The Women of the Heavy Metal Music Association of Canada


This is a very special edition of Girls Don’t Like Metal. Rather than focus on a single subject, this week’s column focuses on a trio of awesome ladies all doing great work together in an organization called the Heavy Metal Music Association of Canada. Jenny DuHaime is the CEO and Chairperson of the H.M.M.A.C., and works in publishing at Mayfair. Michelle Ayoub is a concert promoter and co-owner of Dungeon Works Productions, a metal promotions company based in Montreal. She is also one of the organizers of the Heavy MTL Battle of the Bands in 2012. Barbara Pavone is a music journalist, a writer for Skindeep Magazine and editor of Xalt Magazine, Skunk Magazine, and RockandRollReport.com. She’s also the radio promoter for Asher Media, a PR company specializing in heavy metal. All three were kind enough to take the time to tell GDLM how they work together, and about all the good work they do for heavy metal music in Canada.

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Can you tell us a little bit about the Heavy Metal Music Association of Canada? When was it founded and what is the association’s mandate? How did each of you become involved, and what is your role?

Jenny: I’ll start with our official mandate: the Heavy Metal Music Association of Canada (H.M.M.A.C.) is dedicated to supporting established and upcoming talent in the Heavy Metal genre and its sub-genres, and promoting the overall practice of music. The Association will also help with promotional tour support, informing its members about grant support and about new information concerning the ever-evolving music industry. We will represent our association through trade shows, conferences and seminars and our own events.

The H.M.M.A.C. was founded by Raymond `Black Metal` Wallace in 2005. When Raymond approached me with this idea, I was very excited because I knew anything that Ray set his goals on would be a fabulous project. He asked if I could help him with the concept of this project from its genesis, as he knew my background in business, in the music industry and especially with my work with various organizations/associations.

We spent many nights on the phone until 5 AM working on the concept as I lived in Montreal and he was in Toronto. Once our goals were set, Ray worked to find members and to promote the Association. Our first event was set for Saturday, April 29, 2006 at The Marquee in Toronto. We had Piledriver play that event along with special guests including Rob Urbanati from Sacrifice. Labels, managers and bands were invited to set up kiosks at the event for their merch and information. We were able to find amazing sponsors for the event which helped fill our swag bags including Long & McQuade, Indica Records, Cyclone Records, BWBK, Gasoline Magazine and Exclaim Magazine. The event sold out, and had to open its doors early!

On November 27, 2007, I lost my dearest friend and colleague, Ray, at the age of 45 to a brain aneurysm. I promised when he passed that I would continue the Association.

H.M.M.A.C. rallied and soon we added amazing people to our roster, like A.J. McCready (Jetloud Music), Paula Danylevich (Hype Music), Pedro Barbosa (Let Artists Be, DIYW Communications) and Derek Osterlund. H.M.M.A.C. has been growing ever since and I have been blessed to have the team I have today.

Michelle: The H.M.M.A.C. Has essentially been re-launched in the last year or so. Our goals are to help promote Canadians artists and give them access to the tools and resources available to aid in their musical journeys. It serves as a networking tool for artists, fans and media representatives. We also hope to provide similar resources to international artists hoping to access the Canadian markets.

I got involved with H.M.M.A.C. through my business partner Nick Guérin (Dungeon Works Productions). The project was originally presented to him, he then presented it to me and we got involved with it. I am an event coordinator and work as the assistant Director of Events alongside Nick. I focus mainly on event planning and management for the Montreal/Quebec area.

Barbara: I knew and worked with the other members before H.M.M.A.C. was formally established, so when I was asked if I wanted to join when it was being created, I immediately said yes. My official title is that of H.M.M.A.C. Photographer, but I pitch in and help in any way I’m needed.

How do you perceive the profile of Canadian heavy metal to be on the international stage? What are some of your favourite Canadian metal bands, and how do you support them?

Jenny: When it comes to Canadian bands, there are so many to choose from! I dread this type of question. When I first became interested in metal, I loved listening to the bands Hotline and T.O. Joker. Other bands that I am fond of are Anvil, Razor, Piledriver, Bobnoxious, Sacrifice, Revolver (now Famous Underground) and Grimskunk. I also love The Birthday Massacre to shake the genres up a bit. I would also include Dissension, TodayICaughtthePlague, SYKODE, Automan, The Catalyst, Forbidden Sin, Ninja Spy, Bolero, 3 Mile Scream, Scythia, the Agonist, Aggressor The truth is, every day I discover a new band that catches my ear. There is so much talent being produced in Canada that it makes it hard to choose favourites!

H.M.M.A.C. promotes all Canadian metal and rock bands, helping them network with industry members and guide them in the right direction. We also keep them informed about any available tour grants and other resources. We produce a compilation called Canuck Metal, with a new version every four months, and distribute it for free through www.loudtrax.com/hmmac (promo code: HMMAC) to help promote new bands. We also publish a newsletter every month for our members to inform them of the latest news in the industry. Being a huge advocate of continuing music education, we are committed to hosting music forums and clinics across Canada. Our first music clinic, on drums, was held this past month with Vinny Appice at Italmelodie in Montreal. We look forward to hosting more soon!

