Creative Mentorships Build Essential Collaboration Skills with Songsmiths Song Camp

Posted on

Songsmiths Song Camp

Nine performing songwriters and producers from Manitoba are building their technical skills this week at the Songsmiths Song Camp.

Running December 5 - 9, the hybrid in-person and online project is a partnership between Manitoba Music and Songsmiths and features co-writing opportunities and business mentorship for a variety of essential skills including studio techniques, virtual collaboration, licensing agreements, pitching for sync opportunities, and more.

Throughout the week participants will meet online and take part in audio production and music business discussions, collaborating in groups on various practical development exercises with support from the mentors. The Song Camp will provide a clear understanding of the tools and resources they need to collaborate from their studios and how to use them to facilitate meaningful songwriting and music production with others online.

Song Camp mentors include JUNO-winning producer/songwriter/composer/mixer/recording engineer Hill Koukourtis, Bonnie Fedrau and Andrew Karis of ACTRA RACS, music supervisor Kaya Pino, Chimwemwe Undi and Ingrid Ruiz of TDS Law, and Precursor Productions' Andrew Yankiwski and Paul Blandford. 

This year's participants Aaron Bartel (Apollo Suns), artist and producer Daggerss, David McNabb of electronic pop duo Ash Halo, Japanese-Canadian pop-rocker Garrett Neiles, Anishinaabe and settler singer-songwriter Ila Barker, singer/songwriter/guitarist/bassist Jace Bodner, and singer/songwriters JC Campbell, Larysa Musick, and Matt Zimmerman.

This project has been made possible in part by the Government of Canada, and by the support of FACTOR and the Province of Manitoba.


Aaron Bartel
Apollo Suns

I'm an audio nerd. Microphones, preamps, compression, anything that bores musicians to tears is what gets me excited. Let me focus on getting your inside and outside kick mics in phase so you can focus on giving a performance that will make your mom cry. I’m a music geek. Pre Choruses, key signatures, tempos, melodic motifs, the invisible building blocks that form great music. Bring me a spark and let's make fire together. I’m a sax man. On your mark, get set, blow! Specifics:

  • Saxophonist for Apollo Suns (2x Western Canadian Award Winners, international touring act)
  • Freelance audio engineer (Paintbox Recording, No Fun Club, MFM accredited home studio)
  • Bachelor of Music degree (Jazz Performance on saxophone from the University of Manitoba)
  • Former positions at CBC Manitoba (radio tech), Long & McQuade (sales and lessons), and Quest Musique (sales and lessons)
  • Former musical projects include Flat Land Soul Band, Last Chance Gang, Lemon

David McNabb

On a cold and snowy January day in 2020, Sara Corrigan and Dave McNabb’s spark in the studio forged the creation of their new group ASH HALO. You might recognize Sara from the duo Akylla, where she has co- written & released music with some of the biggest names in EDM including Excision, Zeds Dead, NGHTMRE, Snails, and more - with streams in the tens of millions. 

Dave is an established producer/songwriter, primarily in the electronic pop genre with his other band VIKINGS. His incredible talent has crossed over beautifully from his pop world into Sara's bass world to create the ultimate hybrid style that spans multi genres within the bass music world. The two are a dream team when it comes to writing, singing, producing, and live performances.

ASH HALO is taking the bass music market by storm, begining with their June 4th, 2021 double single release with Play Me Records that has received a total of over a million online streams.

The duo is very honoured to be supported by Excision with their Subsidia Records debut with the follow up single ‘Fire with Fire’.

Garrett Neiles

Garrett Neiles is realizing the depth that comes with maturity and the satisfaction that comes with a growing sense of self. The Japanese-Canadian pop-rock artist from Winnipeg, Manitoba picked up the guitar as a way to connect and has been working on that dream ever since.

Injuring his wrist while attending the University of Victoria on a golf scholarship, he passed time in post-op healing physically and emotionally, contemplating who he is, his place in the world, what he truly values and what a healthy and happy life looks like. Recognizing his passion for performance and strong singing voice, Neiles married the latter to his guitar, developed a rock-and-roll rasp, and took cues from some of his favourite legacy artists like Rob Thomas’ (Matchbox 20) songwriting and Steven Tyler’s (Aerosmith) vocals.

Neiles’ songwriting reflects a man dedicated to growth, who’s learning life’s complex corners and new, healthier ways to connect with himself and the world. Maturing made Neiles realize that writing about fragmented relationships, fleeting encounters and fractured states didn’t have the emotional impact they once had. His debut EP End of an Era seeks to harness the new dimensions he’s been folding into his life. Neiles explains, “I wanted to find topics that will help people grow that self-awareness like I was.”

Ila Barker

In 2017, Winnipeg-based Anishinaabe and settler folk-soul musician Ila Barker held a guitar on her lap as a friend confided in her the details of an abusive relationship. Barker sang her friend’s words back to her, softly strumming the strings and turning anguish into a serendipitous self-serenade. Eventually that song became the title track of Barker’s debut full-length album, Fool Under Water, a tough-but-tender testament to the possibility of survival, forged as she swam ashore herself. 

To write Fool Under Water, Barker spent seven years reflecting on her own survival, alongside that of the women around her. The elegantly rugged candor at the heart of the album’s storytelling was amassed through experience. “My first thought as I started packing my bags to leave was ‘what am I going to do?’” says Barker. “My second thought was ‘but damn, these are gonna be some good songs.’”

Barker’s astute observations and vulnerable introspection create a safe basin for those still swimming their way through rough waters. “I want listeners to have a moment to grieve the things that they've gone through and to picture a future that is brighter,” she says.

Jace Bodner

He’s got the hair, he’s got the moves, you know he’s got the skills. Who is he?… Jace Bodner. The 19 year old singer/songwriter/guitar player/bass player is not messing around. With an upbeat Funk/Soul/Pop sound, Jace is the frontman of the hottest band out there, THE MOTHERFUNK. He also plays shows on his own with his acoustic guitar AKA Mariah D’elatucio. He takes inspiration from artists like Stevie Wonder, Vulfpeck, Steely Dan, and he and THE MOTHERFUNK are gonna blow your face off when you see them, ok? “Watch out! Because you do NOT want to miss this guy!” - Jace Bodner, about himself.

JC Campbell

Growing up with a father who sang the blues and a mother who loved classic soul and country, it seemed as if JC Campbell was predestined for a life making music. With three albums now under his belt, the Winnipeg, Manitoba-born Campbell has hit his stride with his new release, Lately, a seven-song collection that brings together all of his influences, while offering powerful messages of hope in dark times.

As an Indigenous artist, Campbell has a unique perspective on the world, expressed through a soulful voice that would have been right at home in Memphis or Muscle Shoals in the 1960s. That definitely comes across on Lately’s first single, the heart-swelling “Walk In Love” as well as the irresistible “Sweet Soul Love,” and the gospel-infused title track, on which Campbell digs down deep to reveal his pure intentions.

“I feel my writing evolves as I go along, and that really helps me stay hopeful because I know the best I have to offer is just out of reach but still attainable,” Campbell says. “‘Lately’ was written during the pandemic when there was so much frustration and fear going on. I tend to write in order to make sense of those feelings, and creating that song helped me come to terms with the reality that we just need to wait it out. I hope that’s the message listeners get as well.”

Larysa Musick

A wildflower meadow doesn’t bloom in the first year it’s planted. Takes three years to see your first flower. Maybe longer. A firm believer in the slow build, Larysa Musick established herself as a poet and illustrator-author before crossing over into singer-songwriter territory. Given her last name, it may have been fate.

Though she comes from Winnipeg, her style of folk music hardly represents her home city’s proverbial sound. Listening to her, you’d think of New Orleans jazz cafés, fiddler jams in Appalachia or Greenwich Village clubs in the 60s. Effortless finger-picking guitar, unmistakable vibrato, endearing melodies, all delivered by a lush, steady mezzo-soprano. Wide-eyed, flower-power-era nostalgia folk that sometimes bends into the psychedelic, baroque, old-western country, old-timey, and prog-rock spaces.

