Meet the MusicWorks Panelists: Alexandre Bonenfant, Emily Haffenden, Kyle Merkley, Matt Fisher

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Coming up on Saturday, November 19, Sleepless Record’s Alexandre Bonenfant, Aporia’s Emily Haffenden, Arpix’s Kyle Merkley, and CBC’s Matt Fisher will be joining us for our workshop, Inside the Listening Room (scroll down to find out how to get your music heard by the panel). Get to know them a little better through this litte Q+A…

Alexandre Bonenfant is a JUNO Award winning/Polaris nominated music producer/recording engineer, entrepreneur, recording studio owner/operator, artist manager, and founder/president of Toronto's Sleepless Records. Alex graduated from the Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology in 2004 and began his professional career as an assistant engineer at Cherry Beach Sound and the Orange Lounge. After five years apprenticing and honing is craft he decided to go out on his own in 2010 and partnered in opening the Dream House Studio: a cultural hotbed in Toronto for emerging and developed talent, seeing artists like The Weeknd and July Talk come through its door. The Dreamhouse is also home to Sleepless Records and Nightmare management, where Alex leads the label and management for July Talk, and a handful of other developing artists. 

After obtaining her BA in Communication Studies and Sound Engineering from Concordia University in 2012, Emily Haffenden worked for Montreal- and Toronto-based music houses and record labels such as Apollo Studios and Draper Street Records, where she acted as music librarian. The work experience allowed her the opportunity to assist Music Supervisors on several films. The years of experience surely paid off as she is now the licensing and sync rep at Aporia Records, a Toronto-based Indie label with an exciting roster of eclectic artists.

Director of music and technology at Arpix Media, Kyle Merkley's music supervision credits include Murdoch Mysteries (CBC), Remedy (GlobalTV), and more. Throughout his musical endeavours, Kyle has appeared on Entertainment Tonight: Canada and MuchMusic's disBAND, as well as having written and performed with top 24 Canadian Idol contestants.

Matt Fisher is a producer, music curator, and writer based out of Toronto. In 2010, he signed on to join the music programming team at SiriusXM Canada, leaving behind a government job that did not fulfill his background in radio and television — or his lifelong passion for music. While at SiriusXM, Matt programmed Canadian indie rock stations The Verge and Iceberg, and hosted several weekly shows, including LiVE@TheVerge. Two years later, he moved on, beginning a job with CBC Music. Matt’s current main role is producer of Sonica, a Triple A stream on CBC Music. Outside of work, Matt attends more than 150 shows a year, constantly looking for incredible new acts. He is also a FACTOR, ECMA and Polaris jury member.

How did you get into this racket anyhow?

Alexandre: I guess I have to find someone to blame for all this so I’m going with my mom. I received a guitar for Christmas when I was 13 years old which put hockey firmly in the backseat to aural adventures (although I’m still a devoted Leafs fan, sadly). That eventually led into a fascination with recording technology which consumed the better part of my formative years and eventually led to me working in studios in my adult life. My 15-year-old punk rock self likely never imagined working formally within the industry in a business capacity, but some fortuitous situations and supportive mentors enabled me to expand the scope of participation within the industry a couple years back. I started managing bands/running a label not by design, but rather trial by fire, and over time I developed an immense passion for playing a role in building artists careers outside of the studio as well.

Emily: I always knew I wanted to work in music so I made it my goal to start learning as much as I could about as many aspects of the industry as possible. I interned with numerous studio professionals throughout university, landed some small payed gigs with music supervisors, and after acquiring years of different kinds of experience, I applied for the job I have now at Aporia which, I saw advertised online. I'm still learning every day and I'm very thankful.  

Kyle: Performing, writing and managing bands, attending Music Business Management at Durham College, and networking endlessly all coalesced into what I do now… music supervision and composer management for film and television.

Matt: A part time, six-month contract opened up at SiriusXM (XM Radio at the time) and I haven't looked back.

What’s the last full album you listened to?

Alexandre: I’m going to shamelessly plug a record that my label is putting out because that’s what I’m presently listening to whilst writing the answer to this question…Overnight by HEAT (out January 20 on The Hand Recordings).

Emily: Rod Stewart's Blondes Have More Fun at a party this past Saturday. I'm not ashamed. 

Kyle: K+Lab’s new album The Worldly’s. He seamlessly blends his own stylings of funk, hip hop, glitch hop, and drum and bass into one. Plus there are some familiar voices throughout the record like Canadian rapper Def3.

Matt: This answer will change the second I answer this question but let's go with Tove Lo - Lady Wood.

Robots or dinosaurs?

Alexandre: Casting a vote for dinosaurs. I’m pretty certain they would win in a galactic cage match.

Emily: How about robot dinosaurs?! How cool would that be? 

Kyle: Robotic dinosaurs.

Matt: Bicentennial Man anyone? Who wouldn't want Robin Williams making them dinner?!?!?

What’s the most exciting part of working in the music business today?

Alexandre: Hands down I would have to say meeting people and travelling all over the world. I’ve been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to build wonderful relationships and see places I never imagined I would ever go. It’s the one aspect of my job that I never take for granted and brings me immense satisfaction.

Emily: Free shows, just kidding. I mean yes, free things are a major perk, however, I'd say the most exciting part is schmoozing and having the opportunity to meet so many different kinds of people united by their love of music. Sappy, beautiful, and true. 

Kyle: People are finding new and creative ways to thrive in a post-record selling music business. If it were easy, it wouldn't be interesting.

Matt: Discovering that artist that you know is going to blow minds.

What’s your favourite flavour of potato chip?

Alexandre: Ketchup. Don’t quote me on this but I pretty certain you can’t get them anywhere outside Canada.

Emily: Depends on the day. Today I'm really into sweet chilli and sour cream. 

Kyle: Anything coming out of Miss Vicky’s kitchen. If I wasn’t already married, I’d be making her a Mrs.

Matt: All dressed.

What was the first concert you ever attended?

Alexandre: Paula Abdul with Color Me Badd at the SkyDome in 1991. "Straight Up" is still a serious smash to this day. The best produced Terry Lewis and Jimmy Jam song that wasn’t produced by Terry Lewis or Jimmy Jam...

Emily: The Backstreet Boys 

Kyle: A grungy punk rock show at The Dungeon in Oshawa (RIP). That kind of vibe remains my favourite way to see a show.

Matt: Green Day at the now defunct Warehouse.


What are industry experts listening for when they hear music for the first time? This panel will offer insight into the inner workings of an A&R music meeting or listening session. Participants will listen to new music alongside the experts, learn what they listen for when hearing new demos, and be part of the discussion about what makes a strong first impression and why. This is a unique opportunity to go inside the listening room and find out what matters most to some of the best ears in the business.


If you wish to have your music played for the panel, please attach and send an mp3 with a bit rate no higher than 128 kbps and lyrics in a Word doc to

Music of all genres and songwriters of all levels are welcome. It is not necessary to bring a song to attend and hear what the panelists have to say. A section of songs will be played for the entire group, followed by comments from the panel.

Register online, or to get more info, please contact:

David Landreth, Professional Development Coordinator
Manitoba Music
P: 204.975.5188

MusicWorks is made possible by the generous support of the Province of Manitoba through Industry Services of Manitoba Jobs and the Economy; the Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent on Recordings (FACTOR) through the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage (Canada Music Fund) and of Canada's Private Radio Broadcasters; The Jim Pattison Broadcast Group; and The SOCAN Foundation.

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