by Scott Roos
*photo #1 by Rachel Deeb
It's almost an understatement at this point to say that Weyburn expat Tenille Arts is a rising star in the country music scene. In truth, there's been so many accomplishments since her 2017 debut Rebel Child that they would almost be too numerous to count. Throughout the TV appearances, multiple award wins and nominations, and numerous other accolades, though, Arts has still not forgotten her small town Saskatchewan roots. She approaches each day with humility and gratitude; no doubt attributes that are, in part, also responsible for how far she has come in the music business in such a short period of time.
"I had a lot of believers really early on. I was kind of involved in pretty much every type of music group that Weyburn had to offer. We had a great choir program at all of the schools so I was involved in that. There was jazz band and concert band. I was involved in all of that stuff and then of course performing at every local festival and competition helped. I think Weyburn did such a great job of having a lot of opportunities for anybody with a musical gift to be able share that. Whether it was the music festival or the Wheat Fest. They were just so many opportunities to get out there and perform and hone your craft. I owe a lot to Weyburn for keeping all of the opportunities out there for people. I was busy pretty much every weekend from the time I was ten year old. " explained Arts.
It's fitting, then, that Arts's latest critically acclaimed track, "Everybody Knows Everybody" off her 2020 sophomore full length Love, Heartbreak & Everything In Between, is currently nominated in two different categories for the annual Saskatchewan Country Music Association Awards: songwriter of the year (along with co-writers Alex Kline and Allison Veltz Cruz) and Video of the year (directed by Grant Claire). On the surface, "Everybody Knows Everybody" is a tongue in cheek tribute to her Weyburn upbringing. It's a very relatable and hook laden track.
"I wrote that song about the bar in my hometown called The Detour," says Arts, "So it's definitely about my hometown and about the small town life. It means a lot to me that a lot of people can relate to this song and I know everybody in Saskatchewan that grew up in a small town totally gets the one bar thing and everyway knows way too much about each other."
Arts's process for her sophomore release Love, Heartbreak, and Everything In Between, as mentioned above, involved her working with Producer Alex Kline and co-writer Allison Veltz Cruz. The three women working together proved to be a winning, as well as groundbreaking combination, with Kline becoming the first solo female producer to have a Top 15 country radio hit by a female artist, with the release of Arts's wonderfully catchy and emotive “Somebody Like That.” Arts has talked at great length about this track in the past so when we chatted with her she broke down "Everybody Knows Everybody" in more detail at our request.
"I love writing with (Kline and Cruz) and we've did quite a few songs on the album together. So when got together to write 'Everybody Knows Everybody' we sat down and we just started talking about my hometown. They said 'just tell us more about your story. What's it like there and maybe we can pull something from that' and so I just started talking about going out in my hometown and what that's like and how everybody knows too much about each other and I think it was Allison (Cruz) that started singing the 'Everybody knows Everybody' hook and it felt so cool and felt so fun."
"I think coming from a small town like that. Living that life - especially with country music - I think we're actually living what we're singing about the majority of time. I think that really plays into it a lot (as well)," Arts continued.
Kline is a great producer - the kind that Arts felt comfortable letting her guard down in front of. Arts was writing a lot of very personal songs on Love, Heartbreak & Everything In Between. The lighthearted "Everybody Knows Everybody" vibe was a bit of a pivot compared to some of the other tracks on the record but also a welcome change in mood and style stitching together the "everything in between" to go with the themes of "love and heartbreak" that collectively almost fit together as a concept album.
"(Alex Kline) is incredible and I love being able to be in the room together as she's creating," said Arts of working with Kline, "She's so great and has a great ear and we had a lot of the same influences growing up so it makes a lot of sense for us to work together."
As mentioned above, Arts has garnered a lot of critical acclaim in her home province this past year via having recently taken home the SaskMusic awards for "Album of the year", "Country Artist of the Year" and "Single of the year" and also currently has five nominations for this year's edition of the Saskatchewan Country Music Association's annual awards of which winners will be announced April 17th via an online gala. In the meantime, Arts has been making use of the quarantines and lockdowns to continue writing and honing her craft with five or six songs currently written for what will hopefully become a future full length.
"The new songs are definitely different having written them during quarantine. It was kind of a situation for me where I sat down and was reflecting on my past a lot more. So these songs are a lot more 'life' songs. I'm really excited to share them with people because I think I've been able to tap into something a little different that I wouldn't have been able to necessarily do if it hadn't been a pandemic and if I hadn't been sitting at home kind of reflecting," says Arts.
Arts will be releasing her latest single "Give It To Me Straight" will release Friday, February 19th.
*photo #3 by Rachel Deeb
*photo #2 by Scott Roos