Keith Barry

First Published May 2022

“I LIVE A LIFE OF POSITIVITY”

Part 2

A few weeks back we had the pleasure of spending some time in the company of the world famous TV hypnotist, mentalist, and brain hacker KEITH BARRY to chat about his book, BRAIN HACKS, and his RECONNECTED Tour which comes to Tullamore on June 3rd. With that date in the Tullamore Court Hotel now only a few weeks away, it’s time to bring you Part 2 of our chat with Keith. 

I feel like it’s also worth reminding you that during our chat – which was via Zoom, by the way – Keith read my mind, not once…but TWICE. Believe you me, I’ve thought about it long and hard ever since, and I still have no idea how he did it. It still feels like it should have been impossible…and yet…he did it. It happened. Even if I can’t explain it. If you missed Part 1 of this chat where I went into detail on exactly what happened, you can check it out on the official OTRT website. 

But my point is, if he can do THAT via Zoom, I can’t wait to see what he can do to, or with, a venue full of people in the Tullamore Court Hotel on June 3rd. 

In advance of our interview, I was listening to a podcast on which Keith had recently been a guest. On that podcast, he spoke about his ‘chaos-box’, an idea I love. Essentially, it’s where Keith stores ideas for inspiration. I asked him if he’d share a little about the whole concept of the box and how it came to be…

And, sure enough, with that request Keith disappears off-screen, informing me as he goes that, “Hold on, I’m going over to get my chaos-box!” 

“I’ll put it this way”, he says, upon his return into view on my screen, “this is my current chaos-box. I don’t know if I can lift it up [it is, in fairness, quite a big and full box], look, there it is there. So that’s my chaos-box. Let’s see what we have goin’ on in here. I’ve got all kinds of mad s**t in here! I’ve got Pringles. I’ve got this…I don’t even know what this is [he lifts up something that I can’t identify either]. I literally don’t know what this is, but I know it will give me inspiration. I have an everyday magic-kit. I’ve got some really old coins. I collect coins as well, so I’ve got all these really old ones. So let’s just take a coin, for example. Today, I might go, ‘I can’t make a decision about something’, so I’ll take a coin, flip it, and go heads or tails. Heads. Done. That’s the decision made. Whatever that comes up with, I’ll do that. The concept of the chaos-box just came to me randomly one time when I was stuck – just completely stuck – in a creative rut. I’d read years ago about people making a mood-board, right, where you take clippings out of magazines. That’s what I’d read. But for me, I’d tried that years and years ago, taking clippings out of magazines, but it never really resonated with me, that one thing. I could never really make it work for me. Different folks, different strokes.”

“But then”, he continued, “I realised objects are really important to me. So what I do is, I literally take – as you can see – a whole bunch of different things, and I chuck it into a box. There’s tons and tons of different things in there. And as I look at that chaos-box, there’s probably a hundred different things in there. When I get stuck in a creative rut, I stop, and I just play. I don’t even think about whatever it was I’d been thinking about, I just play with the objects in the chaos-box. So what this does is it opens up your creativity, gives your mind a break from whatever it is that you’re working on at that moment in time. But more importantly, again, in the background while you’re doing this, your subconscious mind is working in overdrive to solve the problem that you have to hand. So, anytime I get stuck, I just take that and I dump it out on the floor – cos’ I have loads of space here – and I literally just sit there and I play with all that kind of stuff. Then I’ll go back to the problem at hand, and nine times out of ten, my creativity will have been inspired by the chaos-box.”

The most important thing about the chaos-box, according to Keith, is that “you kind of rework it once a month.”

“I’ll actually take all those items [currently in the box] and I’ll either dump them or I’ll put them somewhere else, and put new objects in there so it’s not that you have the same things there the whole time. And, of course, it also keeps your office really tidy! [Laughs]. That’s what’s great about it, right? [Laughs]. I don’t have any of this stuff lying everywhere, my office is lovely and neat and tidy. I can’t turn my camera around now because my technician is not here. When we do gigs, if I touch any of this equipment, he kills me [laughs]. But if I did, you’d see a really tidy office. So if you’ve got a chaos-box going on, it just helps a lot, it helps with organisation, with structure, and then with creativity.” 

What, I asked Keith, is it about people – some people – that stops them from creating a better life for themselves when the methods to do so are there, and are being shared by people like him in easy to access ways, ways that are just waiting to be used? 

