Love at First Listen with Shawn Austin

Shawn Austin Interview

We all have those artists and songs we hear that strike the right chord and make us fall in love at first listen. They’re the reason we refresh social media pages, tour schedules, and Spotify profiles — because we can’t miss a single release. This is Love at First Listen — a new series introducing you to the emerging, and established, artists with new music guaranteed to upgrade your playlist.

Haven’t you heard? Canadian country artist Shawn Austin is the “talk of the town.” With 27 million collective streams and a Rising Star nomination from the Canadian Country Music Association under his belt, Shawn is ready to take over even more country hearts with new music out this week. Timed for the end of his stint as an opener on Dallas Smith’s mega-bill Some Things Never Change tour, the rising star’s new EP, ‘Planes Don’t Wait,’ has the perfect laid-back country vibe we all need this summer—so grab your cowboy hat and drink of choice because it’s time to party.

For our latest Love at First Listen feature, I caught up with Shawn hours after the EP dropped to capture his release week emotions, favourite full circle moments, and love for live music (which is finally back in *full* force!).

How does it feel to have ‘Planes Don’t Wait’ out in the world, just in time for summer?

It’s nice! We’ve been waiting for a long time to get this one out, so it’s nice that after almost two and a half years of working on it the world’s ears can finally listen to it. We probably had a little over 200 songs, but I made sure that we were getting tracks that would really fit who I am as an artist right now and kind of give a sneak peek on what I want to do next. I couldn’t be happier with how it all came out.

The EP features “Tailgate to Heaven,” your 2021 hit with Chris Lane and fastest charting and climbing single to date. Did you have any idea that song would garner so much fanfare?

When you put out a single, you kind of go, OK, I think I might have something here, and you hope for the best, but you never think it’s going to do stuff like that. It just means that people are clicking with the song the same way I clicked with it. It felt like a full circle moment because I’ve always been a big fan of Chris and I had a chance to tour with him in 2018. We were going to do a different song but then he heard this track and asked to be on it. It was one of the easiest yes’s I’ve given, and he’s gone from a guy that I’ve been a fan of, to a labelmate, to a buddy now. It’s pretty fantastic.

The EP’s title track, “Planes Don’t Wait,” was co-written by Brian Kelley from Florida Georgia Line. Did you have that song before your appearance on NBC’s Songland or did it come to you after?

It came after, and that’s also a bit of a full circle moment. I mean, it’s FGL. These guys have changed the game and I’ve been fans of them forever, so to have that experience on Songland and talk to them and pitch a song to them was amazing. Then, fast forward about a year later, having BK on a song and trusting me with it is unreal. I loved the track from first listen. It’s one of those tracks where you’re like, I wish I wrote that.

You’re coming off a cross-country tour with Dallas Smith. What will you be taking away from performing with such an eclectic mix of fellow country stars including Manny Blu and JoJo Mason?

The last time I did a tour like this was also with Dallas in 2017. I was so new at the time, so this tour I didn’t feel like the annoying little brother going, “Hey! What do I do?!” Just taking the stage more, I feel like I’ve grown a lot. The country community is so strong that you never have a bad time with anybody, but this crew is special and it’s been nice to spend six weeks together and see everyone killing it again on stage.

Now that you’ve had time to test them out, what is your favourite song off ‘Planes Don’t Wait’ to perform live?

We’ve been playing “Somewhere in Austin” and it was really fun to see people get the first listen. “Tailgate to Heaven” has also been incredible, quite simply because when you have people singing back to you it’s…I don’t know words big enough to describe how amazing it is. Seeing the excitement of people hearing live music again makes you really confident and hopeful that the future’s going to be strong.

Your summer performance lineup includes stops at festivals like the Big Valley Jamboree and Calgary Stampede. If you were booking your own Shawn Austin summer music festival, who would be your dream co-headliners?

Oh gees… Everybody on this tour! Andrew Hyatt and I have been buddies for a long time, so I feel like he’d always be a blast to be with. I would spend every show I could with JoJo (Mason). Dallas (Smith) is my guy. He’s effectively been that guy that’s made sure I haven’t made the mistakes that I probably should have as a new artist and it’s been amazing working with him through all these years. If I go to the people I haven’t met, I’m a huge Maren Morris fan, I’m a huge Thomas Rhett fan… I mean, it’d be a privilege to headline with anybody. Touring is an amazing thing and I just can’t wait to get back on another one!

