SMC Spotlight No.1 | Soap Box Duo ‘Soap Box For Haiti’ Benefit Concert

By Candice Anne Marshall

I first heard of Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canadian born and based band ‘Soap Box Duo’ earlier this fall. I happened to be looking at all the bands who had graced the summer music festivals when I stumbled across an interesting post with the hashtag #soapboxforhaiti. Immediately I was intrigued and connected with the band (no, I really don’t waste any time – Reporter brain over here…). I began my research and immediately fell in love with the bands music. What struck me even more was their reasons for diving into a humanitarian effort by bringing global awareness of how people can help by working alongside impoverished people through a 20-minute film documentary created from their trip to Haiti in October 2017.

I admittedly have a soft spot for individuals who utilize their creativity, status, and talent with the purpose of helping others, and with this being my first introduction to the Soap Box Duo, I am proud to welcome them into the Starlight Music Chronicles (SMC) Family. Tomorrow, the band will be hosting their FIRST self-produced benefit concert at the Horizon Stage in Spruce Grove, Alberta where they will air the documentary video followed by a live performance. I encourage anyone in the community to get to this show! Any remaining tickets can be purchased (here)

Aside from their humanitarian efforts, the bands’ music is a delightful blend of Alternative/Folk that hits you right away – it’s the ‘feel-good’ music that everyone should have on their playlists that are perfect for that mid-day pick-me-up we all experience throughout the work week. They also have created brilliant original works with songs like ‘Walls‘ (video below) which bring awareness to childhood sexual abuse along with their support for organizations like ‘Little Warriors‘. The band consists of Alexander and Jenesa MacMullin whose music influences include The Civil Wars, John Mayer, Aretha Franklin, and many others. Since the bands’ inception in 2015, they have been nominated for many prestigious awards, launched their first EP, and have had several television appearances. I am not surprised because this isn’t only a band with a highly contagious sound, they are path-pavers whose honest compassion for humanity set them apart from the rest. You can read the bands’ bio at the end of our interview as well as tap into their social media links. I look forward to following this dynamic duos’ journey and in supporting them going forward through our SMC Spotlight Numbered Series. Welcome to the SMC Family!

SMC Spotlight Exclusive Interview | Soap Box Duo

SMC – Hello Soap Box Duo! We are very excited to have you on our exclusive SMC Spotlight platform! Can you tell us how you heard about SMC?

SBD – We saw SMC feature some of our friends from the Edmonton music scene on Facebook.

SMC – Let’s delve into your background and roots in music – can you tell us what inspired your music careers?

Alexander- Honestly I owe my music career to Guitar Hero. I got so good at that game I thought that the next step to make it more challenging would be to learn real guitar. Then when I was 16 years old I started learning songs from artists like John Mayer, Bon Iver and Ray LaMontagne who were my biggest influences at the time. After performing my first original songs for friends and family I was shocked by their positive response. They really felt that I had a gift and I was inspired to grow as a musician so that I could pursue music as a career.

Jenesa- My parents always tell me that I sang before I could properly speak; it’s been a part of who I am since infancy. Then as early as age 7, I wrote my first song. I was put into dance, theatre and music lessons and was a huge pop music fan. I was that sappy kid who loved NSYNC and Destiny’s Child. To be honest, I still listen to Destiny’s Child. My focus on pursuing music as a career came in my teen years when I realized I could make money as a songwriter and performer and could hold a position of influence through my music.

SMC – Tell us more about yourselves for our new readers. We will get to your project later in this interview, but for now, let us know about you!

SBD – We are vintage-pop artists that go by the name Soap Box Duo. We chose that name because we want our music to be a platform for issues we want to address in the world. Our main focus is the prevention of childhood sexual abuse. In the early-mid 1900s if you wanted to rally people for a cause, you would stand on a soapbox and gather a crowd for your purpose. Now-a-days we have social media as a ‘soap box’ so we use that to connect with other passionate people.

We both met while studying music at MacEwan University. What brought us together was our shared passion for music, justice and God. We both had similar dreams of a career in music where we could support a family and live a life of purpose.

SMC – What instruments are you both proficient in?

Alexander studied guitar as his primary instrument while attending music school. He also sings, plays drums, bass, basic piano and recently started learning the cello.

Jenesa studied vocals as her primary instrument while attending music school. She also plays guitar, a little bit of piano and percussion.

SMC – You are both fairly new to the music scene as ‘Soap Box Duo’ – can you tell us what the reception/support in the local community has been like?

SBD – We have been blessed by the support of family, friends and the local community. When we started Soap Box Duo full-time in January 2015 we had no recorded music yet and needed to earn credibility in the music scene. It was so encouraging to be given a chance to prove our worth as writers and entertainers. Venue owners, radio hosts, booking agents and other musicians in the scene gave us the opportunity to share our music and our passion.

SMC – Who are your music mentors in the Edmonton community?

SBD – One key person who we have learnt a lot from is Rhea March who really helped us with our first few steps when we first started playing full-time in the city. But I would say that other musicians in the local scene have been consistent mentors to us. People like Brennan Murray, Jeff & Carol-Lynn Quinn, Joal Kamps, Jen Perry- to name a few- have taken the time to share their ideas, tricks and methodology with us.

SMC – You have some major accomplishments under your belts – your track, “Kissed the Girls” was a finalist in the Los Angeles Top Vocalist competition and the New York John Lennon Songwriting Contest. Tell us how that came about and the result of each – how exciting!

SBD – Thank you so much! Our tracks were entered into both of these contests and we were proud to have been named finalists. These things have given us more visibility, connections in the music scene in North America and encouragement to continue refining our song writing and performance.

SMC – I also read in your bio that In fall of 2016, you were nominated for the Gospel Music Associations (GMA’s) 38th Covenant Award for “New Artist of the Year”. Another huge accomplishment! Tell us about this more about this!

