Updated: May 17
By Will Yannacoulias
For recent St. Mary’s grade twelve graduate Relan Meeks, the future looks bright. Despite being only seventeen years old, Meeks is already a veteran of the Broadway North Theatre and the Canadian Tire Search For The Stars, a local talent whose reach has been worldwide through her popular Youtube channel. Meeks made waves last January when she won the Search For The Stars singer/songwriter category with her original composition “Self”. We had the opportunity to interview Meeks just as she was beginning sessions with Prince Albert’s Reservoir Recording, preparing to release “Self” as her debut single.
Sometimes artists come from a musical family, sometimes lighting strikes just once. Did you grow up in a musical home? What’s your musical background?
“My mom likes to think she can sing! Really it’s just me, my sister played piano for a bit when she was young. I was four or five when I started singing, and started classical voice training at age seven and classical piano at age ten. I did that for a couple years, then felt more like doing my own thing, a different style, so I veered off with some different music teachers and started to play and sing. I started with Arthur LaVirtue at the old PA Music, and the last couple years I’ve been working with Lucy James at Jam Street.”
I didn’t know that you’re a multi instrumentalist until I saw your Youtube channel. When did you start playing the guitar?
“I had a guitar sitting in the corner of my room for a long time, I’d never really gotten motivated enough to learn to play it. When we were in lockdown last May I had a lot of time at home so I decided ‘I’m gonna see if I can learn a couple songs and figure some things out’. It’s a work in progress, I just started learning a year ago. A lot of people say they find guitar easier than piano but I find it much harder, maybe just because it hurts my fingers! Piano will definitely stay the main instrument for me but the electric piano can be a hassle to transport when I’m asked to play shows or gigs, so I think I’m gonna stick with guitar as well and learn more.”
“Self” is an original song, written entirely by you. There aren’t a lot of songwriters your age, do you have any other original songs in the works? Who is inspiring you musically and creatively?
“’Self’ is probably the third or fourth song I’ve written, over the past three or four months I’ve written three more and I’ve got one on the go. I really enjoy it. Definitely taking inspiration from Elton John, just because he’s so good at singing and playing the piano. When I first started my vocals were good but my piano needed a lot of work, so definitely him for inspiration as far as the piano parts. I don’t know if inspiration is a ‘who’ for me, good music no matter the genre or artist, if you vibe with it you find inspiration in that. Or sometimes situations I’ve been put in, a breakup or something fun with my friends will inspire me to write something. A couple of my teachers as well, Kayleigh Skomorowski and Lauren Lohneis. Lauren got me involved in musicals at Rivier School when I was very young, she’s been there for a lot of my musical experiences and has helped me along the way.”
Having participated in the Canadian Tire Search For The Stars five years in a row now, that show has become a big part of your story as an artist. What has that experience been like? What are you seeing in terms of the younger up and coming performers?
“I’ve done the competition five times, but this was my second time doing the singer songwriter category. It was quite different this year performing with all the COVID precautions, we had to keep our masks on and there was no audience so the stage was lively and fun but with no audience applause it was a bit dull. I can see my growth over five years going from performing a cover song and getting a lot of constructive criticism to singing and playing original songs and just getting support. There’s a lot of young talent, it’s crazy how many young talented kids are wanting to get into music and performance. I think the next few years we’re going to see some really good local artists come up.”
Your Search For The Stars performance this year won you a $1000 credit for studio time with Reservoir Recording. How are you using that credit? Are you seeing yourself as one of the Reservoir artists moving forward?
“We’re recording “Self”, and it’s going really well. I’m super excited, I’m hoping we can record more songs together after “Self”. Reservoir seem to really know what they’re doing, they seem like good people to partner up with and help lead the way on what I’m hoping to do.”
Grad is this year, your music career is really beginning to take shape. What are your plans for the future?
“I’m planning on staying with music, I’m going to university for Arts & Sciences next year in PA and intend to continue to write music, try and get it recorded and hopefully get more of my songs released, get myself out there and see what happens.”