Canadian recording artist Elyse Saunders recently released her new single “Free“, a country and pop fusion. “Free” – co-written by Saunders and Shawn Moore is her debut collaboration with acclaimed producer Dan Swinimer (Madeline Merlo, JoJo Mason). An upbeat country song that blends electronic-pop elements and an acoustically driven rhythm with soaring vocals, the summertime story at the heart of the song carries a deeper message for the Peterborough, Ontario native.
We had the opportunity to chat with Elyse about her music, career highlights, and her weekly vlog.
Kat: Can you talk about the inspiration behind your latest single “Free”?
Elyse: I’d love to! My co-writer Shawn Moore and I wrote this song about a year ago. I knew that I wanted to create a fun, upbeat, summer anthem that would be reminiscent of all of the good memories we have in the summertime. A bunch of the stories in the verses are from when I was growing up in my hometown of Peterborough, and a time when I felt like I was finding myself and just living in the moment.
We decided to add a drop chorus that is popular in the electronic music world, in order to create that summer anthem feel and give the country music channels something slightly unique to who I am as an artist. The ultimate message of the song to remind ourselves that it’s important to slow down, be lost in the moment and feel free of responsibilities. Those times can be fleeting but when we give ourselves permission to be free in whatever way is best for us, it can bring so much more clarity and happiness.
Kat: “Free” is your first collaboration with award-winning producer Dan Swinimer (Madeline Merlo, JoJo Mason). Can you talk about what it was like collaborating with him, and the direction or sound you were hoping to achieve on the track?
Elyse: Dan brings so much positivity to the studio and always strives to make the song the best it can be. He’s the kind of producer that doesn’t stop until the song has been brought to a level that can’t be beat and I truly value his time as he’s selective with who he works with. He has an admirable work ethic and a finely-tuned ear for capturing the best vocals and performances from the artist and the musicians. It’s been an honour to work with him, as we not only had a great studio experience but he has a wealth of industry knowledge. I’m constantly learning from his experiences and I appreciate how much he cares about what is best for each artist he works with.
Kat: You’ve opened at the 2019 Canadian Music Week for David James and Kira Isabella and had a 2020 FEO Showcase in February. What has been a highlight for you? What have you learned along the way?
Elyse: I’ve been fortunate to be able to play a number of wonderful stages during my career as an entertainer. A recent highlight has been from one of my shows last year when I played Vancouver Island’s Sunfest Country Music Festival ahead of Terri Clark and Jason Aldean. The crowd was so much fun and the location was surrounded by beautiful mountains. I’ve never played in such a naturally beautiful setting before and the cool thing was that a bunch of my bandmates came to play the show too and we had so much fun. It’s a show I’ll never forget.
I’ve learned so much along the way. I’ve always believed that the best way to learn is by experience. As an entertainer, that’s happened by playing the late night country clubs for all different kinds of crowds in all kinds of settings. The best thing I’ve learned is to practice enough times, so that you can be free to be yourself and shine on stage. Most importantly, you are there to create a show that is for the people, to make a genuine connection on stage and a lasting experience that makes them feel involved.
Kat: Can you talk a little bit about your musical inspirations and role models?
Elyse: I grew up listening to all of the kinds of music you can imagine and I believe that it’s made me more of a well-rounded singer and brought many different inspirations into my songwriting, too. My role models to this day are Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, Dolly Parton, Martina McBride and Johnny Cash – all for different reasons! Garth Brooks and Shania Twain really changed live concerts and I love everything about them as entertainers and how genuine they seem to be as people. Dolly Parton is one of my favourite songwriters and such a sweetheart – how can you not love Dolly? Martina McBride is a powerhouse with such rich vocals – I’ve always strived to be a vocalist in her category – and Johnny Cash because he was rebel and wasn’t afraid to write about topics that weren’t always the most politically correct. He used his voice to shed light on many topics!
Kat: You recently launched your own weekly vlog with episodes like “A Day in the Life of a Country Artist”, “7 Ways to Stay Motivated At Home”, and “9 Tips for Writing a Country Song”, to help keep yourself busy during the pandemic. What motivated you to create the vlog, and how is it helping your connections with your fans?
Elyse: It was the pandemic that mostly motivated me to start doing these vlogs. Like everybody else, it was a shock and turned my life upside down. And as an entertainer, I couldn’t be out on the road performing and I had just released a new song but couldn’t be out sharing it live. So I thought why not find a way that I can still stay connected to my fans? I landed on YouTube vlogging.
It’s been interesting learning all of the moving parts that go into creating an episode and I’ve been really open to sharing parts of me that maybe my fans have never seen before. I wanted to share my experiences as a person and artist hoping that it will entertain or help someone in some way. My fans seem to really enjoy them, too!
For more on Elyse, please visit: https://www.elysesaunders.com