Industry Feature Friday: Joni Delaurier & Troy Kokol (Songwriters/Performers/ Producers/Publishers).
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!
The multi award-winning, Troy and Joni are INCREDIBLE! I don't know what they don't do in the music industry. Very talented individuals and as the duo Scarlett Butler! They both have a true passion for supporting emerging (and seasoned) songwriters, and educating rising stars on the in's and out's of the music business. Have worked with a wide array of artists locally, nationally and internationally, these two are a wealth of knowledge and inspiration!
I've have featured both Joni and Troy on previous programs at a radio station I used to work for, but they haven't been on a Studio B platform yet, so this is very exciting! If you don't already know Joni and Troy, here's you chance to get to know them, their work and their creative process!
(Also, since there are two of them, I added in a couple more questions for fun!)
Get to know more about Troy Kokol and Joni Delaurier here:
Sarah Scott (SS): Troy and Joni! You’ve been writing songs for country artists (300+ songs over the last decade) with and for artists like Shane Yellowbird, Brett Kissel, Tenille Townes, The Higgins, Mike Plume, and others, you two are some of the most well-respected, well-known people in the industry that I’ve had the pleasure getting to know you over the last five years! You two together (in short, cause let me tell you they have a lot of amazing roles in this industry and well-deserved accolades!) CCMA, SOCAN, CMAB and YYC winners and nominated industry professionals and artists, are the duo Scarlett Butler, audio engineers, producers, music publishers, recording solo artists and Reluctant Cowboy Records and Calgary Songsmiths. First off, what don’t you do? Haha! Just kidding! But also, if I did miss anything, please let me know! Tell us about your music journey and how you got to where you are today.
Joni (J) and Troy (T): We had a song cut early on in our careers called “Pickup Truck” which had some decent success. We started writing it on a Tuesday by the next Tuesday a brand new artist [Shane Yellowbird] who signed with a brand new independent label [On-Ramp Records/EMI] told us that they shared the demo with CMT, CORUS, the CCMA and everybody loved it. The funny thing was as we had no idea who any of those organizations were. We just thought “Oh neat…somebody likes our song!” That song went on to stay in the top 10 for almost 3 months and open every door we could’ve possibly imagined for us. Since then we’ve written with a bunch of people and had more songs on the radio. We’ve made some of our closest friends in this business and we’re very grateful for that. Regarding “what don’t we do”, it just happens as you move along in this business, you find the more control you have over your creative output, the better the results are. We’ve found that by running a small recording studio, and record label we’ve been able to have some modest, but decent success. Our careers as artists have come out of that as well.
SS: You’re both multi-talented artists/creatives; how do you manage to give your best and balance in all of your endeavors?
J: As a couple in this business we have a rule - we can have bad days, just not on the same day, because someone has to give the pep talks! Seriously, we’re lucky to have/be a partner who understands the pressures of this business, and when you need to give it all and work through the night, but also when you need to unplug and stay in bed all day.
T: I think at first when we started out, we said yes to absolutely everything, but we learned that sometimes being patient for the right opportunities and conserving your energy and your ideas and your creative output for something worthwhile is ultimately a better way to go. So, we balance it all by making sure that whatever we’re working on is quality over quantity.
SS: Tell me about your writing processes. How do you find inspiration when working to a deadline?
T: I know for me when I first started writing I was doing so in a joyful manner, but once we had success, people's expectations were high, and I found myself getting worse the harder I tried. At some point, I realized that being joyful, and having fun was paramount in the creative process. So whether we’re on a deadline or not, we’re trying to have fun at all times. Joy, honestly, love, and the truth…that’s where some of the best ideas come from.
J: I agree with Troy but that said, I also try to treat it like a business, because the muse has absolutely no chance of showing up when I’m watching Sex & The City reruns.
SS: If an artist wanted to make a significant change to one of your songs, how would you respond? J: It’s happened, and I usually welcome the artist coming to me first, because it means that we can adjust it together.
T: It’s important to not be too precious about your ideas and just allow things to happen the way they’re meant to. Sometimes that means letting it happen the way you didn’t expect it to go.
SS: In terms of the overall composition, what are your favourite songs and why?
J: I go for melody and truth every time. It’s so hard to choose! Some would be The Blade - Ashley Monroe, Hard Candy Christmas - Dolly Parton, Come Over - Sam Hunt and Bad Timing - Blue Rodeo.
T: I’m a BIG fan of simplicity and economy when it comes to songwriting. So Katy Perry - Not Like the Movies, Nat King Cole - Stardust, and Kacey Musgraves - Rainbow are some songs at the top of that list.
SS: What are some of the most important qualities for a successful songwriter?
J: Humility, hustle and heart. Also being well-read, and having a love affair with words, helps. Willing to study great songs, dig deep and be vulnerable.
T: I think the most successful songwriters I know simply put in the work. I know so many artists that say they want to be songwriters, but really don’t understand how much work it takes to develop that skill.
SS: You have written and collaborated on some incredible hits! Who would you love to write a song for? If you could have anyone sing one of your songs who would it be?
J: Garth, Dolly, Bryan Adams, George Strait and Blue Rodeo.
T: Kris Kristofferson and Rosanne Cash would be at the top of that list.
YOU GOTTA KNOW:
Scarlett Butler has a new single "Big Vacation" coming out Sept. 23rd to radio and streaming!
Get to know Troy Kokol:
Get to know Joni Delaurier:
Check out Calgary Songsmiths:
Canada's largest independent songwriter group...going strong since 2003! (Sponsored by Simply Socials, the Calgary Folk Club, Studio D, Tree Picks and the National Music Centre). They support both new and established songwriters in southern Alberta with workshops, resources, mentoring, opportunities to perform, and educational sessions on different aspects of the songwriting business. There are no membership fees and the sessions are open to all ages. They gather the 3rd Tuesday of the month at Cafe Gravity located at 909 10 St S.E. in Inglewood.
Events and more: https://linktr.ee/yycsongsmiths
Check out Scarlett Butler:
Check out what Reluctant Cowboy is doing: