Welcome to Industry Feature Friday, putting the spotlight on the people behind the music! From producers, radio DJ's and radio trackers, to photographers, managers and everything in between. These are the music business professionals who work hard to help put your favourite artists (emerging, independent and hit makers) on the charts, DSP's, radio and on the map through their work behind the scenes!
Have you ever stopped and wondered: who is one of the greatest songwriters in Canada? I have the absolute pleasure of showcasing one of the best, today - Chard Morrison!
Welcome back, Chard! I'm so excited to have you as my IFF guest this week! Thank you so much for your time and answers!!
Coming in talented from Calgary, AB, Chard and I go way, way back!
This brilliant dude has described himself as, "Songwriter, Lyricist, Entertainer, Background Vocalist, Emcee, Host.....well.....let's just say it's easier to call me a professional jack of all trades."
On his Twitter, he described himself as: "6 foot 5 Songwriter writing one future hit at a time, owns the most powerful guitar strap in the world, and is known to be a Minstrel of Mayhem."
Chard is also the founder/owner & operator of Shattered Glass Music, which he tells you more about below.
Chard's passion for the Alberta and Canadian music scene ALWAYS shines through in his work. Whether it's in a song, a collaboration, in a co-write, by supporting/developing an up and coming artist, and/or everything in between.
His impact on the musical landscape of today can be heard in songs written for artists from all walks of life and genres.
Here is a bit about him from his website bio:
"With his songs and melodies appearing on television, album projects, ad campaigns, and live shows, performing songwriter Chard Morrison will be the first to tell you that he is still a student of song. Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, Chard has opened for various country and rock acts, been a background vocalist for studio work, and has been performing worldwide in songwriter circles with his entertaining live show. He has earned a reputation for his audience engagement, tongue-in- cheek lyrics and soul bearing ballads". - chardmorrison.com
Between co-writing sessions, Chard currently mentors new artists and songwriters, hosts writers rounds and the Calgary Songsmith’s monthly meetings, and assists performers with their live show staging.
He has been deservedly nominated and recognized by several associations, including, but not limited to: Country Music Alberta for "Industry Person of the Year," "Songwriter(s) of the Year," Male Artist of the Year" and "Fans Choice" awards, and the Country Music Association of Ontario for "Song of the Year." His music has also been recognized in his hometown with a YYC Music Awards nomination for, "Country Recording of the Year."
He has co-written with all-stars such as SOCAN Award winners Troy Kokol and Joni Delaurier, and rising stars, The Prairie States, Megan Dawson, Candice Ryan, Ty Baytnon, Brandon Lorenzo, Chris Brien, Nicole Sumerlyn, Aaron Pollock, Michaela Sheedy, Codie Prevost, Tanya Ryan and Jack Connolly and new artists Olivia Wik, Sky Wyatt, Steel Toe Boots and Shane Hawryluk to name a few. That's literally just a few!
Chard is also a long standing director on the Board of Directors for Country Music Alberta. He is the glue of the operation and I won't hear otherwise! He's a true gem and we all appreciate him immensely!
It's little surprise that Chard is now one of the most respected names in the music business!
Chard consistently puts his entire heart and soul into crafting an audible masterpiece, and helping artists release an audible masterpiece. It's truly inspiring for myself and for many. For those who know Chard well, they understand that he will never stop his quest to be the best songwriter he can be.
Get to know more about Chard Morrison here:
Sarah Scott (SS): Chard, this isn't the first time you've been featured on a Studio B Platform, but it has been over 3 years! Welcome back! For those who may be unfamiliar with you and your company Shattered Glass, tell us more about your musical journey and some of the highlights!
Chard Morrison (CM): A pleasure to be welcomed back! Congrats on your 3 year anniversary with Studio B and your new expansion Industry Feature Friday!! It’s been an pleasure watching the brand grow season over season and congrats on all your success!
Yes, Shattered Glass has been evolving the background over the past few years. Originally, it was my Songwriting company, however it has grown to more of a music group as I’ve been dealing with so many aspects of the industry from idea conception to publishing rights and everything in-between. So in our current configuration we consult with and assist artists or writers with where they are in the industry life cycle, and help them put plans together to achieve their objective, and help to find a team to complete the project. So if you’re looking for songs to cut, or need a release strategy, we are here to help point you in the right direction and find the team that will work best with you as you continue to grow and evolve as an artist and be available to mentor any level you may be at.
Some of my personal highlights as a music group is moving onto the 3rd year of a industry showcase at CCMA week for numerous artists that need to be seen, to helping artists put out their very first single and write their first song…but from my understanding, you’re here more to chat with me about the songwriter side today. How can I help?
SS: Is there anything about being a songwriter or co-writer that you think people should know but don’t usually ask about?
CM: I want to preface this answer with “These are all my personal opinions”, but here are some things I’ve picked up over my 18 years writing songs.
1. Always have an open mind. When I go into a write, I know that anything can happen. Lighting can strike, you could have a co-stare for 3 hours and get nothing done. But, when you are pitching an idea, when you are in the creating phase of a song, always be open to a different or unique idea that your co-write could take. Perhaps the idea isn’t what you are looking for, but only by exploring it can you be sure that it won’t lead you to a better or stronger idea for the song. Once you both agree on a direction, then start being more picky with the ideas and concepts as you want every line to support your hook. And that leads me to….
