Vancouver’s Rising Star Selena Sun

If you are looking to expand your music repertoire and are tired of listening to the same song on repeat, you definitely came to the right place. Music BC’s member of the month Selena Sun brings an angelic mix of indie-pop and ambient soundscapes that soothe the soul.

Here’s everything you know about the amazingly talented Vancouver artist.

 

Serena Sun is a Vancouver-based singer, songwriter, and producer. She uses her unique melodies and honest lyrics to share her experience in navigating the ultimate rollercoaster of what we call life. Through her music, Serena shares with her fans the uphill battles she faced living as a first-generation Chinese Canadian, going through painful heartbreak, and learning how to live life, while seemingly carrying the entire weight of the world on your shoulders. If we just listen, there’s much to learn from this rising star.

Serena spent 10 years of her life in Countries like the U.S., China, and Chile trying to find herself. However, her lack of belonging left her pondering life’s most important question. Who am I? Serena took her thoughts and turned them into lyrics, and seemingly by chance, a star was in the making.

It won’t be long until Selena becomes a household name in Vancouver and her single “Something More” proves that. Created with local music producer and songwriter Nathan Chiu, Something More is about seeking a greater purpose in life when it feels like everything around you is falling apart.

Selena has been incredibly busy the past year creating lyrical masterpieces such as “Idk How to Stop,” “Release Me,” and “Everyone I Run From.” Her emotionally driven lyrics make you feel like you are living through her. She is incredibly relatable and makes you feel like you are not alone. In a world where being anyone but yourself is okay, Selena is much more. She is authentic.

Check out her newest single “What you Wanted” streaming now on all platforms.

 

Music and Meditation Fixes Everything

Sharanjeet Singh Mand

Steve Edge/Flickr

There’s no doubt this year has been absolutely crazy, and a lot of people have suffered mentally because of it. But what are you doing to make sure you are taking care of your mind and body during this difficult time?

One Surrey company aimed to ease our body and minds with Transformational Theatres presentation of “Music and Meditation.” A unique 90-minute event featuring local artists who masterfully combine western and Indian classical music with guided meditation.

The original performance was set to be live, however, because of the pandemic, it was moved online so the community could have the opportunity to learn about meditation. Transformational Theatre wanted the community to discover the effects of music on the body and how it can bring people into a meditative state.

“People are sitting at home and are stressed out about what’s happening with the pandemic. This is a chance for people to discover something new and experience the benefits of meditation.”

Free to watch, the “Music and Meditation” event was recorded May 1st, at the Surrey Arts Centre. The performers include Sharanjeet Singh Mand with Sunny Matharu on tabla, violinist Jeanette Bernal-Singh accompanied by her daughter Nandini Singh on cello, the Sahaja Yoga Upon All Shores Ensemble and the Surrey Yuva Shakti.

07IF0Y7092

impulsesystems/Flickr

Performances

  1. Classical Indian dance – Eishitaa Rajeev
  2. “Apani Panaah Mein” – Surrey Yuva Shakti Choir
  3. “Morning Has Broken” – Surrey Yuva Shakti Choir
  4. Meditation Introduction
  5. Cello Solo – Nandini Singh
  6. “Merry Go Round of Life” on Violin and Cello – Jeanette Bernal-Singh and Nandini Singh
  7. Violin Solo – Jeanette Bernal-Singh
  8. “Raag Hansadhwani” – Upon All Shores Ensemble
  9. “Raag Puriya Kalyan” – Sharanjeet Singh Mand and Sunny Matharu

The unique 90-minute performance begins with a First Nations welcome ceremony by Kevin Kelly and Michael Kelly Gabriel. The audience will then be taken on a musical journey opening the heart and mind through sound. Viewers will be encouraged to meditate throughout the show which I really recommend giving a shot. The music is incredibly relaxing and had me in an almost trance-like state.

I was definitely skeptical at first but I am so glad I gave it a try. It was just what my mind needed to distress and I got to learn a lot about classic Indian music traditions in the process.

If you are interested in watching the performance click here.