Are there any other projects you have coming up that you’d like to tease?

Expect a lot more! We’re already working on the next project. We don’t know what it looks like yet, but I think my goal for the next 18 months is going to be music, music, music, putting out as much as we possibly can. The festival season is going to be strong. We’re talking about a couple of things for the fall that might happen I hope they do which would give another chance for more live music, if you get what I’m saying. There’s a lot of plans in the works right now and I’m excited and just trying to keep up with it all because I think we came out of the gates like wildfire now that we can do everything again. I’m just excited for the future.

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Love at First Listen with Manny Blu

Manny Blu Interview

We all have those artists and songs we hear that strike the right chord and make us fall in love at first listen. They’re the reason we refresh social media pages, tour schedules, and Spotify profiles — because we can’t miss a single release. This is Love at First Listen — a new series introducing you to the emerging, and established, artists with new music guaranteed to upgrade your playlist.

A little bit of country, a dash of punk, and a whole lot of heart — Manny Blu has the total package. With over one million global music streams and features on CMT and some of the biggest playlists in country music, the rising Canadian country singer, who’s also a familiar face in the Nashville music scene, has seamlessly transitioned from being a trained MMA fighter, to an emerging country singer, to a full-fledged country punk star.

Fresh off the success of two 2021 EPs, Manny is the definition of booked and busy and has a lot for fans to be excited about, including a stellar addition to their concert calendar. In addition to working on his upcoming full-length album, Manny is living out his dream and joining fellow Canadian country rocker Dallas Smith—alongside a star-studded lineup in James Barker Band, Meghan Patrick, Jojo Mason, Shawn Austin, and Kelly Prescott—on an epic Canadian tour to kick off the summer concert season.

For your latest Love at First Listen introduction, I caught up with Manny at the start of his cross-country trek to talk all things ‘Country Punk,’ his love for Travis Barker and Mod Sun, and surprise airport bearhugs.

You released a new EP titled ‘Country Punk’ on December 31st and now 2022 has been nothing but a complete whirlwind for you. The world’s opening back up and you’re reaching new audiences. Fill us in on how this all started!

I wanted to co-produce and steer a ship into exactly what I had sonically in my head, and that was the ‘Country Punk’ EP. I was tired of being called too loud for country and too country for rock, and there had been a growing space for taking the concepts of country and the storytelling approach to songwriting and making it whatever you want it to be.

When Machine Gun Kelly put out ‘Tickets to My Downfall,’ I fell in love with that entire record. I was going back and forth with my manager and I was like, ‘Maybe we can add a little bit of this sound to ‘DEViL’ (the first EP),’ but it was too late and we had to hold off for the next project. I said, ‘Alright, let’s make the next one now and put out two in a year.’ To me, country punk is more of a vibe and a feeling than it really is a genre. I don’t feel like I’m reinventing the wheel in any way, but this is who I am, this is what I like, and I don’t feel like I have to choose between genres or sounds.

How did the Country Punk catchphrase come to be?

My manager used to say Punk Country, but I thought Country Punk might sound cooler. I was wearing a pink hat at the time and I said, ‘Why don’t we just make pink Country Punk hats?’ And it worked out well! Also, it originally started when I came to Nashville and thought pop country was country. That’s what all my friends were listening to and I wanted to make music that my friends liked, and as I started discovering more I realized that I’d always loved blues and rock and roll and I felt like we could blend the two together in some way. Obviously, there’s always going to be the traditional country sound, which I think is important, but it would be inauthentic for me to be doing that. I have a buddy who loves ‘90s country and he does his thing, and the two of us see country music so differently but also vibe with each other’s music in such a funny way.

If someone searches for Country Punk on a streaming service, you’re the first artist that pops up. Have you heard from any country or punk fans who developed a new appreciation for the other genre with your EP?