SBD – Thanks again. It was an exciting surprise for us to be nominated. As musicians trying to make a full-time income you enter your material to be considered for awards and contests. It’s often hard to believe in your own music. But we took some chances and submitted our songs. When we heard that we got nominated for “New Artists of the Year”, when they were considering musicians from across Canada, we were blown away. It was really humbling.

SMC – You were also nominated for your song ‘Complexion’ (see below) at the 2016 Edmonton Music Awards for the ‘Adult Alternative Recording of the Year’ category. You have made some amazing accomplishments! What was it like to be nominated for so many prestigious awards in your short career as ‘Soap Box Duo’?

SBD – We are so grateful to have been recognized for all of our hard work. There are so many incredible artists out there writing amazing songs, so to be considered among those people is a dream. We actually have a big collage of images and words on a board that hangs in our bedroom. This is a visual reminder of our goals and dreams and we have been blessed to see so many of the things on this board come to pass- this includes our first royalties payment, songwriting awards and playing live on radio- to name a few.

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Soap Box For Haiti

SMC – This interview has been a long time coming and I am very excited to learn more about the upcoming event ‘Soap Box for Haiti’ on November 30th! Tell us more about what this project is about and the event.

SBD – This project is one that is close to our hearts. We are inviting our fans to join us for a night of live music and a chance to be the first to see the documentary we recently filmed in Haiti. The venue is a theatre, which is the perfect place for this event. Our audience will be able to really hear our lyrics, feel our music and be a part of memorable moments without distractions.

SMC – Why Haiti?

Jenesa- I traveled to Haiti three other times, the most recent trip was nearly 8 years ago. I have dreamed of returning there, as I love the country and the people, and wanted to share that love with Alexander.

SBD – We were happy to partner with Nicola Topsom of Floriana Wedding Project to travel to Haiti and see what they do. We brought wedding gowns and bridesmaid dressed that were donated for the store they have set up in Port-Au-Prince. In August, as we were preparing to go, we had the idea of making a documentary while there. Nicola helped to connect us with other organizations that we could interview as well as setting us up with opportunities to film “The Real Haiti” to show people back home what the country is like.

SMC – You actually went to Haiti in October to film your documentary – what was it about?

SBD – The goal of the documentary was to show ordinary people who were doing amazing things there while giving viewers a glimpse of the beauty of Haiti. We hope to inspire our fans to partner with organizations that they might relate to.

SMC – What was the experience of actually being in Haiti like?

Jenesa- Traveling to Haiti is always a culture shock. Since they are the poorest country in the western hemisphere, they live very different from how we do here in Alberta. But aside from the discomfort and the emotion of seeing the abject poverty, I was again reminded of why I love Haiti so much. The people are incredibly inviting, generous and loving. I felt like family again so quickly, even with the new friends we made.

Alexander- Before we left for Haiti I didn’t know what to expect. I was initially shocked by everything I saw. Though I was ill and was being stretched outside of my comfort zone, I was happy. The friends I made there were so loving. Part of me went there with the mentality that I was going to “help” them but in reality they were the ones who were taking care of us.

SMC – What did you feel most profoundly while in Haiti?

SBD – We were humbled by the resilience and joy of the people we met there.

SMC – What has the local response been like for this upcoming event?

SBD – So far, many people have been very supportive of this event! Over one-third of the tickets are sold and we predict that the event will sell-out in the next 4 weeks. Some people who aren’t able to attend have even given donations!

SMC – What can one expect to see at the event?

SBD – This will be our BEST live show yet! The audience will see us perform as a duo, with a full band and will hear both fan-favorites and NEW songs. This is the first show where we will have control of lighting, media and sound. This will be the only chance to see the pre-screening of the documentary on a BIG SCREEN as well! A local realtor has donated Oil Kings tickets that will be silent auctioned during the intermission. Audience members will be able to purchase our merchandise as well as unique items from Haiti, all in support of this documentary project.

SMC – What are the proceeds from this event going to be put towards?

SBD – The cost of travel, accommodations and food in Haiti for the duo, along with the director of the documentary, was quite high. We have taken on further costs with the post-production work required to finish the film. So the proceeds of this event are going to cover the out-of-pocket costs of being able to produce this documentary that will showcase different organizations and hopefully get more people connected to investing in Haiti.

SMC – Some would ask if you are also involved in the charities in your local community – are you?

SBD – We sure are! Little Warriors is one organization that we are very closely connected with right here in Edmonton. Stay tuned for some news on how we are partnering with them in the battle to prevent childhood sexual abuse.

SMC – What is the one thing you would like to see happen as a result of this event?

SBD – It would be amazing if people would be moved to get involved with the organizations we have showcased and perhaps even travel to Haiti themselves. If only one person is moved to get involved, we will count it as a success.

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Music

SMC – Your self-titled EP ‘Soap Box Duo’ is dynamic! I have had a listen and love it! What has the radio support for your EP been like? Are there any stations you would like to shout out to?

SBD – Thank you. 105.9 Shine FM, 88.5 FM CJSR, CBC Radio 1, 106.5 Mountain FM, 90.5 CFCR FM and GRadio are a few local stations that gave our first album a chance on air! We are super grateful to these guys for their support.

SMC – Can you tell us what the album means to you both ‘thematically’?

SBD – Thematically you could say it was an introduction to us as Soap Box Duo. This album shares about the start of our relationship as well as some of the first experiences in our marriage. It also talks a little bit about some of Alexander’s struggles before meeting Jenesa and the couple’s passion to help those affected by sexual abuse.

SMC – Which song is your favorite off the EP and why?

