Interview with TENILLE
by Christian Lamitschka for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show
Lamitschka: Music has many new fans throughout Europe who may be hearing about you for the first time. How would you describe yourself and the music you play to someone who has never seen or heard you?
TENILLE: I am an 18-year-old singer/songwriter born and raised in Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada. My goal is to make a difference with my passion for music; to reach out in the world with songs that nspire positive movements. I love country music. I love the way it communicates personal experiences or interesting stories with melodies that simply feel good. I would say my music fits under the country category with songs that tell stories and connect to real situations. I think the recordings have that young feel to them while incorporating the traditional instruments and classic sounds of country music. My music influences have a variety of artists and if you blended them all together, that’s how I would describe the sound! I admire the originality of Shania Twain, the songwriting of Carolyn Dawn Johnson, the guitar playing of Keith Urban, the sweetness of Dolly Parton, the passion of U2, and the vocals of Martina McBride.
Lamitschka: How was the last year for you? What were your highlights?
TENILLE: The past year has been one to remember. Music has always been such a huge part of my life, and every year feels like it builds up to more excitement and opportunities as the music adventure grows. Last June, I released my debut album “REAL” and loved being able to send out the songs I’d been working on for the past few years of writing. I had an absolute blast at the Hamilton 2011 CCMAs where I was so honored to be the youngest ever nominated in the Female Artist of the Year category for the Canadian Country Music Awards. I also am truly proud to be Alberta’s first ever Female Artist of the Year! It has been wonderful working with an incredible music team and I had so much fun taking stages at the Manitoulin Country Fest, Calgary Stampede, Big Valley Jamboree, and also performing live on CTV’s Canada AM. One of my favorite highlights was hosting the third annual concert fundraiser called “Big Hearts For Big Kids” that raises funds for the youth shelter in my hometown. It means so much to be able to use music to bring people together and make a difference for youth my age in my community. Thanks to the amazing artists who participated, the sponsors, volunteers, and each audience member, we were able to raise over $104,000 this year. This past year has been an amazing ride!
Lamitschka: Do you write the songs yourself? If not, how do you go about finding the songs for your CD?
TENILLE: Writing is a huge part of this for me. I absolutely love being able to tell stories through music and creating a song with someone else or on my own is one of the most rewarding experiences. I love being able to smile at the end of a writing session knowing that emotions and thoughts have been mixed together and created a work of art through sound. I started writing shortly after I received my first guitar from my grandparents. After learning three chords, I was busy playing for hours and humming out new melodies or writing down new titles all the time. I think writing is addicting, it’s a way to express and release. I’m so grateful to have writing to turn to and when other people connect to the songs too, it means the world.
Lamitschka: Your current single is being played by radio. What do you feel is special about this song that makes people want to hear it?
TENILLE: I wrote this song with my friend Gil Grand. He had the hook when I came in for the session and I instantly fell in love with it. I started painting this image in my head right away of all the couples in my life that I look up to: my parents, grandparents, and tons of family and friends who have found true love. The sun rises and sets with each other and I am so inspired by that. I hope to find it one day too! I hope this song reminds people that true love does exist! If they have it already, I hope it makes them feel grateful for it. And if they are still looking, I hope they realize it’s out there somewhere! When I listened back to this song after the session was over back at our hotel in Nashville, I was dancing around and singing along with my hairbrush microphone. I hope people dance and sing along to it too….
Lamitschka: What do you think about today’s music industry?
TENILLE: I think today’s music is much more accessible. Growing up listening to all different kind of CDs and owning actual albums, I always listened to my favorites. I think the digital world offers so much more content to so many more people and I love that music is being celebrated all the time. I realize that it is always changing and growing at such a fast pace, and as long as music doesn’t lose those intimate and personal connections with audiences, then I’m all for rolling with the change!
Lamitschka: What inspired you to become a songwriter?
TENILLE: Lyric booklets. I remember on road trips as a little kid teaching myself to read by following along to the size 8 font of the lyric books that came with the CDs. Specifically, I remember following along to Carolyn Dawn Johnson’s songs and noticing that her name appeared under the writing credits. Then I started thinking how the songs I was singing along to were once created by her. I started to pay more attention to artists who wrote their own music and once the guitar and those 3 chords came along, I was completely inspired to do the same as the songwriters I had been admiring for so long.
Lamitschka: You have a new love in your life? Can you tell us something about it?
TENILLE: Yes!!! My brand new 912ce Taylor guitar!! It is so beautiful, and fits so perfectly for playing. The sound gives me Goosebumps and the way it rings is incredible. For my graduation this year from High School, all of my family and friends came together to purchase the same guitar my producer owns, and the one I had been dreaming of owning one day! Every time I play it, I think of all the people who support this musical journey; all of the people whose love and strength has kept me real and made me who I am today. I am definitely in love.
Lamitschka: Fans are always hungry for good road stories. Do you have one you can share with us (come on don’t be shy)?
TENILLE: Well this past June, I had the honor of opening for Randy Travis. It was such an amazing opportunity and I was so excited. I came off the stage from sound check, collecting all my gear and getting things ready when I saw my band all standing around in a circle, fairly quietly which was strange. One of the stage managers for Randy’s crew was a part of the circle so I walked towards it to join to see what was going on. Then the stage manager offered me an energy drink from the cooler he was holding. He told my band they were welcome to try one of the 25th Anniversary themed energy drinks of the tour and then he left around the corner. He told us the orange ones were the best. None of my guys were moving towards the cooler, so I offered to open it if anyone wanted to try some, and when I lifted the lid, I dropped it so fast because there was a giant black snake attached to the under side of the cooler!!!! (Fake of course!!) Then everyone burst out laughing and my heart started beating again after a little break! Haha!! I was pretty proud of myself because I didn’t scream, and the crew and band was a little disappointed in my lack of little-girl response. But I’m definitely going to remember that trick for future use!!
Lamitschka: How do you feel about being the CCMA Slaight Music Humanitarian Award Recipient?
TENILLE: I am beyond honored. It feels so overwhelming, and truly amazing and incredible. I remember five years ago when I attended the CCMAs for the first time, I watch George Canyon receive this award. I’ll never forget thinking to myself how much it would mean to receive it someday, over any of the other awards. I had no idea that one day would come so soon…. This award represents my favorite part about music- its ability to reach out, bring people together, and make a difference. It means so much being recognized from an industry built on big hearts- huge thanks to the CCMAs and Slaight Music for the opportunity. I am so excited to see everyone at the CCMAs- can’t wait to reunite with the musical family in Saskatoon!!
Lamitschka: Many music fans today get their information about artists online. Do you have your own website and what will fans find there?
TENILLE: I definitely have a website!! I love to update the site with changing banners, blogs, and tour stops! I do have an online store where CDs and Lyric bracelets can be purchased and I have a sign up for a newsletter!! Also available on the site is a gallery of photos and youtube videos along with links to twitter, facebook, and all the other social media outlets. I absolutely love staying in touch with everyone through technology and always respond to notes and messages! Here’s where you can check it out!! Thanks for your support- it is so truly appreciated!
Lamitschka: What message would you like to send your European fans?
TENILLE: I can’t wait to meet you in person one day soon!!!! I am a fan of you guys and your beautiful home! Would definitely love to one day travel and share music with you all!! Thanks for listening to the music and believing and connecting to the songs. It honestly means so much!! Have a beautiful day!! KEEP IT REAL!!
Christian Lamitschka ( CountryMusicNewsInternational@googlemail.com )