2. Always get your ideas out. I’ve seen creative sparks vanish in an instant and the greatest line never told is lost forever. For myself, I always have a track recording the writing session. It’s not to keep or to track who said what for ownership of the song….I’ve learned the the unconscious mind works much faster than the conscious mind and most times, it’s not what you said, but how you said it. By having that track running in the back ground, you can go back and hear what you said and then critically look at it to improve it or throw it away, or it could trigger something in your co-writer who can build on it…but if you never get it out, you might lose it forever, or be a sub par version of what it could have been. I personally can’t tell you how much this has saved us when we have been free styling a melody and we both hear something and say YES!!! THAT’S IT!!! And if it wasn’t for the recording, we never would have remembered how we got there to build the song.
3. Inspiration can come from anywhere at any time. Smart phones have been a game change for songwriters as we have a note pad and recording device in our pockets. So when you’re out there living life, or catch a line in a movie that sparks interest, WRITE OR RECORD IT in that instant. When you sit down to actually write, you can sift through your thoughts and decide if it’s worth keeping or moving on.
4. Be prepared. In co-writes, it’s always good to have an idea or three you can throw out to the room.
5. Don’t share full song ideas (right away). I know I might get heat for this one, but hear me out. One of my favourite parts of co-writes is the beginning when we are sharing our ideas and hooks. But if I have a hook, and an idea to back it up…or even a melody, I will only say the hook spoken and no cadence and see what is triggered in my co-writers mind. Perhaps they will look at the idea in a totally different way that I have that is way better!! And that’s happened many many time. I always share my full idea after they’ve had a chance to sit on it for a moment, and we decide as a group what is the the BEST way to move forward on the song. By just saying the hook, with no melody or background, I allow my co-writer total freedom to see how their mind will work with it totally free from any kind of persuasion on my part. Now, that being said, if I know my hook and chorus are amazing, yeah, I’m going to share the full thing, but lately, I like to see their their minds wander.
6. The song comes first. Once you agree on a hook, everything you write should be to support it. This is one of those, "that sounds so easy….but isn’t” statements. Always do what’s best for the song.
7. When pitching songs, remove any potential obstacle for the artist. I learned a lesson long ago that I’ll share. There are thousands of songs out there and all of them are trying to get “cut”. The artist teams will look for any reason to get that thousand songs down to 10 just for their sanity. I once lost a cut because my lyric sheet had the year I wrote it on it. They didn’t even look at the title. They saw the copy write year and said it was written 10 years ago, it’s too old.
SS: Do you have any superstitions around writing or finishing a song? For example you can't write on a certain day or after or before a certain hour?
CM: Honestly for me, no. Inspiration can hit anytime, but discipline will serve you better in the long run. I always carve out time for me to write each week. If I do nothing for 3 hours, or write the worst song ever, I know I’ve created something that did not exist before I sat down to create it. And not a lot of people have the ability to do that. It’s very hard to create, but very easy to edit.
SS: What's the worst part of being a songwriter?
CM: I think there are 2 I’ll mention here, again, prefacing it with this is Chard’s Opinion only.
1. Once the song finds a home with an artist, we lose our hold on it in the creative process. Sometimes the project dies and we never hear from them again, or it comes back totally different from our “demo love” we have played 1000 times on our phones from the recording. We’ve done our part and it’s up to the artists production team, and we see it at the end. I’m happy to say that 99% of the time it’s amazing!! ….but that 1% of the time is the worst.
2. However long you think a project will take, triple it minimum. So many things can happen from funding being lost to losing to an 11th hour song. Waiting to hear if your song has been cut or not and the silence between answers is the figurative worst.
SS: Obviously, you should be (or believe you are) a creative person to be a songwriter, but what are some other skills that will assist with being a successful songwriter that aren't really talked about?
CM: 1. Organization of your ideas. If you are someone looking to do this full time, create an organization system of your songs so that if an opportunity comes up, you’re ready. I keep a “finished file” that has the work tape, lyrics and chords, for all of my songs, and in folders of tempo so they are already ready to go.
2. Go mingle. Don’t be afraid to go out to industry events and find new people to work with. Not all of them will say yes, and most of them will say “we should write sometime” for the next 5 years every time you see them.
2a: Follow up. If someone says we should write sometime, offer them some dates that work. Take the initiative. I offer 2 options and then zero in from there.
SS: Can you be a songwriter if you can’t sing?
CM: Yes. I have worked with many people that can’t sing outside of their car, however, their ideas and theory are sound. Some people can hear the melody in their head but can’t get it out, or can find perfect rhymes and rhythms without any effort, but lack the melodic ability. I have worked with a few people that spent an hour finding the notes on a piano one at a time to get a feel for the chorus, but once we had it, it was easy with the singers in the room to bring it to life.
SS: Do you have any upcoming projects that we can be on the lookout for?
CM: I do actually! Just recently 2 releases came out:
Candace Ryan: In Love again
Anna Lewis : My Myself and Wine
And coming out later this year are a few tracks on Ty Baynton’s newest album, and a few more songs with debut artists that we are quite excited about but I can’t say too much about them yet….Spoilers and all.
To follow along on Chards exciting musical adventures, you can follow him on Instagram @chardmorrison.