SBD – Our favorite song would have to be “Silver Lining” because it’s very emotional for the two of us. During our first ear of marriage we both had full-time jobs, we were teaching music in the evenings and we were trying to get Soap Box Duo started writing songs, rehearsing covers and building our online presence. We barely had time to get to know each other and those moments where we could stop and be with each other was the silver lining in our busy lives.

SMC – Let’s delve into the album ‘Serenaded Through Seaweed’ which appears to be a compilation album – can you tell us more about how you went from the Alternative Folk to Electronic genre with your song ‘Adventure Island’?

SBD – We were honored to be asked by our friend, Nathaniel Sutton, to be guest vocalists on a song he wrote with his band ‘Brother Octopus’! Nathaniel was so fun to work with. We laughed a lot when recording the ‘gang vocal’ bit from the tune.

SMC – What music do you have planned coming up? Can we expect another EP or album release in the near future?

SBD – After interviewing producers from Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and even Nashville, this December we will be recording with Justin ‘Dunna’ McDonough of Resonate Music Studio here in E-Town. It will be a 6-song album. We have been working on developing our “vintage-pop” sound and excited to showcase our strengths as writers, vocalists and instrumentalists. ‘Back to Black’ by Amy Winehouse has been an inspiration to us as we’ve been preparing for our next recording project.

SMC – I know that your Haiti project would have been very time-consuming but I was curious to know if you were inspired to song-write while you were there?

SBD – When we were in Haiti we didn’t have the time or energy to song-write, unfortunately. Now that we are home and working super hard at getting the concert event ready, we haven’t quite had the chance to process our experiences in Haiti. We did however write a song leading into our trip called ‘Greenback’ which is about poverty and can be found on our YouTube channel.  

SMC – Aside from your November event, are there any other shows you plan on performing at during the holiday season?

SBD – There are a number of events we will be performing at during the Christmas season. One, for example, is a corporate function at the Hotel MacDonald. These are great events that give us a chance to share our music while making money to pay the bills! Ha ha.

Much of our month will be spent on recording and preparation for an upcoming opportunity that we hope to announce soon on our social platforms.

Personal Life 

SMC – You two are a team and are always together – how do you separate career from home life?

SBD – Ha ha. This is something we haven’t quite figured out yet. We honesty don’t have much separation between our career and our personal life since we work from home and are both working all hours of the day. We really do love what we do and are happy to spend every moment together focusing on living a life of purpose.

SMC- How did you two meet and just know you were meant to have a career together?

Alexander- When we were still in school, Jenesa asked if I wanted to do a book study on ‘Purpose Driven Life’ by Rick Warren with her. The book was so good for us because it asked questions that really reached into the core of who each of us were, what we had lived through and who we wanted to become. This was actually how I ended up sharing, for the first time in my life, about having been sexually abused as a child. There was a closeness we shared so early in our friendship that led to us collaborating, dating, dreaming about a future and eventually marrying- all with Soap Box Duo in mind.

SMC – I would like for you both to answer this one: What is the one thing you admire about the other the most in terms of personal and career?

Alexander- I can’t pick one. I admire Jenesa’s work ethic and creative ideas musically and business-wise. She has an incredible gift for lyrics and melodies. She is strong everywhere I am weak which makes us a fantastic team.

Jenesa- Wow, this is a hard one! On a personal level I would say that I most admire his honesty. Trust is such a crucial part of any healthy relationship and I am so grateful that I have someone I can really trust. As for our career I would say that his true love and magnetism to music and creativity is what I admire most. He could honestly sit and create on his guitar for hours and he’d even forget to eat! I guess that’s where I come in 😉

SMC – What has been the greatest compliment a fan has ever given you?

SBD – The greatest thing we have heard from our fans is when they have come up and explained how one of our songs really touched them. To know that something we created has positively impacted someone else’s life is extraordinary.

SMC – Which social media platform are you on the most and why?

Jenesa- We use Facebook the most because we have the largest engaged fan-base there. Plus, I’m not super “techy” and Facebook is user-friendly. Haha.

SMC – Alright – final question: What is at the top of your list places to perform in and why?

SBD – We are excited to perform in any space with engaged listeners but I think we would LOVE to do large theaters and arena shows.

SMC – Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us!

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Soap Box Duo Bio

Coming onto the scene early fall of 2015, this prolific pair saturated the Edmonton and area music scene playing more than 200 live performances to date! Alexander and Jenesa MacMullin are a Canadian pop duo with a folk undertone, hinting of both rock and jazz. This powerhouse vocalist and innovative guitarist met at jazz school in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Their unique sound is influenced by the music of The Civil Wars, John Mayer, Aretha Franklin and Gungor, to name a few. Their passion is to use music as their ‘soap box’ to encourage and inspire others toward justice. The couple writes and performs about topics that stir their hearts, from personal experiences to being an empathetic voice for the burdened. These two create catchy melodies and unique instrumentation as a foundation for their lyrics; lyrics that they hope will be both heard and felt by their listeners.

Since January 2016, the couple has released a music video, recorded & released their first EP, appeared on Shaw Television and were featured on multiple radio stations including CBC Radio 1. In fall the couple was nominated for the GMA’s 38th Covenant Award for “New Artist of the Year” for 2016. Their track, “Kissed the Girls” was a finalist in the Los Angeles Top Vocalist competition and the New York John Lennon Songwriting Contest. The two took to the road in March 2017 on their first Western Canadian Tour and, most recently, the duo’s song “Complexion” has been nominated for the Edmonton Music Award for the “Adult Alternative Recording of the Year” for 2016. Just last month the dynamic couple attended an intimate songwriters retreat with Judy Stakee, formerly of Warner Chappell in LA, where they ventured to further hone their craft as musical storytellers.

