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Justin Bieber and One Direction are both quite successful. If you’re a new artist, you would probably love to be mentioned in the same conversation as those artists.

With perhaps maybe one exception: sharing an album release date.

Alessia Cara, a soulful 19 year-old singer/songwriter who like Bieber hails from the Toronto, Canada-area, dropped her debut LP Know It All last Friday. In addition to it being “Friday The 13th,” it was also the day that Bieber and 1D released Purpose and Made In The A.M. respectively.

“I know! It was like, ‘Excellent date, guys! Thanks!’” Cara joked when I brought this up to her Monday. “I just try to see it as three great albums on the same date.”

Cara purchased and enjoys both; her and Bieber share a record label home in addition to the release date. The teenager is not only a fan of Bieber’s music; she is happy that he and other artists like The Weeknd and Drake are changing the perception of Canadian music.

“I feel like Canadians are such underdogs most of the time, especially in music at first,” Cara explained. “You would never think that you should go to Toronto or like, Ontario, to find artists. That was never the cool place to go to look for music.”
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The aforementioned artists, along with Cara and Shawn Mendes are changing that. The Canadian teens have known each other for quite some time but met for the first time recently backstage at Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour; Mendes was a supporting act and Cara was tapped for a cameo to perform her hit “Here” with Taylor.

“(Mendes) was like one of the first people to ever tweet out anything of mine and it was before I was signed, before I had a song. He tweeted one of my covers,” she recalled. “It was two-ish years ago, and he always updates me on where my song is at (on the charts).”

The short answer to that update: high. The track has spent the past two weeks in the top 10 most played at pop radio nationally. But as Cara later told me, there can be one down side to the airplay.

“All my friends hate (‘Here’) now! They keep messaging me like, ‘I’m sorry Alessia, I hate ‘Here.’”

Thankfully for them Cara has a whole album of material that they will love just as much, if not more, than the big radio hit.

Twin sisters Tegan and Sara Quin recently had their 33rd birthday on September 19. How do you celebrate your birthday while supporting fun. on its “Most Nights” trek? Well, it involved a number of surprises, including a very special invited guest.

“It was arraigned that we’d have a meet and greet, and when we went in to the room to have the meet and greet, it was all of the band and crew, and a bunch of friends and family, and they had basically rented a monkey,” Sara recalled. “We got to hang out with the monkey, and take pictures with it, and it was totally a big surprise, and it was so fun.”

The duo played UCF Arena in Orlando later that evening, but for Sara, the birthday highlight was the monkey. While the sisters did not feel comfortable posting photos with the animal online, the guest of honor did receive a shout out on stage during their set.

For the record: Tegan and Sara do not believe monkeys should be pets. They also insist that this is not a Canadian thing (See: Justin Bieber).

“It was from a really awesome… zoo that has this program,” Tegan explained. “They have these ‘experiences’ that you can pay for, so it was from an actual zoo. It’s not like a ‘trained monkey;’ it wasn’t like doing tricks or anything like that.”

Tegan noted that they’ve met koalas and held them as well. Although carnivores, both sisters seem to really enjoy animals.

“I think it’s neat,” Tegan continued about the experience. “It really reminds you that these are beautiful, real creatures who deserve as much love as we… well, I guess we don’t always give humans that much love, but to be respected and loved and taken care of.”

Animals aside, the indie-pop outfit has had a summer filled with great experiences. In addition to the fun. tour, Tegan and Sara have now witnessed first-hand the benefits of radio airplay with their hit, “Closer.”

“We wanted to make a record that wouldn’t immediately eliminate us from getting radio,” Sara said of Heartthrob, the band’s seventh studio album. “We have a great career, but there were certain things that we just never achieved.”

An album with their highest first week sales, a song regularly played on pop radio, and a performance on “The Today Show” are a few of the things that the ladies can check off if they feel so inclined.

“Maybe it’s our age, but we had finally gotten to a point where we were like, ‘Why are we limiting ourselves?’” Tegan said. “We absolutely saw so many awesome bands, like fun. and Gotye, reaching a much larger audience, and they’re both very intelligent, awesome, articulate pop-rock bands.”

Translation: The idea that you can sell a lot without “selling out” isn’t monkey business after all.

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Lights talked about how the collaboration with Owl City’s Adam Young came about and yielded the remix to her single “Saviour” on “The Ralphie Radio Show”

The Listening is available now.

She’s already won Juno awards and climbed the charts in her home country of Canada. Now, 23 year-old Lights (yes, that’s her legal name) is invading the States with her infectious pop melodies… or at least attempting to. The Canadian explained on “The Ralphie Radio Show” that breaking through in the U.S. is easier said than done.

“It’s a lot of work, and a lot of musicians, especially from Canada, kinda get disheartened because it’s not the same,” explained Lights, who continued as to how one country’s music scene differs from the other. “Canada has Canadian Content Laws on all entertainment. At least 30 percent of the music that’s on the radio has to be Canadian.”

The country to our north has a committee similar to our version of the FCC that enforces the law – which benefits all Canadian artists, and especially those that have already made it big worldwide: Nickelback, Drake, Justin Bieber, and Theory of a Deadman just to name a few.

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Of course Lights received assistance from a well known, American talent in Owl City’s Adam Young, in breaking through to the lower 48. The singer recently wrapped up a tour with Owl City, and Young even remixed her single, “Saviour.”

“The tour was wonderful because of the music that he makes, like, it’s very similar to mine in a lot of respects,” she said. “Its electro pop, it’s real easy to sing along with so the crowd’s that came out… were really accepting of the music I had.”

As far as off stage – Lights noted she didn’t become “super tight” with Adam because he keeps to himself, which she wasn’t surprised with, considering Young’s pretty honest about his shyness in the music he makes.

Theory of a Deadman admits that by the year’s end, they will have catered to both ends of the spectrum of their audience: with a summer spent on Crue Fest and a fall tour planned with Daughtry. But none of the British Columbia rockers believe that either group will feel alienated.

“We were really thinking about doing a headlining tour,” TOADM front man Tyler Connolly revealed. “I think we were kinda thought to ourselves, ‘Well, where are we in this record cycle and our career? Maybe we should be out there in front of a lot of people, maybe people that don’t know Theory of a Deadman yet.’”

Connolly and his band are no strangers to Daughtry – as Chris himself lent vocals to TOADM’s “By The Way”, off of Theory’s third LP, Scars & Souvenirs.

“That’ll be cool to play that song live too,” said the lead singer. “From a business point of view, it’s going to be such a great tour for us.”


Part 1: Canadian Beer (Drake Comments), Touring w/ Tommy Lee

Part 2: Vocal Warmups, Touring w/ Daughtry


Theory’s perspective is simultaneously honest and refreshing. While many bands struggle to find an identity in between their rock and mainstream audiences, TOADM seems to have successfully done so. Yet the band doesn’t take itself too seriously – Connolly along with bassist Dean Beck and guitarist Dave Brenner joked about partying naked with Motley Crue, banging groupies, and their choice of Canadian beer.

The ribbing didn’t lie exclusively within the room, as a lot of light-hearted comments were directed toward fellow Canadian Aubrey “Drake” Graham. When asked on The Ralphie Radio Show if he was a Labatt or Molson guy, Drake responded with Dom Perignon Rosé.

“What?! What is he talking about?” asked Connolly, as all three guys laughed while chatting about their favorite microbreweries in British Columbia.