SOCAN’s author, composer, and publisher members know it all too well: one’s environment can significantly influence songwriting and composing. Creating music away from home can sometimes trigger new ideas and collaboration, as well as unexpected and refreshing influences. Similarly, dreams of breaking onto a foreign market are hard to accomplish without being physically present in the coveted territory. In order to meet those objectives – stimulate songwriting, composing, and the exporting of music – SOCAN has, for many years now, offered its members free access to its SOCAN Houses in Los Angeles, Nashville and, recently, Paris. These are arguably three of the most important hubs of the global music industry.
For SOCAN’s A&R director, Rodney Murphy, the organization’s capacity to offer lodgings to its members in Los Angeles, Nashville and Paris allows it to positively influence their careers on a national and international level. “SOCAN’s ability to offer our writer, composer and publisher members accommodations in these cities has played a huge role in enhancing our members’ careers, on both domestic and global markets. SOCAN members from across Canada use our international houses for the creative development of their craft, allowing them to connect with their fellow creators and music industry contacts in those markets, often with the help and facilitation from SOCAN A&R representatives. Ultimately, our goal is to do our part to seed the Canadian music ecosystem, and help grow the careers and business of our members around the world.”
Paroles & Musique asked a few of its members who’ve stayed at one of the SOCAN Houses in the past year to share their impressions, and find out what their objectives were, and how they came to fruition, thanks to their presence in those foreign territories.
Singer-songwriter Pierre Lapointe was one of the first to stay at the SOCAN House in Paris, a private apartment in the ninth arrondissement, near the Pigalle metro station, just a stone’s throw from the legendary Moulin Rouge, La Cigale, Les Trois Baudets and “guitar street.” “I frequently stay in Paris, and I know that accomodations are the most expensive part of those stays,” he says. “Revenues aren’t always the main reason that makes us want to spend some time in Paris. So knowing you don’t have to worry about the cost of accomodations in your Parisian budget is extraordinary.
“The goal of this trip was networking and songwriting. I met with some people who run a record label there, and with whom I’m quite likely to work with in the coming months, and I met with my concert production team. I worked on writing and researching arrangements for new songs with David François Moreau, and also with Matali Crasset, who’s in charge of designing the backdrop for my next stage show (Amours, Délices et Orgues), to be presented at the Maison Symphonique. So, co-writing songs that’ll be on my next album, and work on my next live show, both benefitted from my stay at the Paris SOCAN House.”
Toronto-based singer-songwriter Royal Wood stayed at both the Nashville and Los Angeles SOCAN Houses in 2016. To him, there’s nothing more important than co-writing constantly, and networking, to quickly develop one’s career: “To make it in this industry, you need to be highly creative,” he says. “But you also need your music to land in the right hands and be able to count on a team you believe in. Good music without a solid team, sadly, won’t help you pay the bills. As my father would’ve said: ‘It’s like winking at a cute girl in the dark. You know you’ve done it, but she doesn’t’.’
“Nothing is more inspiring than a change of environment or scenery. For example, looking out the window at the L.A. SOCAN House and seeing the sun set on the hills and the palm trees of Silver Lake. The energy of the city and the cars driving by. The smell of the dry desert air. Staying at the SOCAN House allowed me to create songs that captured moments that I could not have captured otherwise.
“My most recent stay was in Nashville. After I signed my publishing deal with peermusic, I stayed at the SOCAN House to work for two weeks. During my stay, I wrote new music every day, and I was able to attend meetings with my manager and team. It was all very fruitful. I’m going back to Nashville early this year because I was so inspired by how successful that last trip was.”
For Montréal electro-pop band Le Couleur, their stay at the Los Angeles SOCAN House was an occasion to collaborate with Eric Broucek, a renowned mixer who’s worked with several DFA Records artists (LCD Soundsystem, Shit Robot, The Juan McLean). As Le Couleur’s manager Julien Manaud, of Lisbon Lux, explains, “Our goal was, on the one hand, to finish the mixing of the Pop album in the studio, while also starting to develop a network in L.A. I attended a SOCAN party where I met quite a few people. Among them was American agent Pete Anderson. We stayed in touch for several months after that. He really enjoyed Beat Market’s Sun Machine album, and set up two showcases in Los Angeles in January 2017.”
