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Celebrating Female-Identifying Powerhouses Working Behind the Scenes

From publicists to producers, creative directors, and radio hosts, meet these unsung heroes in the music industry. 

by Aurora Zboch / RANGE

Behind every song, artist and event are countless individuals that help fully realize the magic that we experience within the music industry from ideation to the execution of live shows and recorded material. Publicists, managers, producers, creative directors, radio hosts and agents all play unique roles in giving performers a platform. Their work is an essential part of connecting fans to music and artists to opportunities. They are the ones that believe in a project before it has the chance to reach your ears and touch your soul. 

In celebration of International Women’s Day, RANGE is recognizing women in the Canadian music industry whose hard work knows no bounds with a cumulative feature that we will be adding to throughout the month. This is the first in our series that will pull back the curtain on the passionate and strategic leaders who have turned the business into their own superstar career. 

Julijana Capone 

Writing is at the heart of Julijana Capone’s work as a publicist. As she puts it, “Every press release is like a short story.” She loves to create a narrative with clients around their advantageous new projects. Capone is the founder of Light of Day Publicity, which boasts a variety of multi-genre artists on its roster. Her background in journalism is a foundation for how she shares artists’ stories with the rest of the world. She’s also a senior publicist for the National Music Centre (Studio Bell) in Calgary. Capone spent several years as an editor for BeatRoute and writing for a variety of publications including HuffPost Canada and Uptown Magazine in Winnipeg. Now she calls Calgary home. 

How do you describe yourself and what you do? 

As a publicist, I try to generate press for my clients by pitching their projects to journalists. I essentially act as an intermediary between a client and the media – and I write a lot of press releases! In addition to my role as the senior publicist at the National Music Centre, I’m also the founder of Light of Day Publicity, a company I created a few years ago to support emerging Canadian artists. 

Being from Winnipeg, and now living in Calgary, I have an immense soft spot for artists coming out of the Prairies. I’ve worked with hip-hop/R&B artist K-Riz, neo-soul act Uyemi, shoegaze outfit Juniper Bush, art-pop singer-producer Selci, soul-roots singer-songwriter Jess Knights, rapper Arlo Maverick, old-time folk musician Mike Tod, and others.

What is an accomplishment in your career that you don’t get to flaunt enough? 

I feel like I’ve entered the ‘mom’ stage of my career. When I was in my 20s writing for various publications, I got a real kick out of seeing my own byline in print. Now I get the same sort of dopamine rush when I see my clients getting recognition. 

I joke with my friends (but am also kind of serious) that the only aspiration I ever had while in journalism school was to get a CD review published in Winnipeg’s alt-weekly, Uptown (which I did!). I never imagined that a career promoting music was ever possible. I’m very grateful to be able to do what I love – that’s really my greatest achievement. 

How do you try to establish authentic connections during times that feed into bite-sized content and social polarization?

Music in particular has a special unifying power. Whether I’m promoting an exhibition that stirs up nostalgia or an album with a pertinent message, all of those things can create an opportunity for connection with the public or a journalist I’m pitching.

Who serves as your role model? 

The people who gave me opportunities early on in my career and gave me the confidence to keep at it. And, of course, my mom! 

Lana Gay

 

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Lana Gay is a music journalist, broadcaster and afternoon drive host for Toronto radio station Indie88. She also has the most impressive collection of band tees that you’ll probably ever see. It’s no secret that Dolly Parton is an all-time favourite. Gay draws from a deep well of musical knowledge and is ready for rapid-fire rounds with any artist that comes her way. Catch her chill and cheery voice on the airwaves, or see her on the red carpet leading interviews with an infectious smile. She demonstrates stellar skills when it comes to staying on top of her game in every fast-paced hosting scenario. Gay considers herself as “a utility knife in the world of media, but not a robot.” 

What is one often-overlooked aspect of your work? 

The amount of prep time and research that goes into a show, especially for interviews and album premieres. It is also incredibly special to have my show be part of someone’s daily routine.

What is an accomplishment in your career that you don’t get to flaunt enough? 

Solo hosting live red carpet & backstage interviews at the Junos. Trying to remember faces, names and categories for over 100 attendees and interviewing whoever showed up to chat. Some interviews were great, some not, but it was a whirlwind feat of memory and improv for me (on little sleep… and in heels.) I learned a lot on the fly. 

