Today we Spotlight – Emily Clair. We sit down with this talented star to talk about her music and her newest release Drive Me Home. An Ontario native, Emily is making her mark in the diverse Country market. Check out the convo now!
What got you started in music, you come from a musical family right?
I did! I grew up in a musical family, and being around it all of the time, it only felt natural to pursue it.
While the obvious influences can be heard in your music, who are some influences that folks would be surprised that you admire?
I have many country influences, but I grew up listening to a lot of classic rock. I’ve always loved Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, AC/DC and The Eagles. I was also very inspired by Christina Aguilera – her voice is incredible and I grew up singing a lot of her music.
Something we both share is a love for The Chicks (formerly the Dixie Chicks). What was your favorite album, and what drew you to them?
I’ll be honest, I can’t pick one album because there are specific songs from each album that I truly love so much. What I can tell you is that I’ve always loved to sing ‘Not Ready to Make Nice,’ and ‘Travelin’ Soldier.’ My grade eight music teacher introduced me to The Chicks. I was trying out for a school musical and he told me that I had a sound similar to them. At this time I didn’t even listen to country music, and The Chicks are what eventually got me hooked!
Tell us a bit about growing up in Ajax, On. Are you still there?
Growing up in Ajax, was great, I was always so close to Toronto and the music scene! Ajax had always been a supportive community; I had opportunities to sing at many shows, and small-town festivals growing up in Durham. Recently, I bought a house in a small town outside of Kingston, Ontario. I’ve lived in the same house for the last twenty-seven years. It’s been a big adjustment for me, but it’s very exciting to be in the country and starting a new chapter in my life.
I really admire solo artists like yourself and the drive and determination to play shows and put yourself out there. What was it like approaching bars and venues when you were first starting out?
When I first started out, it was scary to approach bars and venues! I really had to indulge in the business aspect of my career, which had never really crossed my mind before. Being an independent artist, you really have to prove yourself if you want to play those shows at the bigger venues, and popular bars. I spent a whole year playing in all of the bars that I could, and I found it wasn’t for me. Though I’ve had some really great experiences, I also had some really awful experiences as well. It really made me grow as an artist and performer, but it made me realize I didn’t want the “drunken bar scene.”
I want to play to people who truly appreciate music, and want to sit down and listen to my craft. I want to play more original music, and not just the same old covers every Saturday night. Ultimately, playing the bar scene taught me a lot, but it really showed me what I want – to feel fulfilled as an artist. Playing more festivals and intimate shows where people want to hear the original material is where I can truly be myself.
Arguably your big break was your track Bad Habits that blew up. What was it like writing that, and how did it feel to get recognized for all your hard work?
“Bad Habits” did some really great things at radio and on streaming platforms. I never expected it to be featured on a primary station because many people said it was too folk, but it was. The music industry never fails to surprise me. When you least expect it, great things happen.
I didn’t write “Bad Habits”; it was pitched to me by Aaron Allen and Patrick James Clark, who are both incredible writers and artists. I was honoured to have them reach out and ask me to record their song. I had never been pitched a song before and I didn’t know if I could connect with it because I didn’t write it.
When I heard “Bad Habits”, I instantly was drawn to it, and knew that I had to record it. Aaron was so connected with this song, he wanted to use it for himself, but his producer had said a female should sing it. It pushed me to want to make the song so special because I had to tell someone else’s story, and I needed to make sure that when they heard the finished product it made them feel something, as if their story were my own. The best part about this song is that I got to share a little piece of it with Aaron and he sang background vocals.
Your new single “Drive Me Home” is very counterculture for the Canadian Country Music scene, and I am here for it. Talk us through writing it, and what it means to you.
“Drive Me Home”, is a female empowerment song.
I feel that in the country music scene, not a lot of female artists feel comfortable talking about their desires and needs, and I’m here to say otherwise. We hear a lot of male artists singing about this topic, but not a whole lot of females. I do feel that recently, many women in the country music scene have chosen to sing freely about whatever they want, and I’m going to continue that trend. When I write music, it will always be honest, and truthful and if someone doesn’t like it, then that’s okay with me.
I started writing “Drive Me Home” on my own, and then I thought that turning it into a co-write could mean I might get a better song out of what I had. I finished “Drive Me Home” with Doug Folkins and my producer Shawn Moore, and I knew right away that I’d record it. I’m always looking for fresh ideas to write about, because I’m not going to write another drinking song just to blend in with what everyone else is doing, I want to separate myself from what other artist are doing.
With summer on us, can fans hope for an EP anytime soon?
I’ve had an EP in the plans for a while now. With COVID, all of my plans have been on the backburner! I will tell you that you can expect something in the fall along with another surprise up my sleeve, that will be included with the EP release!
Something I genuinely love is the comradery that female country musicians have. Here at Hidden Beats, I’ve been able to chat with many women. Artists like Nicole Rayy, Karen Lee Batten, Nice Horse, etc. What has your experiences in the scene been like?
My experiences in the country music scene have been really great so far. I’ve made so many connections and friendships over the last three years. I feel that many of the female artists support and lift each other up in this industry and that is so important!
With the pivot to online shows in 2020, what is your opinion on them?
Online shows are interesting to say the least. I don’t love them, because of the poor sound quality and unreliable technology but I am grateful that we’ve found a way to still connect with our fans during these difficult times.
Online shows- great way to reach new audiences? Or an oversaturation of the market?
I think that it’s a great way to reach new fans, especially if you’re doing shows with other artists! I don’t believe its oversaturation of the market, unless you’re doing a show every night! It’s just a good way to stay connected during this pandemic.
What is some advice you would give to other female performers? Either something someone told you when you started, or something you wish someone had told you?
The advice I’d give is stay true to yourself, and don’t let this industry change who you are as an artist. Create what makes you happy, and do it for yourself because you can’t please everyone. Networking and making connections are so important, I can’t stress that enough. Lastly, don’t compare your career and success to someone else’s. Everyone does it and it’s a dark path to go down. Everyone has their own story, and you just have to write your own.
What is on the schedule for 2021?
I hope that the rest of 2021 allows for some live shows! I am constantly writing new material and I’m working towards a full-length album because it’s a dream of mine to have a collection of my works.
Your dog just turned 6! How are they doing with you being home more? Is your partner working from home as well?
My dog Sadie, loves every second of me being home. Though I still work, as I work in medical… I am still home a lot more than normally I would be. She’s definitely going to have separation anxiety when music picks back up again. My partner doesn’t work from home. He is an electrician and works crazy hours. We did just purchase our new home together though, and I can’t wait to start the next chapter of my life with the two of them!
What is one thing you wish that people knew about you?
What most people don’t know is that I also have a career outside of music, I work in dentistry. I’m a dental assistant and I love working in the medical field because it’s such a rewarding job, as I’m a very caring person. I get to work with anxious children, phobia and fearful patients. At the end of the day, it’s always gratifying. It certainly keeps me on my toes!
Lastly as our favorite independent and smaller businesses have been hit hard from Covid lockdowns, What are some of your local favorite places to hype up and give a shout out to?
When it comes to small and local business, I must say I really support the ones that involve food! I’m such a foodie, if you are from Durham Region you’ve got to try out Burgers on Fleek in Ajax! I have an obsession with finding the best hamburger joint, because that is my favourite thing to eat and I’ve definitely found it!
Spotlight – Emily Clair has come to an end. Big thanks to Emily for taking the time to chat.
Check out Drive Me Home now!
Follow Emily right here
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