When we started saying Country Punk, we had a little moment on TikTok and people were telling me, ‘I love metal and I’ve got purple hair, but I work on my family’s farm in the day and go to metal shows at night, so finally my two worlds are blending together.’ I don’t know if my music is necessarily for any hardcore, traditional fans of either of the genres, but I think it’s a fun blend of the two. I also don’t take it that seriously; it is whatever you want it to be. A lot of people are calling it “y’allternative,” I call it country punk, but people are vibing with it and feel like they’re finally being seen. So, if I can be part of that then that’s the whole point really.

If you were to do a remix of one of the tracks on this EP featuring another artist who you think embodies the Country Punk personality, which song would it be and who would it feature? Let’s manifest this!

Oh man, there are so many! There’s a girl here in Nashville, Charlotte Sands, who’s popping off in the alt-rock space, and then you’ve got the big guys. “95” on the ‘Country Punk’ EP has some complex drum things going on, so I would love to see how Travis Barker could do it even bigger. Mod Sun’s a drummer too, so even him playing drums and belting some vocals would be really cool. I mean, they can listen to all the songs and pick whichever they would prefer really! And why not, let’s get them both on a track!

You’re officially back out on the road opening for Dallas Smith across Canada on his Some Things Never Change tour. What are you most excited about, having gone so long without being able to perform for your fans?

All of it! Literally all of it. I had met or at least had some type of conversation with almost everyone on the tour, especially around the Canadian Country Music Awards (CCMAs). I met Dallas Smith a couple of years ago. I ran into James Barker Band at the airport going to the CCMAs, and Jojo Mason also walked up to me and gave me a hug. I was looking somewhere else and just got bearhugged. I looked up and it was Jojo and he said he couldn’t wait to be on tour. I went to see Meghan Patrick here too in Nashville and after she was done I went to say what’s up, she gave me a hug and was super cool, so the vibe already felt like it was going to be really exciting, really friendly, and just super supportive of one another. These are also going to be the biggest stages I’ve ever played on, so I’m just looking forward to that new experience.

This tour is also like a festival every night. There are so many amazing artists all doing sort of different things, but you can get all the stuff you love as a music consumer in one night and just go down the list of everybody on the bill and see that it’s incredible.

Pictured above: Manny Blu with Kelly Prescott and Jojo Mason backstage at a tour stop.

How does your Country Punk energy translate to the live stage?

I think it’s just me being me. I love performing and my main focus has always been live shows, so I can’t wait to be able to give that experience to more people at once. The country punk energy just comes with the songs, and hopefully people can sing along and we can all party together. I’m also just looking forward to actually playing shows consecutively. The one-offs are fine, but once you get on tour and you’re doing it almost every night, it becomes this really fun rhythm of like, ‘Hey, this is what we’re doing for this period of time and all that matters right now is making these shows the best we possibly can.’ That’s super exciting for me.

After years of playing shows, what are some of your current tour essentials?

Water, Bud Light, and coffee are on the top of the list. Other than that, we’ve always been treated very well and I think it’s making sure I don’t get too into the shows where I start yelling along to everyone’s songs and screw myself for the next day. The biggest thing in my head is just to make sure that I keep my voice where it needs to be.

As a music fan yourself, do you have an all-time favourite concert memory?

Boots and Hearts Music Festival in 2018. I don’t remember much of it, but I remember I was there! I was with a bunch of buddies and we had a really good weekend, from what I’m told. Actually, we saw James Barker Band play that year, which is really crazy to be now sharing the stage with them on tour, so I’m really happy about that.

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Love at First Listen with SACHA

SACHA Artist Interview

We all have those artists and songs we hear that strike the right chord and make us fall in love at first listen. They’re the reason we refresh social media pages, tour schedules, and Spotify profiles — because we can’t miss a single release. This is Love at First Listen — a new series introducing you to the emerging, and established, artists with new music guaranteed to upgrade your playlist.

Emerging Canadian country artist SACHA may be a one-name wonder, but she’s far from a one-hit wonder. If she’s not already dominating your playlist, you’re guaranteed to fall in love at first listen with her fabulous and fierce sound, which has already earned her the titles of iHeartRadio Future Star, Spotify RADAR Canada Artist, and Amazon Music’s Breakthrough Artist of the Month. Possibly best of all, she’s also already landed a viral TikTok hit, “What the Truck,” with fellow Canuck country rockers The Reklaws, which became the most-streamed Canadian country song during a one-week period and the fastest-ever Canadian country song to go gold in the streaming era.

