My Whistle Stop Tour of TIFF and the Canadian Music Café

Carmen Montanez-Callan headed over to this year’s Canadian Music Café and TIFF to check out all the latest and greatest of film and media.

By Carmen Montanez-Callan

The Canadian Music Café capitalizes on the international attention placed on Toronto during the Toronto International Film Festival®. Every year they bring the very best in new Canadian music to the ears of film and television music supervisors and the filmed media community gathering at TIFF.

Music Supervisor, Carmen Montanez-Callan headed over this year to check out all the latest and greatest of film and media. She’s kindly given us some highlights from the trip on both the film and music side as well as an entertaining insight into festival life in her whistle top tour below!

TIFF Highlight

Life Itself

Music Supervisor: Season Kent

Canadian Music Café Highlight – Day 1


Signed to One Little Indian.

Canadian Music Café Highlight – Day 2


Signed to Audiogram.

My Whistle Stop Tour of TIFF and the Canadian Music Café

Sunday 9th September


Wake up in Canada, confused & jet lagged. 

Sometime later that morning…

Luck out and get into the IMAX screening of ‘Life Itself.’ Written and directed by Dan Fogelman, the creator of ‘This Is Us.’ 

This is my TIFF film highlight. Also, the saddest film. Such a clever interweaving of stories through multiple separate lifetimes and countries. 100% recommended. 


Run to the next film on my list, a Korean Sci-Fi. Realise I’ve accidentally been admitted into a private screening with a tiny screen and tiny audience. I shouldn’t be here. Sneak out at my first opportunity – behind the other people sneaking out. 


Walk around Festival Village like a zombie, insane with jet lag. Get shouted at for unknowingly walking across a red carpet in front of a camera. What is WRONG with me?

Can’t find any WIFI anywhere in the whole of Toronto.. repeatedly receive alerts from my phone provider about the vast amounts of money I’m spending using maps and Google. 

For the rest of the afternoon…

Fail to get into my first choice of film screening. Join queue for next film. Fail to get in again. Join random queue determined to watch something, anything. No idea what it’s for but excited for a surprise. Make it in. High five myself. See one well weird film called ‘Manta Ray’ with great lighting. I’ve never said “this is so weird” so many times to myself through one film. I loved it. 


Stumble home (hotel room), take some pics out of the window, fall asleep.  

Monday 10th September

Day 1 of the Canadian Music Café


Wake up confused. 

Apply make-up to tiny, red eyes. 


Rush out of hotel into freezing cold, sideways rain. Realise I’ve left warm clothes in room. Too late to go back. Battle with wind and umbrella. Get lost. Finally find my way to the 35th floor of a very important looking building. Enter room. Knock glass over. Smash glass. Introduce myself. 


Begin exciting round table / speed dating session. Repeat the same brief over and over again, as fast as I possibly can for each table before the bell goes. 


Stuff my face whilst conversing with the excellent Michael Hill. 

Photo Shoot

Star struck, I introduce myself to Morgan Rhodes of ‘Selma’ and ‘Dear White People’ fame. Awkwardly shake her hand. She insists all the short people stand at the back for the group photo and the long dogs kneel at the front. High five! 


Make our way to the café for a brilliant afternoon of top shelf Canadian music. A real cross-section of styles and genres from Canada. There was pretty much something for everyone to love here. 

My Canadian Music Café performance highlight was FOXTROTT. A real standout artist and one to watch. This one-lady show makes beautiful, healing, electronic music with a super broad background of musical influences. Her honest lyrics and soothing vocals made for a really special experience. FOXTROTT is signed to One Little Indian.

A wonderful day and evening spent with the lovely organisers, friendly Canadian music industry members and some of the best music supervisors around. I came away feeling excited, enthused and enlightened about Canadian music and looking forward to the next day. 

Tuesday 11th September


Wake up. Pack. Check out.


Find my way to brunch (I hate that word) with Amy Eligh of Arts & Crafts. A true die-hard music lover and long time TV sync expert. Her catalogue is solid and she is cool. 


Day 2 of the Canadian Music Café

Another day of world-class Canadian live bands and good people. 

My Canadian Music Café performance highlight from Day 2, is HAVIAH MIGHTY.

This rapper’s performance was explosive and her flow fierce! She champions female empowerment and proves lyrical ability has nothing to do with gender. This is another one to watch, for sure. 


Leg it to the airport for my flight home. Buy some maple syrup and a fridge magnet. 


Take my seat on the flight and realise I have a full row to myself. High five! Watch two films. Lie down, stretch out and repeatedly whisper under my breath, “I’m so lucky. I’m so lucky.” Go to sleep. 

6.30 (UK time)

Land back in London. Feel as if I hadn’t slept at all. 

Crawl back home. Fall asleep until 3pm. Spend the rest of the week walking around like a zombie, insane with jet lag. Make a deal with myself never to red-eye ever again. Feel happy and excited about my adventures and new findings. 

I’m very grateful to Michael, Dondrea, Mikaila and Kim for organising such a stand out event. Thank you.

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