Adventures of a Homebody #1 - UBC Operation Smile Club
January 18, 2015
Let's face it: Facebook stalking has pretty much become normal.
One simply needs a handful of minutes to blow, a mild curiosity, and a reasonable excu...
Don't be an online Costco Sample (featured in the Richmond News)
August 24, 2012
Adventures of a Homebody #2: Cafe Deux Soliels
January 26, 2015
Make Music Matter (featured in the Richmond News)
September 25, 2013
Make music matter
I had just walked for 45 minutes in pouring rain down College Street, Toronto with the CEO of Make Music Matter when I met Jason "Cone" McCaslin for the first time.
Cone, the bassist for the band Sum 41 was waiting in his green Volkswagen.
He turned around casually, to say "hi" when I climbed into the backseat and disheveled and breathless, I nodded back, trying hard to appear as professional and composed as I could within the circumstances.
The three of us - Cone, Darcy Ataman and I - had been communicating via email up until that point.
Back in April, I had whimsically entered a songwriting contest held by Make Music Matter and sponsored by the financial corporation Western Union.
Although, I didn't win, or even place within the top 10 submissions, Western Union had gone on to explore my YouTube Channel and commission a song.
And volunteering to produce it were Cone and Ataman. After a month of reassuring email exchanges, telephone conversations with my parents (my dad promised to turn into Liam Neeson from Taken if something were to happen to me), the trip was finalized for Sept. 20 to 26.
For those of you unfamiliar with the band Sum 41, they were a huge pop punk and rock band from the late '90s and early 2000s.
They sold more than 12 million albums internationally, appeared on Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Late Night Show with David Letterman and MAD TV, to name a few.
Cone himself, was signed when he was only 19, and now he works on his side project - Operation MD, which he co-founded with Todd Morse.
He continues to write and produce music, exploring other genres of music. His most recent work with the Strumbellas was nominated for a Canadian Juno award for "Best Roots/ Traditional Album" in 2013.
On the other side, Make Music Matter has been a charity since 2007. Ataman says it "us[es] music to engage, educate and foster leadership in youth in communities affected by extreme poverty."
He has travelled to Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. He created the songwriting contest to get youth to think about some of the troubling issues in our world today.
And his work has been recognized by the government of Manitoba and he recently received a Member's statement, honouring him for his work to enrich the lives of vulnerable youth through music.
It's an incredible and bizarre thing; to meet up with Cone and Ataman every afternoon and spend the majority of the day together brainstorming melodies and lyrics, rehearsing, planning and recording.
It's as if, I've somehow walked into the right wardrobe and entered Narnia. These two accomplished, experienced musicians believe in the ideas, emotions, and musical contributions of a small-time teenager.
They are patient and supportive; gentle and unbelievably humble.
Needless to say, I'm soaking it all in, and trying to make the best music I possibly can. But frankly, I'll be happy whether this trip is the first step of many more to come, or just one heck of a highlight for a kid who just likes to write songs.