Music As A Healing Tool

Music is a wonderful thing. It can help you get over a breakup, help you get through a bad day, keep your spirits up when you’re sick, and many other things. Artists put their souls into their music and often leave the true meaning up to interpretation. But can some songs can be used to tell the story of a struggle and help communities heal from a devastating event or tragedy?

When you make a new friend, one of the first things that you talk about is more than likely what music you listen to. If similarities in musical interests can help you make a new friend, why can’t it help end a conflict and help a community heal? If two people hate each other because of their differing religions, but they both listen to the same music, they may end up seeing each other as not that different, no longer an other. I personally remember that when I was in elementary school, I was being picked on by a group of kids. When one of them found out that we both liked Slipknot, he started talking to me more often and ended up not bullying me anymore. Eventually, we became really good friends until he moved away.

There are also songs that are written for the purpose of healing a community or nation. The Cranberries wrote “Zombie” after an IRA bomb killed two children. The song shows Dolores O’Riordan’s frustration with the Irish Troubles that to her, appeared never ending and in her own words, she wrote the song in order to show that not all Irish people supported the terrorists and that many people in Ireland were tired of having to deal with IRA and UVF/UFF.

“September’s Children” by Rise Against was written to help gay teens know that they are not alone and suicide is not the only option. One story circulating about the song is that Tim McIlrath’s nephew had a best friend who was bullied because of his sexuality and ended up committing suicide because of the relentless torment; after his friend committed suicide, McIlrath’s nephew wrote some of the lyrics to the song as a way to deal with his grief. When McIlrath read the lyrics he decided to make it a Rise Against song. That is just a story that I read and I don’t know if it is actually true, and even if it isn’t, I still think it still conveys that music is a good way to deal with stress and tragedy.

There are many anecdotes of communities coming together and putting on concerts so that they can cope with a tragedy that hits or to raise money to help those affected by a catastrophic event. After the Newtown massacre, communities across the U.S put on shows to raise money for the survivors and victims of the shooting; Tim from Rise Against wrote a song about his feelings with tragedy, which as a father of young children, the massacre must have hit close to home for him. After a tornado hit Moore, Oklahoma. the town came together and rebuilt while also bonding through music.

In July of 2015, a study was released that showed how music therapy and music, in general, were great at helping people and communities dealing with stress. As an emerging field in therapy, music therapy has been used to help young children who have survived tornadoes and other natural disasters, sexual and physical abuse, and also bullying. The study also showed that when veterans who were suffering from PTSD started doing musical or other art based therapies they showed reduced amounts of stress and started to gain confidence in themselves.

During my research for this article, I stumbled across an amazing organisation called Musicians Without Borders. The idea behind MWB is to go into communities that have been affected by war and other forms of violence or trauma and set up sustainable music programs to help create a healing process for the members of the communities. MWB will also help you set up a benefit show! All you have to do is register your event with them and they will send you a care package and exclusive access to their online community. You can also donate to them to help those in vulnerable communities. Lastly, if you are a writer or artist and would like to draw attention to MWB, all you have to do is go to their website and download a logo for free and you can put it on your social media pages, videos or website!

There are many benefits from listening and playing music, especially when dealing with physical and mental trauma as an individual and a community; however, if you think that you are suffering from a mental health issue you should always go and talk to a medical professional and seek the proper treatment for you illness, and remember that you are not alone. Your loved ones will not think any less of you for asking for help, they’d prefer you to be alive and getting the help you need.

How To Grow Your Fanbase

When you first start out in your local scene, you may realize that you don’t draw a big crowd at your shows. This may be disheartening to you and your bandmates, but you shouldn’t worry about it. Just by playing a show, you’ve taken the first steps towards growing your fan base.

When I was taking my entertainment marketing class, one of the things we learned was how to use social media to your advantage. Social media marketing is one of the best ways to inform people of your existence and engage with the fans that you have. 

You should post on your Facebook page or Twitter profile at least once a day. If you stop posting, you will lose the interest of your followers and they will either unfollow or just ignore your posts. Now you should try and keep your fans engaged by posting things that are somewhat relevant to your music. 

Memes are fun but if you know that the majority of your fans just come to your page to see videos of you performing or look at pictures of your shows, then don’t waste your time making the memes. Try and find a way to engage your fans on a regular basis that works for you.

If you have a YouTube channel, great! If not, you should stop reading this article and go make one. I’m serious, do it! This is one of the best ways to make fun and engaging content to share with your fans. 

Manchester Orchestra made a short video series on their YouTube channel to help promote their album’s Cope and Hope. They would make funny skits, an acoustic performance, interviews and give fans some insight into their daily lives, this was a great way to engage with their fans and get some new ones too. 

