Welcome to our Spotlight – Elyse Saunders. We got the chance to chat with Elyse about her recently release Wine Down. Elyse also has a live show happening on the date of this article on Facebook. We are super excited to check out. See what Elyse had to say right now!
You have been performing for a while now. How did you get started in music?Was it through friends and family? Was it always in your life?
You’re right – music has always been a part of my life. Since I can remember, I’ve been singing, dancing, writing songs, and creating art. My earlier memories are of my mom singing and writing songs in the kitchen. I would sneak into her guitar bag when she wasn’t looking and pull out her guitar and all of her lyrics. The idea of expressing myself through words and singing was always magical to me and I just kind of did it.
Once I hit my teens, I did some singing competitions as a way to get used to the stage and it wasn’t long after that my dad was forcing me out of my comfort zone and would take me to different music clubs where I could learn what it was like to play with a band and to create those memorable moments up on stage. I remember being underage and he’d get permission for me to hop on stage as a special guest and then we’d have to leave as I wasn’t of age to stick around! Haha.
Not long after that I was fortunate enough to meet one of my very first mentors from my hometown. He was quite connected to the Nashville music scene and a talented songwriter. I learned so much from singing on his demos and learning to sing a song so that it would tell a story. We worked on finding my own unique voice and recorded my very first album in Nashville.
From that point on, I’ve set my bar high for how far I want to go and have been pursuing a career in music ever since. After the success of my first album, I took some time to develop more as a songwriter and entertainer and have really found my place in country music and the messages I want to share!
Who are 3 musical influences you had when you were younger? Comparatively, who are 3 artists you would love to collab with or admire today?
I have a handful of musical influences for many different reasons. Some of my top 3 have always been Shania Twain, Garth Brooks and Martina McBride.
I’m always drawn to big beautiful voices with big messages and stories. I also love entertaining and have learned so much from Shania Twain and Garth Brooks as entertainers. It’s about creating those memorable moments for the fans through shows and songs so that they can walk away feeling better about whatever life situation. It’s the best feeling in the world to be able to connect with an audience through music!
I’d love to collaborate and equally admire these artists: Chris Stapleton, Thomas Rhett and Miranda Lambert!
You grew up in a relatively small town here in Ontario. How do you think that the scene there helped foster and develop your drive, and musical skills?
Yes I did!
Growing up in my hometown helped shaped me as a person and my appreciation for country music and lifestyle. Peterborough and the Kawarthas that surround it are beautiful. I have so many memories of being out in the country visiting my grandma and cousins. Swimming in lakes, camping, four wheeling and partying with friends in the fields. Country music suits me as person, and my roots. My drive and my musical skills have developed within that community as well as other communities with thriving music scenes.
Mississauga also has a big influence on me as a part-time home for me for many years. I would visit my dad there and we’d head to Port Credit, which is full of amazing music and performers and I would learn by having the opportunity to share my music with a community of people who loved live music. Between both places, it shaped who I am and the vast amount of people I was able to connect and learn from. My drive comes from a place of wanting to keep growing and becoming the best version of myself!
What was it like moving to where you are now. How do you think that the experience of moving away from friends and family has helped shape your creativity?
We actually moved around a few times when I was kid. Funny enough, we ended up coming back to my hometown of Peterborough. As mentioned, my part-time home for many years was also within Mississauga since my dad was there and I learned from a young age to adapt to new environments and being open to meeting new people! I have made so many friends and aquaintances through this career. I’ve experienced a lot of changes and growth through my life. From a young age I’ve been able to bring more life experience to my music. I believe that to be a great writer you have to gain that life experience and then be vulnerable enough to share those parts of you!
You just released your newest track “Wine Down”. Tell us a bit about writing it, and what it means to you.
I co-wrote this one a couple of years ago during a songwriting trip to Nashville. A group of us made the road trip to Nashville and during the drive, my friends and co-writer had mentioned the title “Wine Down” and I immediately connected with that one and told him he had to save it for me.
We all went off and did multiple different writes together and outside of each other, and then would hit up the industry hangouts at night. We ran into a friend named Joey Green who ended up going on NBC’s The Voice one year later, and we all agreed that we’d get a co-write in before heading back to Canada. “Wine Down” was the song to be written that day and in a matter of couple of hours it came together, and from that day I knew it was special and that I wanted to recorded and release it.
It took a couple of years as I had to get the right team and finances together but I’m really happy I did, because it’s turning out to be everything that I imagined for the song. I really love the textured lyrics and how classic and soulful it feels. It was important to me that the production and music video would feel the same as what you think of when you imagine wine and that is warm, sultry and classic. It’s been really fun to release something that shows another side to me as a singer and a songwriter. I love being able to shows the many sides to me as a songwriter, an entertainer and a vocalist and this song has really done that. It’s been awesome to see the kind of connection it’s making with a lot of people!
What is it like to release it without the usual fanfare that live performances provide?
It’s certainly different! When the changes of 2020 first happened, I was unsure how I would share and promote my music and I won’t lie, it was pretty scary as everything I thought I knew had changed! Once I got over the initial bump in the road, it’s been a driving forward motion since. I’ve found joy in finding new ways of promoting music and I’ve learned so much about marketing and have really brought my fans into my story and life as an artist. People are craving music and the outlet it provides right now and I’m always thinking of ways I can give them content to be a part of the journey and the joy that music brings.