“Dare I say it – this will be unpopular, but I have to say it – it’s laziness! People are lazy. We’ve become so comfy in our comfy houses. I’m in a heated cabin now, and I’ve got a heated house, and I’ve got a heated steering-wheel, and heated seat in my car. I’m really comfy with all that. And then people are always looking for an easy solution. And this is an issue. I talked to somebody recently about this, on a project I was working on. But we were talking to a lot of different people, literally hundreds of people. And it turned out that over 50% of those people were medicated for either anxiety or depression. These are just normal, everyday people, right. But I asked them all – and this is the interesting thing – I asked them all, each one of them individually, when did they have the EKG machine hooked up? When did you have your brain scanned? And they were like, ‘What?’ And I said, ‘Well, the only way that you should be on that medication is if they scanned your brain and determined that the neurology of your brain is out of kilter, and you have a chemical imbalance in the brain. Because that’s what chemicals are designed to do, they’re designed to help the chemical balance. So where did you have your brain-scan, or where did you have your blood tests to prove that you have a chemical imbalance?’ And not one of them had been scanned. Not one of them had a blood test. In other words, it was just a doctor going, ‘Oh, you appear to have signs of anxiety, the signs of depression, here’s your medication.’ So the issue is, people are looking for a quick-fix.”

“The information is all there [to change your life]”, asserts Keith. “It’s like the gym. I’m currently about six kilos overweight, and I don’t look it, but I am. So I’m currently intermittent-fasting, which is not easy. It’s not supposed to be easy. Like life isn’t easy, right? I’m currently intermittent-fasting, sixteen hours a day, no food. And then an eight-hour window in which I can eat. And in that window, it’s just black coffee with no milk because I don’t want to spike my glucose levels. And scrambled eggs. Now, I’m not saying that everybody should do that. But I know I’m going to lose the weight by doing that, and if I go to the gym. But the easier thing would be to go, ‘Oh that’s too hard’, and just not bother. It’s easier to have a glass of wine on a Wednesday night. It’s easier to sit in on a Friday night. It’s easier not to go for a walk when it’s raining. But I think right now, we’re unfortunately in a world where people are looking for the easy fix. A lot of it is down to digitisation of the world. Everything has become so instant at our fingertips. We want the instant solutions to our bodies. We want the instant solutions to our minds. And that’s how people end up struggling. And people say they struggle, and they do struggle, and they recognise that so I’m not belittling that. That’s important for me to get across. I have empathy for people.”

“But…! People need to start taking some responsibility for their own self-discipline. Like, literally, get a journal and write down the sh*t that you want to do in life. And then get up and get on it. You’ve got to maintain that discipline. Before I did anything this morning, I did four rounds of Wim Hoff breathing, I did twenty-two press-ups, exactly twenty-two press-ups for a reason. Then I got into a freezing cold shower, I’m talking about a brain-crushingly cold shower, for five minutes. Then I came out and I did twenty-five press-ups because currently I’m doing a press-up challenge with my friends – there’s four of us – we’re adding on two press-ups a day, so I think one-hundred-and-twenty-two press-ups is what I’ve got to get in today. That’s why I did twenty-two, twenty-five, I’ll do another twenty-five, and then I’ll have fifty left to do. It’s easier not to do that! But, life will give you what you put into it. You’re right, the information is all there, and it’s mostly free. If not, it’s in a book like my book. I’m not saying this in any way to be egotistical, but everything that you need to fix your mind is in my book. But whether you want to use that or not, and apply that or not, is down to the reader. I’ve got some amazing stories of people who have said that the book has actually changed their lives, which is fantastic to hear.”

However, what Keith thinks people really need to understand is that they can fix themselves… 

“I think they need to understand that the solution is within themselves. I think they need to stop being lazy. I think they need to activate themselves every day and stop playing the blame-game as well. Like, it’s easy for us to go, ‘Oh, the oil prices are going up because of the Russians’, or ‘Oh the banks have screwed me!’, or ‘I wish this year was better.’ Don’t wish anything was better. Wish YOU were better. Isn’t that an interesting concept? Don’t wish that the pandemic didn’t happen. Wish that YOU were better during the pandemic, ya know. I have that mindset. We all have to deal with illness. We all have to deal with bad times. We all have to deal with good times. What are we in now? We’re in spring now, summer is coming. Then after the summer, autumn is coming. Then after the autumn, winter is coming. Are we going to get another strain of this sh*t? Probably. Are we all going to get downbeat and downtrodden? Maybe a lot of people will. I won’t. Because I’m already preempting it. That’s a big thing that I do, I preempt obstacles. Start to take a step back and go, ‘Actually…I can control what’s inside my brain.’ You can’t control the world. I can’t control Putin. I can’t control [what’s happening in ] Ukraine. I can’t control Joe Biden. But I can control my responses. My response is to limit the absorption of that information. And to show my support lovingly to Ukraine, which I think we should all be doing. And then, after that, there’s not very much I can do.”

