No need to couch surf if you're a struggling Canadian band in L.A.

SOCAN, Canada's largest music organization dealing with royalties and rights, lets artists on the cusp of taking their career to the next level stay at the L.A. home to network, write music and collaborate.

SOCAN's L.A. apartment is in high demand, getting over a dozen applications per week

CBC's Zulekha Nathoo gets a look inside SOCAN House

7 years ago
Duration 1:46
Canadian up-and-coming musicians can stay at this L.A. home for free

When I pulled up to SOCAN House, I expected to find a party pad - beds unmade, bottles everywhere and the band still asleep.

But Ashley Buchholz and Jason Parsons, members of the Canadian progressive dance-rock duo USS, were tidying up an already neat space when I got there.

Buchholz just finished his yoga practice and a breakfast shake in the blender he brought from home. Parsons was still thinking about a trip to Compton he'd taken a couple days before.

In the living room of this Los Angeles apartment are framed photos of successful artists like Drake, Arcade Fire and Tegan and Sara. Singer-songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk created a papier-mâché map of Canada that hangs over the couch and a large Canadian flag covers a wall in the bedroom.
Photos of Drake, Arcade Fire and Tegan and Sara in the living room serve as Canadian inspiration for musicians staying at SOCAN House. (Zulekha Nathoo/CBC)

Inspiration for USS as they try to nail down a new beat.

Buchholz speaks in wild similes as Parsons experiments with different sounds. They begin a bizarre conversation of non-sequiturs in a language all their own.

"That's Bamm-Bamm talking to his inner dialogue," he tells Parsons, referring to the Flinstones character after singing a few spontaneous lines and strumming on his guitar.

"It's like Ghandi looking at Motley Crue's Dr. Feelgood album cover," says Parsons.

"It's like oxytocin looking at itself through a microscope," Buchholz says. "That's what we need to hear. Can you do it?"

"Wow," says Parsons, turning back to his computer. "I'm gonna try."

Watch the band USS trying to create a new beat at SOCAN House

7 years ago
Duration 1:03
Ashley Buchholz and Jason "Human Kebab" Parsons have a bizarre conversation working on new music in LA.

For a conversation like this to unfold, Buchholz and Parsons need to be somewhere comfortable.  A place they can call home and, as Buchholz says, "be relaxed enough to let things flow through you."

SOCAN, Canada's largest music organization that represents performing and publishing rights, lets musicians like Buchholz and Parsons - artists on the cusp of taking their career to the next level - stay at the L.A. home free of charge to network, write music and collaborate.

It's located in Silver Lake, a hipster community east of Hollywood with a notable indie music scene.

The Toronto-based band, which refers to their sound as a "campfire after-party," just signed an American record deal last year.

It's a huge step but daunting as well - it's expensive to stay in L.A. while writing and recording music, particularly with a low Canadian dollar and the high cost of living in the entertainment hub.

"To be a Canadian band and come down to Los Angeles, California, to be creative and to provide something for the future release of our music is an overwhelming activity to begin with," said Parsons, who also goes by the stage name Human Kebab. "Then you throw in the financial burden..."

"I'd be crying in the stairwell of a hotel," Buchholz interrupts.

"There's been tons and tons and tons of songs recorded here," said Chad Richardson, SOCAN's general manager in L.A, pointing to Serena Ryder, Royal Wood and Kiesza as previous guests who have stayed at the house and worked on their records while there. 
Hideaway singer-songwriter Kiesza tells CBC's Zulekha Nathoo the SOCAN House was a big help to her career.

Kiesza, the Calgary-born singer-songwriter of the 2014 dance hit Hideaway, has stayed at the house a few times and said it was a huge help to her career.

"I was pretty much broke," she told me about her early days when I ran into her at a pre-Grammy party in Los Angeles. "Having that opportunity just allowed me to do something I otherwise wouldn't have been able to do and work with people I wouldn't have otherwise been able to work with because I wouldn't have been able to afford it."

"It's taking that money factor out of the equation and just allowing people to be creative."

Richardson, who's in charge of reserving the space for talent, says he gets about 15 applications a week.

Chad Richardon, SOCAN's General Manager in L.A., stands next to a piece of art done for the house by Canadian singer-songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk.
"Sometimes I've had a big name artist who wants the house for a week and someone who's just starting out and just got their record deal," he told me when I visited the apartment. "It's very obvious that this is the person who's going to need it more right now so that's who it goes to."

In return, those artists won't likely forget the help from SOCAN on their way to the top. USS, which stands for Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker, has the space for two weeks. In that time, they hope to generate fresh material for a new album and a new market.

"It's made every day easier to be able to call a place home and to wipe that off your list of worries," said Parsons, returning to the search on his computer for that elusive beat Buccholz is still waiting for.


Zulekha Nathoo

Digital/Broadcast reporter, L.A.

Zulekha Nathoo is a breaking news and entertainment reporter based in Los Angeles. From the Oscars to the Grammys, she's interviewed some of the biggest names in showbiz including Celine Dion and Denzel Washington. She also works on-air covering news events and spent more than a decade at CBC stations across Canada, including Toronto and Calgary. Follow her on Twitter/Instagram: @zulekhanathoo.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?