 

 

 

 

Vancouver Musicians/Bands You Should Know About

Journey Concert

Caroline U/Flickr

Sometimes you don’t have to look further than your backyard to spot an unbelievable talent. Vancouver musicians can be overlooked, however, here are three must-know Vancouver bands/artists that shouldn’t be missed.

Heart

Although they got their start in Seattle, Heart rose to fame while they were based in Vancouver. Mike Fischer fled America to escape being drafted into the Vietnam War and started the band with his brother Roger, Ann Wilson, and others from the band Hocus Pocus.  Nancy Wilson became their guitarist in 1974, and the next year they recorded their debut album, Dreamboat Annie. With hit songs like “Barracuda,”  “Crazy On You,” and “These Dreams” it’s no wonder why they sold over 35 million records worldwide. If you still don’t know who they are, just ask your parents to fill you in on one of Vancouver’s most legendary bands.

Neko Case

1994 is the year Case moved to Vancouver to attend the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. While attending, she became a huge part of Vancouver’s punk scene playing drums for many bands such as the Del Logs, Cub, and Maow. Her big break came when she recorded vocals on Mass RomanticThe New Pornographers first album. Mass Romantic became a surprise hit and The New Pornographers remain a prominent figure in the Indie rock scene to this day. Check out “Letter from an Occupant” to see why she is a prominent figure in Canadian music.

Theory of a Deadman

Formed in 2001, Theory of a Deadman is a Canadian rock band from Delta, BC. The band currently signed to Roadrunner and 604 Records mixes country and acoustic styles with their already formed alternative rock foundation.  With nine albums now under their belt and four of their songs reaching the number one spot on the U.S. Rock Billboards, Theory of a Deadman is a must-know rock band. Don’t believe me? Check out their hits such as  “Bad Girlfriend“, “Lowlife“, “Rx (Medicate)” and “History of Violence.” Headbanging is strongly encouraged.

 

 

Vancouver Jazz Label Celebrates 20 Years of Success

Cory 'Scene' Weeds

Steve Mynett/Flickr

What started as an avenue to promote his live music venue, Cory Weeds, a tenor sax player turned his dream into 20 years of jazz hits on his Cellar Live Label.

Two decades ago, Corey Weeds asked his father for a loan to pursue his dream of opening up his very own jazz club. Most people assumed his dream would be short-lived, however, little did they know how far this tenor sax player would take his vision.

The unique Cellar Jazz Club was a long way from the usual spaces east-side musicians spent their time. The club was located on West Broadway in a space that was previously owned by a well-known pizzeria. Before it closed its doors in 2014, the club was named as one of the world’s best jazz clubs by Downbeat Magazine.

Those accolades would be enough for many, however, Weeds didn’t stop there. In 2001 he created Cellar Live which celebrates 20 years of success this year and is going stronger than ever. In fact, Weeds predicts 2021 will be its biggest year for releases on its three platforms- Cellar Live, Cellar Music and Reel to Real Recordings.

“I joke that I’ve been trying to put this label out of business for the past two decades, but what started out as a live label to compliment the Cellar sort of turned into an international label that continues to thrive and adjust to all the changes in the music business.” -Cory Weeds

With over 200 albums in its catalogue, Cellar Music Group doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. Pandemic or not-Weeds promises 2021 to be full of new releases from local, national and international acts.

A big collaboration is at works this year with American trumpeter Jeremy Pelt. Designed to highlight the musical talents of Black artists, Weeds felt this partnership was the best way to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

“The Cellar Music Group recognizes that jazz is not only a music native to America, but that the progenitors of this music are the very lives that are being threatened daily. This initiative began in the spirit of allyship and to amplify Black voices and their stories.”-Cory Weeds

Keep an eye out for Cellar Lives’ 20th-anniversary releases and events through 2021. A number of the artists who have recorded for the label can be seen at this year’s TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival.

 

 

$5000 Grant Available for BC Artists!

As we’ve approached over a year of COVID-19 restrictions, one particular group has been affected greater than most. Most people would assume restaurants, bars, or small business owners have been faced with the greatest difficulties during the seemingly never-ending pandemic, however, musicians and artists alike seem to have been swept under the rug during the pandemonium.

