Canadian Country Artist ANNIKA Shares Thoughts On Her Debut EP “Stand Still: Side A”

Kat Harlton

Acclaimed Canadian country artist ANNIKA recently released her debut EP Stand Still: Side A on May 6th via all streaming platforms.

The seven-track EP is a departure from ANNIKA’s previous work and takes listeners on a journey of love’s ups and downs through her eyes. The project will be broken down into two EPs and one deluxe album, delivering a total of 14 songs that ANNIKA co-wrote, most of them with her JUNO award-winning husband, Spencer Cheyne who also produced the project. 

ANNIKA pairs soulful melodies with heartfelt lyrics to create music that always leaves a lasting impression, as displayed in tracks such as “It Still Hurts,” “Blind Love” and “Love Looks Like You”. Her sophomore single,“Encore” (duet with Brett Kissel), debuted in the Top 10 on the iTunes country store and at No.48 on the iTunes All Genre Chart, accumulating over 150,000 overall streams in its first month of release. 

The EP’s title track, “Stand Still,” was recorded as an acoustic song with only piano and vocals, highlighting the beauty of remaining quiet and content in a world that is in a constant state of motion. 

ANNIKA also finds a way to highlight her lively spirit on the EP through upbeat, toe-tapping, musical jams like “The Death of Me” and “I Really Don’t Want To.” Following its release, “I Really Don’t Want To” was added to over 20 Canadian country radio stations, reaching No.33 on the CBC Country Top 40 chart, Top 40 at Mediabase, and Top 50 on the Billboard Country Chart. ANNIKA was also featured in the Billboard MRC Canadian Music Newsletter (July 2021) and was named the iHeart Radio Future Star (July/August 2021). 

Calgary, Alberta-born and raised ANNIKA has been engaging and entertaining audiences since 2014 as the lead singer of the CCMA-nominated, country-pop duo Leaving Thomas. She has performed around the world, from bustling cruise ships to national television as a Top 11 Canadian Idol finalist, and even hosting the Calgary Stampede Grandstand show with a combined audience of over 200,000 people. Her performance highlights include playing “In The Round” at The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, Tennessee (2018), the Birdland Jazz Club in New York City, New York (2017), Canada’s Olympic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony (2014), the Dave Kelly Live: Jann Arden Tribute Show (2020), and headlining MTV’s anti-trafficking event, “Freedom For Others” in Bangkok, Thailand (2014).

I had the opportunity to chat with ANNIKA about her debut EP, her creative process and what’s next.

Kat: Can you talk about the inspiration behind your new EP Still Stand: Side A?

ANNIKA: Stand Still: Side A was inspired by the journey I’ve taken as an artist throughout the past 5 years and the ups and downs that have come along with it. The title track, “Stand Still” is about finding peace and tranquillity in a world that is often chaotic and constantly in motion. As someone with a lot of energy, it takes practice and focus for me to really “stand still” in the moment and appreciate it as it is happening rather than always moving onto the next adventure. Stand Still: Side A is about honouring the past, while also living in the moment.

Kat: What do you hope fans take from the EP?

ANNIKA: I hope this album serves as a reminder for fans to take a moment, breathe, and appreciate whatever moment they are in at the time. Sometimes life gives us moments that we want to escape from, and other times, we are so busy looking forward to the future that we completely miss the present moment and the beauty in the simplest things. This album is meant to help people slow down, and simply “be.”

Kat: What do you find is the most challenging part of your creative process?

ANNIKA: The most challenging part of the creative process for me is choosing the songs that will actually be released. As a songwriter, I think it’s important to write often, so I have many songs that may never get released. As hard as that is sometimes, I think it’s important to establish and develop a theme for a project, and make sure that the songs chosen always support the overall theme (lyrically, musically, production wise etc.). However, it is still very challenging to choose a very select few songs from a large catalogue that I have spent years writing!

Kat: What has been a career highlight for you so far? What have you learned along the way?

ANNIKA: A career highlight for me was performing “in the round” as a songwriter at the iconic “Bluebird Cafe” in Nashville, TN. The venue is legendary among artists and songwriters across North America and it was truly an honour to get to be part of a songwriter round there. Years beforehand, I had stood outside, waiting for tickets to get in and watch so it was pretty amazing to be there several years later as one of the writers performing.

Kat: What can we expect from you for the balance of 2022?

ANNIKA: One thing you can always expect from me is…more music! Stand Still: Side B is on the horizon. The songs have been written and recorded, now we are just in the final stages of production to put the finishing touches on the songs. I can’t wait to share more music, and more stories with the fans this year!


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