Meet the 15 artists selected to participate in this year’s professional and creative journey
Zoey Leven is a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and Indie Pop/Rock artist from Vancouver, BC.
From the age of 3, Zoey has grown up surrounded by a musical family, learning piano from her Aunt and Musical theatre from her cousin, all while engaging in local talent competitions showcasing her original songs and developing her striking stage presence.
With her latest single amounting over 15,000 streams in its first 3 months, Zoey continues to work on writing and recording new songs filled with teenage nostalgia and the awkward stages of entering adulthood. She is currently playing various band and acoustic shows throughout Vancouver, and has exciting plans to develop an album for release in 2023.
With the hope of creating a voice for the lgbt community and others trying to find their place, Zoey aims to be a successful recording artist, defying stereotypes and expectations with her androgynous look and passionate voice.
Serena Sun is an artist, songwriter and producer who draws listeners in with her cutting lyrics, ear-catching melodies and emotion-driven production. Growing up in Vancouver, Serena loved writing songs from her childhood bedroom and using GarageBand to record covers. Moving to a small town in New Hampshire, she spent her last two years of high school at a boarding school, where she taught herself how to record and produce original songs from her laptop.
After attending UCLA for Communications and Entrepreneurship, Serena started working in international business, which led her to spend months at a time living in different parts of the US, China, and Chile. A constant uprooting of her community left her questioning what really mattered in life. These reflections began taking shape in the form of songs, and seemingly by chance, Serena’s artist project was born.
Since then, Serena has independently released 9 singles. Her songs have been featured on Spotify editorial playlists such as, ‘New Music Friday Canada,’ ‘Fresh Finds: Pop,’ ‘Dope AF,’ ‘tapioca,’ and ‘It’s a Bop.’
Born from the mind of Tega Ovie and Georges Nasrallah, Post-Modern Connection has taken their sound from a university dorm to headlining festival stages. Over the past 4 years the band has carved out their unique space in the modern indie scene with their globe-spanning influences and genre-bending sound.
With inspirations like Summer Salt, Hippocampus and HYUKOH, Post-Modern Connection excels at arranging complex compositions into an effortless listening experience. The more you listen, the more you uncover. Unafraid to explore the bleaker aspects of relationships and reality, their melancholic lyrics are often juxtaposed with infectiously upbeat instrumentals. This can all be heard on their Debut EP Clustered Umbrella released Oct 2021.
To fully immerse in the multitudes of Indigenous rising star Nimkish is to honour the past, look ahead to the future, and bask in the resplendent present all at once. The Vancouver-based marvel-in-the-making is fearless in her lyricism, confronting anti-Indigenous racism and colonial violence alongside other hard subjects like anxiety, grief and heartache. To the great tradition of singer-songwriters healing through their music, Nimkish brings a bright-eyed aim to flourish in all she has experienced.
Stylistically, Nimkish exists in a realm between Kehlani and King Princess, softly orbiting Sabrina Claudio. Her lyrics give affirmation to past pain while living in the moment. To some it may sound like escapism, to others it may sound like moxie-driven R&B-pop pulsing through the club. What’s certain is her fortitude — she’s an it-girl on a mission, combining the coolness and creativity of the TikTok generation with the lucidity and confidence of a grown ass woman.
Originally from Salt Spring Island, 21-year-old Nicky MacKenzie has a knack for capturing emotions with her lyrics and melodies that never fail to thrill the ear. Her lifelong passion for singing and writing music led her to the city of Vancouver to attend audio engineering and artist development school, as well as to perform more broadly and collaborate more readily. Following in the stylistic footsteps of such evocative singers as Alicia Keys, Amy Winehouse, and Joss Stone, her soothing, jazzy vocals combined with poppy melodies always leave listeners in a trance. She was recently chosen as one of the 5 winners of the Canadian Songwriting Challenge, was a contestant on CTV’s first season of The Launch, and has a full length album and singles out available on every platform. Her soulful vocals combined with R&B, Jazz, and Pop influences create an array of musical colours that are not to be missed.
After having spent 2021 honing her skills in songwriting and production, exploring and developing her sound, and collaborating with a plethora of Vancouver-based producers and musicians, Nicky has been immersed in the creation of her sophomore album. Now as the pandemic is subsiding and the world of live performance is reopening, Nicky is ready to double down on her emergence as an irrefutably strong and cohesive artist.
Through the management of Blue Heron Music based in Victoria, BC, Nicky has been advancing to push her career to the next level. Lining up performances at bigger festivals with thousand of attendees, such as Phillips Backyard in Victoria, BC, and flying to LA to record her sophomore album with highly-acclaimed producers, Chris Soper and Jesse Singer (Likeminds), Nicky is on the fast track to releasing a bold new album of finely-crafted, poetically-arresting pop music and making a name for herself in the world live performance and beyond. With all signs pointing to her next album announcing her as a serious artist to watch out for in 2022, Nicky is poised to take the next big steps in her musical career.