How do you try to establish authentic connections during times that feed into bite-sized content and social polarization?

I think for as many bite-sized tweets, 10 second breaks, audiograms, and TikTok content there is also an audience for ephemeral shows, longer interviews, podcasts, articles and more in-depth content. Working in a live environment, you’re bound to mess up in real time, and I feel nothing is more authentic than that! I try to focus on what’s worked best for me so far – be genuine, try to tell stories well, listen, stay curious, and don’t feed the trolls.  

Who serves as your role model? 

Dolly Parton.

Erin Ashley Lowers

 

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Erin Lowers makes it her mission to put the world on to Toronto’s hottest artists. Her job as an Artist Partnership Lead at TikTok lets Lowers represent Canada’s massive offerings in the world of R&B and hip-hop. She previously spent five years as the hip-hop editor for Exclaim. Lowers also has worked as a content specialist for YouTube Music. She carries her experiences of telling the stories behind the music by curating playlists and supporting the creative vision of artists on digital platforms. Every year for International Women’s Day, Lowers applauds the women who are dominating the hip hop game. She’s constantly pushing for new ways to advocate for the city’s music and creative communities. When we look back on the past decade of Toronto’s music industry, her name will remain next to the legacies of her hometown’s brightest stars. 

How do you describe yourself and what you do? 

I’m one of two Artist Partnership Leads at TikTok in North America, which means that I get to work directly with artists, their management teams and agencies, supporting how they can own and build their narratives – both musically and personally – on TikTok. It’s a continuation of my lengthy career as a journalist, just in a different medium. Instead of me telling artists’ stories, I give them the tools so they can creatively express it themselves. 

What is one often-overlooked aspect of your work? 

It may come as a surprise to many that I’m currently the only person on the Artist Partnerships team in Canada, so wanting to do right by an entire country and not disappoint anyone is definitely top of mind some days. Thankfully, we closely collaborate with our US counterparts and work as a broader North American team, and I have incredible co-workers who alleviate a lot of that pressure. After a year in this role though, I’m still hitting the pavement running and am not out of breath yet. 

What is an accomplishment in your career that you don’t get to flaunt enough?

I think throughout my career I’ve been fairly humble with respect to what I’ve worked on or who I know, so flaunting isn’t quite in my nature. I’ve always wanted to open doors, quietly gaining the ‘first-woman to…’ title relatively often so that others can walk in easier after, and perhaps that’s one thing I could yell from the rooftops more. However, nothing beats saying you have 16 credits on Netflix for ‘Hip-Hop Evolution’ and seeing it with your own eyes as the credits roll. While Shad was the one asking the questions, I was the one guiding and writing them. So I guess I can say I also interviewed Lil Kim, right? 

How do you establish authentic connections online and offline? 

Being able to foster a community with like-minded individuals and creatives I trust has been crucial to me online and offline. The internet has brought so many people into my life, but being able to reach out and ask them how their day was instead of what they’re working on has kept me grounded in unimaginable ways. I could say some of my closest friends started as colleagues and that some artists I used to watch in empty venues have become these major label signed stars to whom I send memes. For me, it’s always going to be less about ‘what can you do for me’ and more about ‘how can I support you’ and vice versa. 

Who serves as your role model? 

Many people inspire me, some I call family and some I’ve never met. Someone who has always inspired me, and continues to inspire me even though he’s no longer with us, is Reggie Osé aka Combat Jack. The way he cared for his friends as well as his industry peers was truly magical. As a friend, his mentorship and advice on how to navigate life personally and professionally still resonates with me every day. 

Then there are women like Sacha Miller, who was featured earlier this month and is so important to the Canadian music landscape, the Black women on ADVANCE Music Canada I get to create change with (Vivian Barclay, Jamelia Campbell, Carey Riley, ED Keziah Myers), Saba Seyedi who’s paving the path for women (particularly women of colour and immigrant women in Canada) in UX/UI Design…I could be here all day, but I’ll end this with my parents, who immigrated from South Africa during Apartheid so that my future could be what it is today.

Colleen Krueger 

 

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Colleen Krueger is a master of time management, a proud aunt, and a nature lover. She gracefully balances her time between doing artist management and promotions for Landlocked Management, project manager for Flemish Eye Records, and the managing director for Music Calgary. She made her own scrappy path to success in the music industry and realized she can accomplish anything she puts her mind to. Through blunders and good experiences, the self-described recovering workaholic upholds the importance of healthy work-life boundaries. When she’s not answering emails, Krueger is likely enjoying the cool Calgary outdoors or hanging with friends and family.