In my new interview with this rapidly rising star, see what SACHA had to say about new music, new milestones, and her future plans, including an upcoming tour with Maddie & Tae.

Let’s talk about your newly released sophomore EP, ‘We Did.’ What does that title represent to you?

‘We Did’ brings back the feeling of the initial stages of falling in love and all the emotions involved with that. The EP itself goes into a few different thematic scenes from falling in love, to developing self-confidence, to thinking ‘sorry, I’m not so sorry’ on “I Wanted Wine,” and then telling yourself, ‘Life is short, so what the truck.’ It’s a roller coaster of things, but it also opens the door for me to get a little bit more vulnerable and to share some different aspects of my story.

Was it hard to pick a ‘Top 4’ for the final tracklist?

This was an interesting process and kind of a last-minute process as well. I have been writing a lot, but these songs actually ended up on the table through my management. Knowing me so well, they were able to matchmake me with these songs that definitely resonate the most with who I am and tell my story the best. I flew to Nashville one day and I flew out the next, and I got these songs done, and the EP came out a couple months later.

This EP is the follow-up to your last project ‘The Best Thing,’ which was released right at the start of the pandemic. How would you say your sound and songwriting style have evolved over the past two years?

My sound is continually evolving. From the last EP to this EP, I’m glad that we got to tap into a little bit more of the country elements sonically. I love the title track of this EP, “We Did,” because it reminds me of Taylor Swift’s nostalgic kind of feel and I’m a huge Taylor Swift fan. So, when I first heard that song I was like, ‘This is making me feel everything I felt when I heard “Love Story.”’ And that’s what I’m hoping people will feel when they hear “We Did.”

How did your collaboration with The Reklaws come to life?

That was a TikTok thing! They put up a TikTok inviting their fans and audience to come and join on this song and I think it was already almost at one million views when I was just like, ‘You know what, what the truck? Let me just do a TikTok!’ I had no idea that it would lead to any of this. I was just trying to get more active on TikTok and I love The Reklaws, then I get a DM from Jenna saying, ‘Hey, we love what you did and we want you to be part of the song.’ I’m like, ‘Is this a joke?’ And she’s like, ‘lol no, it’s not a joke.’ Before you know it, I’m in a studio, then I’m shooting the music video, then I’m at Calgary Stampede and Budweiser Stage and the CCMAs, then I got a gold plaque for having the fastest streaming country song in Canadian history. It was crazy!

With all your success to date, you’ve proven to be a force to be reckoned with. Have you had one standout “pinch me” moment amidst all the mayhem, and how do you continue dreaming big and setting new goals for yourself?

Seeing yourself on a Spotify billboard is incredible and it’s literally everything that I’ve ever dreamed of and more. Another thing that was huge was being part of CMT’s Next Women of Country program. That was a big-time “pinch me” moment because I’ve been admiring how they champion women in country music for so long, so to find myself among that class has just been a huge door opener. There’s a lot of stuff that’s happened over that period of time where I don’t think it’s really fully settled in yet. Looking ahead, there are still things that I have yet to accomplish like going on tour with Taylor Swift, having number one at radio, and maybe winning a few awards.

You’re also being called one of country music’s fastest rising stars. How does that make you feel, and is there one thing you wish you knew at the start of this process that you can pass along to other up-and-comers?

It’s funny because I’ve been in this game for a long time. I grew up in a musical household and my parents were in a band, so music was 100,000% ever present. Although it seems like I’m fast rising, I had many opportunities to give up or doubt myself, but I just kept going. I continued to believe and just stay true to my conviction and this call that I have with my love for music. So, being called a fastest rising star is an honour, but make no mistake — it hasn’t happened overnight. For anybody that has a dream or is like, ‘This isn’t happening fast enough,’ just give it time. Timing is everything and it could be a while, but just believe anything is possible.

As one of CMT’s Next Women of Country 2021 Class members, you’ll be heading out on the road with Maddie & Tae later this year. What can fans expect from your live show?

