Interview with Canadian Country Artist Nicole Sumerlyn
Today on What On What’s Good with Jovin Tardif, I am here with Nicole Sumerlyn. Nicole is a Canadian country artist based in North Vancouver, British Columbia. Some highlights so far include opening for Brett Kissel, playing at Nashville’s Bluebird Café, having her first music video for “Let’s Get Country” air on The Heartland Network, and a nod as one of 2015’s Global Country Star Search Winners. Her latest single is “Over a Drink”.
1. You listened to country, rock, pop, and blues classics including artists such as Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, and Willie Nelson growing up. Can you tell us a favourite song from each artist and why?
Yes! Each artist holds a place in my heart for sure.
Johnny Cash, probably the duet with June Carter called ‘Jackson’. I love the cheeky banter that goes on throughout the song. It’s such a fun-loving song. Every male singer I meet, I’ll swing them into singing this duet with me.
Patsy Cline is tough to only pick one. Patsy Cline was always playing around the house for me as a kid; she was one of my mom’s favourite singers. I was like five years old prancing around singing her greatest hits. If I had to pick one song that stands out, I would say ‘I Fall To Pieces’. Though the song had come out in the ‘60s, it’s so relevant in today’s world, too. Referencing the relations of an ex-lover that wants to “pretend they never met”, Patsy dwells on how difficult that is to do. It’s so relatable.
Willie Nelson is one of the greatest songwriters of all time in my mind. If I was to pick one song that stands out to me, it would be ‘Blue Eyes Cryin’ In The Rain’. Again Willie is one of my mother’s favourites. The angelic sounds of this track just put me at ease. The lyrics are poetic and beautiful. Everything I love about country music shines through in this song.
2. What are some topics that you were writing about in high school?
I’ve always written from experience. Even if I wasn’t solely the one to have gone through the events of a song, I was inspired by other people’s stories. Teenage years had a lot of boy drama and heartbreak, so naturally, I’d write a lot about that. My girlfriends used to come over to my house and I would write songs for them. We’d sit on my bed and they would tell me about their relationships or the problems in them, and I would write a song right then and there about it.
When I was around fifteen or sixteen, I started co-writing with industry songwriters. I remember I had a write with one of the first writers I worked with, and still do to this day, Doug Folkins. I brought him the title entitled “Blame It On The Beer”. I was at a family wedding that summer, and my uncle, on the way to the venue, said “Ah, I’m just gonna blame it all on the beer tonight”. I thought that was a great topic for a country song. Doug looked at me in this write, puzzled why I would even know anything about drinking beer at sixteen. I laughed and said it was all in good inspiration to write a song. However little did he know, I was a bit of an adventurous wild child if you will. I somewhat knew what I was talking about – haha.
3. What was it like opening for Canadian country star Brett Kissel at age 15?
It was a super fun experience. Brett lives up to his name of being a super friendly and inclusive guy. He took the time to talk to us during soundcheck, as well as stand side stage and watch our set. I joined my friends, and fellow country artists Jesse Mast, as well as Ben Klick for the Salmon Arm, show back in 2013. At the time, we were all teenagers. So you can imagine being backstage was a mischievous time. I sang a few songs with them as we opened the show. This was actually my first ‘big’ show I had done. First time seeing a crowd, first time having a dressing room, first time working with a soundman. It was the real deal, and I’m still very thankful I got to be a part of it.
4. How would you describe playing at Nashville’s Bluebird Café?
Chaotically amazing. It was astonishing to be in the same room as so many great songwriters and artists who had got their start there. My first time there was the open mic night that they were hosting at the time. There were so many people lined up for hours to have their chance to play at the BlueBird. Some had been lined up since lunchtime, for the 7:00 pm show. People had travelled all over the world for this night.
I started out feeling very intimidated. I knew what I had to offer and showcase, and I was confident in that. However, a lot of these artists knew each other from living in Nashville and this was my first time there. At the time of opening the doors, everyone was formed into lines, where you would pick a number out of a bowl. It was just my luck that I was in the line that ended up going in. Some don’t get that opportunity just based on where you stand in line. I was number 27 of the night to sing. It was incredible. As soon as I started singing, all the stresses went away and I just got to share my music and have a fun time.
5. What was it like working with Jimmy Thow (Sons of Daughters) and producer Taylor Allum on the new single, “Over a Drink”? Can we expect a music video in the future?
Jimmy is an amazing writer, and I was really excited to work with him. Walking into the write, we were just chatting a bit while setting up. I’m a pretty open person and started going off about some guy I was seeing at the time. I said the line ‘over a drink’ just in conversation. Jimmy stopped for a second as it sparked something and he thought that it could be a really cool concept for a song. So we started working on it, and within an hour and a half, the song was done. Really natural!.
Taylor Allum, the producer on this track, is also my drummer and bandleader. So evidently, we’ve spent a lot of time together, and he knows me really well. It also helped that I live five minutes up the road from his studio. I was there pretty often. I wanted to be a part of as much of the recording process as possible. He knew exactly what I wanted this song to represent and showcase. Taylor let me speak my mind and allow me to have a lot of say in how the song was sounding. He did a fantastic job at bringing out the best in both my vocals and what the song embodies sound-wise.
You can expect a music video for “Over A Drink” during the first week of March!
6. Outside of music, you love to bake. Can you tell us about some of the desserts you enjoy making?
I do! I feel like every year I pick a different dessert to master. Most recently I’m trying to perfect my lattice pie crust. I’m almost there. Making the filling and the dough is easy, but working with the pie dough can be slightly more challenging. I’ve also always been really into decorating cupcakes and working with different flavours. My current favourite is a lemon cupcake, with raspberry buttercream. So, so good! Last year, I started making cupcakes for events! I did a wedding and a few different special occasion events. It’s a lot of fun. It also doesn’t hurt having goodies around my house at all times when I have the biggest sweet tooth. Obviously a lot of work, but I love it. Baking to me is how I relieve stress.
7. Any comments about Over a Drink?
I have built my brand on stage through a welcoming atmosphere of crowd participation that encourages everyone to have a good time. I wanted to translate that energy into a song that could offer the same fun-loving flavour while being relevant and relatable to me as an artist and as a person.