Angela talks about songwriting, teaching, and how to thrive as an artist.
Reading Time: 5 Minutes
In contrast to the dark themes of many folk and country songs, Angela Saini’s music radiates light, hope, and positivity. A folk-pop musician from Calgary and based in Toronto, Angela has received praise for her music from Exclaim and BBC Leicester, as well as national airplay on CBC Radio. She also teaches songwriting at Trebas Toronto to students enrolled in Audio Engineering & Production/DJ Arts.
Keep reading to learn more about Angela’s journey, inspirations, songwriting, teaching, and more.
As the daughter of two immigrants who moved to Canada to chase their dream of owning a business, Angela had a strong work ethic instilled in her from an early age. From the age of 12, she helped out in her family’s restaurant. This taught her the value of hard work and independence.
“I was at ease with running my own ship from a young age,” Angela said.
With this can-do attitude and sense of self-reliance, she started playing in a rock band at age 15. A few years later, in 2012, Angela moved to Toronto to begin a solo career and released her first solo record.
Going out on her own as a solo artist served as a challenge but also a significant opportunity.
“I don’t think moving to Toronto was essential to success, but it was certainly incredibly helpful in terms of the number of opportunities available,” Angela said. “It’s the centre of the Canadian music industry.”
Today, Angela is thriving in Toronto, releasing albums and singles regularly, playing concerts, and passing on her songwriting knowledge to students.
“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to songwriting,” she said. “A song can start from a lyric, guitar riff or vocal melody.”
Angela normally begins writing her songs with a melody but encourages students to explore different methods of composing to find what works best for them. Based on her experience, songs can be constructed in various ways and may take anywhere from 15 minutes to multiple years to complete, depending how the process unfolds. To make the process easier, she offers a few tips:
- Create a “gem bank,” a place to store song ideas that might not fit with what you’re currently working on. Later, you can draw on the gem bank for new songs
- If you can’t think of words for a given section, just use throwaway lines as placeholders. You can come up with better ideas later
- Don’t settle. Your first idea doesn’t have to be your best
- Create a pattern in a song then break the pattern to keep the listener engaged
Working as an Independent Artist
Streaming services alone will not be enough to sustain you, Angela explained. Artists need to find alternative sources of revenue through touring and selling merchandise like shirts and pins.
“It’s by playing live that you find your audience.”
She expressed a fondness for performing in smaller towns across the country, noting that the audiences are extremely receptive, as they don’t receive a huge number of artists that visit them.
She also stressed that artists need to be prepared for rejections. They need to have passion, and resiliency, and to be “in it for the ride.” To deal with the ups and downs of being a songwriter, she has one solution.
“Make music for the right reasons in the industry, and the love for the music will never let you down.”
Angela’s latest song, Sweet Combination, was released on December 1. It was recorded right here at Trebas Institute Toronto and features contributions from the Trebas instructors and students. Released just in time for the holidays, this festive and cheerful tune is sure to get you in the spirit of the season.
To stream the song, visit Angela’s website.
To learn more about songwriting, recording, and audio engineering with Angela and other instructors, check out our program Audio Engineering & Production/DJ Arts.
What Angela is Listening To
We asked Angela to share her current top tracks with us, and here's what she said.
Anti- Aging - Ellee Duke
White Horse - Chris Stapleton
Alesso - Heroes (we could be) ft. Tove Lo – YouTube
Missing Piece - Vance Joy