This past spring, Saskatchewan based country-pop artist Justine Sletten released her single, “All Bad”. Produced by Canadian award winning country music producer Bart McKay (Brett Kissel), and written by country music songwriting powerhouses Blake Bollinger (Jason Aldean, Darius Rucker) and April Geesbreght, the tune is a catchy, upbeat ode to not giving up on future relationships.
We had the opportunity to chat with Justine about the single, what she’s learned along the way, and what’s next.
Kat: Can you talk about the inspiration behind your latest single “All Bad”?
Justine: All Bad is my first song that I have recorded that I actually didn’t write. I got the song through my producer, and he sent me this long list of songs that I had to choose from and I fell in love with All Bad from the first listen. The thing I loved the most about it was that when you hear the title you assume that the song is going to have a negative message, but from the first couple seconds of the song when you hear the upbeat tune to when the lyrics come in with the positive message it’s a total surprise!
Kat: The single was produced by Produced by Canadian award winning country music producer Bart McKay (Brett Kissel), and written by country music songwriting powerhouses Blake Bollinger (Jason Aldean, Darius Rucker) and April Geesbreght. Can you talk about the single process, and the overall sound or direction you were hoping to achieve?
Justine: When I found out who the song was written by it became twice as amazing to me. When I listened to the demo for the first time I liked the direction they were taking the song. I met with my Bart McKay for the first time to discuss the song, and we both agreed that we wanted the song to start a little more meek and then grow and grow as the song went on. This also led to the song having a huge and fun ending. One of my favourite things about the song is the male backup vocals, which was Bart’s idea. At first I was unsure about this idea but when I heard it for first time I knew 100% the right choice. I always tell people my genre of music is pop/country, and I definitely think this song shows that. Pretty much what I was hoping to achieve with this song was a really fun and upbeat tune that would appeal to pop and country music fans. After hearing the final product of the song I was so happy with how it turned out, and honestly couldn’t hear the song any other way. I’ve gotten tons of positive feedback from people which always is good to hear, and is a good way to know that my music is making my fans happy.
Kat: Your 2017 debut EP landed in the Top 10 Country Albums on iTunes – Top 3 to be exact, and you’ve won countless music competitions, including the Saskatoon Country Music Association Youth Star Search, the Medicine Hat Stampede Summer Star, the Deja Vu Songwriters Competition, and the 2018 Living Skies Teen Vocalist of the Year. What has been a highlight for you? What have you learned along the way?
Justine: The highlight of all the competitions I have competed in would without a doubt be the Global Country Canada Star Search which I competed in, in 2018. The price of this competition was travelling to Nashville to compete in an international competition, a songwriting workshop and work with industry professionals. This was a trip of a lifetime for me, I learned so much at the end of the trip I didn’t know what to do with all the information. I met so many cool and interesting musicians and was overall just surrounded by music constantly. The international competition happened in Pigeon Forge which is about 3 hours outside Nashville. I placed 1 st in songwriting and 2nd in performance which was a huge accomplishment for me. There was not a second of time I spend there when I wasn’t learning or listening to live music. Nashville is really one of the most amazing places to visit and I can’t wait till I get to go back someday!
Kat: Can you talk a little bit about your musical inspirations and role models, and why you decided to pursue the country music genre?
Justine: From a very young age my main role model has been Shania Twain. I used to listen to her music and jump on my parents bed when I was just a small kid. Even to this day I still love her music and really look up to her. As I grew older I became a huge Taylor Swift fan and I heard so many stories about how her career started and was inspired. Now that I am a part of the music industry I look up to a lot of Saskatchewan artist like Tenille Arts and Jess Moskaluke, and follow their careers very closely in hope to learn the things they did when they were my age. Living in Canada I have so many amazing musicians to look up to and the country music world is so friendly. I always have people I can go to, to ask for advice and that’s an amazing thing.
Kat: How are you staying connected to your fans and the industry during Covid-19? What’s next?
Justine: Not being able to perform was really hard for me because that is my favourite part of this career. Not going to lie I was a little discouraged at the beginning of all of this, but when I discovered the world of live streams I found it sorta replaced the high I got from preforming. Eventually I realized it was actually easier to interact with my audience online which I really enjoyed! I’ve been doing my best to stay active on social media and doing the occasional live, but I have slowly started booking gigs again which I am super excited about! Follow me on social media to keep up to date with my performances and other exciting adventures!
For more on Justine, visit: https://justinesletten.com