Bands should feel free to post to our social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and YouTube, as this is a great way to get their events and videos seen by a larger audience. Should any band have questions about H.M.M.A.C. or to find out how we can help promote them, they can contact any of our directors at Hmmacanada@gmail.com

Michelle: Canadian Heavy Metal is no doubt recognized on the international stage. Looking at the Quebec scene, there are many innovative artists that have had decades of international success. I’m all about the homegrown goodies myself. On the one side there are the bands I grew up listening to, like Voivod, who are arguably international living legends and are still running strong. Then there is an astounding amount of newcomers as well. Bands like Crossitution and Trainwreck Architect are blowing my mind in terms of talent, performance and initiative (as they are both unsigned).

In terms of how I support them it all depends. As a fan, I go to shows, I buy albums and merch. As a promoter, I book them shows, and help as much as I can from a managerial perspective. Canada is jammed packed with talent, and I think that it’s known around the world.

Barbara: I think Canadian metal is definitely respected on an international level and rightly so, as our country is brimming with talent from coast to coast, both major and indie. I may be biased in saying this because I’ve worked with them, but Titans Eve, Scythia, Nephelium and Tribune are definitely at the top of my list when it comes to great Canadian metal acts. They all bring something different and worth listening to the genre. Then there are the more widely known bands, like Anvil and Bison B.C.

How does H.M.M.A.C. help to promote and support equality in the heavy metal scene? How do each of you individually work towards making heavy metal a safe and egalitarian space?

Jenny: There is definitely no room for prejudice, sexism, racism or any other negative “-ism” in our Association. We complete and complement each other. Our work together is based on our talents.  As CEO/Chairperson this is one thing that I cherish most: talent.   Our team thrives on these abilities of our members. Over the years we will acquire more eperience whether it is working at H.M.M.A.C. or in our everyday workplace and those elements will be brought to the table. With this, there is room to grow.

Barbara: With three women playing various roles on the H.M.M.A.C. board, I don’t think there’s anyone who could question our commitment to and support of equality in the metal scene. One’s talent and abilities, whether they pertain to music or anything else, shouldn’t be suppressed, encouraged or judged based on gender. H.M.M.A.C. is all about spreading the great metal gospel to the masses and that’s all it comes down to, regardless of what you’ve got going on in your pants.

What do you think is the cause behind the recent backlash against discussions of feminism in heavy metal culture and in the music industry in general? 

Jenny: I think that part of it is the images portrayed of women in metal videos as far  back as in the ‘80s, especially the typical glam metal video that always included the band members being fawned over by a “hot chick.” It made it seem this was the metal way of life. Some males were taught to be misogynistic by their parents and culture, and this really should not have been tolerated. There was also a time where sex was used more and more to sell products, and labels and managers would have been crazy not to cash in on those types of videos to sell their bands. Not that it was the right thing to do but they did it anyway and that was because society allowed them to do it.

The old motto, “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” still has a lot of sway over some people. Today, some bands still use those types of videos to sell their work of art but most use creative, imaginative concepts and fast-paced imagery to sell their work. We are really working in the right direction. I am sure that any sexist person is basing their assumptions on something completely inaccurate. I challenge them to get a new perspective and rediscover the importance of women in heavy metal.

Michelle: Feminism is a tricky subject to embark upon whether it is in the context of heavy metal or any other aspect of popular culture. To pinpoint a cause seems like a futile task. Is it a misogynistic world? Is it empowering for females to participate? Or desperate? Who knows, who cares?

If you love it, do it. Do not let gender dictate your tastes or practices. You should certainly not let it dictate how others perceive you. Be the best at what you do, that will shine through. I’ve been at this a while and I’ve never let my gender get in the way of anything.

Barbara: All I’d like to say on this note is that I think some people have a tendency to over-analyze issues that are really non-issues. If a strong female who is ridiculously talented and a great musician wants to be sexy, why shouldn’t she be allowed to embrace both her hard edge and femininity? If the talent is there, I don’t care how much cleavage is on display.

As a genre of music, what do you think sets heavy metal apart? What is special about heavy metal fans?

Jenny: Music is in all of us. Everything we are is based on rhythm or pattern. Our  heartbeats, our body moves, our tongue quivers to make sound. Why people choose one form or genre over another can be based on many elements including an emotion, your inner beat, a particular note that drives you, lyrics or the sound of one instrument and how it is played over another. It would be hard to believe that a person only likes to listen to one style of music but perhaps it is better to say that they would prefer to listen to one style over another at a given moment.

The way that a vocalist uses their voice also makes a great difference in style. The reason I love heavy metal as much as I love classical is because of the range that is developed. There is a constant flow, and you can feel where the music is taking you if the songs are well developed. Lyrics are very important to me as well.  I love songs that tell a story or an emotion.