If you don’t know this emerging artist, well get to know – Missy D. This femcee has been rapping since she was 11 years old in French and English coming from the 3 corners of the motherland (Rwanda, Côte d’Ivoire, Zimbabwe). Missy D calls it Rap & Soul. You might also catch her on stage alongside Sejal Lal with their duo Laydy Jams. Missy is a bilingual Hip Hop, Rap & Soul Artist who makes music as a form of therapy to express feelings, share a message and connect with listeners. It is a fusion of sounds of her childhood from french melodies to r&b, soul, jazz, hip hop and rap legends. It’s all for the culture and for us. She wants to speak for them, sing for them, and empower folks with love and music.
You will hear the sounds of MC Solaar, Diams, Erykah Badu, India Arie, J.Cole, Missy Elliott, Lauryn Hill, and Stromae echoing through her voice. Rest assured Missy D has more new music with a brand new French EP entitled Case Départ released in April 2022 with a video for the first single, Case Départ, and more coming soon. This artist will have you catching too many feelings or that je ne sais quoi singing YES MAMA as Missy D embraces diversity in instrumentals, music, and most of all people.
A combination of traditional soul and modern R&B/pop flair, Mikey Jose’s familiar yet novel sound has been turning heads internationally and catching the attention of major global talent since his debut single release, “Stay @ Home”, in 2019. His debut EP, “Hindsight”, released in late 2020 gained him global recognition, receiving local and global radio play, including spins from Swedish P3 National radio. Mikey’s signature soulful vocals and elegant runs have also caught the attention of major Soul/R&B names through his Instagram channel, including Allen Stone, Jeremy Passion, and DeAndre, and has helped him land collaborations with rising international stars, such as Sam Wills and Giacomo Turra.
Mikey and his band, known as “Mikey Jose and The Bungalow”, have performed sold out shows at Vogue Theatre in Vancouver, opening for NYC soul-pop rising stars, Lawrence, and packed local music festivals, including Vancouver Mural Festival (VMF), Winter Arts Fest, and Shipyards. His high-energy VMF set was praised by Virgin Radio, who described the performance as “”[bringing] the house down””. Mikey is currently pursuing a PhD in Neuroscience at the University of British Columbia to understand the power of music in medicine.
A fan of music, that’s how it started. Matt’s relationship with songs and instruments began when he was 13 years old, at the time his family lived in Islamabad, Pakistan. His parents’ work took them all over the world, from Saudi Arabia to Kenya. When he put on the headphones, or picked up the guitar, or sat at the piano, this is where he found home.
For the last decade, Matt has been based in Vancouver B.C. Over the last few years, a slew of releases have brought Matt’s music to thousands of new listeners. Starting in 2018, his debut EP “Major 7th Medicine” introduced his alternative soulful style to audiences, and landed him national airplay on CBC radio. In the years that followed, Matt brought his sound to venues all over the west coast, with a set that made crowds nod their heads and think about life. His voice has a smooth airiness to it and his songs tell a story, making for a live set that cuts to the heart.
He found himself on bigger and bigger stages alongside local talent Desirée Dawson, including Vancouver Folk Fest and The Commodore Ballroom. In 2020, he brought his music to Europe, playing sold out shows in Slovakia, as well as touring France and England. He also landed his first international hit “We Went Our Own Ways”, the song now has over 950k Spotify streams from all over the globe.
As a producer and engineer, Matt has solidified himself in the Vancouver recording industry, with a production style all his own. He has been involved with some of the best artists in West Coast Canada, including IAMTHELVING (Juno Nominated), Nicky Mackenzie (CTV’s “The Launch” Contestant), Desirée Dawson (2016 CBC Searchlight Winner) and Ivan Hartle.
His new album “Like an Old Tree in the City” is out now. The collection of songs really speaks to his originality as a songwriter and producer, and pushes boundaries in genre and sonics.
Honest, innovative and progressive, Lush Fleece is reinventing a wholly modern approach to R&B. Weaving together elements of Classic Soul and Bedroom Pop, the duo embodies the beating heart of Canadian Underground R&B.
Lush Fleece writes, records and produces all of their work in a furniture warehouse tucked away in the Rocky Mountains on unceded Ktunaxa Territory.
They deliver a sincere expression of the millennial struggles involving love, loneliness and self-esteem. Inspired by decades of Jazz, Hip-Hop, Funk and Synth-Pop, they have crafted an eclectic, contemporary and romantic sound.
Lush Fleece is Barry Jenkins, a fashionable multi-instrumentalist and ramen enthusiast born in the UK – and Chilli, a neurotic introvert raised in the noise of Toronto’s city streets. Through their vulnerability, they hope their work will provide a new perspective in the Canadian music scene, one that draws people towards self acceptance.
Kimmortal is a queer non-binary filipinx artist and rapper known for their powerful stage presence and multi-dimensional approach to music. A musician (rapper/singer/self taught producer) with a background in art and theatre, Kimmortal’s honest wordplay and visuals tell stories of reclaiming one’s power and confronting social issues facing their generation. Their concept album “X marks the Swirl” incorporates spoken word, rap, and field recordings of water that Kim created over a five year process. The album was longlisted for a Polaris, recognized as top 19 albums of 2019 via CBC, and nominated in the 2020 “Hip Hop and Rap” category of Breakout West Music Awards.