You don’t have to make the same content as Manchester Orchestra, but you should post something on your channel as a way to inform your fans on what is happening with the band. On my band’s YouTube channel, I post videos of my guitarist writing new riffs, quick videos from our practices and videos of our shows. If you have recorded audio, why not make a fun DIY music video? 

Neighbouring, a small band from St.Catherines, Ontario made a music video by sitting on a couch outside and eating cake together.                   

TL;DR version: Make any content you can and post it on your channel.

Now, another thing you should do is record something and post it on a music sharing site. It doesn’t have to be the perfect recording, just make something and get it out there. If people don’t know what you sound like, they won’t come to your shows. 

To grow your live audience, you need to grow your at home audience; to grow you at home audience, grow your live audience. One affects the other. The more people at your shows, the more people will download your music; the more people who download your music, the more people at your shows. 

What I did for my band was I took the video from our previous show, converted it to an MP3 file and made a live album on Bandcamp, this way if people see our name on a bill and want to look us up, they can find something that we made on the internet.

When you’re selling your music you should make it available for free, with the option to donate. This will encourage people to get your music. Obviously, if you use music as your only source of income you should charge people, but don’t make it an extortionate price. Most people are only willing to pay $0.50-$1.00 a song. 

If you make a 5-song album price it at $5.00 with the option to pay more if it’s on Bandcamp (only if you use music as your only source of income). If you have a physical copy of your album, bring it to every show you play and keep a couple in your backpack when you’re going out and about. Price the album at $5.00 or more (gotta account for those pressing and printing costs).

Two good books I read about growing a brand is Marketing For Dummies and Social Media Marketing For Dummies. They teach you the nitty gritty side of the marketing world. Just remember to keep your fans engaged and always post your shows and social media. You should also message your friends and family personally and ask them to show up to your shows.

Sinful Ways | To Hell Tonight | Review

Today we take a gander at To Hell Tonight by locals Sinful Ways. The EP is their debut album and let me tell you now, my brain nearly exploded because of how much I loved this album. For fans of bands like Bullet For My Valentine, Slayer, and Pantera, I think you’ll enjoy this album.

1: To Hell Tonight

The album starts out fast and hard. The guitar tone is nice and crisp and sounds very nice. The transitions are great and I love the speed of the song. The vocals enter a little too late into the song for my personal preference, but it fit well. I originally thought the album was instrumental, but when the vocals finally kicked in I seriously enjoyed them. The screams aren’t overly edited to make them thicker, which is a common thing now for metal artists and the cleans fit nicely into the song. The song sounds like early Bullet For My Valentine to me and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It sounds like it was heavily influenced by the early 2000’s metalcore/post hardcore scene and the 90’s heavy metal scene. The guitars shred and the speed is intense. Overall its a great way to open the album. 9.7/10

2: Modern Messiah

The intro riff is very strong. Again the speed is intense, but not too fast. The dual guitar riffs were amazing and well done. The transitions are great, the song is just the right amount of heavy. At around 1:42 in the song to about 2:00 all I could say was, “oof”. The whole section was just amazing and melted my face off. My only gripe is the drums sound a little synthetic, but I think that’s just because I prefer live drums over samples. I could be wrong and my ear could just be off. The lyricism and songwriting overall are great. Reminds me of Bullet For My Valentine’s early work again. 9.5/10

3: Rest In Piece

This one starts off with a very punky riff, its catchy and I really like the riff. The only thing I can find wrong with the song is its a little repetitive at times. I loved the parts where the song slows down. The guitar solo is amazing and fits perfectly. It’s not fast but it’s well written. The bass riff back into the song is great. Then it hits you another solo, which………wow. The sweeps and taps are amazing. The recording of the guitars is very clean. The mix is well done as well. 9/10

4: Apologies

I love the intro riff again. Feels very Pantera like. Lyrics are strong, More shredding. Drums are good. At one point in the song all I could think of was Hulk Hogan saying, “hell yeah brother!” More very well done transitions. Guitars are very strong. One of the transitions was just absolutely beautifully done. The band sounds not just tight, but glued together, everything just fits perfectly where its placed. The Pantera, Slayer and other late 80’s/early 90’s metal influences are very noticeable. 9.8/10


This album is one of favourite local albums, not just of the year, but all time. The guitarists are obviously very talented and the band are great songwriters. I give the whole album an even 38/40.

A Chat With: Peaks

Today we chat with our good friends in Peaks. These fast paced, heavy, bass driven band is one of the most underrated bands in Ottawa. Find out what they had to say, down below!

