Nisto Looks to the Future

After the cancellation of the 2020 Artist Spotlight, we reached out to Nisto to hear how he is faring during these uncertain times. We also asked about his experience recording with Russell Broom, how he writes his music, and where he wants to take his project in the future:

How has COVID-19 affected you personally?
I try not think about it. I’m fortunate enough to already come from an isolated life, so I’m used to it. Any plans to perform, working has had to be put on hold. I have family members with immune deficiencies and that scares me more than anything else. That being said I think it’s important that we do what we can to just relax—stay put—and be safe, until this blows over. I’ve been using the time to be with my family, dogs, enjoy music, laugh a lot, and reconnect with my roots a bit.

What music have you been listening to during this time?
Lightnin’ Hopkins, Stax Records stuff, John Prine, Guy Clark, The Strokes’ new album The New Abnormal and Dan Auerbach’s Waiting On A Song.

What was you favourite part of the recording process with Russell Broom?
My favourite part was performing the songs live in the studio with Russell and Dan Stadnicki, who each brought their own distinct sound to the songs. We kept it in the moment. That to me, is where most of the fun and magic happens. I’m not very calculated in the way I do things. I just hang on and let ‘er buck.

Which song were you most excited to play at the Spotlight? Why?
“Folk Song” The way you hear it on the EP is the first time I’ve played it like that. We sort of blended these different versions I’ve had into one, and then I got to crank my amp at the end, which is something I find my self wanting to do more often these days. I like noise.

What do you find yourself writing about in your songs?
In the past more so, it was living in a remote area, hopelessness, paranoia, and substance abuse. The songs were all written when I was younger and in a much darker place in my life, but they also lead me out of that lifestyle, so Little People is in some ways an execution of those thought patterns for me. These days I write more about the things I see around me,
rather than woe is me’s.

Is there a particular artist that you would want to work with? Why?
More than anything I like to rock, play blues and trip people out, so someone like Sturgill Simpson or Dan Auerbach, but that’s out of the ball park probably.

What do you want to do in music going forward?
Nisto was set out to be a rock band when I released my first single “Los Sin Dios”, but it never ended up happening, because I’m a recluse. I still want to tinker with that idea, create more rude, greasy, heavy sounds circulating around junkyard, backwoods blues, and Black Sabbath. Ultimately recording that band and playing some shows around the country would be a dream come true… I’ve still never left the province of Alberta.

Have you been working on music or composing during this time? In what way?
Yeah. Writing a lot of more than I’ve been able to in a long time. Just me, my guitar, my notebook, and the sound recorder on my phone, after everyone is sleeping. I enjoy the peace and quiet.

Tune in to our Bent River Records Artist Feature this Tuesday, April 21 @ 7pm on Instagram Live as we check in with Nisto and other artists from the label!


Do you find royalties mightily confusing? You’re not alone! To make a living as a recording artist, it’s essential to be properly registered to receive royalties generated by the performance, purchase, and broadcast of your music. Join Olivia Street, A&R Associate with Bent River Records, for a one hour lunch-time Zoom session on Wednesday, April 22, hosted by Alberta Music. She’ll give a guided tour through the SOCAN platform, as well as talk about the many other royalty streams that can generate income for artists, songwriters, composers, session musicians, and more. 

Music royalties are a complex bundle. As Vel Omazic of Canada’s Music Incubator has often explained, you have to think of a musical creation as being made up of two distinct parts: “The first is the sound recording of a musical work, which is performed by musicians. The second is the underlying musical work (or song) created by songwriters. There are four major groups of people involved in the making of recorded music. These groups are technically referred to as “rights holders” and they are each entitled to earn royalties for their role in the making of recorded music. In the case of an independent songwriter who performs on and funds his/her own recordings, they hold the rights of all four groups.”

These rights-holding groups are:
1. The performer. This could be a recording artist, band members, session players, someone who played the tambourine in the background… anyone who performs on a sound recording of a musical work.
2. The maker. This means the record label, or if you are self-released, it means you. You own your masters, so you’re the owner.
3. The songwriter/composer. The person or people who wrote the tune. Music, or lyrics, or both.
4. The music publisher. Don’t have a publisher? Then, you’re considered self-published, and you own this chunk.

There are royalty collection streams associated with all of these rights-holding groups. Learn more from 12 pm to 1 pm on April 22nd!  Click here to sign up for this free seminar.

2020 Artist Spotlight Postponement

It is with heavy hearts that we announce that due to the COVID-19 crisis, our 2020 Spotlight has been postponed. Along with our 2020 Spotlight, we will also be postponing the releases of Allan Gilliland’s Dreaming: The Prague Sessions and Nisto’s Little People EP until further notice. We are incredibly proud of what these artists have created and have decided to delay the releases until a time when we can celebrate them properly. While we are disappointed that we cannot continue with the event and releases as planned, Bent River Records is still actively working to promote our artists and to contribute to Alberta’s vibrant music scene. 

