Top 30 Bands Not to Miss at Iceland Airwaves ’15

Iceland Airwaves goes November 4-8 and I made my own list of bands to check out:

You’ll find that this is a list mixing Icelandic bands and international acts. I’ve only seen a handful but spent a few days listening to all that I could find through Spotify and Grape Vine. While working CityFolk I ran into the bass player from Of Monsters and Men in line for the smoothie bar (of all places) and he told me to not try to see everything during the festival, so let’s see how that works out! 

  1. Father John Misty (US- this man has more rock star swagger than 98% of the bands I see in a year)
  2. Milkwhale
  3. Just Another Snake Cult- weird, psych stuff
  4. Operators (saw their first show at Silver Dollar, holla, ex-Wolf Parade!)
  5. BRNS (BE)
  6. Dream Wife (UK)- super Blondie-like
  7. Hjaltalin
  8. Hide Your Kids
  9. Fufano
  10. Reykjavikurdaetur (20 + female Icelandic feminist rap collective)
  11. Junius Meyvant
  12. Mispyrming
  13. Vok ** super stoked
  14. Agent Fresco (Iceland’s current OMAM)
  15. French for Rabbits (NZ)
  16. Dad Rocks (DK)
  17. Tuff Love – fuzz music
  18. LoneLady (UK)- really excited to see this pop-diva
  19. John Grant and Icelandic Symphony Orchestra
  20. LA Priest (UK)
  21. Bo Ningen (JP)
  22. Tanya Tagac (CA)- playing on my birthday!
  23. Verite (UK)
  24. Chastity Belt (US)- still the best promotional photo I’ve seen in a long time.
  25. FM Belfast- supposed to be an amazing dance party
  26. Ariel Pink (US) – caught a ridiculously entertaining show at Time Fest in TO in the summer where the singer flashed his balls to everyone around him. Here’s hoping he wears pants on stage.
  27. Weaves (CA)- Toronto-pride!
  28. Beach House (US)
  29. OBGMs (CA)- saw them at Osheaga and subsequently the only mosh pit at Osheaga
  30. Lord Pusswhip

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @urockred and Instagram @urockred while there! #airwaves15

I’m also super excited to see the off-venue shows KEXP Seattle is doing at the KEX Hostel.


YouRockRed at Iceland Airwaves15!

Instead of going to Iceland Airwaves last year I decided to be responsible and put down first and last on my home in Toronto. Fast-forward to last Saturday and I’ve been all over Iceland by the time you read this, renting cars to traverse glaciers, jumping into the Blue Lagoon, drinking some delicious Icelandic beer, checking out viking lore, looking for Bjork and getting friendly with the local hotspots.

Reykjavik is smaller than Kingston, Ontario, and a place I never thought I’d get to. After living both in Europe and North America, Iceland is still an island of its own that only when I was playing “spin-the-globe” with my sister in grade school did I ever think I’d land on. Now I couldn’t be more excited to visit this magical country. I’m also going to be attending the Nonference as I’m there as industry, so come say hi!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @urockred and Instagram @urockred while there! #airwaves15

Example of weird and wonderful Icelandic music I’ll be rocking out to… Stay tuned for a list tomorrow of the top 30 bands you can’t miss!!



Metro News Ottawa Feature Interview w/ YouRockRed

The next BSOMA session is only a week away and was so jam-packed with awesome music industry insiders Metro News Ottawa interviewed me on it! Also I managed to get the words, “kick-ass,” in print, so that’s an accomplishment. Click on photo below for full article!

Click for link to full article.

Click for link to full article.

CityFolk Wrap!