1. How would you describe your sound?

Bass driven garage rock inspired by our favourites: Kijiji and Pour Boy Pub

2. Who are your influences?

Queens of The Stone Age, Death From Above 1979, Muse, Royal Blood, Red Hot Chili Peppers

3. What’s on the horizon for your music in 2019/2020? 

Dropping two music videos, an LP, and playing gigs in Peterborough/Ottawa/Montreal/Toronto 

4. What is your creative process?

We start by exploring a stream of consciousness until a particular riff catches our attention. Then we build it up and out until we have the framework down. From there we take it home and work on it independently and add final touches at next rehearsal. As Alex puts it: Play loud, then play it twice as loud to see if we don’t get sick of it 

5. Where do you draw inspiration from?

Our personal struggles and causes. For us, creating music is a form of therapy to cope with the hardships of life. Further inspiration drawn from #RIGSOFDOOM

6. How do you deal with nerves before a show?

Practice until we can play the songs without overthinking so we can focus on putting on the most engaging show possible. Our drummer Dave’s fear gland was actually removed at birth, so he’s immune. He still practices with us in solidarity!

7. Fave venue in Ottawa? Live!

On Elgin! Epic ownership, super friendly bar staff, wicked sound, plus they are an all ages venue

8. Craziest thing you’ve seen at a show?

Alex once tripped on an uneven riser and cracked his skull on a nearby piano. He would have kept playing if we hadn’t made him go to the hospital.

9. If you could tour/play a show with any line up who would it be?

Easy! Metz, Death From Above 1979, Onionface, Heart Attack Kids, SOLIDS 

10.Advice for new musicians/band?

Don’t take things so seriously, push yourself to use techniques that challenge your ability as a musician, have fun and stay hydrated. Crush the inner saboteur!

11. Any shout outs you want to make?

Big ups to McCormick Analog, Spaceman Music and Apartment #2 Recording (Topon/Scott) 

12.Social media links/music links



insta: @PEAKS613


Ottawa Special Events & Ottawa Public Health Team Up

Ottawa Public Health and Ottawa Special Events are teaming up along with members from the local music community to teach the public how to spot an overdose and how to administer Naloxone

Tomorrow night (Tuesday June 18th) at Sens House downtown, team members from Ottawa Public Health and members of the local music community along with Ottawa Special Events will be teaching the public how to spot signs of an overdose and how to administer Naloxone. The event is free and will be starting at 7:30 pm.

The Ottawa Sound will be there to cover the event.

A Chat With: Skybound

Yesterday was the 1 year anniversary of local prog gods Skybound releasing their debut album, For All The Hope We Hold, and we had a chat with them! Read what they had to say, down below!

1. How would you describe your sound?

If a movie score team all of a sudden took a semi serious interest in progressive rock and post rock and made a weird hybrid band

2. Who are your influences?

I can honestly say that the current state of the world, to simple things such as taking in nature and the environment around me and infusing those feelings into melodies that come to my head. Musically, it’s hard to say specifically since my taste is so broad and changing

3. What’s on the horizon for your music in 2019/2020?

We have a release on deck that we’re just trying to figure out how to release and promote it in a fresh and creative way that lines up more with our touring plans for later in the year to start a new cycle. Expect new stuff by the end of 2019, then 2020 is touring through and through in new places.

4. What is your creative process?

Usually it starts with a tiny melody or riff that I have to hum or whisper it into a phone voice memo because it always comes at the most inconvenient time (of course). Past then I couldn’t even say because it’s on such a case by case basis.

5. Where do you draw inspiration from?

As stated before I usually draw the overall aesthetic of what’s going on in my or my band mates lives as well as the weather or nature that surrounds me. It’s always tricky with instrumental music because there’s no way to put it into words, so it’s a bit different.

6. How do you deal with nerves before a show?

I don’t really get nervous before shows anymore now however the only time I have nerves are if we feel underprepared or we have gear troubleshooting to sort out pre show, which is why we are always over prepared performance wise before any show or tour.

7. Fave venue in Ottawa?

Definitely either Ask A Punk or House of Targ. They are both super open spaces that encourage the local scene to flourish and are both hubs for the scene to get together

8. Craziest thing you’ve seen at a show?

Well we’ve definitely seen our fair share of messed up things on tour but definitely getting mugged out of our beer in downtown Montreal by a couple of drunk habs fans definitely makes that list

9. If you could tour/play a show with any line up who would it be?

Definitely touring or even playing a show with complete heroes of mine Dream Theater would be pretty surreal

10.Advice for new musicians/bands?

Focus on the music, make one good song, and build from there. In an industry where a lot of success is based on timing and sometimes luck (right place at the right time), the one thing you can control and work hard at is making quality music that resonates with you.

11. Any shout outs you want to make?

Shout outs to Alex Bradley Hodges for always helping out the scene, the owner of a certain Ottawa sound for all he does, and for all the photographers, venue owners, sound guys and everyone that comes out to support.

