PROFILE Andre Kaden Black By Andrew King A ndre Kaden Black considers himself lucky to be able to guide talented artists and musicians to success in one of the most difficult industries to find it. “I’m constantly reminded of the people who saw potential in me as a young artist trying to fol- low my dreams and aspirations,” he says, “and love being able to pay that forward.” Black has encountered many of those types of figures throughout his varied music career thus far. Born in Hamilton, ON and raised between Negril, Jamaica and several communities in Canada, Black recalls that, following his parents’ divorce, “There were times at home that weren’t great and times that were downright awful.” He found solace in music as a teenager, totally immersing himself in Hamilton and Burlington’s thriving scenes and observing and learning from those around him. “Music was essentially a safe escape for me grow- ing up,” he says candidly. “I don’t know who I would be if it hadn’t been for my challeng- ing upbringing. The hardship has definitely played a large role in making me who I am that nothing else ever could – in a very posi- tive and constructive way.” At 16, he auditioned for an established band with more experienced musicians. “Less than a year later, we signed with the prestigious Chris Smith Management agency that led to heavy artist development. Balanc- ing school and a tight touring and recording schedule, being at home became an increas- ingly rare occurrence.” He spent the majority of his 20s touring globally with various major label bands, in- cluding the likes of Alicia Keys, One Republic, Jason Mraz, and Simple Plan. Following his stint performing with platinum-selling Cana- dian artist Fefe Dobson in 2009, though, he started shifting his focus towards music pro- duction, songwriting, and artist development. Joining an elite group of peers like Drake’s main collaborator, Noah “40” Shebib, and artist/producer Saukrates, he benefitted from the direct mentorship of Noel “Gadget” Campbell, with whom he worked closely developing new artists for Chris Smith Man- agement’s 21 Entertainment Group imprint. Next, he joined forces with songwriter Frankie Whyte and Our Lady Peace bassist Duncan Coutts to form a writing team that collaborates regularly with Sony/ATV Music Publishing Canada – an arrangement that continues to this day. He’s also been working alongside friend and fellow producer/mix engineer Tal “Dr. V” Vaisman of late, output- ting nearly 20 records and dozens of singles while propelling artists along in their careers. Boasting such a varied career and list of accomplishments, Black has no shortage of professional highlights to share from over the years. Arguably the most significant, though, is also one of the most recent: his trip to London for sessions at the iconic Abbey Road Studios with Ontario rock outfit IOV (as chronicled in the October 2017 issue of Professional Sound). “What really keeps me interested in and enthusiastic about my career are the incred- ibly talented people I’m fortunate to work alongside,” he says, sharing some credit. “Surrounding myself with likeminded, posi- tive people is very important to me and the work we put out.” Black currently resides in Toronto’s Distill- ery District with his fiancée, Elizabeth April. While work takes up the majority of both of their time, when they’re off the clock and together, they like to keep active. “Whether it’s snowboarding, hiking, or yoga, physical Andrew King is the Editor-in-Chief of Professional Sound. 20 PROFESSIONAL SOUND activity is important to both of us,” he says. “I’m also a big fan of basketball and follow the NBA closely each season.” The two also have their hands full with wedding planning, expecting to tie the knot sometime in 2019. When he finds mental stimulation is at its peak, he strives to keep his chakras aligned by practicing meditation – ideally every other day. So far, maintaining a positive attitude and optimistic outlook has been critical to his success in the studio and the music industry in general. While that can sometimes be a challenge, often, all he has to do is remind himself that he’s lucky enough to get to cre- ate and enhance art for a living. And while he enjoys collaborating closely with specific artists, helping them along to the next stages of their careers, lately, he’s also relished in the opportunity to share his knowledge with a wider range of budding musicians and industry professionals at conferences and workshops. “To me, it’s less about calculating an an- swer and more about exploring a feeling or overall vibration,” he says about his approach to his work. “I’m privileged to help other fel- low songwriters and musicians follow their passion on their path to success.” Call it a matter of returning the favour.