People can just expect to have a good time, have fun, and get to know me more. I’m looking forward to performing “We Did” because I love that whole vibe and “If I Wanted Wine” brings the entertainer out of me.

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Love at First Listen with Alyssa Reid

Alyssa Reid Interview

We all have those artists and songs we hear that strike the right chord and make us fall in love at first listen. They’re the reason we refresh social media pages, tour schedules, and Spotify profiles — because we can’t miss a single release. This is Love at First Listen — a new series introducing you to the emerging, and established, artists with new music guaranteed to upgrade your playlist.

Tell all your friends: #ALYSSAREID2022 is in full force. The Toronto-based singer-songwriter you know and love from pop hits like “Alone Again” and “Satisfaction Guaranteed” — and the “face” behind the faceless music project ASHS — has reclaimed her name and released a haunting new single, “Roses,” to kick off a year packed with new music, performances, and surprises ahead.

To commemorate the release, Alyssa is hosting an online raffle raising funds for The LifeLine Canada Foundation, an organization close to her heart, and giving fans a chance to score one of three Moleskine journals filled with lyrics, behind-the-scenes secrets, and space to write, scribble, or get creative. (PSA: You heard it here first — there may be a few more prizes being added to the mix!)

In this edition of Love at First Listen, read firsthand from Alyssa about her “gut-wrenching” new single, IDGAF approach to music, and why she wants to get in the studio with Doja Cat.

At first listen, your new single “Roses” is a total banger, but the lyrics reveal a much more raw, vulnerable perspective about facing your demons. How do you approach being so vulnerable with such a wide audience?

When I sit down to write a song, there isn’t really any intention other than emotional release. When I wrote “Roses,” I was sitting at a piano and it just poured out. It’s funny because once you take that piano song and you have to find a way to make it more marketable, there’s other production factors that come into play. Like you said, it’s a super poppy, fun song but at the core it’s this kind of gut-wrenching, super emo song. When people first hear it, they always tell me, ‘Oh, this is such a vibe,’ and then it takes them a few listens to understand the lyrics and they’re like, ‘Oh shit, wait.’

How did you learn about The LifeLine Canada Foundation and why did you choose to support them with this auction?

I was looking online for mental health resources because I’ve kind of figured out that it is difficult to find them nowadays, especially right now as I feel a lot of people are reaching out for the first time, and I really loved their site. They had personal resources, education tools, and really focus on suicide prevention, which has absolutely skyrocketed the past few years. Most importantly, I loved that the resources were all free. Therapy is very expensive, and for a lot of people it’s inaccessible. I really liked that they were committed to volunteering their time and helping people who can’t necessarily afford to pay $300 a session for therapy.

Fans have a chance to win one of your Moleskine journals, and an artist’s notebook always provides an interesting look into their craft and soul. What does your notebook look like during an album writing cycle?

I’m an ‘everything flows together all at once’ person. I know so many people that like to go on the mic and hum melodies and then try and fill them in later, but I think there’s always something magical in the songs where everything just comes out as one cohesive piece. It almost feels like it was meant to be and I’m just a vessel where the song is going through me and out to people.

Just before you released your latest album in December, you penned a letter to your fans putting your side project ASHS to rest and reclaiming the “Alyssa Reid” name. What made you decide it was time to end the ASHS era and return to your roots?

It just happened naturally. I had taken a little bit of time off over the past five years to really focus on songwriting and creative direction for other people and I really loved it. There were just a few songs that I was writing that felt a little too personal to give away, so we got the idea to do this faceless project on the side. No one was really supposed to know about it, but of course the people that had been following my career got it right away. But there was something really fun about it being faceless. I could just make music that I loved, have so much fun with my band and mess around on stage with the lights completely down, and there was no preconceived idea of what I was supposed to do.

After a handful of songs that were just very uniquely me, keeping it as a separate, private thing felt like I was doing a disservice to those people that had given me their hearts and put me in a position where I could even mess around and do a side project as a career. I decided I didn’t want to lose the attitude and fearlessness that the ASHS project had, so I amalgamated them with the intent that there was going to be a little bit of polish but I was going to keep my ‘I don’t give a fuck’ attitude.

