercial success with American-style rap, I don’t see why what I’m doing shouldn’t work.”

So far, Nerbonne has been commercially successful, her songs have been played on radio, but she’s now decided to bring a sound that’s more in tune with who she really is. “There are two different types of voices on my album,” she says. “First, there are the voices of the characters I play. I want to be funny, and that shows in my lines. In “Première ministre,“ one can truly see that I’ve created this ambitious woman who can push open any door. Nothing can prevent her from going where she wants, and it may just be that, for once, the scandals surrounding her aren’t going to destroy her. We’re sick of seeing all these male characters who are always successful, and who never have to face the consequences of their actions. I also wanted to leave room for party songs… we need them a lot.”

The second tone of voice we hear on the album is Nerbonne’s own. It’s more forward and more serious. It’s obviously her own voice, the voice of a woman who has a lot to say about the way women in general, and women in music in particular, are being treated. “I wanted people to feel the empowerment, obviously,” she says. “I felt it was important for people to perceive a change. I dare to address topics that only men usually talk about in public.”

The day the stage really opens up to women unconditionally, women’s issues and feminism will be allowed to be addressed in all music genres. Nerbonne will be one of the women who have re-invented themselves at the institutions’ request. In embracing trap, rap, and R&B, in expressing herself openly, she’s nurturing a landscape that we all think should be more diversified. In the end, she’ll have done this for herself, and for a larger goal: representing women’s reality. “If I can be one female voice among all the ones that are being heard, that will be enough for me,” she says. “My goal is not to be the only one.”

The door is open.