George Kalivas Steps Down as Head of A&R at Warner Music Canada to Start SWING

The new Toronto-based management company is starting with Victoria, B.C. funk upstart Diamond Cafe, who signed to the major label in January.

George Kalivas

George Kalivas

Tristan Laughton

It was just a few months ago that Billboard Canada announced the signing of buzzy Victoria artist to watch Diamond Cafe to Warner Music Canada. Now, George Kalivas, the man who signed him, is breaking off on his own to manage him — and building a whole new company around him.

SWING is launching as a Toronto-based management company with Diamond Cafe as its first artist, though Kalivas says the eventual plan is to "evolve into a full-service record label in no time." Kalivas says he has a couple of "silent partners," but he's the face of SWING — a face you might recognize if you've seen The Pizza City You've Never Heard Of, a documentary about Windsor, Ontario's pizza scene that he executive produced and starred in.


"I've kind of done it all in the industry," Kalivas says. "But starting my own thing, that's something I've been thinking about this since I was 16 years old."

Kalivas, clearly, is willing to step outside the usual industry roles, and that's something that he says led him to SWING. He started in marketing at Warner Canada seven years ago, handling domestic artists signed to the label and international releases signed to subsidiaries like Atlantic and 300. That included artists like Jack Harlow, Roddy Ricch and A Boogie Wit da Hoodie. But he had "one foot in A&R," he says, which became official two years ago when Kristen Burke became label president.

His first signing was Crash Adams, a Canadian pop duo known for viral TikTok trends. After the joint launch of 91 North Records by Warner Canada and Warner India, Kalivas helped sign the second artist to the label, AR Paisley. A long-simmering Canadian rapper, Paisley hit the top 10 of the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 this year with "Drippy," a collaboration with the late Punjabi-Canadian superstar Sidhu Moose Wala.


But it was Diamond Cafe that made him realize the time was right to strike off on his own, Kalivas says.

"I haven't seen a triple threat artist like him — writer, performer and producer — in 15 years," he says. "He's next level."

Diamond Cafe returns the praise and says, "the passion [Kalivas] has for every project he believes in is so contagious it makes every artist he encounters inspired to the fullest.”

After early years as a DIY independent artist, Diamond Cafe became known in the "creative circle" in L.A., says Kalivas, and brained word of mouth as a bubbling behind-the-scenes hitmaker as a writer and producer. When he also started selling out shows, it became clear he was a potential star in his own right.

After signing to Warner, he was named as a breakthrough artist to watch by Amazon Music Canada and is now about to hit the festival circuit (today he was announced as a performer for FEQ in Quebec City). "He has massive collaborations coming out with huge artists, huge producers. He's also writing for top-tier artists right now," teases Kalivas.

As publishing and song catalogues become a major money-maker in the music industry, artists like Diamond Cafe who can work both in front of and behind the scenes are getting scouted heavily.


For SWING, it's enough to structure a whole new entity around.

"This is going to provide 360 degrees of support on his career, everything, from his music, content, creative, his vision, brand partnerships," Kalivas says.

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Burton Cummings

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