What is one often-overlooked aspect of your work? 

I think sometimes people can look at the arts as a very romantic job. And it has its moments, which are likely many of the reasons I am still working in the arts; we get to listen to new music before it’s released (a major perk and joy of the job), we get to see backstage (likely carrying backline for someone); and travel to new exotic places (lots of driving time). In reality it’s a whole lot of hard work, hours of dedication, sacrifice and passion that goes into every project. All of that energy can be valued and sometimes it’s overlooked with expectations that there could have been more done. Something I have learned, nothing will ever be perfect and there is always more that can be done. It’s ok to celebrate everything that did get done because that was likely a lot already. 

What is an accomplishment in your career that you don’t get to flaunt enough? 

I grew my career from literally nothing and that I didn’t even graduate high school. I have learned everything I know by just doing the work and asking endless questions to people who were willing to help me along the way. I remember I decided that school wasn’t for me after a couple attempts and that no one was going to hold my hand or offer me anything unless I proved my worth. So I just started reading, watching, and engaging with everything I possibly could, attending every conference I possibly could and putting it to practise. I started my own projects, asked artists if I could help them with various tasks. 

How do you try to establish authentic connections during times that feed into bite-sized content and social polarization?

For me I already preferred offline experiences to establish authentic connections. In the past it was things like going to shows, conferences, or being on tour with one of the artists I work with. But now I think I have shifted closer to home: hanging, walks, park hangs, bike rides, cooking, crafting (one of my new hobbies is going to the dollar store and letting random items inspire a new art piece) or painting. Really any activity that gets me outdoors or being creative with a friend is wonderful and I find people open up so much better.

Roshanie 

 

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Anytime you catch up with Roshanie, she’s busy learning a new skill. Beyond curatory work as a DJ, she blends community, culture and social justice across many roles. Through Solidarity In Sound, she runs original programming and initiatives within Brampton, Ont. and Toronto while promoting gender equity in the industry. Whether it’s in writing, radio or events, she’s proud to constantly try new things. 

In her cozy Twitch streams, you can find Roshanie surrounded by plants and candles where she spins R&B while sipping tea. Since first delving into radio in 2019, she’s built up regular segments for ISO Radio and, most recently, CBC’s Metro Morning. In her off time, she shares TikToks like her life depends on it and brainstorms Wordle answers while desperately anticipating summer. Most of all, Roshanie speaks unreservedly when it comes to the work that still needs to be done. 

How do you describe yourself and what you currently do? 

Professionally, most of my work revolves around DJ-ing where I play lots of dancehall, R&B edits, alté, and local music. I’ve also developed a really strong love for radio and broadcasting because of the intimate connections I can build with listeners. I currently host on ISO Radio, stream on Twitch, and am on CBC Radio’s morning show every few weeks to share new local music. 

I also started Solidarity in Sound, a community-oriented project focused on gender equity within music. Our educational programming is on pause due to the pandemic, but our monthly radio show on ISO Radio is going three years strong! Along with my co-host, we interview women and gender nonconforming artists and play Sunday slow jams. Some of our past guests include Joy Crookes, TUSH, and Boston Chery. 

What is one often-overlooked aspect of your work? 

Taking risks! I’m always reinventing myself, experimenting, and learning from Youtube tutorials.

Radio feels like a good example of this – I started hosting in Feb. 2019 without knowing much about hosting a radio show. But a few years after taking that step, I’ve gone on to work at a campus radio station and now have a regular music segment on CBC’s morning show, Metro Morning. I often think about all the friends and opportunities that came from that initial step into radio. I think 2022 would look so different if I decided to spend my time and energy doing something else. 

What is an accomplishment in your career that you don’t get to flaunt enough? 

I’m a writer! Most of my music journalism work has taken the form of radio, but I do occasionally write about music and hope that there’s more of that in my future. I recently wrote a story for New Feeling that explored the risks and rewards of crowdfunding platforms such as Patreon, Bandcamp, and Go Fund Me. I spoke with Gayance and Paul Chin for the piece and discussed time commitments, the emotional toll of asking your community for money, and whether it’s shaping their creative process. The story ended up on Del Cowie’s Best Canadian Music Writing 2021 list which I’m really proud of too. 