For Keith, it’s about putting habits in place every single day to ensure that he lives a life of positivity. 

“I live a life of positivity. That’s what I do. If you look at my Instagram, I was on Ventry pier the last three days, jumping into the sea, going for a freezing cold swim. There wasn’t a soul in sight, there weren’t even people walking on Ventry beach when I was down there. So, am I right? I don’t know! But all I can tell you is that’s what works for me. But I don’t just do ONE thing that works for me, I do LOADS of things. I do sea-swimming. I do my breathing. I do my own meditation. I do my own visualisation. And it takes time. It takes self-discipline. And, I fall off the wagon. I’m not perfect. I fu*k up like everybody else. But when I fu*k up, I recognise it, and then I take control of it. So right now, my fu*k-up, if you like, is that I’m 89 kilos and I’m starting to film in two and a half weeks for RTE. I should be 85 kilos at least, if not 83, so I’ve got to get that weight off quick! Which I will do. But, it’s not easy! So yeah, I think people need to start to take that responsibility again.” 

~ KEITH BARRY’s RECONNECTED Tour comes to the TULLAMORE COURT HOTEL on JUNE 3rd. For ticket information, check out www.ticketmaster.ie. Keith’s new book, BRAIN HACKS, is also OUT NOW, available in all good bookshops nationwide. Parts 1 and 2 of this interview with Keith are available to enjoy in full at the official OTRT website, www.ontherighttrax.com 

ENDS

Louise Cody

First Published March 2022

MEET ‘CLASSY CODY’

Part 1

I have to admit, when TikTok first came along, I hated it. Straight away. And wholeheartedly. It wasn’t just another social media platform that you’d have to pay attention to (which was bad enough in itself), but here was one that seemed even more focused on people screaming out for attention in that “look at me, look at me!” kind of way that sometimes seems to dominate – and define – the whole social media ‘space.’ And let’s be honest, there’s an awful lot of that involved with what TikTok is.

BUT…with all that being said, I’m a sucker for talent, and even more so for people who can make me laugh. And more than all of that, I appreciate people who are clearly genuine in every aspect of their lives.

So if TikTok – for however long it exists in the world – is responsible for nothing other than making me aware of LOUISE CODY, then the platform will always have done more good than ill.

I can’t recall exactly how Louise first came to my attention, but I’m close to 100% certain that she’s made me laugh every single day since. In fact, Louise probably makes about 77k people laugh every day, because that’s how many followers that Laois woman has amassed on TikTok. Throw in another 12.5k followers on Instagram, and it’s easy to see why Louise – or CLASSY CODY, as she’s more often known – is someone we’ll all be hearing much more about. 

I had the pleasure of sitting down for a chat with Louise recently, and the first thing I can confirm is that she’s every bit as funny in real-life as she is on her social media, and effortlessly and naturally so, too. She’s also just incredibly sound. 

Because she’s involved in so many different things, and has so many sides to who she is, I wanted to begin by asking Louise one simple question…in her own eyes, who exactly is Louise Cody

“To be honest, that’s a really good question. And it’s not something that I ever really give much thought to because I just go about [things] as I am. I see myself as a bit of a…goofball [laughs]. I just don’t take things too seriously, that’s really it, when it comes down to it. I wake up, work, sports, friends, just an overall goofball! That’s a very hard question! [Laughs].” 

Before moving on to chat about her huge social media presence, I asked Louise to tell me about being known as ‘Classy Cody’, her handle on TikTok and Instagram. It half has the sound of something that’s been with her all of her life, but how exactly did that adjective attach itself to her identity? 