With no way to make a living due to music venues still being closed and Vancouver’s introduction of an indefinite street performance ban, far too many musicians have been forced to put down their instruments and are in serious need of help.

 

Well, don’t fear much longer as Music BC and SoundON has pledged to grant over $500,000 in a province-wide campaign to help BC’s most vulnerable artists. The new line of funding will give successful applicants $5,000 and support more than 70 virtual shows.

So far, more than $186,000 has been awarded, equating to 579 industry jobs and 266 artists being supported according to Music BC. Of those recipients, 154 were female, 165 were Black, Indigenous, or Persons of Colour, and 58 were from the LGBTQ+  community.

One of many approved for the grant was Alexis Young, lead singer for Vancouver’s dream-pop band “Blonde Diamond.”

“Being a musician over this past year has been incredibly stressful and left a lot of our community with doubts about the future.”

“With live shows being cancelled, our primary source of income and creative release disappeared overnight.”

While government grants usually take a while to be received, Lindsay MacPherson, executive director of Music BC, highlights the importance of getting money in the hands of artists sooner rather than later.

“The criteria for applications is broad because the urgent need for financial support is vast.”

“It allows us to continue to showcase the diversity in British Columbia’s music scene, while offering real tangible support.”

If you are a struggling artist in need of desperate help, head over to SoundON’s website to fill out your application.

 

 

 

Asian Heritage Month: Supporting our Local Talent

Stop Asian Hate

Victoria Pickerling/Flickr

May is Asian Heritage Month where we celebrate and acknowledge the contributions and achievements of Asian Canadians past, present, and future. The Asian-Canadian offerings to the music industry are no different. From honoring traditional cultural Asian origins to creating their own sound, these Vancouver-based Asian-Canadian artists are bringing their talents to main stages across the lower mainland.

Emily M Cheung 

In her debut single, ‘Lakmé and Mallika’, Cheung’s angelic sound takes your breath away with her full notes and smooth transitions. Cheung is a versatile singer who has spent much of her career in concert, touring around the world. We hope that she continues her journey in recording to share her gift with us.

Website: emilymcheung.com

Instagram: @emilymcheu

Monte.Xto

Paolo Gabriel, known to the music industry as Monte.Xto (pronounced monte cristo) is a Filipino-Canadian music artist. If you scroll through his SoundCloud, you will find a unique sound directed by emotions of love and heartbreak. His recent release, “For the Weekend” on SoundCloud, shows the intricacy of his tracks and use of pauses in his lyrics to emphasize his message.

Instagram: @mnt.xto

Kardias Quing

With nuances of R&B and pop influences and a dedication to honest lyrics, we have Kardias Quing, an alternative Pop/R&B artist based out of Vancouver. Born and raised in the Tri-cities, Quing explores themes of mindfulness and love while staying true to the meaning of her name, ‘rule through the heart.’ Catch her latest release, ‘Cocoa,’ in collaboration with Infinnit and Corbin VanderZalm.

Website: kardiasquing.com

Instagram: @kardiasquing

SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/kardiasquing

Emmalyn Estrada

The multitalented Emmalyn Estrada graces us by screen and sound. Estrada is a Filipino-Canadian, born and raised in Surrey, BC, and began her screen career with a reoccurring role in ‘Bates Motel.’ Her music career took off when she joined the all-girl group ‘G.R.L.’ Since then, she has branched out to find her unique sound and independent music path.

Instagram: @emmalynestrada

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/75y1eTkF9JFAO2MIR2EXtg

Kid Koala

Originating out of Vancouver, BC, and now based out of Montreal, QC, Kid Koala is an established and successful DJ, performer, film composer, theatre producer, and visual artist. He entered the scene in 1994 as a DJ and his career continued to take off every turn he took. He has created a one-of-a-kind sound, seamlessly alternating between hip hop, ambient, alternative, and contemporary. This Chinese-Canadian artist has worked on compositions for films such as ‘The Great Gatsby’, ‘Baby Driver’, ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. The World,’ and many more. As he continues to tour and perform throughout his career, he still manages to spend much-needed family time with his wife and two children.