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Soap Box Duo Social Media Links (click to view)

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Spotify

YouTube

iTunes

 

SMC Spotlight Series No.1 | Clayton Bellamy Canadian Country Music Legend

by Candice Anne Marshall

In late early August 2008, I was introduced to the sounds of Juno Award winning Canadian Country band The Road Hammers and little did I know that my first encounter with Music Journalism would be inspired by this band, but you know what they say about first impressions…and these boys left such an impactful one, I ended up pursuing music journalism into what is now known as Starlight Music Chronicles. Their passion for their music and their enthusiasm on stage through stellar performance left be spellbound.

In the last 9 years, I have followed the bands’ career and in 2013, I reconnected with Clayton Bellamy, guitarist for The Road Hammers, just outside of Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta prior to a Taylor Swift concert. It was then we struck up a friendship apart from the band and is where I first learned he had also pursued a solo music career. He handed me his album ‘Five Crow Silver’ with the promise to review it (which I did eagerly), and since, I have been a massive supporter of his solo and band projects. His attitude, work ethic, and personable approach to his peers in this sometimes very tough industry is like a welcome breath of fresh air.

Since 2013, I have watched Clayton work with Canadian Musicians like Dan Davidson, and FKB producing and penning songs that have now made major strides on Canadian Radio and being recognized by the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) and Edmonton Music Awards. To say the least, everything Clayton pours his heart into has that Midas touch and that is evident in the accumulation of awards he has earned over the last several years. He and The Road Hammers have been nominated for yet another Canadian Country Music Award for 2017 (for Group or Duo of the Year) and have already four CCMA awards under their belt. In addition, he has won a Juno Award for Best Country Recording and SOCAN Songwriter of the Year award to name a few. Clayton has performed at the Grand Ole Opry and even for President Carter. His work credentials from his Five Crow Silver album include working alongside industry peers such as Garth Hudson (The Band), Bobby Keys (The Rolling Stones), Ian McLagan (The Faces), Tommy Shannon and Chris Layton from Stevie Ray Vaughn’s legendary backing band Double Trouble, Gordie Johnson (Big Sugar), Tom Wilson (Blackie and the Rodeo King’s), Audley Freed (The Black Crowes), Chad Cromwell (Neil Young, Joe Walsh), Kelly Prescott, Mike Plume and his old buddies from The Road Hammers, Chris Byrne and Corbett Frasz.

We are looking forward to his new project with The Congregation (as mentioned in the below interview) and his Career journey is officially now part of the SMC Spotlight Numbered Series roster of high caliber Artists we have been profiling in both the music and film industries and welcome Clayton to the SMC Spotlight!

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Clayton Bellamy CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Ron Palmer Photography 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.

Exclusive Interview | Clayton Bellamy 

SMC – Clayton! We are so thrilled to have you on our SMC Spotlight! This has been a long time coming my friend! I met you back in 2007 when you performed at Grizfest in Northern BC. I was that deer-in-the-headlights reporter for the local newspaper Jason brought on the bus…. I remember you boys were so laid back. It was my first interview. You know, I got in a lot of trouble for that! LOL Let’s begin with your work with The Road Hammers – I saw there’s a video in the works….and I saw you in a jailbird costume…what’s up with that? LOL

CB – Well first off, I never kiss and tell so I can’t give away all the details but that picture was on the set of a video for a song called Haulin’ Ass on the new Road Hammer record “The Squeeze”.

SMC – What has the fan response been to The Road Hammers new music?

CB – The response has been overwhelming with a Top 6 single on Billboard it is really overwhelming to see Hammer music still doing so well after 12 years on the road!

SMC – How do you feel you have personally evolved as a Musician since 2007 when we first met?

CB – Well I hope I have gotten better lol, I have learned so much being with this band and touring the world. I think we have really, as Musicians, refined what the band is and taken our live show to a whole other level.

SMC – I did a review of your album Five Crow Silver (I still listen to that all the time!) after we connected in 2013 outside Rexall Place at the Taylor Swift RED Tour. Are there any more solo projects coming down the pipe? That album is fabulous!

CB – Thank you, I was very proud of that record. YES, in fact I am working on a new solo project now, a band called The Congregation!  It is a mix of RnB, Gospel and Rock n Roll!

SMC – I also saw that there was some pretty stellar talent that collaborated with you on the Five Crow Silver album. Can you tell me which experience was most memorable for you?

CB – That album was not easy to make with all the guests involved but I would say being in Willie Nelsons Studio with Double Trouble and Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar and Ian Maclagan of the Faces all in one room was something I will never forget!

SMC – So let’s get into some of the song-writing you have been collaborating on for local artists in the Edmonton community…Let’s begin with Dan Davidson – Can you tell us how that collaboration came about?

CB – Dan and I have known each other for years thru his work with Tupelo Honey, we got together when he called me about co writing for his new solo project!  Together we wrote Barn Burner and Found which was a GOLD selling single!  It still BLOWS MY MIND!

SMC – FKB, can you tell us how you that collab came about?

CB – I first saw FKB playing a Chilli cook off in Bonnyville AB.  Then like the same week I saw them playing at the Car show in Bonnyville, I thought these kids are too good to be real! We got together and started writing for their first record they were 17 and 18 years old!  Now here we are on album number two five years later and they are touring North America with songs on the radio and kicking ass!  I am so pumped for them!

SMC – Can you tell us if there are any other artists local to Edmonton that you will or have worked with?

CB – I am always interested in collaborating and creating music.  Weather at the local or national level it only matters about the quality and passion of the artist I am working with.  If I am going to write or produce with an Artist it first has to feel right.  There are so many great Edmonton bands out there right now but I would love to work with ‘Scenic Route To Alaska’!

SMC – Have there been any other Canadian artists that you have collaborated with outside of Edmonton?

CB – I have been so blessed to work and write with many great artists like Jason Blaine, Big Sugar, Matt Anderson, Chad Brownlee, The Trews, Derric Ruttan, Blackie and The Rodeo Kings and many others who have let me into their worlds.