“It’s actually a fairly average story, and it hasn’t been with me since childhood at all. And not enough people ask me where that comes from. It’s usually, ‘What makes you classy?’ Or, ‘Why are you classy?’, or ‘Are you classy?’ Because I curse a lot, like a sailor! So it comes into question an awful lot [laughs]. I remember when I got my very first iPhone, I had to set up a gmail address. My previous email address was something like loopylou@hotmail, something horrific anyway. So I was there for ages thinking what email was I gonna use. I was with a group of my friends who were lads, and they were like, ‘Classy Cody.’ I was like, well, why Classy Cody? And they just said because you’re very classy. So I was like…ok…and it’s easy to remember, so yeah! And that’s where it started. So then when I started Instagram, and TikTok and Twitter, I thought Classy Cody, grand, that’s a good username! I had thought about changing it, because there have been so many questions like, ‘But you curse so much?’, or you do this or that, ya know. But I think cursing is supposed to be a sign of honesty! [Laughs]. And, I’m classy in my morals! [Laughs]. So I had a few times where I thought, will I just change it to Louise Cody? But then I thought no, ya know what, it’s gone too far now and everybody knows me as Classy Cody, I’ll leave it as it is.” 

Louise has more than 76k followers on TikTok, that’s more than the capacity of the Avia Stadium. Throw in her Instagram fanbase as well, and she has more than enough followers to fill Croke Park. What do those numbers mean to her when she thinks about them? Or does she even think musch about them at all? 

“Oh God! When ya say it like that! [Laughs]. I don’t even think about them, to be honest. I can’t even remember the point where my TikTok really took off. Honestly. I suppose, in the beginning, I wasn’t really being my true self. I wasn’t not being myself, I was just holding something back. But it just continued to grow the more I actually started to show my personality through my videos. In my head, it’s not a huge deal. As in, it doesn’t faze me. I don’t get too hung up on it. I think if you get hung up on numbers, that’s your downfall. That’s where you change how you act, how you post, everything. Your content becomes around numbers. You stop being yourself. And it’s fairly obvious from my stories on my Instagram – when I put up drunk stories [laughs] – that I don’t care! But yeah, when you think about it like you said there, and in terms of the Avia Stadium, that is overwhelming. I don’t know why they follow me! But here we are [laughs].” 

Louise mentioned once that before she joined TikTok, her social media platforms were just like everybody else’s really, just posting normal stuff, but nothing major taking off in terms of reaction. And yet, she was obviously still the exact same person, funny, witty, wholeheartedly genuine, with a really sharp but honest edge to her. When TikTok came along, did she think, ‘Yes, this is me!’, straight away? Or what were her first thoughts around that platform? 

“I discovered TikTok in the first lockdown. I was working from home, in finance, so it’s fairly mundane. Head down, headphones in, heavy work, just getting it done. So I don’t really get a chance to show my personality too much through my work. Unless I was in the office where I could be talking to people, and probably not getting as much work done [laughs]. I started messing around with videos out of boredom at the start, and I had a few viral ones at the start. Then I got up to 1k followers. Then I started doing Sunday night lives [videos], going ‘live’ when I was watching the NFL (American Football). I gained a kind of core crew of followers from there who are still with me. I would have been on ‘live’ for the entire duration of a game, could be three hours. I don’t know why I started doing that, other than just because I could, because I had reached the number of followers where TikTok allowed you to go ‘live.’ I’d seen other people do it, so I kind of just chanced it, totally out of boredom.”

“It was very nerve-wracking, the first couple of them”, Louise declared, continuing, “I was probably having a beer – or two! – for those, just to take the edge off [laughs]. I’d be thinking, this is insane! I’m sitting here talking to myself, it’s uncomfortable! But then as more regular followers started coming in, I got more comfortable with it. And now, nothing fazes me. And to be honest, TikTok has done that for me. I probably would have spent an awful lot of time thinking about what people thought about me. But now, I actually couldn’t care, like. At the start, with my content, I would have held parts of myself back. And I’d be the same when I’d meet people. Like, I’m full-on! I would consider myself a bit of a weirdo [laughs]. I’m quite energetic. So there are times with that blunt honesty, that people are not ready for it. Because my style of humour would be kind of like…abuse! [Laughs]. So I’ll be sneering everyone and laughing, and people will be thinking, ‘She’s a bitch!’ [Laughs]. But now I’m myself from the get-go when I come into groups of people. It’s given me a confidence I didn’t have before, just through putting myself out there.” 

Although Louise had said that she couldn’t really remember there being a point when she knew her TikTok was really taking off, I wondered if there had been a moment when she first realised that the kind of traction she was getting was more than would be expected from just the usual family and friends kind of following? 

