Matt Dines and Dave Shears are the creative forces behind the multifaceted company Hurricane Music. Founded just under a year ago they already have a diverse roster of musicians that they represent including Rosemary Lawton, Baraka, With Violet, Jing Xia and Nerve Shack.
With 25 years of combined experience in the live music industry, Matt and Dave have gone from stage to studio with Hurricane Music, using their passion and talent to help musicians in the St. John's music community reach their full potential.
In addition to artist management, this dynamic duo is involved in all aspects of the process and collaborate with artists in music production, engineering, recording, and join songwriters on their journey upward, sharing their skills in the full suite of music marketing. -Eager to bridge culture and style with song.
Baraka celebrates the release of new single “Thru & Thru” at Hurricane Music Studios with producer Matt Dines, vocalist Cristina Hernades, guzeng performer Jing Xia and percussionist/drum tech Keith Collins
We sat down with Matt and Dave for our first ever Community Spotlight with a duo to find out where it all started, what the future holds and to learn more about how they are working to grow the local music and arts community.
Matt Dines (Left), Dave Shears (Right)
Dave can you tell us about yourself? Your life and where this all began for you?
I grew up on the West Coast in a town called Rocky Harbour. When I was fourteen years old, I asked for a Nova bass guitar for Christmas from the Sears Christmas Catalog. Shortly after, I was approached by a couple guys in my school who were starting a band, and frankly, I was the only person they knew who owned a bass. So, by default I got the gig and met Paul Brake who would pretty instantly go on to becoming my best friend and bandmate in a bunch of different capacities over the next 15 years. Music changed my life. I found my passion and it’s only grown stronger over the years. I love the arts and I love helping artists.
Matt producing music in the Hurricane Music studio in Mount Pearl, NL
Matt, how about you? Can you tell us about your life and where your passion for the music industry came from?
I started my journey with music in the public school system- at Leary’s Brook Junior High we were able to learn guitar in music class and I joined some after school groups. As a teen in St. John’s, NL everything about the music industry seemed so distant and unobtainable. In one way I was connected to the scene through the internet, but I had to hop on a plane to see my favourite bands. Music was always more important than anything in my life and playing music came easy to me because I found it so fun. This is why I took every opportunity I got, worked hard, and tried to treat everyone with respect. As a result I’ve been fortunate to work with some inspiring people and take part in some neat projects. Now that I’m on the other side of the stage I try to help share those experiences with anyone who shares my passion!
Dave Shears (Left) and Baraka (Right)
Dave. You have been instrumental in removing barriers for non permanent residents of Newfoundland and Labrador as well as youth applying for arts funding and have recently received a nomination for the Association for New Canadians RBC Diversity Leadership award. Can you tell us more about the award and your work with New Canadians to help them achieve their goals?
The award was a total shock for me. To date I have no idea who it was that nominated me, but if they’re reading this then a massive thank you is in order! Through my time at MusicNL thanks to some amazing diversity work from the team, and in particular Mariana Castro Carvajal, I have had the opportunity and privilege to meet with a ton of newcomer artists. I think it’s so important that we share and celebrate the musical diversity in the province, because there are so many talented artists here from all over the world. I’ve been fortunate enough to sign two newcomer artists, Baraka and Jing Xia to my management roster. Both are absolutely brilliant musicians and just the kindest, most genuine people to work with.
Last year you received a nomination for Recording Engineer/Producer of the year. You put a lot of energy into making sure other artists get the recognition they deserve. Can you tell us what that means to you to be recognized for all the incredible work you do?
Thanks for saying that - whether I’m writing grants, producing music, or marketing musicians it’s truly my job to show the artist in their best light. I get a lot of intrinsic value and satisfaction from that because I’m making more music than ever, and reaching more ears than I ever thought possible. The industry stuff also helps with adding some legitimacy to what I do, but not nearly as much as being on the team when dropping a killer single or securing money to make someone's dream come true.
RocketRocketship on the ECMA red carpet in Charlottetown, PE in 2015
Matt, can you tell us more about the time you shared together in RocketRocketShip and the success you achieved as a band?
It’s kinda funny that I should answer this because I was definitely “the new guy” in the band for a while and RRS had some great things going before I joined in 2012. Dave and the guys had a great reputation as a young hardworking band with something to prove, and I learned so much from the other guys about how to treat your fans, how to be humble, and what it means to be in a band. Together we were voted best band in St. John’s for 2013 by readers of the Scope, won MusicNL Pop Rock Group of the Year in 2013, 5 MusicNL nominations in 2014 and an ECMA nomination for Rising Star in 2015. We toured across Canada a few times and played countless shows in NL. We even went to Barbados to film a TV show with Bell Media, which was an incredible experience.
Can you share some of the challenges and rewards of working in this industry?
To be totally blunt, it’s hard to make money in the music industry. Margins are razor thin on the best of days.The most important traits to have as a musician is work ethic and dedication. You can write the best music in the world but without the drive to push it, it’ll be hard to have anyone listen. But, when you do put in that work, and you start to see those little successes piling up, it really is a snowball effect. We believe in the artists we work with and when With Violet gets offered a slot at Iceberg Alley, or when Baraka gets added to a Spotify curated playlist, those little moments are worth every hour that we’ve put in behind the scenes.
Matt on stage with band RocketRocketShip (Left), Dave present but not pictured.