SMC – What about US artists?

CB – As a Band the Hammers have played with many great acts like Loretta Lynn, Lynard Skynard, Jason Aldean, Dwight Yoakam, Twisted Sister, the list goes on and I often have to pinch myself knowing that all this started as a dream from a small-town farm kid in Alberta.

SMC – What has been your greatest accomplishment to date in terms of your personal career?

CB – I think Playing the Grand Ole Opry.  We played it twice and it was a feeling like no other…I got down and kissed the stage.

SMC – What has been your greatest accomplishment in terms of your personal life?

CB – By far my kids…they have given me so much joy in my life and hope for the future, and the continue to challenge me as a Dad and as a Human being to be better.

SMC – It seems that everything you touch turns to gold! Dan Davidson’s song ‘Found’ and ‘Barn Burner’ have had some serous traction on radio and among fans. Can you tell us what you like most about writing for others?

CB – I love that there are no expectations, only open roads to go down to create!

SMC – How many of the songs on The Road Hammers new album ‘The Squeeze’ you have written?

CB – I was a part of 3 songs on the Record including the Title track!  But it was a group effort to make those songs.  I am only a part of making those great.  Chris Byrne and Jason McCoy are amazing writers in their own right so it’s easy when you get in the room with them!

SMC – You boys always seem to have a ton of fun in everything you do from making videos to live performances. Can you tell us what you enjoy most?

CB –  what I enjoy most is that nothing is ever the same, as soon as you get tired of playing live you’re in the studio recording or your writing its always changing and that works good for me!

SMC – Let’s talk about your career working for 103.9 CISN FM Radio in Edmonton…what was your role on the station?

CB – I was the host of the Drive Home show with Chelsea Bird.

SMC – What inspired you to get into Radio?

CB:  That was serendipity mostly lol.  The good folks at CISN including Chris Scheetz approached me about the opportunity and I said YES!  The rest is history.

SMC – How would you say your time on CISN FM has helped enhance your own music career or that of The Road Hammers or the others you write for?

CB:  I think it helped me become more of a household name in Alberta, it also helped hone my radio skills interviewing and being interviewed!  It also opened up a whole new world of opportunity for the future in Music for me.  And for that I will always be grateful.

SMC – What has been your greatest accomplishment to date in terms of your career?

CB – The JUNO (award).

SMC – What has been your greatest challenge?

CB – Breaking out into new markets around the world.

SMC – I saw something a while back about you supporting causes like the Diabetes Foundation. My mother had diabetes, so this is a subject I am passionate about. Can you tell me what other organizations you have supported?

CB – Yes, I was involved with The Diabetes Association at the CISN I went to Scotland and ran the Scotland Marathon with them it was amazing!

SMC – We are halfway through the summer and with festival season drawing to a close, what do you have planned in terms of live performances in the upcoming months?

CB – The Hammers are full on baby!  We have a huge fall coming up with our new single “YOUR LOVE IS THE DRUG”

SMC – I feel confident that you will walk away with something at the CCMA’s this year! What categories have you or artists you’ve worked with been nominated for?

CB – Well don’t get too confident lol, if it’s one thing you can never count on it’s awards shows lol.  But seriously it is always amazing to be nominated and recognized for your work.  To me that is the best.

SMC – What do you place most of your energy into during the creative process of making an album with The Road Hammers or even with others?

CB – THE SONGS!  with out them you have nothing…

SMC – Can you tell us what your song-writing process is? Which instrument do you use for this process?

CB – My process is secret… my instrument is my BRAIN! LOL

SMC – Which artist in the industry would you like to collaborate with and why?

CB – I would love to work with Eric Clapton or John Mayer!

SMC – With so many affected by the recent passing of Chester Bennington and even Chris Cornell, what are your thoughts on the demands of the music industry and the importance of keeping balanced?

CB – Listen, mental illness is nothing to be taken lightly and until we lift the stigma and get it out in the open and attack it head on we will continue to lose people.  Celebrities or not, our families all need support so love up on each other because you never know where someone is at…

Clayton Bellamy (far left) performs with The Road Hammers at Grizfest Music Festival in 2008.
Photo: Candice Anne Marshall
CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Starlight Music Chronicles 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.

SMC – What is a typical ‘day in the life’ of Clayton Bellamy like?

CB – BUSY>>>

SMC – What has been the most memorable live performance for you to date?

CB: Still the OPRY

SMC – Who are your greatest allies in this industry?

CB – My friends, it’s hard to explain but I never approach this as business and needing allies and leveraging ext… may be to my detriment but I always came at it as a FAN!  I LOVE Music and I want to be friends with these people and be involved in their lives and their music!

SMC – What plans do you personally want to accomplish in the next 5 years?

CB – World Domination! LOL.  Honestly my new project The Congregation and my songwriting are taking front seat for a while and I hope to be busy making music with that!

SMC – Where do you think the future of music is at in terms of platforms: Spotify or Pandora?

CB – There will always be room for vinyl and CD’s on the fringe but mass music is now consumed online and that is our reality.

SMC – Do you think that with platforms like Spotify or Pandora, radio will become obsolete?

CB – No not as long as there is internet this is how music will be consumed from now on.

SMC – What does the term ‘success’ in the music industry means to you?

CB – I think I am living it, I get to make a living playing and creating music that is what I set out to do.  And Every day I wake up excited about my day…you can’t ask for more than that.

SMC – What is a deal-breaker for you in terms of what you aren’t willing to do for your career?

CB – I think anything that goes against my Moral code, or would affect my family or children negatively, but luckily, I have yet to run into that.

SMC – Who would you say are your go-to team?