“It’s mad, because I spent my whole life growing up in Laois, and going anywhere in Ireland I’d be told, ‘Jesus, that accent!’ [Laughs]. But it was my videos where I was speaking that did really well, and everyone was like, ‘Oh my God, I love your accent.’ And that, for me, was like…Because again, that brings it full-circle back to the confidence thing. Because for a long time, I thought my accent was horrible! And I would openly abuse myself [about it] before anyone else could. If anyone else tries to abuse Laois, I’m like, ‘I never said it was good, I just said I’m from there’ [laughs]. I gained an awful lot of Australian and American followers because of the videos where I’m talking, cos’ they ‘love my accent.’ And I’m like, that’s nice! [Laughs]. When I was in college, there would be an echo of me talking in the room. As in, I’d say something, and even just how I’d pronounce stuff would be imitated. But I don’t think I have a bad Laois accent! If I was on a night out and someone came up to me and asked me where I’m from, I’d be like, guess! And they’ll be like, Kildare? [Laughs]. But to be fair, my mom is a Kildare woman, and my dad is a Munster man. But my older brother has a very thick Laois accent [laughs].” 

Louise continued, “The South Park stuff actually, but that was only during 2021 when I did my first one of those. But constantly underneath my videos [in the comments], it’s all do another South Park one! But that comes with it when you have a video that goes viral, you gain followers for that genre. They’re there for that. So if you don’t continue to do that, then you’ll lose them. And I can understand that. But no, there was no one time when I realised anything. I wasn’t focusing on the views, or the likes or the followers, I was just posting what I thought was good, and it just grew from there.” 

Speaking of her content, what Louise produces is amazing. And it doesn’t just happen. There’s clearly a lot of time, talent, and effort that goes into what she does. But my first question on her content could really only be one thing…does Louise have some kind of background in drama? 

“No! Not at all. And I’m kinda raging that I don’t! I would have been in pantomimes a little bit, but I was never front and centre. It would have just been in the chorus. But when I was in those, I was quite nervous about them, that was early secondary school. But I love it, and it’s something that’s only come to the forefront with TikTok, that it’s a passion of mine and I probably should pursue it in some way! I might have left it a little bit late to do it now. But I’ve always been so animated. That’s something my friends will always say about me. I’m the kind of person who, if my friends are going on a night out and I’m not going, they’ll be like, ‘Why are you not coming?!’ I bring – without wanting to sound big-headed or anything – a level of entertainment! [Laughs]. No matter what mood I’m in, I’ll always be animated and energetic, and say something because I always talk before I think! I’ll just come out with something, and they’ll be like…, ‘Whaaaat?!’ [Laughs]. I’d love to be on stage. But, time, ya know!” 

South Park, as Louise had indicated already, clearly has a very special place in her heart. And because of that, it has a very special – and regular – place on her socials as well. I asked Louise to talk me through the process of deciding to do a South Park post, for example, from choosing something to getting it just right…

“South Park got added to Netflix, and I was rewatching it. I was never allowed to watch it as a kid, but I used to wait until my parents went to bed and then sneak up and watch it! Because of all the cursing in it. That’s probably one of the reasons why I am the way I am today, I am like Cartman! [Laughs]. So yeah, I was rewatching that through lockdown, and I was like oh my God, I hadn’t seen it anywhere on TikTok. So I was thinking it was definitely something I could do. I obviously enjoy the show, and I’m good at lip-syncing. So I did one, and it just took off! Then a lot of other Irish TikTokkers started doing them, so I kinda feel like I somewhat set a trend at the time. People think I put an awful lot of time into my videos. And I do, in a sense. But I’ve gotten so used to recording them now. And I say this to everyone, because it’s something my family has always said to me…if I was as good at life as I am at remembering lyrics, I’d be laughing! [Laughs]. I can just listen to it once or twice and then I have it. Then maybe two takes. And then change views. Sometimes I don’t do every person in it, because that leaves an opening for someone to duet it which is more exposure for the video. Looking at my social media, you would think I spend an awful lot of time on TikTok, I don’t. I post every day at 5 o’ clock. I don’t record every day. I have a heap of drafts saved. So on the weekend, or even if I have ideas during the week, I’ll hear a sound and I’ll be thinking about it. I’ll click into the sound and go through each video and see what everyone else is doing, because I don’t want to be another video that makes you go sure I’ve seen this ten times already. So I try to make it relatable number one, and I try to make it unique, so that people will look at it and be like, ‘Yes!’, and send it to their friends, and so on, and so on. It probably was time-consuming at the start because I didn’t really know how TikTok worked. But now that I do, and if you’re consistent with what you’re posting, and do it at the same time every day, then your algorithm pushes people to your page. In terms of recording, though, it doesn’t take me long to do videos at all.” 