Quick! You are on a deserted island and can only bring 3 things! What are they?
2. Zoom Recorder
3. Solar Panels
1. My phone
2. Diet pepsi
3. A boat
How did your Hurricane Music partnership come about and what inspired you to start a music company in Newfoundland?
Dave: During my time at MusicNL it became evident to me that while there are tons of great artists in the province, the industry support they can receive locally is somewhat limited. With both of our passions for helping artists succeed, it seemed like an obvious choice for us to team up once again and start Hurricane Music. We have so much faith and trust in each other that we can work as a team or totally independently and know that the other person is there every step of the way. It’s a really comforting thing when someone has your back to that extent.
Can you expand on the services your company offers and how do these services support artists in their careers?
We offer full management services for artists on the HM roster, but beyond that we also just love to help emerging talent find their way. So, we do lots of live audio work and event planning/management, artist consultations, grant writing, and marketing. We volunteer a lot of our time to meet with artists and just try to give them a push in the right direction. As artists ourselves, we have a unique perspective of being well aware of the things we wish we knew when we started, so it’s nice to be able to instil some of that knowledge on up and coming musicians.
Matt Dines in his natural element.
How do you see the music industry in Newfoundland and Labrador evolving in the future, and how do you hope Hurricane Music will contribute to this evolution?
There’s a lot of really talented artists who are on the verge of going from provincially successful to nationally successful. We think in the next five years we’ll see a rise in the contention of artists from this province at the Junos level. We hope that Hurricane Music will provide the support to help some of those artists achieve that level.
What advice do you have for emerging artists looking to make a career in the music industry?
Success comes from hard work and dedication. Be the first person to show up and the last person to leave at the venue when you’re performing. Educate yourself about the business of the music industry. And spend your free time writing, writing ,and writing. You can never have too many good songs.Also, don’t be afraid of collaboration and asking for help. Your team doesn’t need to be a manager, a booking agent, and a label, your team could be you and your partner, or you and a friend. A friend with a good business mindset who is dedicated and shares the same vision as you could be way more valuable than a manager who doesn’t really put in a lot of time or effort.
You both work at Choices For Youth. What are the chances?! Can you tell us about that organization?
Matt: Choices for Youth is a professional services, youth-focused, non-profit, charitable organization that creates spaces and conversations, and operates programs and social enterprises to help vulnerable youth secure stable housing, employment, and education while improving health and family stability. Dave is the Admin Coordinator and I run marketing for our social enterprises. Working in non-profit is a lot like working in the arts, it’s a passion project on both sides. Of course working with “vulnerable youth” can be challenging and take its toll mentally, but I find a lot of inspiration in helping folks along their journey and helping provide a supportive workplace for young people to get their start.
If there was one thing you could share with the community about how they can contribute to improving the lives for those members of our community that may be struggling through mental illness, addictions, trauma, homelessness, violence and exploitation what would it be?
Kindness is everything. We’re all on the same team regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, social status, etc. If you can do something to help out someone on our team regardless of how big or small that may be, then do it. There are a lot of people struggling, and we need to pick each other up. It’s so important to treat everyone with dignity and respect regardless of their background.
How does your work with Choices affect your approach to business?
Working in social enterprise certainly has changed my approach to business and what it means to be a successful business. Through CFY I’ve been able to learn a lot about sociaI impact and it has changed my perspective on artist development. I believe that there are numerous valid goals when running a business and they don’t have to all revolve around increasing shareholder profits.
It would be cool to see Hurricane Music bring even more opportunity to youth in the province. Do you see any collaborations with Choices For Youth or similar organizations becoming a part of the Hurricane Music Umbrella in the future?
Well, this is an exclusive for you! We’re looking at starting a branch of Hurricane Music called “Hurricane Music Academy”. As with everything we do, we’re going to start small with private lessons available, but the goal is to host summer camps for youth in the coming years. A lot of the details are still being ironed out, but we’re excited to see this evolve as we aim to help encourage and nurture the next generation of NL musicians.
Here’s a chance to plug your artists! What new stuff should we be looking out for? What are some interesting things you are working on now?
The list is neverending, and always growing as you can imagine! Matt is busy in the studio with a bunch of different artists this fall including Nerve Shack, Heirrito Fernandez, Kathy Stock, Xia-3, and more. Dave’s mostly kept busy through his management work with Baraka just releasing a new EP, With Violet just released music and are releasing new music in the fall, Jing is in the studio, and Rosemary is currently writing for her next project. There’s so much good music coming from the Hurricane Music fam that it’s honestly hard to keep track of it all sometimes!
Left top: Rosemary Lawton, Right top: Jing Xia, Left bottom: With Violet, Right bottom Baraka.
Baraka performing at Johnny Ruth to celebrate 17 years of business in November 2022
Ok now it's time for our plug! Ha! What’s your favourite thing about Johnny Ruth?
Local businesses are the heart of any community. We love the vibe of the store, and the fact that you support local artists with pop up performances is amazing! They have even hosted live in-store performances by Baraka!
Get in touch with Matt and Dave at Hurricane music via email - email@example.com
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Learn all about the good work Choices for you is doing in the community at www.choicesforyouth.ca
Donate to Choices for You at CFY Donate
Choices for Youth is committed to building programs, systems, and opportunities that are focused on providing individualized support for young people, celebrating who they are, and working together to unlock their potential.