TOP 12 ARTIST - Local musician Ryan Langlois was selected for the top 12 in this year’s Project WILD. photo submitted

Local artist Ryan Langlois in Project WILD’s Top 12

Project WILD is designed to kick-start international careers of three emerging Alberta artists annually

Ryan Langlois, who currently resides in Red Deer is in this year’s Top 12 artists for Project WILD.

“It was quite a surprise. I was sitting at an open mic night with a buddy of mine who was turning 40 that day, so we were singing a few tunes and I checked Twitter and boom – it was there,” said Langlois, adding that it feels amazing to be selected.

Administered by Alberta Music and funded through WILD 953, Project WILD is part of a seven year, $4.9 million program designed to kick-start the international music careers of three emerging Alberta artists annually.

“They perform showcases and accept industry challenges that will help further their career development. For example they have to put together an EPK, and they have to partner with a charity and do a performance and raise money for that, or they have to update their web site or they have to film videos or complete a range of industry challenges,” said Joelle May, publicist for ModMay Promotions.

The artists will also participate in a week-long music industry boot camp in southeastern B.C. in August where all the top 12 artists will go and have songwriting competitions, partner up and write songs together.

“Basically it’s just all aspects of career development for all these artists who make the top 12. Each of them receives a $5,000 reward just for making the top 12, which they can invest into their careers and through grading on the educational criteria plus public votes and such. That is how the winner gets determined in the end,” she said.

Once all the top 12 artists have done showcasing which happens in fall, the list of artists selected will go down to a top three.

Once the top three are determined it then goes to a public vote and they have a finale concert where all the top three artists perform and the first, second and third places are announced at the end of that.

Originally from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Langlois said it’s an incredible opportunity for artists. As a member of Alberta Music, Langlois said he first saw the link through them about Project WILD.

“It was a pretty extensive application process. They take it seriously, which is really good,” he said, adding that he had to submit a video, essay, songs and information.

Langlois said he was a late bloomer when it came to entering the world of music, getting into it in his early 20s, but never as a young child. “My dad played guitar a little bit and we listened to a ton of music, but never played,” he said.

He got his start when he and his wife were at church. He had seen a guy singing and turned to his wife saying he wanted to give it a try.

“She actually went to that guy and said, ‘Hey, you know my husband really would love to take some guitar lessons. I wonder if you would teach him a few things,’ and in exchange she designed some business cards for him and we started meeting up, and that’s the original story.”

The singer taught Langlois four chords and gave him a capo, and he was off to the races.

It was in Cold Lake where he got his feet wet in his first open mic night. He then moved to Red Deer about eight years ago and just finished releasing his first solo record called Light >Dark.

The record was recorded in Red Deer with a local studio Melodias Design and producer Heath West.

Many might know Langlois from his days with the band BoomChucka Boys. The band is no longer together, and Langlois said he’s taking it a bit slow, operating as an independent. And the album he said captures a moment in time.

“The last couple of years have been pretty tough for me personally just from a health and wellness standpoint, and it was tough breaking up with the band because we really had some quite good success so it took a while to process that.”

He said the record acted as a bit of therapy in being honest and upfront about what was happening in his life, and what’s happening now. “The inspiration came from that idea of just being honest and being open about what’s going on in your life and that you’re never alone.”

Besides his busy schedules with Project WILD, Langlois said he will be taking the opportunities that come, taking it all step by step. His album will be available on iTunes and on his web site ryandlangloismusic.com.

This year marks the second year for Project WILD.

For the two years prior to the last, the program was known as the PEAK Performance Project which also ran as a program in B.C. for seven years. Project WILD will run in Alberta for the next three years.