CB – My manager Ron Kitchner at RGK or my Publishing team at OLE Nashville.  But creatively Scott Baggett my production Partner and The Hammers band are my go to guys!

SMC – What do you do to ‘unwind’ after a hectic day?

CB – I love to be on the Water, or on my Motorcycle.

SMC – Who is your favorite Rock artist? Country? Alternative? Folk/Americana?

CB: Right now, I would list Chris Stapleton, Rival Sons, Tedeschi Trucks Band

SMC – Okay, final question: What ‘other’ career path would you have chosen if you had not chosen music?

CB – Banana Salesman, because I am sensitive just like them…I bruise easily!

SMC – LOL! Fair comment – Thanks Clayton!

*Featured throughout this interview are songs that Clayton has written or produced with the Artists featured.

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Clayton Bellamy
CONDITIONS OF USE: Photos remain ©Ron Palmer Photography 2017 Strictly no re-use, cropping, editing or publishing without prior written consent.

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SMC Spotlight Series No. 4 | Dan Davidson ‘Say We Did’ Review & Exclusive Interview

By Candice Anne Marshall

Just as I suspected, Country Music Rising Star, Edmonton based Dan Davidson has launched yet another gold single today with his newest single ‘Say We Did’. Let’s start with that video though…. once again Davidson manages to stretch the traditional ‘country music video’ boundaries by going completely left field with this latest production. The cast and crew assembled in blistering 31-degree Celsius heat among the Hoodoos of Drumheller, Alberta fully prepared to melt their faces off (literally) for the sake of running around in polyester costumes, playing instruments and living out their love for Star Trek. This might seem like a wild choice for a Canadian Country Musician considering most have videos filmed in wheat field/tractor variety, but I assure you, this isn’t a wild choice for Dan Davidson whose wicked sense of humor and personality shines through here. In fact, the last several videos have seen Davidson in a moose costume performing live with his furry friend creatures or walking the streets of Tokyo in an all-white Cowboy ensemble unabashedly playing his guitar for an unsuspecting crowd of Asian onlookers. There isn’t anything like this on the planet and fans have come to expect this originality as a Dan Davidson trademark and staple and it’s a wild ride. For this alone, I feel the man is genius.

We have had several Spotlight features with Davidson going back to June 2015 where his very well-received debut single as a Country Music Artist was ‘Unkiss Her’. This was followed by ‘Found’ in March 2016, and ‘Barn Burner’ in October 2016. Although the single releases have been spread out, all the traction and attention they have received on radio and press, (including radio tours and live performances) there really hasn’t been a slack moment for this up and coming Country Music Legend.

In addition to his own thriving music career, Davidson is responsible for shaping the music careers of many well-known Artists in the Edmonton community via HandsUp Music along with his partner in crime Mr. Ari Rhodes. I have personally seen Davidson behind-the-scenes at many live performances for his Artists such as Bryan Finlay and Lexi Strate making sure that their equipment is running smoothly for their shows or even helping to orchestrate video shoots for them. He is a mecca of knowledge within the music community in Edmonton and has even written several successful grants for many Musicians in order to complete many of their own video projects. The man wears many hats and for those who don’t know and are just discovering him for the first time today, Davidson has also fronted the Canadian Rock Band Tupelo Honey for several years prior to his recent success in his solo project. You will want to check that out too!

With the new single ‘Say We Did’ out today, I am confident that this is going to be yet another well-received, unique feel-good hit we have come to know from this Artist. Klingons and Borgs in polyester suits aside, this truly iconic, fun, ‘Dan Davidson’ sound in its instrumental composition and lyrical strength. When we look at his work with Tupelo Honey, this song has shades of that ‘Halo’  grandiosity with a Country Music twist and I am very happy to hear it. This translates to a truly original sound that cannot be emulated: legendary. While Davidson is presently sowing the seeds in the music industry with hit after hit, he is simultaneously leading up to a full-length album (fall, 2017) which we are confident will blow the lid off this combustible musical force making Dan Davidson a global household name.

Be ready world, the Dan Davidson storm is coming!

SMC SPOTLIGHT Exclusive Interview | Dan Davidson | July 2017

SMC – Dan! We are thrilled to have you on our SMC SPOTLIGHT again! We have been following your career since June of 2015 when our contributor Randy Wayne Belt interviewed you for our platform. Since, we have had you featured three times in our Spotlight Numbered Series. What are your thoughts on us chronicling your career journey as Dan Davidson?

Dan – I really appreciate all the support! Its nice to have you guys on board from the start 🙂 Hopefully I can keep giving you something to talk about!

SMC – We have always been tapped into your new releases and with the release of ‘Say We Did’ today, can you tell us what you are most excited about with this release?

Dan Well this song is something that was really strategically complicated from a creative standpoint. I wanted to give radio something familiar (the upbeat front porch sound of Found and Barn Burner) yet something new and different to show I’m not just a one trick pony. I’m really confident that my producer and I nailed it on this one. I’m happy to get material out that really sounds like me. I feel that most of my songs aren’t just tunes that could be interchangeable with other artists, its something I’m proud of.

SMC – All week prior to the video launch of the single, we saw some pretty wicked sneak peeks of a Start Trek clad cast and crew…. can you tell us how the idea for this video came about?

Dan – Its just another worst “best idea ever”! Travis (the director), Russ (the assistant director) and I had some really crazy concepts planned for this. More travel related videos but thought, again, we should switch it up. Be spontaneous and unpredictable. We all love Star Trek and somehow got on the topic of buying costumes as a joke. Then it all kind of clicked in for us – we needed to do a spoof in the most DIY possible.

SMC – It was all shot in your garage and your wife couldn’t park in it for a week…. did she at least get flowers or a nice dinner out? (laughs) All kidding aside, your videos have become quite personal and homegrown… can you tell us why you have continued this trend?

