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Hipjoint Music Group is on a roll. Since August, the multi-faceted entity formed by Vancouver songwriters Mike James and Troy Samson has:
- Placed their songs “Get Loose” on ABC’s Scoundrels, “Crank It Up” on the NFL Network, “Let’s Go” to promote Fox’s Bones and Fringe; “Bounce It Up” on the CBC’s Being Erica and Showcase’s Lost Girl and three others on Degrassi: The Next Generation.
- Enjoyed a palpable hit with “Mr. Immature,” along with Ladysmith, B.C., singer-songwriter Stef Lang, the first artist they’re co-developing in their joint venture with Nettwerk One Music Canada; over 10,000 singles sold on their Hipjoint/Universal label.
- Co-written songs with Suzie McNeil and Hipjoint discovery Kreesha Turner for upcoming projects.
- Developed new material with YTV Next Star contestants Brock Zanrosso and Isabelle Stern; Bounce Showdown winners Justin Blais and Beatrice Love; ex-MuchMusic Disband contestant Marissa Dattoli; Latency singer Brandon Lehti and recording artist Hilary Weaver.
- Placed their songs “Let’s Go” and “Things Are Gonna Get Better” for, respectively, Earthbound, a film starring Kate Hudson, and the Lifetime TV movie One Angry Juror, starring Jessica Capshaw.
- Collaborated on a pair of tracks with ethereal electronic-pop groovemeisters Delerium: the recently released “Too Late, Farewell,” featuring Nettwerk recording artist and Sarah McLachlan bass player Butterfly Boucher, and their summer Billboard Dance/Club chart-topper “Dust in Gravity,” with Kreesha Turner.
And that’s just the beginning of the avalanche. Specializing in songwriting, production (including staff producers Phil Lehmann and Lil Henriques), publishing (writers Stef Lang and Lehmann) and artist development, the Hipjoint duo enjoys the advantage of working with many as opposed to a select few. “We wanted to find a way so it would be kind of like a producer’s project, kind of like what Delerium does or, say, Soul II Soul back in the day, where we would feature different artists,” says Samson. Adds James: “It’s fun, because we work with a lot of different artists under the same banner but we’re able to bring in the best person for the project. It’s really fluid.”
James and Samson have already made arrangements to visit the U.K. and L.A. as a songwriting team in order to expand their creative and professional horizons. “We’re just coming out of a period where we had young families and we made a conscious decision to stay close to home when they were small,” James says. “But they’re starting to grow up a little bit.”
The Hipjoint story began in 2003. Lifelong friends James, A&R rep and label manager for Johnny Jet Records and co-writer of a few West End Girls songs, and Samson, a part of D-Cru and a vocal producer for SoulDecision, decided to pool their creative talents and strike out on their own. “We had the desire to run our own shop and do things the way we wanted to — sink or swim,” recalls James. “It was a good pairing.” The goal? Says Samson, “We wanted to try to find a way to produce local artists and launch careers.”
It didn’t take them long to accomplish their mission. Their first release under the Hipjoint moniker — “What Went On” — featured their good pal and ex D-Cru member Craig Smart and peaked at No. 13 on Canadian Top 40 radio. Other discoveries have included Bounce winners Kreesha Turner and Shiloh (“Operator”), and Hipjoint has also worked with internationally renowned singers Mika Nakashima (“Candy Girl,” No. 4 on the Oricon J-Pop charts); Destiny’s Child alumnus Kelly Rowland (“Unity,” Top 10 Canadian AC); and, closer to home, platinum pop group Hedley (“Lucky”).
“We do find ourselves working with a lot of new artists,” says Samson. “We’ve built this reputation as the guys who are able to take somebody who is fresh and green and give them music that sets them on their way.”
James says that although they wear a number of hats, songwriting is still their core love, with Hipjoint specializing in tailoring tunes around an individual artist. “We write a lot for them, but we still approach that process as if we were writing with them,” explains James. “We spend just as much time getting to know them, even sending them questionnaires. If we’re writing a song for somebody, we really want it to be their song. We don’t want to just pull something out of the catalogue and have them sing over an existing track.”
As the owners and proprietors of H-Songs Publishing, the duo points to a two-and-a-half-year-old joint venture with Nettwerk One Music Canada as an arrangement that has led to substantial growth, especially in the realm of TV and commercial placements, the latter including spots for CKOne, Nikon and Kit Kat. “Nettwerk has been great at helping us get ads and helping us with our bottom line,” says Samson. “We want to make art and commerce work together. It’s a fine balance.”