Radio Starmaker Fund

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Radio Starmaker Fund Annual Report

2013 / 2014

Artist Profile: Cold Specks

Cold Specks

Cold Specks, the sobriquet of 26 year-old Canadian Al Spx, has just released her second album Neuroplasticity. This follows 2 years and a world map of tours behind her 2012 release I Predict A Graceful Expulsion!. Hailed as a masterful and wholly original debut, it was named eMusic’s #1 Album of 2012, nominated for the 2012 Polaris Music Prize and a Juno award for Breakthrough Artist of the Year and won Female Artist of the Year in the 2013 Sirius XM Indies. The follow-up has been radically expanded, both on the record itself and in the scope of the live shows that have followed its release, boldly stepping forward into new artistic and sonic territory. This unique artist’s development has been supported, enabled and solidified by the Radio Starmaker Fund every step of the way.

The live funding from Starmaker helped to propel both the debut domestic and international album campaigns deep into 2013. A notable increase in album sales could be seen around this touring in each territory. Spotify streaming data has shown significant spikes around each tour and after each tour the average level of listeners settled and remains at a notably higher level than before. The streaming data also shows that Cold Specks’ fans are clocking many repeat listens over time. This is all evidence of Cold Specks garnering a loyal and growing international fan base.

Along this journey, Al has been joined by a roll call of notable collaborators. She was invited to sing at Massey Hall for Joni Mitchell’s 70th birthday concert alongside the likes of Herbie Hancock. She co-wrote and performed on two songs from Moby’s 2013 album Innocents and was invited to perform at his residency at the Henry Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles. In 2013, Jim James (the front-man of My Morning Jacket) requested her to open up the US tour supporting his debut solo release and she has collaborated with Michael Gira from Swans and trumpet phenomenon/Blue Note recording artist Ambrose Akinmusire.

Cold Specks has secured high-profile press and gained fans all across the globe. She has appeared on major TV performances in Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Denmark and Germany and has had her music placed in a variety of US television series including Nikita, CSI: New York, Sons Of Anarchy, The Originals, Banshee and 90210. Recent press coverage of the new title includes Now Magazine, Chatelaine, Q and The National Post in Canada, as well as being featured on NPR’s “All Songs Considered”, Magnet magazine, Paste magazine, Creem, Conde Nast, GAFFA, Spex, Der Tagespiel, Rif Raf, Focus Vif, Les Inrocks and Uncut to name just a few. This is a remarkable achievement for a young, independent Canadian artist, especially as Cold Specks is not a typical mainstream commercial act.

The Radio Starmaker Fund has supported Neuroplasticity with domestic marketing, as well as domestic and international touring. The new campaign has only just begun and so far has seen international acclaim and high level press coverage. Cold Specks recently embarked on a Starmaker supported headlining European tour that’s garnering glowing live reviews. Off the back of this recent touring and promotion, she has just announced another European tour in January of 2015. An extensive headline run of the US and Canada is already booked for November 2014 and promises new promotional opportunities and fans at every stop. With continuing support from the Radio Starmaker Fund, the future looks bright both at home and internationally for one of Canada newest, most exciting and unique musical exports.

Jim Anderson