Dan – Haha well, she gets a cameo in the video and hopefully her sacrifice helps to bring about a successful single and some sales money haha! Yea I think there are FAR too many riverbanks, dirt roads, wheat fields, and bars in country video. Videos are a real chance for me to communicate my personality and set my self apart. I’m definitely not one to fear straying from the norm. I think it’s a major strength of mine. I have the indie freedom to really do whatever I want – so I’m going to ride that out!

SMC – All your music videos are pretty epic to be honest. Epic and quite funny! Is this the signature ‘Dan Davidson’ style we can come to expect in future videos?

Dan – 100% I love it! Its fun for me. Its also great to hang out with all my creative friends and make some memories as professional grown up children.

SMC – Who is the creative team behind the video?

Dan – The video and concept was written by Travis Nesbitt, Russ Dawson, and myself. It was all shot by Trav and Russ as well.

SMC – The song itself is a genuinely pretty song with that classic upbeat sound we have come to know. Is this another co-write with Clayton Bellamy?

Dan – Nope, this one was co-written by Dave Thompson (remember Wave in the 90s? Yea him. We call him Dwave), and also with Travis Wood (Tim Hicks, James Barker Band)

SMC – What would you say is your unique Dan Davidson ‘signature’?

Dan – I’d say just honest music, with a little personality, and an indie DIY touch.

SMC – When you are about to embark on writing and production of a new single, what is your process?

Dan – Well for this one, I headed down to Nashville to write for a week. Landed a pretty good tune with a co-write, then looked at a list of about 30 songs with my publisher, radio team, and producer and narrowed it down. From there, I sent the demo to my producer and we began to fumble with the keys and tempos. Then we starting working on the arrangement. From there I began tracking a guide vocal. After that we started getting all the instruments in place, then I recorded my final vocals from my studio in Edmonton and sent them to my producer Jeff in Toronto.

SMC – I read recently that your previous single ‘Found’ is only 1000 streams away from being a Canadian Gold single! We are thrilled to see this happening for you! Can you tell us which song has been receiving the most attention so far (aside from ‘Say We Did’ today)?

Dan – Not 1000 streams, but 1000-unit single sales (150 streams = 1 sale). So a combination of streaming and sales equaling 1000. Yea its pretty crazy – basically unheard of for an indie artist to land a gold record. Its definitely a career milestone for me! Well Found definitely was the song that broke through. Other than that, Barn Burner is really the only song out! (Which also was top 20 and a major success for me!)

SMC – When we look at having a successful ‘summer release’ when, in your opinion, is the perfect time to launch a new single, EP, or full-length album?

Dan – There is never a good time in Canada anymore – but that doesn’t stop me. Found went out during ratings and Barn Burner went out before Christmas…both terrible times to go. Right now we are competing against more great CanCon than I’ve ever seen. Space is limited but I think we will see some great support out there J

SMC – What has been your best social media strategy so far?

Dan – Make great content, and keep giving people something to talk about.

SMC – Which social media platform is your favorite to interact with your fans on?

Dan – Instagram.

SMC – Do you always launch a video at the same time the single is released to all major music platforms?

Dan – Not really, Found and Barn Burner came out a few months after the song was out. This time we are trying to use the video to leverage attention for the single so we decided to go at the same time.

SMC – Can you share with us what the outcome was for the ‘Dan Davidson’ guitar contest and what it was all about….

Dan – It was a contest to help spread the word about MusiCounts (an organization that helps to bring music and music education to kids across Canada that couldn’t always afford it). I talked to people and radio stations all across the country and raised some great awareness for the cause! A kid from Stony Plain AB won the guitar last week.

SMC – You have recently won Country Recording of the Year for your single ‘Found’ at the Edmonton Music Awards last week! Congrats! With the Canadian Country Music Awards around the corner, do know yet if you have been nominated?

Dan – I’m still in the running in the 2nd ballot, we find out if I’m a nominee in any category on July 12th I believe!

SMC –  I read somewhere that 2017 will be the year of ‘Dan Davidson’ – what are your thoughts on claims like that? (see: Canadian Beats year in review (here)

Dan – Well I sure hope so! I try my best to keep my head down and keep doing what I’m doing without worrying about what everyone else is up to. I think that’s the best strategy for success!

SMC – Speaking of Awards ceremonies and the awards themselves, what are your thoughts on the decisions of the Country Music Association in terms of who wins, etc.? Do you think there is a trend among different awards ceremonies as in: of one gets chosen for one category in one award ceremony, they are likely to get chosen for the others in the same category for other ceremonies in the same year?

Dan – Hmm id never really put any thought into it. I think the CCMA has a great reputation as an organization that really focus’ on credibility and accountability. Hard to find a better award organization that that. The good thing is nominees are essentially selected by their peers – so If I was picked for multiple categories I would just consider it a major honor.

SMC- Do you think that Country Music today is evolving to a new sound or do you think there will be a resurgence of a classic country sound?

Dan – I think the country scene makes room for every kind of country artist. There are trends that will come and go, but for the most part the awareness of country music and the breadth of the fan base is bigger and better than ever. I just hope that continues.

SMC – I know that I have asked you before why you chose a career in Country Music – now that you have progressed further into your career, can you tell me what your feelings are on making this career decision today?

Dan – Never once looked back. It was the best musical decision I’ve made in my 13-year career so far.

SMC – Again, I would like to talk a moment about your band Tupelo Honey – I saw that the Edmonton Oilers have supported your single ‘Can’t Stop’ – LOVE the tune! Is there anything coming down the pipe new music-wise for the band? SMC- How have your Tupelo Honey band members been supportive of your solo career?

