I first interviewed the incredible Tenille Townes back in 2018 having discovered her music thanks to her acoustic EP ” Living Room Work Tapes” …she was out on the road with Miranda Lambert at the time and looking forwards to releasing her debut album. And what an amazing few years it’s been since then for the native Canadian! It’s been a joy to watch her career flourish and she has built up a considerable fan base both across the pond and here in the UK, where she has performed several times now and of course is due return imminently to play the main stage at this year’s C2C festival.
It was a pleasure to catch up with her via Zoom ahead of the visit, there was so much to chat about as you’ll find out…
1. LH Hey, Tenille, it’s so good to see you again! Thanks so much for your time….how are you today and where are you speaking to me from?
TT It’s so good to see you too! I’m in Nashville today, we leave tonight for our van call to head to shows this weekend, I’ve been home for the past couple of days.
2.LH Before we get to talking about your impending UK visit for C2C which I’m so excited about, there’s a lot of other things to discuss as you’ve been really busy despite what the world has thrown at us recently! Firstly… massive congratulations are in order on several fronts… let’s begin with the Canadian Country Music Awards last December, where you held on to the Female Artist Of TheYear Award for the 3rd year running and took home the Album Of The Year for “The Lemonade Stand“. I know you were there in person, and of course performed, can you explain a bit about your feelings that evening and what the recognition and support of your homeland means to you? Are you still a Canadian at heart?
TT Oh thank you so much! Yes I am and always will be, and it was such an honour to get back there in person for the CCMA’s last year with everyone. It was so special to see friends and all celebrate one another in that space. And it was such an honour to receive those awards and feel like the community of Canadian Country music is wrapping its arms around this adventure and music of mine. It means the world to me! And we got to do our first ever headlining tour in Canada which kicked off at the CCMAs so running into those shows from the high from the awards was such a dream, seeing people coming out and singing along was so exciting.
3. LH Yeah, I actually was going to mention that tour next so thanks for bringing it up! Did you see fans who have been following your career from way back before you moved to Nashville?
TT Yes, which was so exciting! We did a school tour there a very long time ago before my move and there were kids there we’d visited during that time, and people who’ve really been listening to my music from the beginning …it meant so much to see everybody for sure.
4.LH Continuing with the congratulations, you just posted on your socials that you’ve scored a gold album for “The Lemonade Stand” as well as 2 platinum and 2 gold singles… while you must be so exhilarated, does that success make you feel additional pressure when working toward your next album?
TT That was so exciting to see tangible evidence of the fact that people have been listening, but honestly that’s as much as I have soaked it in! It means people have listened to my songs over and over and it’s so cool! More than anything I just think it makes me feel more excited to share new songs.
5. LH And as well as your Canadian tour which we’ve touched on you’ve been headlining throughout the US for the first time with your “Villain In Me” tour. Can you tell me about your feelings in respect to those shows and what it was like putting it all together?
TT I feel so excited to start the adventure, I want to create a community that when we all come together everyone who walks through the door feels like they can be welcomed and loved, and show up and be exactly who they are. To be beginning that culture from the beginning of these shows is so special to me, so it’s been a blast seeing people showing up and knowing all the words to all the songs, ready to come and have a great time and cry their eyes out on certain songs, let their hearts show whatever emotions are waiting for them. It has been overwhelming for me to stand there and witness that tangible sense of community in a room. And soak up that this is the beginning of what things look like, I can’t wait to keep growing into other sized venues. The Villain In Me tour has certainly been a bit of an adventure…a few cancellations in certain areas due to restrictions with covid things, and then we got a major snow storm that came through so there’s a few dates that got moved to the Spring …so it’s been a bit of a weird time for touring but I’m really grateful for the ones we’ve gotten to do so far and looking forward to the rest!
6. LH And as if all that wasn’t enough excitement, you’ve also just opened for for George Strait in Vegas… and I see that you’re opening for another legend, Reba, tomorrow and Friday! What do you learn from these seasoned artists, or do you just sit back and enjoy yourself?
TT Oh I’m ALWAYS learning! Every time I get to watch somebody’s show on stage I’m just trying to soak in everything. I had SUCH a fun time at the George Strait show, ah his set… he just has so many songs and connects with so many people, just watching him up there with his group of people who have been by his side through all these years… it was really special to watch somebody who has created something so legendary. And I feel it will be just the same with Reba, I can’t wait to watch her sense of entertaining people. I saw her once growing up and I LOVED her show, I was blown away by her energy on stage so I’m really looking forwards to watching the show again and take as many notes as I can!
7.LH In addition to all of that, you’ve found time to release incredible new music . While you’d already established yourself as a great observer and storyteller, your recent singles seem to me to come across as more introspective and personal… I wondered if they were the result of spending more time with your own thoughts, maybe doing a bit of soul-searching even, during lockdown?