Website: https://kidkoala.com/

Instagram: @realkidkoala

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/2s0438sn0pYL2OuukcFqPN

As we step into Asian Heritage Month, elevate the voices and stories of our fellow Asian-Canadians and celebrate the continued success and contribution to the growth and prosperity of Canadian culture. As the conversation around #StopAsianHate begins to amplify, we must stand behind our Asian counterparts in allyship and support.

The Rap King of Vancouver

Merkules

Isaac Isaac/Flickr

All Hail King Merkules

From the streets of Surrey, BC to internet stardom, Merkules (Cole Stevenson) deserves to be a household name but somehow that’s still not the case. It’s probably because the millennial generation doesn’t care about insane wordplay,  storytelling abilities, and realism but it’s time for that to change.

Having amassed more than 316 million views on Youtube and with over 500 live shows under his belt, this two-time Canadian Music Award-nominated rapper deserves some respect put on his name.

Merkules - Panda Remix

Javier Jofre/Flickr

Merk started his ascension to fame with his “Car Bars,” in which he would spit over already known beats such as Eminem. With his viewership gaining traction, Merkules knew he had to up his game. So, he began recording freestyles over popular songs, most time killing the originals.

“I’m taking somebody else’s record and then trying to out shine them on their own record, which is kind of like battle rap where you’re trying to outshine other artists.”

“The remixes have done big things for me. They’ve been my saving grace because they’ve gotten me to where I am now and have gotten me millions and millions of hits.”

With 12 albums under his belt, it’s amazing to think Merkules would cease to exist if it wasn’t for a violent attack that happened over a decade ago. On New years day when he was 16 while leaving a party, he was brutally attacked with baseball bats and slashed in the face with a switchblade. It was a devastating attack, but oddly Merkules found it educational.

“If it didn’t happen I might not have been in the mental space to say I know what lifestyle is not for me. That I must make music.”

Merkules has been gaining non-stop momentum and that momentum continues to flourish with the release of his new album “Apply Pressure” in November. Sitting at the table with rap heavyweights such as Kevin Gates, The Game, E-40, and Evil Ebenezer-a series of hard-hitting tracks that prove why Merkules is the king of rap in Vancouver.

 

 

 

Music Festival Season is Back

After cancelations to Vancouver’s most famous music festivals such as FVDED in the Park and Shambala, the music scene in the lower mainland has remained lifeless-until now!

MRG Live has just announced the return of the Westward Music Festival renewing hope in what has been an extremely hard year for many due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Promoters unveiled the 4th installment of the festival will be scheduled to take place on September 8-13 at venues across Vancouver. These include  the Vogue Theatre, Biltmore Cabaret, Imperial, Rickshaw and Fox Cabaret.

The lineup scheduled to play the event includes BBNO$, Brice Vine, Night Lovell, Haviah Mighty, Chad VanGaalen, Deante Hitchcock, French 79, Odie, Sylo Nozra, Robotaki, Turbo, Nyssa, K?D, Balming Tiger, Chris Larocca, Ferris & Sylvester, Moneyphone, SLCHLD, YSN Fab, Madison Olds, Noble Son, Daysormay and Angel T33th, among others.

I’m not even going to pretend I know most of these artists, but isn’t that what music festivals are all about? Letting loose and opening your mind to everything music has to offer. Who knows, you might just discover yourself a new favorite artist!

kandy muse

Stephanie Duke/Flickr

 

If the all-star lineup wasn’t enough to convince you to buy your ticket-RuPaul’s Drag Race finalist Kandy Muse will also be doing a “Bye Felicia” night during the festival.

Due to the continued closure of the Canadian/U.S. border and venues in Vancouver still remaining closed, MRG has stated the following:

“Health and Safety is first and foremost for our fellow music fans and concert attendees. We will continue to monitor advice and protocols from BC Health Authorities, alert ticket holders with updates and provide a safe and enjoyable experience at all venues. In the event that a show needs to be rescheduled, tickets will be honoured for the new date, and in the case of cancellations, ticket holders will receive a message on how to proceed with credits or refunds.”

