August 23

Nunavut-Based Record Label Hitmakerz Takes Over Ottawa Mansion to Connect Inuit Artists with Industry Heavy Hitters

Nunavut-Based Record Label Hitmakerz Takes Over Ottawa Mansion to Connect Award-Winning Inuit Artists with Local Artists & Industry Heavy Hitters

‘Hitmakerz Compound’ Will Be a Creative Hub for In-Person Creation of Multiple Albums, Music Videos, Photo/Video Shoots & Industry Training for Multi-Talented Inuit Roster

From Canada’s northern epicenter of music, straight to the nation’s capital, Nunavut-based record label Hitmakerz is set to host a week-long professional development event this September. 

During these events, six artists from Hitmakerz’s inimitable roster will be harnessing their time together for a dynamic week of creative collaboration and music making. And extending beyond their own incredibly multi-talented roster of Inuit artists, Hitmakerz will welcome industry heavy hitters –– including award-winning, Platinum-selling producers Chris Birkett and Dale Penner, as well as many other local Ottawa-based songwriters, producers, and artists.

In this project, Iqaluit’s head-turning record label will transform an Ottawa-area mansion into an immersive content creation house dubbed the “Hitmakerz Compound.” Four of the artists in attendance — Joey Nowyuk, Jacob Okatisak, Brenda Montana, and Angela Amarualik — will write songs, record, and producer their upcoming albums, while two artists –– Aocelyn (pronounced “aw-slin”) and Shauna Seeteenak –– are slated to record music videos for upcoming single releases and demos for their next albums. 

Several of the artists have had their albums come out in 2021, including Joey Nowyuk –– whose album Tumitit won an Indigenous Music Award –– Shauna Seeteenak, and Aocelyn. During Hitmakerz Compound, all of the artists will also undergo daily industry training and coaching.

According to Hitmakerz CEO Thor Simonsen, the project was born out of necessity and pragmatism. “The idea came about since we were already flying people around the country for production,” says Simonsen. “Then we thought: Wouldn’t it be great for all these amazing artists and producers to meet and work in the same space at the same time?

“The project was partly inspired by the innovative concept of a TikTok content creation house” Simonsen continues. “We expect the Hitmakerz Compound to allow our artists to be inspired,  cross-pollinating ideas in order to create new music, beautiful content, and continue developing sustainable careers in the arts.”

The producers lined up to work with the artists are no strangers to the industry, or creative ways of producing music: Birkett has worked with the likes of Led Zeppelin, Sinead O’Connor, Sting, Quincy Jones, and Buffy Sainte-Marie. His work has won him a Grammy, JUNO Awards, and Canada’s top musical honour, the Polaris Prize.

Penner, a Platinum-selling and multi-award winning producer, engineer, and mixer, also has a chart-topping list of credits that include Nickelback, The Matthew Good Band, Econoline Crush, and more.

Simonsen, also an award-winning music producer, will be the executive producer of each project. Simonsen’s credits include everyone on the label’s roster, as well as Aasiva and the late Kelly Fraser — with whom he originally founded the company in 2016. 

Legendary Nunavut speed-rapper, Hyper-T (TO BE CONFIRMED), as well as Ottawa-based music producer, Tev Bourque (TO BE CONFIRMED), will also be working with the artists as producers. Additionally, Hitmakerz COO and Performance Coach, Sarah Elaine McLay, will assist with production and training. 

in order to capture the spirit of the project for a potential documentary, Joan Prowsewill direct a small team of aspiring documentary filmmakers. Joan is a JUNO Award-nominated and esteemed writer, producer, director, and video editor. The music videos will be directed by Ottawa-based filmmaker Rachel Vrecic, who will manage a small team of filmmakers.
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In addition to the albums, music videos, etc., three full-day songwriting and music production workshops will be held on the campus — taught by Birkett and Penner, respectively. Open to any Ottawa-based artists with more than two years of songwriting experience, the workshops are $248, and will serve to help artists create new material and network; all attendees must provide proof of full Covid-19 vaccination.

The songwriting workshops will offer guidance and feedback as songwriters pair off to write and record demos for three new songs each. Demos and stem audio files will be recorded for each song and sent to the songwriters. The music production workshops will offer industry-leading take on music production, as well as hands-on instruction to create and enhance productions. The workshops, which will include other presenters, will provide tips, tricks, and best practices on how to make a living as a professional songwriter and/or producer and engineer. 

In each workshop, attendees will receive bonuses valued at more than $1,400, including a free PRO Single Release with CD Baby, access to Indie Week’s Music Pro Summit, a free mini-course on grant writing, free headshots or band photos, and a free vocal assessment. Attendees will also receive valuable insights from other on-site professionals, including Ottawa-based entertainment lawyer, Byron Pascoe, of Edwards Creative Law. Breakfast, lunch, and snacks will also be included, as well as discounts, prizes, giveaways, and more. 

“I think everyone will benefit from getting to know each other and working together,” Simonsen says of the event. “These intimate events will create amazing new music, friendships, and unforeseen opportunities for growth”.

“Covid-19 completely changed the world of concerts, live music, and gatherings,” says McLay. “For us, this in-person event is a sign of hope towards a return to normalcy.”

Hitmakerz Compound will take place from September 2–9, 2021. The songwriting and music production workshops will take place September 6, 10, and 11, 2021. 

// About Hitmakerz

Founded in 2016, Hitmakerz is a full-service record label based in Nunavut. Specializing in creating world-class Inuit and Indigenous music, Hitmakerz has studios in Iqaluit, Ottawa, and Toronto. A social enterprise, their mission is to create viable careers in the arts for Inuit and Indigenous artists through music, media, and education, as well as to empower artists to share and strengthen their stories and culture. 

We would like to thank Eric Alper for the press release and artist profile.