So since April I’ve been working closely with CityFolk (formerly Ottawa Folk Festival) on their free programming side of the festival called Marvest. As of Sunday night, it’s over and was a HUGE success. Hundreds of people went from venue to venue along Bank Street discovering new music (despite the frigid winds on Saturday night). I myself tried to catch as many shows as possible from the 60+ bands, stopping in by bike over a 2 km radius (I’m convinced I must have walked/biked 20 km on Saturday). Somehow I wound up MC’ing a corn on the cob eating contest in addition to being interviewed on CTV, CBC Ottawa TV, CBC Ottawa Morning, CFRA, 1310 News, Couch Assassin, CKCU, CHUO… I’m sure I’m forgetting some. Just know that Marvest was in all media related to local music and culture in Ottawa.  There was an amazing team at CityFolk helping make everything happen and they were a pleasure to work with. So too was connecting with all the venue owners, band members and general public while chatting about this amazing, SXSW-inspired festival experience never before seen in the capital.



I took a few days off but of course as soon as I arrived home, I rolled into Polaris Prize to watch the incredible Buffy Ste Marie take home the top honour. It was a blast and Fred Penner did a wonderfully charming job covering all the past Polaris winners acoustic with exception to calling Fucked Up, Fuddle-uddled-up and not even trying to cover Tanya Tagac. The afterparty was a big dance party too that led perfectly into a week of resting and catching up on sleep after quite possibly the longest work weeks I can ever recall in the industry with the biggest smile on my face.

Speaking of smiles. Here are some photos.

zoo instagram image of aberdeen etc sam on tv


and just in case you wanted to see that corn eating contest…

What’s the best summer gig??

Working at festivals!  Last weekend was the first non-festival weekend since May. We’ve done CMW, NXNE, Field Trip, Bestival, and Pride. This week marks the beginning of RBC Bluesfest in my hometown of Ottawa, Ontario, a summer time tradition!

I’ll be repping CityFolk at the Folk Wagon wrapped with all the band names for the duration of the festival with a great team of volunteers so please come say hi!

Also you can follow my festival antics @urockred on Instagram.


Speaking at Canadian Music Week

CMW 2015 is under way and my ears are already ringing (Thanks, Metz!) The 3-day music conference begins on Thursday, May 7, and you can sign up for a FREE meeting with me at the Mentor’s Cafe from 12- 1p.m.

Click here for the link! 

BSOMA Presents: How to Release Your Album – April 15th

Click to buy tickets.

Click to buy tickets.

I’m moderating this session again… and tickets are already over 50% sold out so act quickly!

Want to make sure your album is praised by critics and gets you tour offers? Come hear how album-releases in Canada actually happen and how to create your own strategic plan as independents or like those in the big leagues do.


IAN CHAI – Founder, Buzz Records & Artist manager
Trained as a lawyer living in London and Dublin, Ian Chai found himself working at Arts and Crafts Records as a manager for 1 year before co-founding Buzz Records in 2012. Since then, Buzz Records acts – including Greys, Odonis Odonis, HSY and Weaves – have been praised by tastemakers like Pitchfork and Vice, as well as touring on the international festival circuit. He is Toronto-based.

AMANDA RHEAUME – Independent Artist
Performing over 160 shows a year, Amanda Rheaume has delivered her unique and soulful blend of folk-country-pop twinged tracks to audiences around the world opening for artists such as Emmylou Harris, K’Naan, Lucinda Williams, and Ani Difranco. Rheaume recently received a Canadian Folk Music Award for Aboriginal Songwriter of the Year (2014) and a Juno Award nomination for Aboriginal Album of the Year (2014) both for Keep a Fire. In 2015, Rheaume has tour plans in Canada, Europe, and UK, and will be performing at the Pan Am Games in Toronto. She is currently writing for her 4th album, the next development of her singer-songwriting craft featuring elements of country, soul, and folk while keeping true to her distinct storytelling through songs.