As her following grows, and so does her reputation, does Louise feel under pressure to keep putting stuff out there? Would she feel comfortable stepping away from it to take a break? 

“Yeah, I definitely would. Like, I have it in such a way now that it’s like a system. I even have all my apps on screen-time limited, because there was a time where my eyes were bloodshot, the screen-time on my phone was wrecking my eyes! And I sit in front of a screen all day as well [for work]. So it makes me very anti-social if I’m spending a lot of time on my phone. I noticed it in particular when I was around my family, that they’d be talking to me and I wouldn’t hear them. They’d be getting thick with me, then I’d be getting thick with them. So I limited that. As I come across sounds, I’ll record like a dummy shot, me saying something into it just so I have the sound saved, rather than throwing it into my favourites. That’s how I keep the ideas. Then when I come back to it and watch the dummy-recording, I can say right, that’s where I was going with that idea. I’d plan everything, save everything, and post day by day then.” 

Louise was also one of the co-presenters on the Off The Laois podcast. If you haven’t heard any of the shows, they’re well worth listening back to. While each episode had a tendency to start off somewhat wild and funny, possibly going in any direction, they also tended to settle down into fairly serious, honest, revealing – but still funny – conversations. And with Louise, of course, never being shy! But what was the connection between the presenters, I wondered? How did the whole project come about? Did everyone know each other already? 

“So what happened is Eamon Callaghan owns Vision 85, it’s a work-hub in Laois where you rent out workspace, hot-desking, stuff like that. He had the idea that he’d really like to start a Laois podcast, because there was nothing like that happening. He scoped out a few personalities, and there were quite a lot of big personalities. He got them all into one room and that kind of filtered out who worked well with who, or who was interested and who wasn’t. But no, none of us knew each other at all. Like, I follow David Cuddy, but I never met him in my life before. I followed Bob Flavin, but I never met him in my life before. And now, I literally talk to Bob Flavin and David Cuddy every day! And David isn’t even on the podcast anymore. So, it was just an idea that Eamon had, himself and Matt Kerry just thought of people, threw them into a room, got some ideas, and it became what it is now, which is myself, Matt and Bob. I’ve always kind of wanted to do a podcast, so I looked at this as an opportunity to learn what it takes to be on one, and the work that goes into it. There’s an awful lot of structure involved in it. And time! [Laughs]. With editing and stuff. So I always had a goal that I’d gain enough knowledge to do my own, and that may come some day.”

So was Louise also involved in some of the behind-the-scenes work such as the editing of each show? 

“In the last two episodes now, I’ve taken control of the structure because I’m an organisation freak! When there’s no structure – and you’ve probably noticed from some of the episodes – it’s just been go-with-the-flow, just talk about whatever comes up. But with the Valentine’s show, I had all the questions prepared, and the two before that as well, I was prepared with questions. To be honest, it gave me that kind of step-up as well, because I was going in and sitting back and just taking part. But I had to lead it when I had the prep done, and that’s what I needed to be learning to do.” 

When the podcast does enter a more serious mode, Louise is very open and honest in what she shares. Is that something that comes naturally to her anyway, or is it more the setting of the podcast and being there with the lads that makes it easier for that to happen? 

“Well no, it’s not that really, because like I said, we didn’t know each other at all. The first few episodes we were all quite open with each other. And I would be a quite open person anyway, probably to my own detriment! I wear my heart on my sleeve! I will constantly talk about how I feel. I didn’t think there was going to be teenagers or young people listening to the podcast and looking up to me, but I was kind of like well if they follow me and then they do go listen to the podcast, I want them to know that I’m not perfect. I want them to know that I have had my issues, or that I have had this or that. That I’m a real person. Because with social media it’s so easy to look at people and think [everything’s perfect]…it’s like this fake persona, ya know. Whereas I try to be as real as I can. Obviously with my Instagram photos, I’ll take one and put it up, that’s a proper photo. But in terms of my content and my videos, and even my stories, I’m very much me. And it’s the same with the podcast. I was probably a little bit quieter in the first few episodes, but I think it’s very important for me to be open. Without revealing too much, obviously. Ya don’t want to know everything about people [laughs].” 

