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Explore the bookmarks of Haley Blais’ life through ‘Below the Salt’

On August 25, 2020, Vancouver’s Haley Blais released her debut full-length album, Below the Salt, through the new local, women-owned music label Tiny Kingdom. The album, produced by Louise Burns and Tennis, is a follow-up to her much-praised EP Let Yourself Go.

Haley has been DIY-ing it since 2014, turning out song after song of defiant scream-into-your-pillow bedroom pop anthems recorded in her actual bedroom. Haley speaks candidly of the journey that was the creation of Below the Salt, life in isolation, and the moments that made her realize music was for her.

Photography by Kyla Schnellert

 

Tell us about Below the Salt and the influences behind the album

This is my first album, so influences were plenty and chaotic. I think I got a lot out of my system in experimenting with different genres while recording – you’ll hear Carole King, or the Cranberries, or Liz Phair, Angel Olsen and more. Every song is a specific bookmark in my life.

 

 

 

Do you have any sweet anecdotes you can share while creating your album? We’d love to know about your experience working with Tennis!
I think I black out anything exciting because my brain can’t handle it, but working with Tennis was such a dream, they brought such a lightness to the songs that were originally darker and brooding.

 

How do you want people to feel when they hear your music?
Whatever emotion it compels them to feel. I love when I write a song that may mean something completely different to me than what someone else might interpret it as.

 

What drives your work?
Growth. Recording this album especially challenged me to subject my songs to critique, to change. I’m excited to take what I’ve learned and channel it into the next chapter.

 

How did young Haley know she wanted to pursue music?
5 years old, sitting on the stairs of my childhood home and torturing myself over a recent living room performance of “O Canada” and whether or not it could have been better. Nothing has changed.

 

Photography by Kyla Schnellert

 

What are your go-to road trip songs or albums?
Twin Peaks, Harry Nilsson, Warren Zevon… a lot of male energy on the road.

 

How are you staying creative at home?
Writing music and rearranging my living room every day.

 

What’s the best advice you’ve received that you’ve held close to your heart?

My friends and family know how to keep me in check better than I do myself, so there are countless tidbits I keep close to heart every day. The first one that comes to mind, though, is tequila with orange, not lime.

 

Haley will be performing live from the Fox Cabaret on September 13th at 5:00pm PST. Tune into the livestream via Haley’s Facebook page. Listen to Below the Salt  and follow Haley here.

BC Creators nominated for 2020 Prism Prize Awards

The 2020 edition of the annual show celebrating the best of Canadian music videos and their creators will take place on Thursday, July 23 at 5:00 PM PST on PrismPrize.com and the @PrismPrize FacebookTwitter and YouTube channels.

Following the cancellation of the 2020 Prism Prize Grand Prize screening and awards presentation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Prism Prize decided to keep all previously announced Top 20 artists in the running for the Grand Prize. A jury of over 120 Canadian creative arts professionals voted to determine the winner who will be awarded $20,000, increased from $15,000 thanks to a contribution from Stingray. Each of the runners-up listed in the Top 20 will receive a $500 cash prize courtesy of Slaight Music and RBCxMusic. The Audience Award will also be announced, a fan-voted prize awarded to a video from the Top 20.

Along with the Grand Prize and Audience Award winners, the Prism Prize will recognize several Special Award recipients in the upcoming virtual show including a new honour, the Willie Dunn Award. This is named after the groundbreaking Canadian singer-songwriter, film director and politician William “Willie” Dunn, whose 10-minute film for The Ballad of Crowfoot is often cited as “the first Canadian music video.” The award is presented to a Canadian trailblazer who has demonstrated excellence within the music video production community. The recipient is asked to select an emerging Canadian music video creative to receive a $5,000 cash grant. The Willie Dunn Award’s mandate is to encourage the professional development of diverse creators within the Canadian music video industry.

The recipient of the Willie Dunn Award will be announced alongside honourees for the Special Achievement Award (Presented by Slaight Music, established to recognize an exceptional contribution to music video art on the world stage), the Hi-Fidelity Award (Supported by FACTOR, established to recognize recording artists who utilize music video in innovative ways), and the Lipsett Award (Sponsored by iHeart Radio, established to celebrate a unique approach to music video art) in the lead-up to the July 23rd show.

Below is a list of the British Columbia artists who are among the Top 20.


Debby Friday, Fatal

Directors: Debby Friday & Ryan Ermacora


Said the Whale, Record Shop

Director: Johnny Jansen

 

Sam Tudor, Joseph in the Bathroom
Director: Lucas Hrubizna

 

Jordan Klassen, Virtuous Circle
Director: Farhad Ghaderi

YES MAMA, A Tribute to all Mothers by Missy D

This Mother’s Day, Missy D released a video for YES MAMA, a tribute to all mothers. This physically-distanced music video will leave you dancing.

 

YES MAMA Artistic Team
Written by Missy D
Mixed and Mastered by David Tallarico
Beats by Mantra

Directors: Alexander Farah and Lawrence Le Lam
Cinematographer: Leonardo Harim
Production Designer: Elizabeth Cairns
Colourist: Tomasz Wagner
Production Company: Wallop Film

An Interview With Warren Dean Flandez, Musician and Founder of Studio Cloud 30

“We need leaders who are fearless.”– Warren Dean Flandez

Warren Dean Flandez was born in Yellowknife, which he describes as ‘the coldest place on Earth.’ He then went on to live in Edmonton and Vancouver, he remembers the cold, and he also remembers the music.

“There was always music spinning in our household, and it’s been a big part of my life ever since.” When Warren was 15, he was diagnosed with asthma and someone told him to try voice lessons to help improve his lung capacity. He started taking lessons and discovered he loved singing. “My first vocal coach told me I was awful and that I should stop and try something different. It’s horrible that they can do that – break your spirit. I hit a crossroads – do I give up, like so many people do, or say screw it and follow through.”

Warren’s love of music persevered and has continued to hold a powerful place in his life. Upon moving to Vancouver without having many friends, he thinks he could have fallen into depression had it not been for music. “That summer, I joined a choir. Music saved me in a lot of ways.”

Warren started singing professionally. Despite the fact that it is not always smooth sailing in this industry, he couldn’t imagine doing anything else.  “I’ve been dropped, albums have been shelved, it’s been an insane ride. I’ve had so many highs and lows in my career, and I just kept dusting myself off and trying again after every fall.”

That was his inspiration when he launched Studio Cloud 30, a music school for novice and professional musicians. Within four months of launching the school, he had outgrown his space. Eight years later, he has three locations around Greater Vancouver, countless instructors and students, and a message that music is medicine. “People come to us for so many different reasons. They might have dreams of being a pop star or they might be suffering from PTSD, they might be going through a divorce or be on the autism spectrum. We know that music and songwriting can be very therapeutic.”

A few years ago, Warren became a father and thought that he might stop playing music professionally. Instead, he followed his heart and found his way back to the music that first inspired him as a musician.
“My wife inspired me to go back to my gospel roots, and so I did an independent, self-released gospel crossover album. The response was insane!”

As an artist, Warren believes that none of this would have been possible without the support of organizations like Creative BC. “Creative BC has been incredible. The music industry can change like the wind, and Creative BC gives you the flexibility you need. Dates get pushed, the climate changes, you don’t get the producer you wanted – things change. Yet, they are supportive of the journey, not of a singular outcome.”

Warren truly believes that music is for everyone. “My music falls between so many different sounds. There’s a mixed bag of influences, combined with my ethnicity or cultural ambiguity, and it’s been a blessing and a curse. For years, no one got me, but I’m excited to see the music industry coming back to appreciate music from the soul, music you can feel.”