SOCAN hosts first edition of Kenekt Québec Song Camp

November 16, 2016

The song camp is a tradition in Anglophone music culture, but it hasn’t been explored so much on the Francophone side, and deserves to be. That was precisely the idea behind gathering 15 SOCAN members from various musical backgrounds in remote Rabaska Lodge, a resort on the banks of majestic Baskatong Lake, four hours north of Montréal. There, for five days, the songwriters were tasked with creating new songs.

From Nov. 7-11, 2016, four writing teams were created each morning by the Kenekt Québec 2016 camp organizer, SOCAN A&R Executive, Guillaume Moffet. For 12 hours, they were tasked to create one song each that followed certain criteria, including the fact that they needed to be formatted for radio play.

“The reason we do these song camps is for songwriters to improve their talent,” said Moffet. “These song camps exist all over the world, and Francophone songwriters haven’t been exposed to such co-writing experiences. We wanted to offer that to for a few days, so that they could go home having created ties to new writing partners, and having been exposed to new ways of working. Will we hear the new songs created during this camp on the radio? We don’t know, but of course we hope so.”

All told, 20 potential pop hits were created by the 15 writers, composers and producers who, although exhausted, were clearly happy campers – as evidenced by the highly enthusiastic reactions we gathered during our mid-week visit to the camp. Laurence Nerbonne, winner of the 2016 SOCAN Songwriting Prize, says her experience couldn’t have been more positive: “All of us were fully relaxed, in our slippers and PJs, throwing ideas around. It’s super-creative. In the end, it’s a learning experience, it’s like a game, it’s just really, really fun.”

For Jason Bajada, who’s not used to working in the pop radio format, SOCAN’s Kenekt Québec song camp was nothing short of an epiphany: “It’s really cool, because at breakfast, there’s nothing yet, and then at night, all of us are in the main lodge listening to everyone’s work. It’s so much fun to let go and create without barriers. Some of the songs we created were funny, others were super-serious and dark. With the one I did yesterday with Laurence Nerbonne and Étienne Dupuis-Cloutier producing, I’m going nuts. I really want to release it! When we got here, no one knew what would happen, but obviously, when you have a team of four creative people in a cabin for 10, 12 hours, you’re gonna come up with something.”

Click here for photos.

Amélie Larocque agrees: “I love teamwork, sharing. It’s incredible! No one judges, we just bring who we are, we give and we take. It truly is an amazing experience. We all come from different backgrounds and that forces us to go places we wouldn’t have gone otherwise. It’s a wonderful human experience and we’ll be going home with a suitcase full of new influences.”

A few days after the conclusion of this rewarding adventure, Carole Facal (a.k.a. Caracol) was still filled with the feeling of having experienced something exceptional: “I first experienced the national Kenekt camp last year in Nova Scotia and it changed my life. This one took my amazement towards songwriting to the next level. Guillaume Moffet masterfully orchestrated the artists and their respective energies in order to create opportunities for incredible combinations of people. I truly believe that in the long term, such camps will really help Québec’s pop music evolve and reach higher levels – the kind we can witness elsewhere in the world, but with the added beauty of being in the French language.”

As for Gaëlle, she feels that beyond the creative aspect of SOCAN’s Kenekt Québec Song Camp, the human experience was the most important: “To be honest, it re-set my ears to write songs that, no doubt, represent who I am, but that are also contemporary. It helped me understand radio’s stake and the bridges that need to be built between artists and industry. I came back with my mind more open than ever,  and the deep belief that show-business is like a song: if you want a hit, the music and the lyrics have to be engaged in a dialogue, to be married. That’s how their journey becomes beautiful. I can only wish for all artists to live such an enlightening and rejuvenating experience, I thank SOCAN from the bottom of my heart, for making such amazing sharing opportunities happen, and Guillaume Moffet for being such an involved camp host. One for all and all for one!”

One can safely bet that the Kenekt Québec Song Camp will happen again, and everyone involved is anxious to see the collective pearls created during this passionately creative week come out and touch the hearts of every listener. 

The participants were:

Singers and songwriters:
Amélie Larocque (cowriter of the 2016 ADISQ Song of the Year, Marc Dupré, 2Frères, Jérôme Couture)
Mike Clay (Clay & Friends, Robotaki “Ghosboy”)
Jason Bajada (nominated at the 2016 ADISQ Gala)
Gaële (Marie-Pierre Arthur, Florence K, Amylie, Damien Robitaille, Sophie Pelletier)
Jean-Sébastien Houle (member of La Famille Ouellette, winner of the 2016 Francouvertes)
Laurence Nerbonne (2016 SOCAN Songwriting Prize Winner, ex-Hôtel Morphée)
Patrick Bouchard (William Cloutier, David Lazcano)
Isabelle Banos (member of Caveboy)
Carole Facal (ex-Dobacaracol, winner of the 2012 Génie Award for Best Original Song)
Élise Larouche (member of Éli et Papillon)

Producers:
Chris Twigg (Ben l’Oncle Soul)
Marc Vincent (member of Ruffsound, winner of the Album of the Year Félix Award—Koriass)
Junior Celestin (member of Ruffsound)
Chuck Boudreau (member of Fabrikate, Warner Song Camps)
Étienne Dupuis-Cloutier (Dumas, Fanny Bloom, nominee for the Writer or Composer of the Year at the 2015 ADISQ Gala)