She eats it, breathes it, sleeps with it, hugs it, cries with it, and rocks out to it. She says it’s her version of crack.
It’s no shock, then, that this is the very person who founded the country’s most important music awards – the Toronto Independent Music Awards (TIMAs).
As founder and executive producer, Oliva literally runs the show – and she does that from Southern California, where she’s a third-year law student, focusing on entertainment, copyright law, and intellectual property.
In a few words, the TIMAs are an award show system designed to showcase talent from independent musicians (mostly) across Canada.
“They bring the community together and connect the industry with new and upcoming bands,” Oliva says of the awards.
Even when the awards wrap, Oliva and her dedicated, Toronto-based staff help artists with everything from booking gigs to applying for government grants.
“Education is key,” she says. “We try to put the tools in their hands.”
Oliva isn’t new to the music scene. As a young teen, she moon-lighted with ‘street teams’, doing grassroots guerilla promotions for indie record labels, like SUB POP Records, Kill Rock Stars, Sudden Death Records, and Fearless Records. One of the labels she promoted for liked her so much that they sent her to the American Music Awards as a thank you. And that’s where the idea for the TIMAs sparked.
“I liked the idea of an awards show model, but thought it was silly to have award shows for artists that already have some semblance of success,” she says.
“Then I thought, let’s put together an independent award show for independent bands and find them the tools they need to succeed.”
With the help of her friends in the industry, the TIMAs were born.
“I think a lot of people just saw my passion and excitement – they would get excited too and do what they could to help,” Oliva says.
“I was young and cute then, I’m sure that helped. Now I’m 24 and an adult . . . I need to find a small child mascot.”
Now, the TIMAs have morphed from their humble beginnings into a bi-annual awards show and showcase series, and have swelled to over 20 recorded categories, three live categories, and over $60,000 in prizes.
For the main award show – the TIMAs – bands and artists submit two songs for the recorded material categories, where they can apply for as many genres as they think their music is applicable. After a two-stage, completely blind judging process five songs are chosen for each genre category.
TIMA winners get over $60,000 in prizes – everything from promotion to studio time. Winners also get the chance to perform at the following year’s TIMA award show.
The nomination process for the showcase component takes place over two years. The Home and Native Sound Series (HNSS) take the role of the three live categories: acoustic, electric, and urban.
The showcases run every other Sunday at Clinton’s Tavern in Toronto. They’re attended by industry experts, who judge each act. The winners receive $15,000 in prizes, and also get to perform at the award show.
This year marks the first time that the TIMAs’ grand jury has been revealed. The HNSS has a new home at Clinton’s Tavern, and Oliva’s working on booking a mystery headliner for the awards show.
So, where are the TIMAs heading next?
“UP!” Oliva says.
And we totally agree.
+ + +
Daniela’s Favourite TIMA Moment:
I have a lot of daily little proud moments.
I love when musicians email me back and say things like, ‘I met so-and-so at one of your events and they helped me produce a music video!’ Or even, ‘thanks for coming to my show.’
One really cool memorable moment from TIMA 2009 – 2010 is: a week before the award show I was walking downtown [Toronto] with our Executive Administrator [Crystal Morris]. We walked down the steps of Museum Station, picked up EYE WEEKLY (R.I.P.) and sat on the subway – like I’ve done since high school. I flipped to the middle fold of EYE WEEKLY to the concert chart to see what’s going on – my typical weekly ritual and . . . . BAM!
The Toronto Independent Music Awards were listed right at the top under “Best Bets – If you only go to five shows this week . . . .” sandwiched between the concert listing for Black Mountain and Four Corners. I even remember the last line of the paragraph – “Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of [any of the bands] yet – you will.”
It just felt really good. I’ll never forget that moment.
Daniela’s Tips TIMA Success:
Emotion and passion, an indication of raw talent, and a personality or signature sound.
I like musicians that have their own style, especially when they don’t recognize that they have their own style yet.
Daniela’s Musical Preferences and Top Listened-To Songs:
I love all kinds of music – literally all kinds! I can’t say that I really like one genre, but I’ve always been passionate about Punk / ’77 Punk and anything Lo-Fi. My favourite band is The Distillers.
I really do listen to everything, though. Right now, my top listened-to songs are:
‘East Harlem’ – by Beirut
‘Dance, Dance, Dance’ – by Lykke Li
‘Lover’s Spit’ – by Broken Social Scene (Redux)
‘She Said, She Said’ – by The Black Keys
‘No Sleep’ – by Wiz Khalifa
‘I was a Pre-Teen McCarthyist’ – by Propagandhi
‘Baby’ – by Warpaint
‘Big Fat Bass’ – by Britney Spears
and a badass live cover of ‘Your Love (The Outsiders)’ – by Bon Iver