Dan – Nothing new coming down the pipe. We have a bunch of B sides recorded that maybe well release to fans one day – but no plans just yet! The guys have been amazing. That’s the thing about making music with your best buds, there is nothing but support. 2 of the guys (Greg on drums, and Tyler on guitar) that are playing with me now. My show has evolved in such a positive way because of their contributions.

We were all so surprised and pumped up to see that we were the pump up music for the playoffs! All of our phones were exploding with texts.

SMC – I have seen so many Artists keeping consistent with their music and social media yet some never seem to make it to radio or get the support they deserve at the best of times. What do you feel is the disconnect on issues like this?

Dan – Radio is a tricky animal. There are tonnes of cool artists that don’t get radio play – sometimes its about the style, sometimes its about the song (often cool music isn’t ‘hit’ music), sometimes its about politics and team. Radio can’t play everyone, its very competitive. I don’t really have the answer to tell you the truth, I’ve found something that works for me after doing this for well over a decade but there is no real “right way”.

SMC – Where have you felt you have made the best career decision so far in your solo career?

Dan – Just doing what I do, having fun, making music with people I love and trust.

SMC – Indeed you have also been involved in the careers of so many up and coming and currently popular Artists in the Edmonton area – have you been still able to maintain grant writing and production work via Hands Up Music/Studio?

Dan – I basically hate grant writing, so I only do it for me and a few other artists I’m involved in BUT I still work tirelessly with Hands Up! Music. Ari and I have produced a tonne of great records this year (Ill have to tell ya about a few!). Hands Up! Is going strong and growing rapidly!

SMC – Which of your current Artists would you recommend for an SMC Spotlight next?

Dan – Lexi Strate is always amazing. She’s the real deal, such a cool sound. As for other production gigs – my fav EP we’ve produced lately is The Sissy Fits – its like a gritty Spice Girls meets punk rock.

SMC – We have seen you do sooooo much hard work behind the scenes for other Artists…. where do you find the energy for it?! (laughs)

Dan – I don’t know! I guess I just like to be busy and help people connect the dots that I was able to connect. Passing that karma down the line!

SMC – In terms of your Music Peers, who has been the most supportive of your career strides (aside from your management team)?

Dan – Jeff Dalziel my producer has been with me for 13 years and has produced essentially every professional recording attached to my name. We do whatever we can to continually help and support each other’s businesses. Also Bill Miller who I talk about often. Bill goes the extra mile, well beyond radio promotion. He’s a great sounding board and work horse. My publishers Red Brick Songs are so fully invested in this with me as well. The outpouring of support from my industry friends is paramount to my success.

SMC – Which radio stations have been quick to promote and support your new music?

Dan – Country 93.3 in Fort Mac, JRFM in Vancouver, KX96 in Oshawa, Real Country 95.5 in Red Deer, Country 94 in St. John, and CFCW have been great for early support!

SMC – What are your thoughts on other music platforms (for promotional purposes) like Spotify and Pandora as opposed to traditional radio playlists and shows?

Dan – It’s amazing. Its listener driven, no advertising. Its about organic trends and tastes. To me its not one or the other though. Artists should strive for both if their music fits.

SMC – I have enjoyed seeing your vlogs! They are pretty entertaining (laughs) – where can your fans find them posted and can they subscribe to them?

Dan – Instagram.com/itsdandavidson and Facebook.com/dandavidsonmusic

SMC – You played at The Danforth Music Hall in Toronto to a sold-out crowd alongside Chase Rice! Can you tell us if you have any future concert dates or festival dates we can watch out for?

Dan – Sure do!

Peace River, Alberta PEACEFEST W/ Jojo Mason & Aaron Pritchett 07/07/17 12 Foot Davis Events Park 8:00pm
Fort McMurray, AB WILD WEST COUNTRY FEST – W/ WBU & Road Hammers 07/08/17 Snye Point Park 8:00pm
Calgary, Alberta CALGARY STAMPEDE – Headline 07/09/17 Ranchmans 8:00pm
Sevenpersons , AB QUONSET DAYS W/ James Barker Band & Rivertown Saints 07/22/17 Quonset Days Grounds 8:00pm
Edmonton, AB K-DAYS – W/ Corb Lund 07/23/17 K-Days South Stage 8:00pm
Mattawa, Ontario VOYAGEUR DAYS W/ The Road Hammers 07/28/17 Mattawa Museum Grounds 8:00pm
Sarnia, Onatario BLUEWATER BORDER FEST W/ Aaron Goodvin 07/29/17 Centennial Park 8:00pm
Dawson Creek, BC DAWSON CREEK STAMPEDE – Headline 08/11/17 Dawson Creek Stampede 8:00pm
Dawson Creek, BC DAWSON CREEK STAMPEDE – Headline 08/12/17 Dawson Creek Stampede 8:00pm

 

SMC – Will you be performing at Big Valley Jamboree in Camrose, Alberta again this year?

Dan – No, I wish! I played 2 years in a row. They need a break! Haha

SMC – What is your favorite live performance so far as Dan Davidson?

Dan – London Music Hall W/ Chase Rice earlier this year. It was like an ACDC video. There were people hanging off everything and everyone was screaming the words!

SMC – Are we going to see a full-length album soon?

Dan – I’d say shortly after CCMAs in September we can expect a release!

SMC – Alright – last question: (I don’t think I have ever asked you this on before either)

Can you tell us one thing about yourself as a Musician that you feel sets you apart from your music peers?

Dan – That’s a tough one. My peers are pretty diverse! I’m not sure if I have a good answer. I’m hoping that fans don’t have the answer either. I don’t want what I do to be a gimmick – I’m hoping there is a music brand and a certain something that no one can quick put their finger on that sets me apart. I think that’s how you know its real.

Thanks Dan! It’s always wonderful when we can connect! Keep up with the awesome!

Check out the video for ‘Say We Did’ below!


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Photo Courtesy: Dan Davidson

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