Admission to the Westward Music Festival costs between $99 and $139 for a full festival wristband. $99 is the early-bird price. Taxes and fees are extra (so the full non-early-bird rate is actually $157.90). 2021 prices are to be confirmed but will likely be similar.

Tickets go on sale Friday (April 30) at 10 a.m. so get yours before they are all sold out!

To purchase your tickets click here.

 

 

 

Emerging Artists of 2021

 Michaela Slinger: from the suburbs to the world

Michaela Slinger is ready to take the music industry by storm by releasing her debut record, ‘Panorama’. Slinger grew up in Port Moody, British Columbia where she excelled at school and on the stage. Her passion for music followed her through post-secondary education and her time in a corporate job but didn’t bring the fulfillment that music did.

She walked away from her full-time job to pursue a career in music and I’d say, she’s off to an impeccable start. As she stepped into the music industry, she had only had one unreleased recorded song – her first single, Flux – to share with those around her.

Through commitment and dedication to learning the industry, she connected with Louise Burns, a Vancouver-based singer-songwriter who held space for her as a mentor and producer. Together they recorded an EP at 604 Studios at the beginning of 2019 where Slinger continued to build relationships with other recording artists.

In the summer of 2019, she was selected as a fully-funded participant for Canada’s Music Incubator in Toronto through Coalition Music. She was able to whole heartedly commit herself to her craft, learn the ins-and-outs of the industry while building serious momentum for her career. Upon returning to BC, she was introduced to Jonathan Simkin, the head of 604 Records. With only one song released, she was unofficially with the label in November 2019, and signed by February 2020, a month before finishing up her full-length debut record. On April 16, 2021, ‘Panorama’ was released by 604 Studios.

“What I am certain about is that my album, Panorama, feels like I packaged up 24 years’ worth of my heart and soul and ideas and readied myself to drift it out to sea for whoever happens to float by. It’s an exhilarating and terrifying process that I’m embarking on for my first time. I’m excited for the new places and people it will lead me to, and—I’m sure—to do it all over again soon. I hope it makes you feel something.”-Michaela Slinger

After only 5 days her song Masquerade has amassed over 60 thousand views! Is she an up and coming talent out of Vancouver? I think so!

 

Music Events in Vancouver

2021 has been an incredibly hard year for music lovers and musicians a like. With music festivals and venues still under closure due to the seemingly never ending COVID-19 pandemic, Vancouverites are forced to look elsewhere for their musical needs.

Don’t lose hope! Listed below are online concerts happening in Vancouver right now!

Silk Road Ensemble: Home Within

When: April 28th-May 31st 7pm

Price: $0-$20$

 “One of the 21st century’s great ensembles” -Vancouver Sun

Home within is an emotional recollection of home in a time of conflict. Syrian composer and clarinetist Kinan Azmeh and Syrian visual artist Kevork Mourad combine audio and visual nuances to highlight specific moments in Syria’s recent history underlining unity through tragedy. The musicians of Silkroad Ensemble come from more than 20 different countries combing cultures and traditions to create a new language through music.

For more information visit https://chancentre.com/events/silkroad-ensemble-home-within/

Marina Thibeault: ELLES Solo

When: April 28th-May 31st 7pm

Price: $0-$20$

The Chan Centre presents renowned violist Marina Thibeault in the production of ELLES.  Her JUNO Award nominated album ELLES celebrates groundbreaking women and non-binary composers. Thibeault is an advocate for human rights and uses her music to reach at risk woman and raise awareness for marginalized communities.

 

For more information visit https://chancentre.com/events/marina-thibeault/

The Piano Men

When: April 28th-May 21st 7pm

Price: Free

Join the Piano Men and watch as they put their own unique spin on timeless classics from artists such as Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Billy Joel, and Elton John. The Piano Men-Richard Sera and Andre Kunkel take dueling pianos to a whole new level and guarantee to put on an incredible show. Richard Sera has preformed on the biggest stages as a keyboardist for legendary artists such as Loverboy, Tom Cochrane, and Bon Jovi while Andre has traveled the world smashing keys and using his amazing soulful voice to capture the attention of everyone in attendance. You don’t want to miss this one!

 

For more information visit https://www.surrey.ca/news-events/events/piano-men