Aside from his solo career, singer-songwriter Bobby John is signed with Les Éditions Bloc-Notes Musique and has invested a lot of energy in co-writes for other artists, such as Serena Ryder, Olivier Dion and Maxime Proulx, to name a few. He stayed at both the Nashville and Paris SOCAN Houses in 2016 in the hopes of creating contacts in the U.S. and in France, and to check out the local music scenes. “When I went to Nashville and Paris, I had the chance to explore the musical universes of those cities, and I met incredible people who inspired several songs,” he says. “New technology is a great communication tool, but it’ll never replace the creative energy that happens when two songwriters work together in the same studio. That, in my opinion, is how the best collaborations and solid relationships are built.
“Producer/songwriter Éric Collard came with me when I went to Nashville. Thanks to the help of my team at Bloc-Notes Musique, we planned a full week of co-writing and networking. When we came back, we had six potential songs for the album, new ideas about production and recording methods, and made contact with new co-writers for future visits. There’s no doubt that our week at Nashville’s SOCAN House was very productive.
“Not long after, we were invited to co-write with several other songwriters in Paris. I had the chance to work with phenomenally talented artists. A total of nine songs were written during my stay in Paris and, there too, my list of contacts grew considerably. My week at SOCAN’s Paris House could not have been more productive and positive.
“In both instances, the location was ideal. Nashville’s SOCAN House is located in a quiet area, so we were able to set up our equipment and not have to worry about disturbing the neighbours. The songwriters with whom we worked didn’t all have studios of their own, so we used the SOCAN House as a meeting and recording space on more than one occasion. It’s really super!
“As for the Paris SOCAN House, the location is magnificent. The apartment is in a small building in a really interesting and music-oriented area, just a few steps from the metro. Once again, my week was filled with writing sessions and meetings. Being so close to my meetings was ideal. I thank SOCAN for offering its members the opportunity to use the SOCAN Houses, because without them, we wouldn’t have been as productive!”
Paul-Étienne Côté has won several SOCAN Awards in the National and International Television Music categories and is the founder of Circonflex, a musical agency. The prolific composer stayed at the Paris SOCAN House mainly for networking purposes: “The SOCAN House is ideal: it’s Pigalle, it’s central. It’s like living in Montréal’s Mile End, but times 3,000. It’s perfectly located amidst the best venues, terrasses and bistros, and it’s next door to the ninth, second and tenth arrondissements. All of the Paris music industry is a stone’s throw away. I would use the Vélib [a bike-sharing system] to travel everywhere I needed to go from the SOCAN House. I even went all the way to Clichy on one of those bikes because the SOCAN House truly is near everything (but also because I needed to burn all those calories from charcuteries, foie gras, baguettes, escargots and babas au rhum).
“Besides, being able to get accommodations for next to nothing is incredible. It allows you to invite potential clients to dine and drink champagne rather than citronnade. When I was there, I met several new producers, with whom I worked with just last week on four fabulous projects!
“Here’s an anecdote about my stay at the SOCAN House. On October 9, 1871, Victor Hugo moved rue de La Rochefoucauld. He lived there from 1871 to 1973. In 2016, it’s the SOCAN House that’s located rue de La Rochefoucauld, and its members stay there.”
For more information about the Los Angeles SOCAN House, click here.
For more information about the Nashville SOCAN House, click here.
For more information about the Paris SOCAN House, click here.
In the exclusive interview below, conducted by Paroles & Musique Editor Eric Parazelli via Skype, Carole Facal (a.k.a. Caracol) takes us on a guided tour of the SOCAN House in Los Angeles, where she settled down for a week to work on new songs. She also took this opportunity to make new contacts with the help of her record label, Indica Records.