Kimmortal has opened for some of their favourite artists including Shad K, Ruby Ibarra, Saba, Bif Naked, Saul Williams, and Gabriel Teodros. They have performed in SXSW, Junofest, Rifflandia, NXNE, Winnipeg Pride Festival and Reeperbahn Germany. After receiving a shout-out from US Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez for their song “Sad Femme Club” in March, Kimmortal is excited to release their newest project this coming winter 2022.
Vancouver born and Berklee College of Music taught JJ Adrian redefines the scope of R&B with an untouchable vocal ability and a refreshingly alternative narrative, lyrically and musically. Being mentored by industry giants such as Stevie Wonder and Kara DioGuardi, JJ is ready to showcase a selection of music from his upcoming project that draws on the journeys in love, honest introspection, and understanding the responsibility of a cross-national identity.
Vancouver-based Glass Forest is an indie-pop group comprised of Nick Owen (vocals/keys), Stephen Clarke (bass/beats) and Abby Wale (vocals). They have gained a reputation for euphoric live shows that blend electronic dance elements with atmospheric soundscapes.
The trio released singles Anywhere and High on Your Love in spring 2018 with accompanying music videos directed by Jordan Clarke, topping the subreddit r/listentothis. In August 2019 Glass Forest released their single To the Ocean with Platinum Certified record producer Nygel Asselin (Half Moon Run) which was featured on Sofar Sounds | Now Playing Spotify playlist as one of the Top Alumni picks from around the world.
Glass Forest’s latest video release for I Remember (featured on BooomTV) is the Group’s most ambitious project to date. The video features contributions from directors Amos LeBlanc and Jordan Clarke, cinematographer Cole Graham, and production company Film Boldly. New releases are slated for spring 2022.
Desirée Dawson is a JUNO-nominated recording artist, songwriter, producer and yoga teacher. Desirée was born, raised and is currently residing on the, occupied, traditional, unceded lands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ / sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) nations (also known as “Vancouver BC”) and can often be found sharing her music internationally. Desirée is of mixed ancestry, her mother French-Canadian settler ancestry from “Ontario ” and her father is of African descent from “South Carolina ”. Desirée is very passionate about music’s role in collective healing, by encouraging listeners to find a connection within themselves and the people and land around them. A CBC radio favorite, Desirée’s music has been featured on numerous CBC programs, has her songs on regular rotation and won the CBC Searchlight contest in 2016.
Over the last couple years, Desirée has been chosen for numerous high profile opportunities across the industry, whether as a songwriter in the Discovery Song Camp with Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, participant in the Allan Slaight JUNO Masterclass, artist in the Vancouver Folk Fest,juror in the inaugural Black Canadian Music Awards, or various sync placements. Desirée passionately supports her community through a variety of music-based workshops and gatherings. Whether performing solo with her baritone Ukulele, in harmony with her band or leading sound healing workshops, Desirée’s music is made to get us feeling and healing.
DACEY (DAH-SEE) sets a new age storm on stage, with elements of various genres; Alternative R&B, Lo Fi Hip Hop, Neo-Soul, Indie, and Jazz, tied together with her creative edge. Influenced by unforgettable artists such as Amy Winehouse, the Beatles, Michael Jackson, SZA, and Anderson .Paak; DACEY makes their genre-defying mark, producing progressive melodic stories fit to any mood they seek with the crowd. Andrada’s hooky vibe continues to linger in the limelight as she and her band proceed to captivate the underground scene, starting right at her roots; in the heart of Vancouver.
Victoria, BC art-pop quintet Bridal Party make pop music they like. The band recently completed their follow-up to 2019’s Too Much, entitled Cool Down.
Cool Down is the most distilled rendition of Bridal Party’s sound to date. Inspired by the innovative studio pop of groups like Stereolab and Steely Dan, Cool Down uniquely reinterprets the hook-forward songwriting of artists like Tops and Men I Trust with the emotional bombast of Jay Som and Japanese Breakfast, threading it all together with a diaristic narrative realism. Compassionately characterized by lead vocalist Suzannah Raudaschl’s lithe vocal, these songs carry a danceable energy that winnows the commonplace for its most intimate detail.
Cool Down is about reckoning with a multifaceted self in a world where destabilization is the norm. Expressions of vulnerability, humbling encounters with romance and tremors of technological isolationism feel timely yet prescient. Cool Down embodies these moments as ones to be both felt deeply and danced to.
Bridal Party’s 2015 EP release Hot Daze found support on Bandcamp Weekly. 2017’s Negative Space garnered six-figure Spotify streams with lead single “Fruitless”. Their debut full-length, Too Much climbed to the #2 slot on !earshot National top 50 college radio chart, while the album’s second single “Jukebox Cutie” earned placement on Spotify’s Outliers editorial playlist. Beatroute (BC) magazine describes Bridal Party as “a perfect marriage of indie pop and soul.”
Their driving work ethic has sent them on tour across Canada and the USA multiple times and landed them coveted slots in festivals Sled Island, Pop! Montreal, and Rifflandia.