Despite the current situation, we will be celebrating the release of:

Mike Rud’s Salome’s Dance: The Mike Rud Trio Invites Peter Bernstein  
Single release of “Salome’s Dance” available on streaming services April 28th, 2020
Album available to stream or purchase May 12th, 2020

Contact us at if you would like to purchase a physical copy of the album on vinyl or CD.

Many of our artists are continuing to celebrate music from the safety of their own homes by sharing their new work through social media and live-streaming, often using Instagram and Facebook Live. Be sure to check out their social media pages and websites, where you can support them by buying merchandise and listening to their music!

Take care and stay safe,
The Bent River Records Team

Huge Thank you to Dr. Craig Monk!

“Listening to vinyl is a very physical experience… It’s about actively participating in
your music experience.” These are Dr. Craig Monk’s words, MacEwan’s provost and vice-president Academic. They reflect his deep passion for music and particularly of vinyl records that was sparked while he was working in a record store in the late 1980s. That passion hasn’t waned since those early days and he makes a point of visiting a used record store in whatever city he finds himself in.

Earlier this year, Bent River Records held a contest for design students to submit their ideas for the new albums being released in 2020. After Dr. Monk saw these designs, he was inspired. “I hadn’t realized Bent River produced vinyl, and it got me interested in the ways that album production could involve different program areas across campus.” This realization led to Dr. Monk making a generous major gift of $50,000 to fund Bent River’s production of vinyl and to ultimately encourage a cross-disciplinary engagement amongst students to create these albums, like the previous design contest.

This gift enables Bent River Records to engage with students across MacEwan and offer them opportunities to contribute to the many releases the label is working on. Dr. Monk’s gift will have a huge positive impact on Bent River. All the associates, interns and artists at Bent River would like to extend our deepest thanks, for it is donors like Dr. Monk that keep local artists and arts organizations like Bent River Records alive and well.

If you’re interested in hearing what inspires Craig Monk on a daily basis, listen to his Top 50 Vinyl Listen’s on Spotify!

Josh Sahunta – “Be Alone” (Live Version) Recording Session

Last Thursday, we had a recording session in the studio with Josh Sahunta, Canadian songwriter based here in Edmonton, AB. The song  that was recorded is called “Be Alone” (Live Version). Josh describes his music as R&B/Pop: “kind of like if Ed Sheeran was in a band with Justin Timberlake and the Tennessee Kids.” His Influences are John Mayer, Ed Sheeran, Drake, Daniel Caesar and Anderson Paak.

Josh answered some questions for us:

What is your musical background and how long you have been playing music for? 

I’ve been into music since I was very young and always had a natural aptitude for it. I played drums and piano growing up but didn’t really start taking it seriously until later in my life. I picked up the guitar to impress a girl in high school, and that became my main instrument from that point on. While I was studying psychology in University, I was practicing and playing some small gigs here and there, but it wasn’t until I graduated in 2017 that I really started putting my all into it. 

Can you tell us more about the song you recorded? 

It is a live version of a previously released single. “Be Alone” is a song I wrote as I reflected on being away from home a lot last year because of touring. It’s a song about trying to hold a relationship together while you’re on the other side of the world and kind of just the realities I faced last year of being absent from so many of my loved ones lives for such a long period of time. 

I wanted to record a live version because the song has done so well on Spotify and has gotten over 100,000 streams, so I wanted to give my listeners a little treat as a thank you for their support on the song. 

Could you tell us about your experience in the recording studio during the session?

I’ve worked in this studio before and it was great as always. It’s truly something to be able to work in a room that has the equipment that the MacEwan studio has. It’s a gear nerd’s dream. I’ve only ever used software versions of all the equipment MacEwan has and so seeing and using the real deal was special. I’ve always had a great time working with Paul Johnston and he’s always been so supportive and accommodating to my goals and vision. I’m very appreciative of him and I look forward to working with him more in the future.


The recording session took place in MacEwan University Recording Studio A. The instrumentation is composed by vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, electric bass, and drums. The tracking in Studio A was all done through the studio on-board hardware, taking the signal through the pre-amps and equalizers built in the console and taking them out from a direct output into the software. Students from MUSC 467 in the Music Department assisted with the session as a way to learn more about the recording process.

MacEwan Live Broadcast

The winner of our 2019 ATB Financial Recording Competition, Nisto, has just released his new single entitled “Folk Song.” This past Monday, Macewan University unveiled their newly built TV studio. As part of the the celebrations and to mark the release of his new single, Nisto performed “Folk Song” live from the new studio and audiences loved his unique voice and songwriting.

Bent River Records would like to extend our deep thanks to ATB Financial for their support for Nisto and the recording competition. During the recording process, Nisto mentioned that in Fort Vermillion (his home town) there is only one bank for miles and miles, and that bank is an ATB branch. ATB has been important for the whole process and to Nisto for years!

You can find “Folk Song” by Nisto on CD Baby, and you can listen to his other single “Los Sin Dios” on Spotify. If you’d like to hear him live along with other wonderful Bent River Records musicians, be sure to come to the 2020 Artist Spotlight on April 28 at The Aviary!

Check the coverage of this event from Global News:

JUNO Nomination for Padraig!