I really enjoy collaborating with the musicians of this genre because they demonstrate great showmanship, devotion to their craft and most leave their egos at the door. heavy metal musicians are always willing to learn from their peers and go the distance to perfect their craft. Often you will see one musician or vocalist from one band playing with another. It’s not a competition, it’s just about playing music. I also love that fans of heavy metal are extremely supportive of this genre. Metal musicians can count on their fans showing up to support them. I’ve worked with other genres of music over the years and I have never come across such a fraternity than with metalheads.

Michelle: I think that what sets heavy metal apart is the fact that fans don’t just buy, listen and follow whatever they’re presented with; they live it. It becomes an integral part of their lives in a way that you just don’t really see with other genres. There is a love, respect and dedication found in metal fans that really merits calling it a community. That aspect of community and rallying around the music and shows is special.

Barbara: I think heavy metal fans are truly some of the greatest fans in music. Of course there are exceptions, there always are, but I feel like metal fans have the great ability to love the music they love without being judgmental. They’re passionate, they know how to have a good time and they appreciate strong musicianship along with a memorable live performance. Not to mention they’re some of the most interesting and badass people out there. We’re definitely a good-looking bunch.

What are some ways that fans, future journalists, aspiring artists and promoters, etc. can get involved in their heavy metal scene? What advice would you have for someone who is just beginning to fall in love with heavy metal?

Jenny: It took me many years to admit that I was a heavy metal music lover due to the influences I had in my hometown and my friends across the country. Heavy metal was portrayed as the “devil’s work” and was not accepted as a form of music. But I was smart, I looked at the music, the lyrics, the marketing and the whole business of heavy metal music.

I would not be  working in this industry if I didn’t conclude that it was worth pursuing. It is all about the music. It is not about religion or politics unless the artists personally make it so. Most have something really important to say and tell their story as such. If you get your calling to work in this industry, don’t pass it up. Be willing to put a lot of time in, even decades, to make your mark, work hard, persevere and achieve your goals. There are people watching and listening and you will get your chance to take part in this fantastic industry. H.M.M.A.C. thrives on the talents of out music industry colleagues, whether you are a manager, agent, label, promoter, distributor, PR, musician or fan, etc. Everyone contributes and everyone matters.

Michelle: The key is to get involved. You don’t need to start a magazine or website, or go out and book bands and spend your life savings. Go to the shows. Support local acts, support local venues. Give the new kids a chance. Give a different genre a chance. You never know when you will come across a gem. Support the bands, promoters, venues and underground media who are getting the music out there.

Barbara: The biggest thing is definitely going out to shows and supporting your local metal talent. Buy a ticket, a CD or a shirt and help keep your favourite metal band going.

Other than that, there’s nothing easier than joining H.M.M.A.C. so we can bombard you with great information about Canadian metal, invite you to exclusive events and offer you free music and swag. Doesn’t get any better than that, does it?!

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Jenny DuHaime Jenny has worked in the entertainment industry for 20 years as a singer/songwriter, talent consultant, actress and acting teacher. For the past 16 years, she has used these skills to help other talented Canadians develop their craft. She currently heads PAX Management out of Montreal. In the music industry, she continues to manage and develop various musical talents. Jenny is an advocate for continuing music education and helps represent the 2nd largest publishing house in Canada, Mayfair Music  Publications.

In 2001, she met Raymond ‘Black Metal’ Wallace. Together, they created projects such as scouting talent, managing and booking artists and, in 2005, the Heavy Metal Music Association of Canada. She takes her role as CEO/Chairperson seriously, not only to fulfill the dream of H.M.M.A.C.’s founder, but to ensure that heavy rock and metal music is given the same respect as other mainstream genres in the industry.

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Michelle Ayoub

> Quebecoise born and raised
> Co-owner Dungeon Works Productions in Montreal (or Vice-president, whatever you feel has the best ring)
> Event coordination H.M.M.A.C.
> Professional Body Piercer (Slick Styled Steel)
> Former videographer/editor with work having screened at or featured in several festivals and publications (including Fantasia International Film Festival & Sick Drummer Magazine)
> Bachelor Degree from Concordia University in Communications, Specialization in Video Production
> Former DJ – CJLO; Music Director/DJ – CIXS The Edge as well as live DJ and MC spot (ongoing)
> Been working with bands (booking, management, street team organization, roadie, tech, etc) for about ten years
> Appeared on Urban Alien’s album Trui3 & Neuraxis’ album Asylon

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With degrees in international business and journalism, Barbara Pavone is heavily involved in the music industry as a writer and photographer for a number of magazines, including Skin Deep and Xalt, and is a publicist/radio promoter for Asher Media Relations, in addition to being a part of the Heavy Metal Music Association of Canada (H.M.M.A.C.). She is always happy to answer questions about music, tattoos and why half of her hair seems to always be missing.

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To get in touch with the H.M.M.A.C., email them at hmmacanada@gmail.com or get in touch on Facebook or Twitter!