FYIG Chats With Alt-Country Artist Elyse Saunders

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Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hey there! My name is Elyse Saunders, I’m an entertainer, country recording artist, and songwriter. Being on stage is where I feel at home. When I see my audience engaging, smiling and having fun, that’s when I feel happiest!

As soon as I finished high school, I made the decision to make country music a career. Obviously, it didn’t happen overnight, but early on, I knew that I would learn best by emerging myself in the scene. Since then, I’ve really grown into a professional artist and honed in on who I am and what I want to say. I’m super excited about what’s next!

How did you get your start in music?

Music has always been a part of my life and as a kid, I knew that I wanted to be a performer. I’ve always looked up to entertainers and knew that one day, I wanted to do what they do.

I started performing through dance (jazz, hip-hop, tap) and have always written songs. Once I reached my teens, I started performing in singing competitions and although I never liked the idea of being “judged”, it was a great stage to learn and grow from.

Shortly after that, I worked with my first mentor, Cyril Rawson, from my hometown of Peterborough, Ontario. He’s a songwriter & producer who really taught me how to have my own voice and how to make a song come alive through vocal interpretation. We went to Nashville, recorded my first album and for the first time, I was able to see how the real pros did it. I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by top professionals early on which I know had a big influence on me. The album was my first contribution to the country music world and soon after, I was asked to open for ACM artist Deric Ruttan in front of my hometown crowd of 10,000 attendees. I was hooked!

How would you describe your musical style?

My music style is contemporary country that leans on pop hooks with southern country flare. 

Elyse Saunders
Photo credit: Raven Kyle Photography

How have you evolved as an artist since your 2008 debut album?

More than anything, I’ve evolved organically. I’ve spent a lot of time growing as a songwriter, vocalist, entertainer, and person which has ultimately given me the opportunity to hone in on what I can offer to the music world. Since 2008, I’ve worked hard on becoming the best I can be at this time and have moved from newbie to professional. Knowing who I am as an artist is truly valuable as I confidently bring my own sound, style, and personality to my music and show. 

Your 2017 single, “Rise” has been picked up for TV placement for the 2020 Summer Olympics. How does it feel to know that something you wrote is being used to promote such a prestigious set of events?

It’s an incredible experience. β€œRise” is unique in that we specifically wrote it about Equestrian Canadian Olympian Jessica Phoenix and her story of beating the odds. It has become an anthem for anyone who needs a boost in life and it feels pretty inspiring to see how much of an impact the song is making and the many ways it is breaking through!

You personally wrote and financed the song, “Me Too” in 2018. How important was that project to you?

As I move forward in my career, it’s important to me to bring people joy and happiness through my music, as well as release songs that can speak to and shed light on important topics for those who may not have a voice. When my co-writers and I wrote “Me Too”, we had no idea that we would write this song that day. It seemed to write itself. It’s a subject that so many people can relate to on all kinds of levels no matter age, sex, status or race. I knew that the story and message needed to be shared.

What can you tell us about your latest single, “Feel You Leaving” and the video behind it?

“Feel You Leaving” started in my sleep. Every once in a while, I’ll wake up hearing a song and I have learned that when that happens, I need to immediately record the idea in my phone memos or I’ll lose it. This was one of those songs!

I woke up singing the hook and the lines “let these waves crash over me, wash away our memories.” I took the idea to my co-writers and we settled on a direction that revolved around the hook. The main message of the song is to let go of your past and embrace what is happening now. It’s kind of perfect for a first new release as I’ve reached a new chapter in my career. The song is intimate as well as strong so I imagined it being striking and cinematic when capturing the snapshots of a past love story. My videographer/editor Edward Platero was great to collaborate with in creating my vision and what a beautiful job he did!

What was it like to work with award-winning filmmaker Edward Platero?

He’s such a pro and easy to work with. He is really great at seeing the whole picture and knowing what moments need to be captured to really make the emotion and story of the song come alive.

What’s next for your career?

I look forward to building on the momentum I have now and taking it as far as I can. I’m working with a great group of people that really believe in what I’m doing and I’m excited to keep adding to my team so that we can leverage my successes together. I will continue to write and put out new music, tour, connect with my fans and expand internationally, so I can reach more people with my music. This is my career and I’m working hard on plans and strategies to make it all happen.

What advice would you have for aspiring singers/songwriters?

If you believe in yourself, then do what you love to do and don’t be afraid to try. You’ll make mistakes but learn and grow from them. Put the work in so that you can be better than just good – you deserve it!

What’s your life like outside of music?

Outside of music, I try my best to have quality time with my family and friends. Time flies by way too fast and I want to be there for the ones I care for! Other than that, I love my 2 fur babies (Dolly & Pearl), I love being outdoors, camping, being by the lake, travelling, great food, and going to concerts!

Talk about the “Warm Coats, Warm Hearts – Coat Drive & Concert” and what that event means to you.

During my elementary school days, I had a memory of a boy who came to school on the coldest days of winter in a spring jacket, no mitts, and no hat. It stood out to me, although I didn’t fully understand what was happening at the time. As I was building my music career, I realized I had a public platform that I could utilize to give back and wanted to create an event that would give back through music. One day I was riding public transit, I found a paper to read on my trip and saw an ad about a website called OneWarmCoat.org. It mentioned the need for winter coat drives and how to create one for my own community. It took me back to the experience I had in elementary school and struck the idea of creating a fun concert with my peers and ask for warm winter coats as admission.

Seven years ago was my very first coat drive and concert. Since then, it’s been amazing to see the many communities come together. To date, we’ve put thousands of warm winter coats on children, youth and adults. Through this initiative, I was also invited to share my story at Ottawa’s “We Day” in front of tens of thousands of inspired youth on behalf of The Keg Spirit Foundation. This initiative definitely exceeded my expectations of making a difference. As I keep growing in my career, I want to do more and give back as much as I can through my musical platform!

Let the readers know where to find you online.

You can find me on InstagramFacebookYouTube and more! My music is available on any platform you listen to like SpotifyApple Music, and so forth! My website is ElyseSaunders.com – make sure to sign up to my mailing list for freebies, exclusive news and more!! Thanks so much for listening and thank you to Find Your Inner Geek! Hope to see ya all at a show soon! πŸ™‚