September Member Spotlight: Pipe & Hat (Manitoba)
Pipe & Hat A family as diverse as your own
Pipe & Hat is an artist management firm, label and recording studio located in Winnipeg, Manitoba since 2009. Their motto, “a family as diverse as your own” represents the various genres that make up their artist roster, including Pop, Alt-Rock, Electronic, Soul, R&B and Garage. “We don’t have a ‘Pipe & Hat sound’ like how SubPop or Merge might have their ‘sounds’, we’re all over the map,” says President Tim Jones.
Their label roster includes acts from festival-favourite Moulettes to indie-pop group Indicator Indicator. Their main focus, artist management, has an artist roster consisting of Attica Riots, Bright Righteous, Faouzia, Jess Reimer, Mise en Scene, Sc Mira, and The Noble Thiefs. Pipe & Hat’s main goals are to make their “acts as successful as humanly possible,” Jones stated with stadium-wide expectations, “our focus is always on the artist”.
Jones entered the business in a vague way. “Before Pipe & Hat existed, I had been writing for a music magazine called Pop Zap. As a journalist, I dealt with labels, publishers, and managers all the time, and through that experience, I was asked to help out a local group who ended up being our first management act,” Jones explains, describing his and former partner Kenny Huynh’s work with the hip-hop group The Lytics. Starting a management firm and label was not Jones’ initial career path, nor did he begin as an artist. Although not part of the music scene when starting out, Jones was always passionate about music. “I came in completely blind and only found out about opportunities once we came into some success.”
One of Pipe & Hat’s talented artists to watch is the young pop powerhouse Faouzia from Carman, Manitoba. Pipe & Hat signed her back in March 2016. Only 15-years-old at the time, Faouzia was discovered while performing at Winnipeg’s Festival du Voyageur after being convinced by FdV Artistic Director Julien Desaulniers, to attend one of her early morning acoustic shows. “I was blown away and I couldn’t believe that no one knew who she was”, says Jones. “This is the case with nearly every artist that we work with, we’ll bring in these acts that nobody knows exist and kind of raise them up to a certain level.” Canada’s Walk of Fame named Faouzia as the Second Prize Winner of the 2016 Emerging Artist Mentorship Program. She will be playing Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square on September 24th as part of the Canada’s Walk of Fame Festival.
Pipe & Hat has incredible standards in terms of the quality they expect from the talented artists that they work with. “The biggest thing, and I think everyone who works here buys into this, is just having extremely high expectations”, says Jones, noting qualities that differentiate Pipe & Hat from other companies. Their strategy involves constantly comparing their artists to chart-toppers in corresponding genres. “Whatever music you’re making, you need to look at the biggest act in the world that makes that type of music, and determine whether or not you can hold a candle to them. Because if you can’t, you’re not doing it well enough. That is kind of what we echo internally and, really, for everything that we do.”
The company’s priority is the integrity of the finished product, no mater how long it takes to perfect it. Pipe & Hat believes their artists have the potential of becoming internationally recognized, while primarily going through Canadian music industry channels. Jones could not be more confident in this respect: “It doesn’t matter to me that I don’t have a name act on my roster right now because in a few years everyone will know all of our artists. We’re the only ones that know how hard we’re working behind the scenes to get them to come out as international artists and not just ‘Canada-famous’.”
In terms of industry relationships, Jones relies on key support and input from his internal team, as well as the extended network of parties they work with from agents, labels, promoters, publicists and other artist managers. “Our family is probably in the 40-50 person range. Not including our artists, just in terms of people who are constantly involved with what we’re doing.” The core of the team is comprised of Jones, Elise Roller, Marty LaFreniere, Jane Puchniak, Donovan Jonk, Lee Froese and Matt Boyer.
Although they play to their strengths, everyone helps with each other’s roles. Jones shares his reasoning: “Maybe one day five or ten years from now, the structure of the company will be different, and each of them will have their own roster of artists, but for now we all work together towards the greater good.” Relying on an ambitious work culture and a big picture for the future, Pipe & Hat is able to constantly advance towards its goals.
Not only was the name ‘Pipe & Hat’ inspired by Sherlock Homes, but the same sense of mystery is reflected in the minimal and shadowy presentation of their website. With several new (and secretive) initiatives that the company is planning coming this October, a full online re-launch will take place at the same time.
Pipe & Hat artist Mise en Scene is participating in the 2016 Canadian Music Café this week and joining Canadian Blast for Reeperbahn in Germany partway through their tour with Broncho later this month. Also this month, Sc Mira find themselves at Pop Montreal, Attica Riots grace the Yonge-Dundas Square stage in downtown Toronto for Canada’s Walk of Fame Festival, and Bright Righteous return from a month-long North American tour. Come October, Indicator Indicator will release their first full-length album, with more behind-the-scenes activities brewing on a daily basis for everyone else. As of September 16, Pipe & Hat is also happy to welcome Lanikai – the new project by former Imaginary Cities front woman Marti Sarbit – to their roster. They will release a Hidden Pony Records debut EP on Friday, November 18.