Speaking of live performances, I’ve partnered with some great sonsors and I’m releasing a unique online concert. It will feel similar to the experience that fans had outside of the current restrictions. I’m calling it “Wine Down with Elyse Saunders – The Online Concert Experience and it happens Wednesday February 24th, at 8PM ET. It takes place on my Facebook page and is a full concert that is open to the public. I hope you can join us! Otherwise you can watch the replay on my page.
Being a musician, what did it feel like hearing it on the radio for the first time as opposed to say, the studio, or on a streaming platform?
I’ve had a few songs on the radio and the feeling never changes. It’s so exciting to hear a song that you create being shared on a platform of listeners that love the genre. If I could describe the feeling to anything, it’s like a kid on Christmas morning.
As a writer, you craft this song from a real place and pretty much out of thin air and if you love it enough, you make a demo of it! From there, you find the team and the funding to have it professionally recorded, you sing your heart out, the magic comes together and you have this song baby. Once it’s played on radio, it feels like the ultimate gift and a true honour. To know that your music is touching people and that people enjoy it enough to play it is a true compliment.
People may know you from you previous single ‘’Free’’. Huge success. 500k on streaming platforms over 100k views on YouTube. What was it like just watching the numbers rise and rise?
It felt like a dream!
I’ve worked so hard for so long to reach this goal in my career. All of the sweat and tears I’ve put into building my brand and developing my career feels like it has paid off. It’s doing what I’ve always hoped it would. To see that kind of response tells me that people relate to the message and love it as much as I do! That’s all you can ask as a songwriter and artist. You want your music to help people and connect with them in its own way!
2020 hits. What was the pivot like for you to go playing online shows instead of in-person appearances?
It’s been a difficult transition. There’s nothing else like performing live in person and that feeling you get when you’re playing on stage with your band directly to smiling faces in the audience. I’ve been doing some acoustic shows through online streaming platforms and it’s been interesting singing to a phone where you can’t see people. It’s a better alternative to not at all but I look forward to the day of live in person shows again! As I mentioned earlier “Wine Down with Elyse Saunders – The Online Concert Experience” was something I wanted to create so that I could give fans something closer to that experience we all had before and I have to say, it was so fun playing with my band on a stage again!
Have you started planning on any in-person shows for 2021 or are you holding off?
I’d love to if it’s possible and safe enough. I imagine there will be some drive-in concerts happening again this year but I realize that festivals are probably hesitant to make anything happen until they have more answers. I’m sure I’ll hear about some of those dates soon!
Rumor has it your album will be dropping soon!!Can you talk to us a bit more about it, and what that’s going to look like for fans?
You got it! All of the songs going towards the album are all finished and ready to go. We plan to release it this summer but the drop date could altered depending on our current conditions. “Free” is the title track of the album. It’s perfect as it’s a great description of my current sound and songs. It also really encompasses where I’m at a perfomer, writer and vocalist. I’ve really come into my own and I love the idea of being free to express myself through different styles of songs and production. I have some amazing talent on this album with producers Dan Swinimer as well as Paul Shatto and David Wills. Between these producers, I will have an album that touches on the different sides that make me. Me and I love that all of the songs’ share messages of empowerment and the freedom of celebrating life!
Thank you so much for meeting with us, we are nearing the end, of the interview. I would love to know what advice aimed at other female musicians/performers that you would like to give. It can be advice that someone gave you or something you wish someone had told you.
Own who you are, believe in what you do. Be open to growing and learning, know your value and treat your music like a business! No one is going to be able to support your music better than you!
What is one thing you wish that people knew about you?
Hmm… I really do care! I care deeply about others and hope to be able to help people through my music.
What are some coping mechanisms that are helping you stay grounded this winter that you would give to folx for staying healthy and happy during Covid winter? And you cannot cheat and say music!
Love that! Music has most definitely done that for me. Outside of that, staying connected with family and friends the best way I can. It’s also been really important for me to make sure I get outside for some fresh air and get moving. Staying active has been key to keeping myself healthy physically and mentally.
Lastly our favorite independent and smaller businesses have been hit hard this Covid season. What are some of your local favorite places to hype up and give a shout out to?
Sending out some local love to an Ontario winery, “Dark Horse Estate Winery” based out of Grand Bend, Ontario. This winery is family-owned and also one of my sponsors on my online concert. They craft tasty wine. My reason for working with them were their values and strong belief in collaborating with the community.
Although I’m not based in Grand Bend, it has been a favourite gem that we have to offer in Ontario. I love to visit during the summer months. I have been visiting this spot for years due to the beautiful beach and surrounding nature. Some of my family is based there now too, so it will definitely become a spot I’ll be frequently visiting! Other than that, local farmers markets are also a favourite of mine. They’re not all running right now, but they’re always a spot I love to support!
Spotlight – Elyse Saunders is a wrap and a big shoutout to Elyse for taking the time to talk to us
Check out her Wine Down right now!
Stay caught up with Elyse right here and make sure to tune into her Live Show on Facebook tonight!
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