Montreal woman launches record label & creates a powerful platform for local artists

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Montreal Rocks got to speak to some very talented and innovative women who are helping to reshape the music industry in a very positive way.

Run by Sarah Armiento, the Hot Tramp record label is focused on raising the stage for female artists. 

I’m launching Hot Tramp as a label firstly because I think it’s a necessary pandemic-adjusted pivot from my former format of management company and show promotion and secondly, I think that the industry needs some more women-run labels to create safer spaces for artists, especially in the wake of all these industry call-outs. There seems to be a sort of cleansing happening in the industry right now that is dusting off some old cobwebs and clearing up space for newcomers like Hot Tramp.

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Maryze is a bilingual singer-songwriter based in Montreal, originally from Vancouver. Her haunting alt-pop conjures an intimate universe, blending contagious beats with introspective lyrics on mental health, feminism and sexuality. Balancing angst and euphoria in electronic ballads, she offers a refreshing voice with fiery honesty.

“I started writing music when I was really young.  I had a little cassette recorder. And I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t doing music.  It’s been a constant in my life I grew up in a very musical household. My dad was a radio  DJ (Radio Canada) so he brought home new music. He’s from France so there was a lot of world music too.   A lot of different influences.”

What do you call your style of music?

It definitely falls under the pop umbrella.  I define it as stormy sweet… it’s kind of chaotic and pleasant (laughs) alt/pop. 

Do you play piano?

Yeah I play piano. I write all my songs on piano but when I perform I usually just sing because I get too nervous when I have to do both things at the same time.  

I don’t like comparing musicians to musicians but who were you influenced by growing up? 

I was obsessed with Destiny’s Child.  That was the first concert that I went to with my friends when I was like 10 or something.  And Lady Gaga since high school.  I really really love her.  Edith Piaf and Fallout Boy is the number one band of all time for me.  I think that the emotional style of writing comes from listening to a lot of emo music in high school.

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Alicia Clara is a Swiss-Canadian artist based in Montreal. Inspired by long walks in the city streets, the artist’s airy pop sound entices listeners into a dream-like state, engaging reflectively with her introspective lyrics and hushed melodies.

I started playing the piano when I was six and around the same time, I decided that I wanted to become a singer one day.   Obviously, that dream evolved over time.  First I wanted to be like Britney Spears or the French counterpart Lori. Then, I became a huge fan of Avril Lavigne and then I wanted to rock as well. 

And as a teenager, I became really obsessed with Lykke Li from Sweden. That kind of introduced me to thinking of songwriting in terms of a poem put to music, a little more than just singing.  So I wrote my first song about 10 years ago. Funny story,    that song is called “In Ten Years.” And 10 years is right now so I’m gonna release it soon as a special single.  So for the past 10 years, I went through periods where I wrote music and then I stopped. 

I grew up in Geneva Switzerland and it’s quite conservative.  Growing up I always wanted to be a musician but it was never really something I would say out loud because it really wasn’t an option back there because that’s not what you do for a living. So I never really pursued that seriously until two years ago. I was done studying And I wasn’t passionate about anything I was doing. 

And I wondered what I was gonna do with my life and that’s when I decided to give it a try for good. 

What did you study in school?

Journalism and photography. 

Do you ever practice your photography?

Not really, especially during Covid, it’s hard for me to get motivated about anything. So, I focus on one task at a time. 

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The complexities of loss are a tough, often impossible thing to try and comprehend. Through the prism of house, alternative R&B and pop, the Vancouver-born, now Montréal-based producer and artist, Janette King attempts to decipher some of these difficulties on her debut album, What We Lost, which is set for release on June 25, 2021, via Hot Tramp Records.

I’m originally from Vancouver.  I came to Montreal to be a singer and an artist because I feel like Montreal is one of the only places in Canada where you can actually live and be an artist and have a comfortable life because it’s actually affordable to live here.

So how did you get started?

My first introduction to music was through dance, I did that for a few years. My parents would always have basement parties, so I really got into dance hall and soca. And my mom would always listen to Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, So it was Dancehall and R&B music, those are my two influences.  I wrote my first song when I was like 11.

Wow is it any good or if you heard it now…

It’s definitely cringey. 

Do you play an instrument?

I play a little bit of piano and a little bit of guitar.  I can get by on the bass.  I produce music as well.  I went to school to study jazz for two years.

What was the music that inspired you?

My number one inspiration was Michael Jackson hands down.  Michael Jackson is why I got into music.  I was obsessed. 

Sarah, did you get the name Hot Tramp from the David Bowie song?

Yeah, it’s from Rebel Rebel.  I grew up listening to a lot of David Bowie with my dad.  It was always on in the car and I loved it. And I kind of knew that Hot Tramp would be the name of my business before I even knew what my business would be.

Oh wow. Are you musician as well?

Not really, I play bass for a band called The Kommenden but I don’t compose the bass lines or anything.  I’ll play shows and tour with them and we just put out an album so I’m hoping To play shows again.

What style of music is it?

It’s kind of pop, new wavy 60s inspired from a whole bunch of different decades. With a lot of synth as well. 

Like the B-52s or Beck?

I guess more like B-52s. 

So you started Hot Tramp a couple of years ago, how did you get there?

In 2019 when I started, I was working at the Diving Bell.  That’s when I met Maryze.  I was doing a little freelance PR for artists.  And then I felt like I wanted to move into management.  Me,  Maryze and Janette, we just started working together as me managing them.  And then the name Hot Tramp went on top of that and it grew from there.  I always think of it as us three starting it together.  It was just like the right time.

So you met them at the Diving Bell and then started working with them from there? 

I was actually working at a DIY venue in Saint Henri call the Bog (while studying Economics) and I met Janette and Maryze over there before Diving Bell happened.  They would perform there, it was a really fun space.

I know everything is shut down now but is the Bog going to reopen?

I don’t know. The owners have changed.  I think it’s a recording studio now.  It won’t open the way that it was because we were doing weekly shows.

Do you think we’ll have any outdoor shows this summer?  I was really looking forward to some outdoor shows.

I think that people are going to make outdoor shows work, maybe later in the summer.  Promoters are going into this summer better prepared and adjusted to the realities of the pandemic.  And there are a lot of new grants that are helping fund pandemic safe shows.  I’m hoping.

You know what I would love to see before I die? When was the last time there was a woman’s music festival

There was Tramp Fest in 2019.  It was a woman-focused show and I might do it again this year.  It was fem fronted, about 25 artists. It was a lot of fun.  I’m hoping to bring it back for 2021, depending on if I get some grants helping me.   

I really want to see that. I go to a lot of shows and festivals and out of the 50 bands, maybe 2 of them are female.  Am I right? 

Yes! Hot Tramp Fest will help that.

Maryze adds: I just wanna say how much of a gem Sarah is in the music industry because I think there are a lot of people who don’t have artists’ best interest in mind.  And Sarah is an incredible businesswoman but she considers us as humans, as artists and I’ve always felt so supported and seen by her.  So, it’s nice to be working with a real human who is caring and empathetic and incredibly business savvy.  

Annette Aghazarian

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