MARY JELLEY – Regional Manager, Warner Music Canada
Mary Jelley has been a force in the Canadian music industry for more than 25 years. The first woman hired as a regional manager for Warner Music Canada, her primary focus is to oversee the sales, marketing and promotion of Warner artists in Eastern Ontario. It may not sound glamorous, but over the years, Mary’s tireless, behind-the-scenes efforts have been a major factor in the success of many Canadian artists, including Alanis Morissette, Michael Bublé, Blue Rodeo, Great Big Sea and Brett Kissel, to name a few. Mary continues to work with artists signed to the Warner label, helping them reach new audiences through traditional marketing techniques while also making use of emerging technology and social-media strategies. Considered an expert in the music business, Mary is often called upon to judge talent, participate on panels and speak to students about her long career as an insider in the Canadian rock ‘n’ roll scene.

Ottawa Citizen Features YouRockRed & BSOMA

Click to read the full article.

Click to read the full article.

Why there’s been no updates: Speaking Engagements Galore!

I’ve been a little slow to update here as it’s been anything but at the YouRockRed office. I’ve been bouncing between Ottawa and Toronto.

I’m thrilled to confirm that the Bluesfest School of Music and Art info sessions have been continued (April is booked! May is in the works!). I hosted one 2 weeks ago on how to make money in the music industry and another a week back on how to become involved as a music educator in the Blues in the Schools program.  The latter was even profiled in the Ottawa Citizen praising the importance of the sessions influence on the local artists. One gaff, they called me a musician; now while I sing along a ton to whatever is playing on the radio or my headphones, I just work with musicians.

I’ve sat down with some really driven clients for artist consultations (1 hour sessions with me where an artist can get questions answered by an industry expert and objective guidance) in Ottawa to as far as Alberta.

I even popped in on the Tara Recording Academy to give a guest lecture last Monday night to about 30 audio engineering students. We talked about punk rock and how to self-promote to get future clients when they’re out in the production world, including the importance of grant writing. It was a cool connection too because the teacher was an artist that I’d interviewed for a now defunct publication on the street in front of a now closed venue (turned dirty nightclub).

I LOOOOOVE doing speaking engagements and hope to do more here in Toronto and wherever else will have me! Teaching is something I’ve done in the past that just excites me. Back in 2007-8 I taught history of contemporary Canadian music to ESL teen students, but being able to teach to engaged and interested musicians/industry is my bread and butter. Nowadays, it’s my strong journalism background that allows me to research and ask questions to panelists that come out to the sessions.

More news to come!

With teacher Marty at Tara from Autumn's Canon

With teacher Marty at Tara from Autumn’s Canon at the school after my talk

Raid my record collection, no, really: Rdio

If you’re considering working with someone in the music industry, don’t you want to know what they are listening to?  If you look at my past listening history you’ll see that I go on pop music kicks, 70s rock followed by some hardcore punk. You won’t see any new country or even much EDM on there. I don’t mind people checking it out and love seeing other industry folks posting the #nowplaying hashtag or #vinylig. We’re all here because we love music at the end of the day. I’ve made my Rdio public so that when people visit the YouRockRed site they can see what I’m listening to and see if we’re the right fit to work together.

I’ve been a big fan of Rdio since first being introduced 3 years ago. I tried to convert to Spotify but couldn’t do it because all of my past listen history on Rdio.  As a music journalist, Rdio was an invaluable tool for me to research new music; I wouldn’t have to wait for codes from the record company, albums to arrive in the mail or worse yet, buying an album I wasn’t interested in on Itunes and racking up random credit card charges.

Having a wide interest and unlimited exposure to all genres of music is so important to artist development (industry as well). I used to be a snob and not listen to Top 40 radio (30 now) but I think it’s crucial to know what music is popular for how to apply it to your career. Even if you’re into doom metal, singing along to a Katy Perry song doesn’t make you any less metal. If anything, I want to see a cover from your metal band of a Katy Perry song. BOOM. That translates into 30,000 Youtube likes and a festival intro. What I’m saying is that you should open your music tastes up to others as people’s influences may surprise you…. and that we should be friends on Rdio.