TT It absolutely is a reflection of the times. I spent so much time in my house alone, you know just faced with some of the more vulnerable and uncomfortable thoughts …I think we all were to some degree. To me, music is my safe place to try to process those kind of feelings, so picking up my guitar I really couldn’t help how these songs came out a lot more personal this time around. which scares me a little, ‘cos I much prefer to just be the storyteller and observer who is a little removed! But it’s exciting to me to be on this new frontier, this is music that is even MORE reflective of who I am and where I am in my life right now. And I know I can’t be the only one who is feeling this way which is the best part of music… we are all going through these things together and I’m hearing from people already who are saying about the new releases “I feel this too!” . It means the world to me and takes a lot of courage for them to say that or send in a message. It gives wings to what these songs are supposed to do. So this gives me courage to share more of those terrifying personal songs! I’m excited for this next chapter and to continue to sing these songs live….I’m so excited to come to see you guys, lift up these songs together and feel all the feelings!
8. LH That’s a perfectly timed comment to turn the conversation to your return to the UK for C2C…so great to see you are now on the main stage at all three venues, Dublin, London and Glasgow. Of course I know you’ve played in London before but is it your first time in the other two cities?
TT First time in Dublin, I’ve done Glasgow as well on the CMA Songwriters tour and I think I might have played there with Striking Matches too. I’m looking forwards to going back and to seeing Dublin for the first time. London will always have such a sweet spot in my heart so I can’t wait for that show!
9. LH And I gather you’ll have your band with you here for the first time?
TT I will!! They are so excited, they were like ” We get to come!!”.
LH So who’s joining you, can you give some shout outs?
TT Yeah totally!! So we’ve got Asa Wiggins on drums, Adam Beard on the bass, Jon Upton on the keys and Jaxon Hargrove on guitar. They are all so pumped to come and play, see some new places in the world and see what I’ve been raving about!!
10. LH I’d imagine your set time will be about 30 minutes? Of course you already have a loyal following here of but there will be others who are new to your music. How do you go about picking a set list with all that in mind, or do you just go all out to play the ones YOU enjoy the most?
TT I think it’s 30-40 or so, we’re still trying to figure that out. I just look to create a moment together. To me building a set list should be a bit of an emotional ride, you know start with some real good energy and lift everybody’s spirits and then kind of bring them through a few stories that maybe make them think a bit or feel something a bit emotional. Then kind of carry them back out with some full lifted spirit energy. So to me it’s about what songs can help us with that ride and create an experience where they’ll walk away feeling something. That’s the most important part to me.
LH Oh your music always gets us feeling something for sure! Are there any songs you always include?
TT You know I always love performing “Jersey On The Wall“, to me that song just feels so special to me. I’ve heard so many stories of people saying that song makes them think of people in their life, and I feel it’s a responsibility to honour them by singing that song. I also love singing “Somebody’s Daughter” too, that is such a mark of the beginning of things. And I’m really truly excited to hopefully get to try some new songs out in this set too.
11. LH. Is it a whistle-stop visit, or do you get a bit of down time either side of the weekend for stuff like shopping and sightseeing?
TT I wish I did, honestly! C2C is just one day in each city and most of the time is spent on travel! I am trying to stay on in London a few extra days to maybe do some writing with friends over there …but I don’t think I’m getting to stay as long as I’d like to! Also I’m looking forwards and we are working out some things to be coming back, I think in the Fall, so hopefully we’ll have some more time on that trip to do some adventuring!
12.LH You’re away from home so much lately, obviously for all the right reasons, but what do you miss the most when you’re on the road for prolonged periods?
TT Oh my dog Sam!
LH I’m so glad when artists say that! Hailey Whitters said the same to me just last week!
TT I love that! It’s true, we all meet up at some shows and say “How’s your dog?”!
LH I think I need to move to Nashville and look after artists’ dogs when they’re touring… but I can’t as I have my 3 dogs here!
TT That would be awesome… bring them with you!
13. LH So, what’s the rest of 2022 looking like for you after your US tour finishes (apart from a well earned vacation!!) …you’ve already mentioned plans to visit us again but are we likely to get more new music, are you looking towards your next album maybe?
TT Yes I promise I’ll come back to see you as soon as I possibly can. I’m really just looking forwards to sharing a lot more new music this year, I’ve got a whole collection in the works to be leading us on an adventure. I’m kind of releasing things as I’m creating them so it’s going to be a living, breathing thing and I’m really excited to share more of that really soon. I’m looking forwards to some Summer festivals and also hope to do another Canadian tour in the Fall and maybe some more US headlining dates as well as coming to see you guys. It’ll be fun!
LH Wow, never a dull moment when you’re Tenille Townes!
TT Ha, I like it!
LH Thanks again for your time today, I really appreciate it, safe travels and see you in London very soon!
TT Well thanks Lesley, always a joy to talk to you, you’re so awesome and thanks for lifting up Country music… I can’t wait to see you very soon!
LH Aw, thanks for the kind words! Bye!
Keep up to date with all Tenille’s news at tenilletownes.com where you’ll find links to all her socials