Lyrically, Larysa is adventurous and earnest, probably from her years spent performing spoken word poetry. In poetry slams where competitors are scored from zero-to-ten, not unlike Olympic diving. In various bars and pubs across the provinces, and as far as Detroit, touring in a tiny hatchback. In streetlit cyphers where freestyling poets showed Larysa the power of improvisation.

Laura Smith

Daggerss is the queen of the underdogs. She’s the crystalline sparkle of the day and the haunting siren song of the night. She is an artist and producer recently transplanted from Vancouver to small town Manitoba. Her love of synthesizers, sonic experimentation, and vocal technique are a heavy influence on her creations. Formerly she was one half of the Canadian indie pop duo Rococode, who toured relentlessly across the US & Canada, charted in the top 50 on Canadian Alt radio, top 10 on college radio and had songs featured in major TV programs in Canada and the US. Presently she is is creating catchy, honest and emotive new songs with her solo project, Daggerss. As well, she is songwriting and producing for other artists, playing drums and singing in the trio Hot Soup, and composing for ambient instrumental project Ollorjya (Flood Tide Records).

Matt Zimmerman

Matt Zimmerman is a performing songwriter, producer, and instrumentalist from Kleefeld, Manitoba, Canada. Matt has a steadily growing catalogue of original songs that range from sensual love confessions, to party anthems. or lump-in-your-throat tear jerkers, to good-timin' two-step dancers. As a performer, Matt has engaged hundreds of audiences as a solo act, in a duo, trio, or with a full band. Matt has focused on a variety of genres over the years which has had a direct impact on his seasoned songwriting ability. Matt holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Brandon University and places a high value on his continued professional development. To support his community, Matt performed regularly for nine years with Artists In Healthcare Manitoba at hospitals and long-term care facilities to bring a bit of joy to patients and residents. In his spare time, Matt loves to smoke meat on the fire or pellet grill, and go fishing on as many beautiful lakes as possible.

Andrew Karis

For the past 10 years, Andrew has worked to ensure performers access their neighbouring rights royalties and understand what rights and royalties are available to them in Canada and around the world. His brings past music industry experience working with unions, in music supervision, event planning and performance to his current role as Interim Manager, ACTRA RACS.  He also very much appreciates tips on great new music to listen to!

Andrew Yankiwski
Precursor Productions

Andrew owns Precursor Productions, an industry-leading Winnipeg recording studio and audio post production facility. Founded in 2000, Precursor specializes in recording, production, mixing and mastering for the music, film/TV, video game and corporate media industries. Precursor’s audio has appeared in projects with Marvel, Netflix, Amazon Studios, HBO, Warner Brothers, MGM, NBC Universal, Hulu, Fox, TSN, MTV, PBS, ScyFy, WWE Network and other international entertainment brands. Precursor also provides audio production training in a boutique series of short, modular courses. Andrew is Board Chair at Film Training Manitoba and a board member at New Media Manitoba, industry organizations whose work he feels passionate about supporting.

Bonnie Fedrau

Bonnie Fedrau is currently an administrator at ACTRA RACS, a Society that collects and distributes performer royalties to Artists and musicians around the world. ACTRA RACS (Recording Artists’ Collecting Society) is a not-for-profit performer collective, dedicated to ensuring that all recording artists, from session musicians to featured vocalists, are paid for the use of their work. We collect royalties within Canada and approximately 40+ territories internationally. We represent tens of thousands of recording artists across all genres. To date ACTRA RACS has collected and distributed over $100 million. To put this right and royalty into more context, ACTRA RACS is similar to SOCAN. Only rather than paying songwriters, we pay the musicians and vocalists who perform on the master recordings that have been released. Fedrau’s career holds years of experience through a multitude of roles, but her favourite role is that of artistic development. This is where she is most comfortable, consulting emerging new talent, and basking in the art of musical discovery.

Chimwemwe Undi
Thompson Dorfman Sweatman LLP

Chimwemwe Undi is an associate lawyer with Thompson Dorfman Sweatman LLP, where she practises in areas including sports and entertainment law, administrative law, and labour and employment law. Chim also maintains an active practice as a poet and writer, receiving the 2022 John Hirsch Emerging Manitoba Writer Award from the Manitoba Book Awards.