12. Social media links/music links

instagram: @skyboundofficial

A Chat With: Funky Colours

This is a flaming hot interview. This is A Chat With: Funky Colours. The new hip hop duo launched last month with their super awesome debut single, Hope. Here’s what the duo had to say to us.

How would you describe your sound?

How would we describe our sound? That’s tough. Eclectic. Very eclectic. Spoken word meets hip hop meets whatever we’re feeling at the time. We pretty much just do whatever feels right.

Who are your influences?

Well, obviously, since we’re a duo the influence will differ for both of us.

Apollo’s influences range from artists such as The Roots, Black Star, Common, Elzhi, Eyedea And Abilities, Atmosphere, Sage Francis, Black Ice, Shihan, Scarface, Shad

While Gruw’s influences are a little more scattered across all genres. Ranging from artists such as Alabama Shakes, Bahamas, Kendrick Lamar, Radiohead, James Blake, Chance The Rapper, Childish Gambino, Prince and Lubalin  

What’s on the horizon for your music in 2019/2020?

We’re currently working on an album that we hope to have out this year. We’re still creating and putting together a track list that we will curate at a later date. We’re also in the process of planning and shooting music videos. We’re aiming to go with a simple, colourful, minimalistic approach to videos. We’re probably going to go with one-shot videos for the most part with a few more complex story boarded ideas for the tracks that resonate the most. But, that’s still in the air.

What is your creative process?

Very organic. For the most part, we pick the instrumental, write, and record everything in one single session. That usually leaves us with a draft that we touch and clean up later. The process is a little different if we’re working with a producer who is making a custom instrumental for us, however, for this project we’ve been using a lot of already produced instrumentals which makes the process a little faster.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Everything. The instrumental itself. Life. Weather. What we talked about that day. People we know. Struggles we’re facing. In every single one of our sessions you will, at one point or another, hear one of ask the other, “What are you feeling?”.

That’s the best way to explain it.

How do deal with nerves before a show?

That differs a bit for both of us.

Gruw tends to feel a little less nervous before a show but usually deals with the nerves by thinking about previous shows and previous positive experiences. Focusing on the joy of performing songs he truly loves and wants to share with others.

Apollo puts faith in his instincts and experience. Having performed and showcased many different art-forms across the city for over 10 years has allowed him to build confidence in his abilities as a performer.

So, if you’re just beginning and you’re looking for tips, the one thing we can both say is just go out there and try to have fun. It’ll get easier and easier the more you do it.

Fave venue Ottawa?

A smaller venue called Origin Arts and Community Centre located on Lyndale Avenue. It’s an intimate and comfortable environment ran by great people who love and perform art themselves. They hold all kinds of events and workshops which are all fantastic to attend. We’d highly recommend checking this place out.

Craziest thing you’ve seen at a show?

For Gruw, it was during an album release party for his other band (Bars & Tone) where, for the sake of brevity, multiple people ended up having women and relationship troubles. Resulting in loud arguments, people running out with significant others chasing them, and a few drinks being thrown in a few faces.

For Apollo, it was right after a show with his other band (Poetic Elements). Upon getting offstage he was approached by a man he had never met before and was asked to follow him to the bar. The strange man proclaimed that his wife really enjoyed his set. Once Apollo actually got to the bar the man told him that his wife “really liked him” and that they should “get to know one another” and then walked away, leaving the two of them at the bar. After realizing what was happening, Apollo promptly excused himself to the bathroom and never returned. True story.

If you could tour/play a set with any lineup who would it be?

Our friends. All of them. We work with so many dope musicians that it’s very hard to get all of them in the same place at the same time. So our ideal line up would consist of:

  • Lubalin
  • Naked the God
  • Lonely Boy
  • Soru
  • Y.Bully
  • Joe Nativv
  • Masai

Advice for new musicians/bands

Work hard. Practice way more than you think you need to because it still won’t be enough. Know who you are and stay true to that and your craft. Always plan for what’s next. Make deadlines (!!!!!!!!!!) and follow through on them. And last but not least, don’t hate. Try to find something you like in anything you hear and don’t be afraid to experiment.

Any shouts you want to make?

So many. All of the homies.

  • Lubalin
  • Nakiem The God
  • Lonely Boy
  • Soru
  • Y.Bully
  • Joe Nativv
  • Masai
  • Denise Audette
  • Geoffrey McCaldin
  • Chachi
  • Antoine Ryan
  • JB Proulx
  • Simon Boisvert
  • J Bird
  • Sly
  • Melissa Trincao
  • Melissa Hickey
  • Our parents ( ❤ )

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