Interview with Calgary-based singer-songwriter, Justine Tyrell
Today on What On What’s Good with Host Jovin Tardif, I am here with Justine Tyrell. Her latest single is ‘Worthy’. Other tracks include ‘Hopes Up’ (2019) and ‘Suddenly’ (2018). In our interview, we discuss songwriting, the first time she performed at McMahon Stadium, a message to fans, and much more.
1. What does music mean to you?
Music is a sense of equilibrium for me. Whether I’m listening to it, performing, or writing – it’s the place where I feel like I can shut out anxiety, stress, or anything that doesn’t belong in that moment and just come back to center. It’s also freedom – where I feel like we can tell any story and be whatever we want.
2. I read that you wrote your first song at the age of 7? What was it about?
It was about false promises. Why? I have no idea. But it’s around then that I learned that sometimes I write as an observer, or build a story, based on an emotion I once could relate to. For a 7-year-old, it was a weirdly lonely, and melancholy song.
3. Growing up you listened to everything from R&B and Hip Hop, to Blues and Country. Can you tell us some of the songs in each genre that caught your attention and why?
Blues (and maybe more so jazz) Nina Simone ‘Feeling Good‘. The mood of that song was amazingly dramatic.
Country was Garth Brooks ‘Friends in Low Places‘ – mostly because of the memories associated with it. I saw how that song (great on its own) – had the ability to brighten any late night, with my aunt, uncle and grandma. ‘Thunder Rolls’ was my other favorite. His voice was amazing on that song, and the imagery of the lyrics were great.
4. Do you have any advice about writing your music? Please describe your creative process.
Always be open to ‘responding’ to what your process wants to be that day. It’s great to have a loose template on how to approach writing but listen to what sticks out to you first – and dig into that. I often start at the melody. Then if the idea doesn’t come right away, I do an ‘info dump’ – jotting down sights, sounds, smells, emotions – whatever it is that the chords or beat make me feel, and then sift through that to nail down a concept and lyrics. Some days it works great – other days I sing gibberish to the melody, until a good idea lands.
5. What was it like singing the first time you sang in front of Calgary Stampeders fans at McMahon Stadium?
Exhilarating – and terrifying. My left arm went numb (and still does some days when I’m really nervous) – but it was unforgettable. It’s still nearly an equal rush, every time I step on the field to sing.
6. What has been the best performance of your career so far?
Performing at the Saddledome last year was one of my favorites. It was a surreal experience to perform in a venue where I’d seen so many of my favorites throughout my life and just felt really special.
7. Would you like to collaborate with anyone? If so who and why?
Sampha, is an amazing vocalist and writer from the UK, who would be incredible to collaborate with. His voice is so unique, and his writing process is very pure.
8. If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?
That no one can do exactly what you do, the way you do it. Don’t second guess that, just keep going. There are people in the world who need exactly what you have to offer.