Canadian singer-songwriter Tebey went down a storm in 2019 when he performed as part of Country Music Week.
He was due to perform at C2C: Country to Country in 2020 but due to the pandemic, the festival was postponed. In January Tebey released his album ‘The Good Ones’, and it’s the first chance fans have had to hear a full body of work.
I caught up with Tebey recently to talk about the album, discuss his upcoming events with Destination Country and to find out his plans to break the UK market…
The last time we saw you was in March 2020 when you came to the UK for C2C just before the festival was cancelled. The last year has been a weird one for us all. How has it been for you?
It’s been weird. I think we’re all just trying to survive this, especially people that make their living in the music business because obviously there’s been no shows. It’s moved really, really slow but here we are one year in. I’m still here, still kickin’, still making music and counting down the days until I can get back over to the UK and Europe and just tour in general. This time last year I was literally stuck in Heathrow Airport for a bit trying to figure out how I was going to get home and I obviously made it back but it was really disappointing that I couldn’t play C2C last year. I hear there’s going to be a Country Music Week in October and people are hopeful it’s going to go ahead so we’ll see what happens. Hopefully I can get back over in October.
It must be so frustrating as you’d started to build the foundations here in the UK with your performances at Country Music Week in 2019. It must be frustrating that you haven’t been able to play here since…
It’s very frustrating. I feel like any momentum that we had started to build is a little bit gone just because I haven’t been able to get there. The thing about the UK is there’s not a ton of of Country radio. I feel in order to grow your career, you just have to keep going back and playing in front of the fans. That’s what I plan on doing as soon as I am allowed to head back over there. I’m excited to play shows and to do a proper tour of the UK.
One good thing to come out of the last year is the release of your album ‘The Good Ones’ in January. It’s so uplifting and feel-good. Was that release of the album, and the creation of it, impacted by the pandemic?
Well, the major impact was that it actually worked out for us because I wasn’t able to finish the album last year. We’re hoping to finish it early spring last year, but we just weren’t able to do that because of the pandemic. Had the pandemic not existed I never would have written ‘Happened on a Saturday Night’, and I never would have written ‘Shotgun Rider’, which is the the new single, simply because we would have been done. I think there’s a little bit of a blessing in disguise there from a music standpoint for me. Now the the music is out and people are hopefully able to digest it a little bit, and I can come over there and tour in the near future and people will know the songs.
What’s clear from the album is that you have a real knack for a strong melody because there isn’t a bad song on there. What’s the reaction been like from the fans?
Anytime I put out music, it’s very nerve wracking. You never know what people are gonna like or dislike. The thing I’ve learned over the years is that music is subjective. It’s like you’re trying to create the biggest target you can when you’re throwing the darts at it because you want as many people as possible to enjoy the music, even though everybody has different opinions. The response has been great. There are a couple of hit songs that have already been out on that record and there’s some new ones like ‘Shotgun Rider’, and then the next single coming out probably in May is a song called ‘Song of the Summer’.
Any of the songs on this record could be a single…
Thank you. We’re actually doing an international version of the next single, which is ‘Song of the Summer’ and it’s going to feature a pretty prominent and famous UK artists. I’m over the moon about this. We just confirmed this a couple days ago and did a little Zoom meeting about it with the artist and it’s going to be fantastic. That’ll be coming to the UK airwaves, hopefully Radio 2, that’d be pretty cool, because that song leans kind of pop. I know that Radio 2 is on our list for the next single.
How have you managed to stay creative during the pandemic?
It’s been tough. I typically have a really small group of people that I write with anyways, and all of those people have had COVID, including myself, so we have this nice little bubble that we can work with each other.
Sorry to hear that you’ve had COVID. I’ve managed to avoid it so far but this pandemic feels like it’s never-ending…
It’s a weird thing because this literally happens once every 100 years. I don’t know what the universe is trying to tell us but the last time this happened was I think 1918. It just is what it is. We just need to get through it. Unfortunately it’s somewhat unprecedented and we don’t really know how to deal with it. We’re just we’re just all trying to make it through. Now that we have a vaccine and people seem to be open taking it, I think we’re going to be through this by the end of the year, for sure, hopefully sooner.
You written huge songs for other artists including Pixie Lott, Justin Moore and One Direction. What’s your process when it comes to writing for other artists?
