With touring off the agenda for quite a while, award-winning Canadian born, Nashville based country artist Tenille Arts remained creative, writing and releasing her latest album “Girl to Girl”. This followed on swiftly from 2020’s “Love, Heartbreak, & Everything in Between” which provided her first Number 1 single “Somebody Like That“ making history as the first Country chart topper to have been written, produced and performed by all females.
Tenille was set to play the cancelled C2C festival in 2020 so her recent return to these shores was a dream for both her and her loyal fanbase, getting to play headline shows in Dublin, Glasgow, Manchester and London accompanied by Matthew Borneans on lead guitar and bassist Preston Heyden (along with a drummer whose name I didn’t catch, apologies, for the final show) with UK’s Jade Halliwell a fantastic choice as opener. As seems annoyingly common these days, luggage and instruments got delayed and they had to use “loaners” for the first two shows, but despite the setback they of course managed to put on phenomenal performances by all accounts… I can speak for the London show at The Grace where it was difficult to work out who was more excited to be there, Tenille or the audience!
Before she took to the stage I managed to snatch ten minutes of her time to ask a few questions about her recent music, UK tour and what’s to come… I hope you enjoy our chat!
1. LH Welcome back to the UK! It’s been a while, and like me I’m sure you’re so glad that live music is back on the agenda! How much did you miss performing when everything was shut down?
TA So much! One of the last performances before everything shut down was meant to be here, C2C a couple of years ago which ended up getting cancelled, so it feels great to be back and we couldn’t be more happy that live music is back!
2. LH Did you even get to tour “Love, Heartbreak & Everything in Between” which came out January that year?
TA We played it a little bit, we played some of the songs on the tour with Lady A last Summer, other than that, no!
LH It must be so great to get to play them and of course since then you’ve put out “Girl to Girl” so this is like a double celebration!
3. LH Were there any tracks from either of them that you were particularly itching to play live and are enjoying playing now you can?
TA My goodness, you know even “Somebody Like That”, I hadn’t got to play it since it came out and went to number 1! So I was really excited to get to play that to everyone. And then most tracks from that album, like “Wild Love” which we’ll be doing tonight, all of those songs I was just dying to play.
4. LH Which songs from either album seem to be resonating most with your fans and are they the ones you expected?
TA A song called “That’s My Friend You’re Talking About”, that’s really become a fan favourite which is so awesome because you know I wrote that about body image and how we view ourselves. I knew there were other people out there who felt like that but I didn’t realise how many people were going to latch on to that song. And then “Growing Old Young” is another .
5. LH There’s two fantastic collabs on the more recent album, I was particularly excited to see you’d worked with another incredible rising female artist Callista Clark (on “Breakup Songs”). How did that hook up come about?
TA Well I heard Callista on the radio for the first time right before I was finishing up the record. And since it’s a “Girl to Girl” record I really wanted to have a female featured and she just seemed like the perfect young artist. She’s incredibly talented on guitar and vocals, and her songwriting, and I think she’s probably someone who’s going to stick around for a long time. So that’s why i wanted to have her on the record.
6. LH And do you have a dream collaborator?
TA Oooh, I would say LeAnn Rimes or Maren Morris.
LH Well let’s put that out there into the universe!
7. LH You’ve already mentioned the success of “Somebody Like That”, and as a site that uplifts female artists in particular congratulations not only on your first number 1 but also it being the first all-female written, produced and performed song to top the charts . What does that statistic mean to you?
TA That was the cherry on top! We all wanted to have a number 1, we just had no clue it was going to happen the way that it did and then also to be the first ever all female team… we really didn’t know that hadn’t been done before, we just kind of assumed that it had! We only learned as it was climbing the charts that there hadn’t been an entirely female team to do it before! It meant a lot to us but I hope it means a lot to other young female artists and female producers and writers, we’ve proved now that it can be done so i hope they feel inspired by that too!
LH I particularly love how more females are getting into the production side of things lately.
TA Yeah they are!
LH And I see Allison Veltz is a co-writer on the song…I assume she’s related to Laura Veltz?
TA Yeah, she’s her sister!
LH Wow so much talent in one family!
8. LH So, today’s the final date of your whirlwind tour over here, what do you enjoy the most about playing to audiences on this side of the pond?
TA These are some of my favourite crowds I’ve EVER played for! They are so excited, they’re singing along to all of the songs… it’s just been honestly some of my favourite shows of my entire life over here!
LH Well that’s great to hear as hopefully it means you’ll keep coming back!
TA Yes, definitely!
9. LH And I see your current setlist includes a ‘90s medley… you’ve already mentioned LeAnn Rimes ….it was a great era for female country artists, it is one that’s particularly influenced and inspired your music?
TA Yeah, I was born in ’94 so it was just what I grew up listening to and what has ultimately influenced my entire musical journey. I LOVE singing those songs ‘cos most of the people here also grew up in that time
LH Apart from old people like me!
TA (laughing) but you remember it!! So it’s fun to bring back those memories!
10. LH You play such a mix of venues these days… festivals, big arenas, more intimate shows like these recent ones here… does it keep you on your toes as a performer? Which type do you prefer?
TA I mean I love ALL the different types of venues, but there is something special about the smaller ones where people are there to see YOU. The Lady A tour was incredible, but I was the first of four so it was like sometimes not everybody was there yet and most people were probably being exposed to my music for the first time whereas at the smaller venues people are showing up to see you which is fun.
LH Is it more daunting looking out over a massive seas of faces, of having fans right in front of you?
TA I don’t find either daunting, if there’s really big crowd there’s still people at the front looking right at you and you can really connect with them so I try to focus on that if it feels a little too big!
LH Do you and the band have any pre-show rituals ?
TA We have a little band handshake, sometimes we have a shot to calm the nerves a little bit! That’s about it, we don’t do anything too crazy!
LH Ha, Ashley McBryde and her guys do a handshake thing too I believe!
11. LH What do you miss most when you’re away from home out on the road?
TA Just my family and my friends, it’s always nice to be home with them. No matter where I am I’m missing somebody, so I try to see people when I can and make sure it’s quality time.
12. LH As I’ve said, it’s been a whistle stop tour here but did you get any downtime to do shopping or sightseeing?
TA Well I HAD to go shopping as my bags didn’t arrive! The only real downtime we had was in Dublin, we went into some pubs, some libraries and toured some things. Any time we have downtime we like to see the city.
13. LH And finally, apart from your busy touring schedule , what does the rest of 2022 have in store?
TA Yeah, lots of shows but I’ve been working on new music even tho’ the last album’s not even a year old…we’re working on one song right now, “Jealous of Myself” which we’ll play tonight.
LH Oh wow you never stop! Who did you write that one with?
TA I actually didn’t write the song, which is very, very different for me! Very unusual but I found it, another songwriter had posted it and asked “ who would like to sing this song?” . So I was like “ Me”!! So i ended up getting my hands on that song which was very cool because Nashville used to work that way a lot, songwriters writing for you. I WISH I’d written it but I’m glad i got my hands on it!!
LH So who wrote it then?
TA Emily Weisband and two other guys… I’m blanking on their names right now… oh Trevor Rosen…
LH Incredible writers!
LH I look forwards to hearing that for sure! Well that’s my ten minutes up, thank you so much for a fascinating interview, have a great time on stage tonight and hope to see you back here soon!
TA Thank you so much! I appreciate you!
Interview conducted by Lesley Hastings (twitter.com/lesleyhastings)
Images by Philippa Myall-Chance (http://photosbyphilippa.com/)