In that letter, you also mentioned your hit single “Alone Again” was celebrating its 10th birthday. Is it insane to think you’ve been in the business for that long and you’re still finding new ways to evolve with that same dedicated fanbase by your side?

It blows my mind. Pop careers are not supposed to last for 10 years. They’re maybe supposed to last for two to four years, so the fact that there are people still supporting, streaming, and caring, I feel really lucky. This is what I love to do and a lot of people that I admire have had to hang up their hats and I don’t know why I’m still here, but I’m eternally grateful for it.

You’ve written for artists like Alessia Cara, Kayla Diamond, and Owen Barney. Is there one artist you’d absolutely love to write for, and how would the song sound?

I love Doja Cat. I love her personality, I love her music, and I love that she always experiments and doesn’t stick to one sound. I find her such a captivating person. I feel like she would be so fun to work with because she would be down to do anything and we could really push boundaries.

Fun question here: Every artist I talk to still gets a rush any time they hear one of their songs on the radio or over the speakers in a store. Where’s the most random or unexpected place you’ve heard one of your songs?

The last one was probably Subway. I was in the middle of an order and I stopped and I was like, “This is my song!” And the man was like, “This is my song too!” I think it was “Satisfaction Guaranteed” and I was like, “No, really, this is my song!” It was this funny little moment we had together, but it was conveniently both of our songs, just in different ways.

You ended one of your last posts of 2021 with the caption “it’s been a minute but WE’RE BACK, BABY!! #ALYSSAREID2022” What exactly can fans look forward to?

All of the music that I’ve been hiding away from everyone for the past five years is finally getting unleashed and now, hopefully, with the world opening back up, we can tour. We’ve already started planning shows, so the second we get the green light we’re going to town.

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Love at First Listen with Alex Porat

Alex Porat Interview

We all have those artists and songs we hear that strike the right chord and make us fall in love at first listen. They’re the reason we refresh social media pages, tour schedules and Spotify profiles — because we can’t miss a single release. This is Love at First Listen — a new series introducing you to the emerging, and established, artists with new music guaranteed to upgrade your playlist.

News flash: it’s Alex Porat’s world, we’re just living in it. With a fresh pop sound and highly-relatable (not to mention viral!) songs about love, life, and exploring your identity, it’s no surprise this 23-year-old, Toronto-based singer-songwriter has quickly attracted over 708,000 monthly listeners on Spotify alongside global critical acclaim.

Last month, Alex gave us exactly what we needed with her repeat-worthy debut album ‘MISS SICK WORLD.’ Songs like “dimension” perfectly capture the feeling of irresistible lust over someone you can’t have, while the sassy “never say ily again” serves as a final farewell to an ex you have no idea why you liked in the first place. 

With a new album comes a new tour and, luckily, fans don’t have to wait long — Alex is days away from heading out on the road with management-mate Ralph for a cross-Canada tour sure to be stopping in a city near you.

Get a behind the scenes look at Alex’s journey as we chat ‘MISS SICK WORLD,’ what you can expect from her live show, and her favourite music releases from 2021.

How does it feel to have ‘MISS SICK WORLD’ out for everyone to hear, and how did you know this was the right time to release your first full body of work?

It feels so great. I’m just about to head on tour with Ralph and I really wanted to perform a project that felt like it represented me as an artist first stepping into the world of live shows. I’m kind of treating it like a first impression or introduction to me as a musician.

What inspired the album title? Does it correlate with any overall narrative or themes the album explores?

The album title came from the track “miss sick world.” I left it last to release because I wanted it to set the overall tone of where I’m at now. The whole project is centred around my life and the story behind “miss sick world” is a commentary on how I’ve grown up navigating my identity. I’ve really struggled with my identity growing up, and it felt right to give such a heavy song it’s own moment on the project.

This era of your career has led to multiple milestones booking a cross-country tour, landing a billboard in Yonge-Dundas Square, and, most recently, reaching one million subscribers on YouTube. What would young Alex Porat, who wrote music and recorded covers in her bedroom, say to the now 23-year-old Alex Porat?

