January 2017: Garrett Vandenberg 

Young man singing with acoustic guitar

The first Featured Artist of 2017 is Garrett Vandenberg, a local songwriter and composer.

Vandenberg and his two older sisters grew up touring across Canada and the United States with his parents, who performed religious music in churches. His two older sisters are also songwriters, so when he was 15 he decided to start writing himself. Since then, he has written over 200 songs in a variety of genres, including personal compositions as well as music and theme songs for dozens of shows and short films.

An open mind and his experiences traveling with his parents have given him a deep appreciation for many music styles, and this is evident in the work that he creates. He has produced albums for several artists over the past 4 years, as well as releasing his own small projects on Bandcamp and Soundcloud. He is currently working toward releasing his first solo single set and music video.

Many of his best songs he writes in under 2 hours, noting that, “songs and the emotional fuel I need to write them often hit me in short bursts.” If inspiration hits while he doesn’t have access to his laptop, he sings lyrics and hums melodies into his iPhone’s Voice Memo app.

Garrett credits much of his success to his many mentors, including Kevin McCreary (Say Goodnight Kevin, InnerTube Podcast), Ben Canon (Loud Mountain Studio), and his older ssister Deanna. One of his favourite songwriters is Jon Foreman (Switchfoot, Fiction Family), who he says “taught him the beauty of metaphor and how to talk about big ideas in a way that moves people in a personal way.” He also appreciates the work of Nataly Dawn (Pomplamoose, My Terrible Friend) for her clever storytelling. He notes that he is constantly listening to new music, and dissecting it to learn as much as he can about the craft of songwriting.

Vandenberg’s advice for developing artists is that being original does not necessarily mean creating something completely new, from scratch. “Often times,” he says, “the coolest art is stuff that reinterprets existing techniques or genres by meshing them with techniques in other genres or art forms. Even if you exclusively love dubstep, dubstep only exists because some guy decided to take certain elements from an existing electronic genre and expand on them.”

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