How do you try to establish authentic connections during times that feed into bite-sized content and social polarization?

My life would be a lot simpler if we had a handbook on healthy boundaries for the online world. At the same time, I’m really thankful for the friends that I’ve made thanks to the internet. I really like Twitch because I’ve gotten to know viewers a lot over my 100+ hours of streaming. These days, I’m viewing the connections made from bite sized content and highlight reels as a launchpad for authentic connections that can be made via one-on-one hangs and calls. 

Malaika Khadijaa

Multidisciplinary artist Malaika Khadijaa embraces the many facets of being an emerging creative. On top of being a singer/songwriter, she is further establishing her own name by producing showcases. She started the brand LUMINARY and also works closely with NoHa Collective. She also handles artist relations for Manifesto. 

Khadijaa draws from her own experiences to help young artists network and navigate a competitive landscape. She knows how to build successful relationships and experiences for herself and other music lovers. She leads her conversations with good intentions and values consistency in her connections. This is why Khadijaa is bound to keep growing as she plans to lift others up with her. 

How do you describe yourself and what you currently do? 

My main goal has always been to support young emerging artists and I do this by giving them a platform to share their music and provide them with resources to help develop their talents. Over time, I’ve developed groups like LUMINARY which is a media house dedicated to supporting and uplifting growing artists and to date we’ve produced 3 concerts, 1 festival, 2 panel series and 1 workshop all in support of artists in the Toronto area.  

What is one often-overlooked aspect of your work?  

When it comes to young artists, there are many chances for you to be taken advantage of and many people will see opportunity before talent. This creates a lot of avoidable problems for young artists that I don’t think people talk about often. Young artists can oftentimes be naive and simply unaware of the negative impacts when being asked to pay to perform or contribute to a song without being given the proper credit, just to give a few examples. 

What is an accomplishment in your career that you don’t get to flaunt enough? 

I would say my biggest accomplishment would be producing my first ever LUMINARY showcase in 2019. It was my first production and I only had a month to plan it. I was only 16 and had to battle with getting event insurance and security, which are things I never thought I would be doing. In the end it was a success, we featured 10 artists ages 15-20 from across the GTA and had a full audience. It was a great experience for me and it’s what made me realize how important my passions were and to keep pursuing them. 

Who serves as your role model? 

My father would be my biggest influence. He is very wise and his knowledge and support has been pushing me forward since the start of my journey. Ebonnie Rowe of Honey Jam and Phoenix Pagliacci are two women within the music industry who continue to inspire and support me everyday.

Sacha Miller

 

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You’ll be hard pressed to find an image of Sacha Miller without a smile that’s absolutely beaming. After a detrimental time for live music, she oozes joy and resilience. Miller’s agency WORK LATE provides the full package for events and festivals. Since much of Miller’s work happens in the dark, she knows it’s easy to forget who is responsible for the way audiences receive messaging. But through it all you will see a successful turnout, as returning clients like Venus Fest and POP Montreal have counted on her for. While the music industry is in survival mode, WORK LATE perseveres, and Miller seems more than happy to be here. 

How do you describe yourself and what you do?

I own WORK LATE, a marketing and communications agency specializing in music festivals and events. I handle everything from publicity and marketing, programming, partnerships, content creation and more for a number of different festivals and venues. I’ve never viewed my work as a 9-5 job, but rather a lifestyle like most in the music industry, hence the name of my company. I’m currently working with Festival d’été, TD Toronto Jazz Fest, POP Montreal and the Toronto venues The Garrison and The Baby G.

What is an accomplishment in your career that you don’t get to flaunt enough? 

I maintained a business specializing in live music during a pandemic throughout multiple lockdowns and capacity restrictions.

How do you try to establish authentic connections during times that feed into bite-sized content and social polarization?

Sincerity and authenticity can’t be forced. I’ve always enjoyed connecting with people, both my personal and professional relationships are very important to me. I like to think that resonates. 

Who serves as your role model? 

I don’t think I have a role model, but I find the following women endlessly inspiring: Erin Lowers (TikTok), Josephine Cruz (Jayemkayem/ISO Radio), Jamelia Campbell (The Orchard), Abby Albino (Makeway), Hannah Schroeter, Joelle Bertrand (Amazon Music), Roshanie and my sister Rachel Miller.

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