I’m always in disbelief. It still never feels real to me and I always wonder if that feeling is going to stay. I can’t explain how appreciative I am to everyone. I think young Alex would probably ask me how this even all happened. When I was younger, I used to be able to picture myself on stage, singing, and recording music, but I could never picture what it took to get there. It really was just perseverance. Now, I’m realizing there’s still so much more left to accomplish and do. It makes me feel hopeful for the future because I feel like I can do so much more still.

One of your earliest endorsements was from Shawn Mendes, who loved your cover of his song “In My Blood.” Considering Shawn also rose to fame posting covers online, what does it mean to you to be part of the next wave of GTA artists making it big?

It’s an honour to be considered that, so thank you! I’m super proud to be from here and to be a part of the music community here has been so special. Despite there being so much talent, it’s a really tight community and very supportive. It was definitely a special moment for me getting that recognition from Shawn Mendes because it made me feel like a career in music was possible.

You recently said performing live was one of your biggest goals. Now that you’re about to go on tour and bring your songs to life for the first time on stage, which tracks are you most excited to perform?

I’m so excited! I’m definitely still in the process of adding more elements to my performances. I’m really excited for “dimension” because there’s a lot of choreography from the music video that I want to incorporate in some way at some point. I also really love singing “miss sick world,” even though it makes me want to cry.

It’s wild to think that we’re already approaching the end of 2021. Can you share some of the albums that you loved at first listen this year?

‘Happier Than Ever’ by Billie Eilish and ‘MONTERO’ by Lil Nas X. I’m also obsessed with everything Lisa from BLACKPINK does!

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Love at First Listen with Michelle Treacy

Michelle Treacy New Music

We all have those artists and songs we hear that strike the right chord and make us fall in love at first listen. They’re the reason we refresh social media pages, tour schedules and Spotify profiles — because we can’t miss a single release. This is Love at First Listen — a new series introducing you to the emerging, and established, artists with new music guaranteed to upgrade your playlist.

Stop what you’re doing and get ready for one last summer dance party. After a half-year hiatus, Michelle Treacy, the Canadian singer-songwriter who was launched to stardom on CTV’s The Launch, is rocking her way back onto our playlists with her aptly titled EP ‘High Heels in the Moshpit.’ It’s groovy, retro, and everything you could wish for in your next favourite record.

For this edition of Love at First Listen, go behind the scenes of Michelle’s experience releasing the EP as we chat about wacky musical universes, “Aha!” moments, and which artists’ concerts are worthy of wearing high heels in the moshpit.

How does it feel to have ‘High Heels in the Moshpit’ out in the world for everyone to hear (and play on repeat)?

This is the first time I’ve felt happy and sad about putting music out into the world. This is my baby and the first time I am in the exact place I want to be. I love this music and I love the person I have become. This is only just the beginning of this wacky universe. Get ready for more!

We last spoke just under a year ago. How has your sound and approach to music changed since then?

When we last spoke, I decided 2020 would be my year to feel sad and that 2021 would be the comeback year. I have spent my time during quarantine experimenting, crying, getting therapy, eating my feelings, and crying some more… until I finally had an “Aha!” moment where I knew exactly what I needed to do next. I just needed to be fully comfortable as myself and create music that had as big of a personality as I do — and here we are. I have a team of people around me who have believed in me even when I couldn’t see it for myself. I couldn’t have gotten here without them.

You wrote on Instagram that you’ve “never felt so passionate about a project before.” Why do you think that is? Were you able to touch on any subjects you’ve never written about before?

To be honest, my producer had been begging me to dive into this sound for five years. For the first time ever, I truly felt like myself while recording. I didn’t judge myself. I wrote what felt right. There was no agenda other than to have fun. The persona is me, as raw and fun as can be. The main theme is losing inhibitions and resisting the urge to self censor. If I thought a lyric would elicit the reaction “wait…did she really say that?” then we left it in!

You spent release night on a Zoom call with your fans. Why was it important to you to share that special moment with them?

My fans mean everything to me. They’re the reason for everything, which is why celebrating with my biggest supporters is the only way to release a record, even if it means doing it on Zoom. I am forever grateful to have such amazing and unconditional support. 

Now that concerts are slowly coming back, who is the first person you hope to see live wearing your high heels in the moshpit?

I got to see the Arkells live and I CRIED. Being back at a show felt so good. The next concert I’m going to is Finneas and I can’t wait.

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