I just like to write what I love. I feel that if you try to pigeonhole something or specifically write something for an artist, I just feel like it doesn’t work because you’re always going to be behind the curve. Carrie Underwood doesn’t want to sing about what she sang about on the last record, and who knows if it’s even going to be sonically the same. That’s just an example. I just try to write great songs and hopefully they will find a home. That’s the way I approach it. I just want to write great music.
Have you ever regretted giving a song to another artist or do you feel that those songs have just taken their natural journey?
I can’t keep all the songs for myself. The fact that people still want to record my songs is pretty awesome so I just got a strike while the iron is still hot. I’ve never worried about that. There’s songs that I maybe would liked to have for myself but I truly believe that they find their way to where they’re supposed to be. I’m at peace with that.
How have you been staying connected with your fans during the pandemic?
I’ve done a few livestreams. I’ve done a few specifically for the UK, just because I feel like that’s a market that I really got to get to work in. I’ve had a lot of success in Canada and I’ve stepped into the headliner status back home in Canada. The UK is another market that is on my list, and Europe as well, because I know there’s Country music fans and I know they love the genre, it’s just I feel like they don’t have access to it as much as we do here. When they hop in their car to take their kid to football practice there’s only the one Country station to put on so it’s a little bit different over there. I just feel like I need to come back, and then keep coming back and then come back again, and hopefully watch the fanbase grow.
What was your experience of playing to British audiences during Country Music Week?
It was great. It was fantastic. I mean, the fact that people on the other side of the world love the music that I’m making is pretty cool. I think it’s only a matter of time before Country music gets the recognition that it deserves in the UK. Artists like Kane Brown, Taylor Swift, obviously, Dan + Shay and people like that are really helping to bridge the gap, I think in the UK, because their stuff does lean quite pop. They’ve brought in people that typically wouldn’t listen to Country music. Maybe they hear a Kane Brown or Dan + Shay song on Radio 2 and they all of a sudden start becoming fans of the genre. I think a lot of it’s about removing the stigma. There seems to be a stigma in Europe and the UK about what Country music is and I think there’s a lot of artists, like the ones I mentioned and hopefully myself, that are breaking down those stereotypes. Country music is cool. It’s a great genre so let’s build a fan base.
Country music fans can feel a real ownership over the genre and some fans have very strict criteria for what constitutes Country music. What’s your take on the genre?
I think it’s a little bit of an old school mentality. In the UK you just don’t have as much radio and as much exposure to it as we do. I want to shout out Chris Country and Country Hits, because they’ve been making huge in-roads in introducing music. It’s obvious that it’s growing. You’ve got the superstars like the Keith Urbans and Luke Combs and people like that that have really built a solid fan base in the UK, but there’s guys like myself, who are who are ready to step into a bigger role in the market there. I’m willing to put in the time and money and effort, and I think that’s what it comes down to. This is not an overnight thing, especially for American artists or Canadian artists to come over there. It takes a long time. I’m in it for the long haul because I love the UK. I used to live there. I used to live in London. My grandparents are English, they’re from Norwich. I just have a connection there and I’m determined to break into the Country music scene.
You’re going to be doing a Happy (Half) Hour with Destination Country on 25th February and a live show with support from Matt Lang and Sons of Daughters on 28th February. What can fans expect?
Just to hear me play live. I haven’t played live that much in the UK so a lot of folks probably haven’t seen it. We’re gonna have some fun and introduce myself to the fan base. I feel like there’s a lot of people that are not familiar with who I am, or definitely don’t know how to pronounce my name so I got some work to do.
‘The Good Ones’ only came out last month but are you looking ahead to the next project already? What else do you have coming up this year?
Just continue to write songs and prepare for the next project. ‘Song of the Summer’ is the next single so we’re working on the international version of that. That’s going to be a duet with another artist. That’s something I’m working on right now. We’re planning a tour. I’m going to be doing another headline tour across Canada and then hopefully, that’ll take me to the UK as well. There’s so much uncertainty but I’m trying to be as prepared as possible so we can put things in motion once some of these restrictions are lifted. Definitely coming to the UK, probably in Octobe for Country Music Week. I hear that’s probably going to go ahead providing everything works out with with the vaccines and the numbers go down. I’m looking forward to getting over in October.
Tebey will be taking part in the Destination Country Happy (Half) Hour on Thursday 25th February at 8pm GMT. It’s FREE to attend so register now to come along. He will also be performing a live show on Sunday 28th February with support from Matt Lang and Sons of Daughters on the Destination Country Facebook page.