We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Padraig Buttner-Schnirer, who works as a member of the Bent River Records Team, for his nomination for the Juno Awards! Padraig recorded the album that has been nominated in the Vocal Jazz Album of the Year category. The album is called Montréal by artist Elizabeth Shepherd. He recorded this album with Elizabeth and her band back in November 2017 at a studio in Montreal called Studio 451.

Padraig gave us some insight about the project, and answered some questions:

Could you briefly talk about the recording process of the album?

The album was recorded over two days in November of 2017. I had worked with Elizabeth before on another album that she was producing and she had really liked the drum sound I captured. She asked me to do a similar type of set up for this session. I made sure to provide plenty of sound-texture options for the drums including some special microphones I put up specifically to add character and grit to the recording.

I knew most of the band members very well and had worked with them on previous projects. There was lots of music to get through and quite a bit of pressure on my shoulders since I was working alone without an assistant, but everyone in the band was so great that it really felt like I was hanging out with friends. Rémi-Jean LeBlanc was the bass player on this session and also happens to be an artist with Bent River Records. He’s an amazing musician.

Elizabeth is a dream to work with. She’s extremely focused and knows exactly what she’s after from the recording. She’s also a delightful person and that makes working with her such a pleasure.

Were you aiming that high when you were working on it? And how do you feel now that a piece of your work has been nominated for this prestigious award?

I don’t usually think about awards when doing projects like this, and I’ve learned over the years that’s it’s hard to predict which projects will be nominated for Junos and other similar awards. But it’s definitely a great feeling when something you’ve worked on get’s this kind of recognition. I’m also very excited for the artist because I know how much they’ve put into the project.

I’ve worked on other projects that have won Junos in the past, but my role on those was fairly minor. This will be the first time that an album on which I’ve done the majority of the recording has been nominated, so that’s really exciting.

Click here to check out the album.

Congratulations to our Album Design Competition Winners: Alan & Ashlin!

For the third consecutive year, Constanza Pacher’s Typography II classes have designed concepts for real projects from Bent River Records. This year, each class had the opportunity to design the vinyl album packaging for Allan Gilliland’s Dreaming: The Prague Sessions, and Mike Rud’s Salome’s Dance: The Mike Rud Trio Invites Peter Bernstein.

With such a wide variety of concepts to choose from, it wasn’t easy for Mike and Allan to make their decisions! After much deliberation, we are very excited to announce which students will receive the honorariums and have their designs sent to press:

Allan Gilliland – Dreaming: The Prague Sessions
Winner: Ashlin Kellough
Honourable Mentions: Lisa Cox, Kayla Agustin

Mike Rud – Salome’s Dance: The Mike Rud Trio Invites Peter Bernstein
Winner: Alan Ngo
Honourable Mentions: Nick Zylstra, MyHanh Nguyen

Congratulations to Alan and Ashlin, and to all the design students who participated! And a huge thank-you to Dr. Craig Monk, whose generous support of the record label makes this project possible! Stay tuned for more information about these exciting new releases! You can read more about the project in this article from The Griff:

Meet Our New Interns: Gareth & Paolo!

Gareth Gilliland is a third year guitar performance major and has just returned from a semester abroad in Helsinki, Finland. He feels very lucky to have the opportunity to be on the Bent River Records team as an intern for this
semester. Learning about music from different perspectives is important to him so he learns how to be a well rounded musician and collaborator. He’s performed extensively with funk and folk bands, jazz ensembles and as a solo guitarist. Before coming to MacEwan, Gareth studied culinary arts and has worked for some of Edmonton’s best chefs. Recently, he recorded with folk/roots band Jemma and The Good Thing at Bent River Records and is excited for what 2020 holds.

Paolo Belmar is currently taking his third year at MacEwan University in the Music Program with a Major in Composition. He has worked with the video-game development club at MacEwan scoring music for their games, he work as a music teacher outside of MacEwan, plays in two bands (Cabrakaan and Hellnite) and is currently working on a new instrumental music project. Since a few years ago he has been interested in recording studios and music production. In Fall of 2019, he started taking recording classes at MacEwan as elective courses outside of his major and that is how his interest for the label came about.

“I discovered how beautiful the process of creating a record can be, working with a team that is committed to do their best for the project. I am so excited for this opportunity to work with Bent River Records as a part of a creative team and supporting artists in the music industry.”


It’s That Time of Year Again…

Have you come down with a case of the winter blues? Luckily for you, two of our Bent River artists have got the perfect cure for that. Let the sweet sounds of The Jivin’ Belles bring you some holiday cheer before the new year! 

Kate Blechinger, Mallory Chipman, and Emily Guthrie will be performing twice this month to bring audiences a little taste of sweet 1940s nostalgia. Catch their Glow Edmonton shows at the Edmonton Expo centre on December 23rd at 6:30 pm, or December 28th at 4 pm. These jivin’ ladies sing your favourite swing era bops and may just throw in some vintage-style renditions of your favourite modern pop bangers as well! Don’t miss The Jivin’ Belles this holiday season.