Hill Kourkoutis

Hill Kourkoutis, a revered Canadian music contributor, is an accomplished producer, songwriter, composer, mixer, recording engineer, multi-instrumentalist, and artist.

In May of 2022, Hill made Canadian music history when she became the first woman to be nominated for and win a JUNO Award for Recording Engineer of the Year in the 46 years since that category was created.

Spanning her career, Hill has produced, mixed and/or written albums and singles for many significant artists: Aysanabee’s 2022 release, Watin, Digging Roots’ 2022 album release, ZHAWENIM, Leela Gilday’s JUNO award-winning album North Star Calling, Digging Roots’ “SKODEN” (Top 30 Alternative Radio), Royal Wood, Cassie Dasilva’s viral TikTok smash “Unsolicited Contact” (over 1mm views), SATE’s JUNO nominated- album The Fool (2022 Polaris Prize nominee), Jules’ “Before You Picked Her” (#1 CBC, Top 40 Alternative Radio), Meghan Patrick, POESY, Amanda Rheaume’s The Spaces In

Between (#1 Album on the earshot! National Folk/Roots/Blues Chart), and Tania Joy’s 2021 release I Will Stand.

Additionally, along with Serena Ryder, Hill co-wrote and produced the theme song and the end title song for Universal Kids’ animated children’s series Remy and Boo, which was one of the overall Top Three preschool series premieres of 2020. Hill also produced and co-wrote the theme song for Disney’s series Dino Ranch, the #1 rated preschool series in the United States. Most recently, Hill co-wrote and produced

episodic songs for Thomas & Friends, including the song “A Partner on the Rails.” She continues to write music for children’s television shows.

As a musician, Kourkoutis has had the honour of playing with artists such as The Weeknd, Serena Ryder, Martha and the Muffins and Tara Slone. Hill also performed as guitarist onstage in the house band for the CTV series, The Launch.

Ingrid Ruiz
Thompson Dorfman Sweatman LLP

Ingrid is an associate lawyer with TDS in Winnipeg and practices in the areas of corporate and commercial law and intellectual property law, with areas of interest in entertainment law. She also has experience in the areas of immigration law and real estate law.

Ingrid graduated with a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Manitoba, Faculty of Law in 2019. During law school, Ingrid was actively involved with various committees and extra-curricular activities. She co-founded the Diversity in Law Group, was a Student Director and Board Member of the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers (Western), volunteered and co-coordinated volunteers for Welcome Place – Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council, volunteered for Pro Bono Students Canada, and spearheaded the Manitoba Law Students’ Association’s Yearbook Committee. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Manitoba in 2015, majoring in Sociology and Criminology.

In her spare time, Ingrid enjoys working on film and music video productions, watching movies, keeping up with various sports leagues, spending time outdoors, and travelling.

Kaya Pino

Kaya Pino is a Canadian Music Supervisor, Curator and Consultant based in London, UK. Blending a deeply personal understanding of music’s effect on both audience and art form, Kaya brings her background in dance to her work with respect to movement, musicality, rhythm and sound. With her work in Music Supervision Kaya takes an anthropological approach giving her a view of character and environment. Starting her career in advertising Kaya continues her work in the branding space with commercials and brand partnerships as well as bringing her strategic eye to her consultancy work. Recent projects include: Alice Darling (BabeNation Films/Lionsgate), The Porter (CBC/BET+), Sort Of (CBC/HBO Max), Ginny & Georgia (Netflix), Valhalla Season 1 (Netflix), Air Canada, YouTube, DoorDash.

Paul Blandford
Precursor Productions

Paul has been working as an assistant engineer at Precursor since 2019 where he has run sessions for ADR, voiceover, recording, mixing and Foley/sound effects. He also instructs Precursor’s Level 1 course, Level 2 course and custom training sessions. In addition to his work at Precursor, Paul runs his own studio: Dan Fur Productions, where his focus is on electronic music. With a deep love of synthesis, he has worked with hundreds of electronic musicians on mixing, mastering and mentorship

Read more news