Louise mentioned teenagers or young people looking up to her. Is that something that’s very much in the back of her mind now, as she becomes a more recognisable public figure? 

“Well, to be honest, that’s been from day-one. My little nephew, he was eleven at the time, he’s twelve now, he always followed me. And he always wanted to be in videos with me. I don’t know why, but I don’t look at a female following and think about younger girls looking up to me. He’s the one that drives me. I think about if he was to watch me, and would this affect him? I know he looks up to me, and that’s what I would channel everything towards.” 

~ You can follow Louise on TikTok and Instagram by searching for Classy Cody. Episodes of the Off The Laois podcast are available on Spotify. 

ENDS

Tenille Townes

First Published March 2022

BRINGING HER TRUTH IN HER SONGS

Back in 2020 we had the pleasure of chatting to Canadian singer/songwriter TENILLE TOWNES for the first time. And at that time, we described Tenille as being, “an extraordinary artist. And she is such, because she’s also an extraordinary human being first and foremost. The same kind of empathy and awareness for the well-being of others that saw Tenille begin her Big Hearts For Big Kids project long before her name was ever seen in lights or known throughout the country music world, is found in her writing.”

In the few weeks preceding our chat, Tenille had won the New Female Artist of the Year award at the A.C.M. (Academy of Country Music) Awards, where she also joined country mega-star Miranda Lambert, together with Maren Morris, Ashley McBryde, Caylee Hammack, and Elle King, in picking up the award for Musical Event of the Year for the song Fooled Around And Fell In Love. Not long after that, Tenille celebrated three more accolades, being named the winner in the Female Vocalist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, AND Music Video of the Year categories – with the last two both coming for Jersey On The Wall – at the C.C.M.A. (Canadian Country Music Association) Awards. 

Back in 2020, we also pointed out how, despite being inundated with media requests from literally all across the United States, Canada, and beyond in the days following those successes, Tenille was more than happy to give some of her time to chatting with OTRT. 

In the time since, Tenille – simply by continuing to be herself (which, by the way, is something that’s not always quite as easy as it sounds in any walk of life, let alone entertainment) – has continued to enhance her reputation as an extraordinary artist. And yes, part of that involves the requirement to be an absolute pro when it comes to everything she does. But the thing with Tenille is that she’s not just an extraordinary artist. She is – and has always been – an extraordinary human as well. Just because…that’s who she is. It’s impossible to talk to her and not feel that. It’s impossible to listen to her music and not feel that. Tenille brings her truth in her songs. And her most recent singles – current hit When’s It Gonna Happen, and Villian In Me before that – have proved all of this yet again. 

Oh, and by the way, Tenille’s Big Hearts For Big Kids project that we mentioned in our opening paragraph? Well, just to remind you all that this is something Tenille began when she was just fifteen. And it’s raised over two-million dollars in funding for the Sunrise House youth shelter in her hometown of Grande Prairie, Alberta in the last decade. 

Despite having the C2C tour to prepare for, and not to mention the little matter of being a red-carpet performer at the A.C.M Awards in Vegas on March 7th coming up as well, we had the pleasure of spending some time with Tenille again last week. And yet again, a pleasure is exactly what it was. All the more so because this time we were able to talk by Zoom! 

Tenille is heading for this side of the world next weekend to play the C2C Country-to-Country Festival, where she’ll be hitting the stage in Dublin’s 3Arena on Friday night before making her way to London on Saturday, and onto Glasgow to wrap up a busy – and, we’re sure, pretty fun too – weekend in Glasgow on Sunday night. With the clock ticking down when we spoke, I began by asking Tenille how much she was looking forward to making her way over to us? 

“Oh my goodness, I can’t even handle how excited I am! I’ve got my suitcase out, I’ve got everything getting ready, my heart is just so excited to come back and see you guys on your side of the world. I’m so thrilled, I can’t wait to get there!” 

Tenille’s latest single – When’s It Gonna Happen – was released in January. A really beautiful and vulnerable song that’s also truly powerful and personal, for me the single demonstrates yet again Tenille’s strength as a songwriter, but also as a person. I asked her if she’d mind sharing a little of the song’s back-story…

“Thank you for asking. I wrote this song on Zoom actually, with my friends Steph Jones and Steven Wrabel. We’d never met in person before but we’d been writing a lot through the past couple years. We were just kind of catching up about what was goin’ on in everyone’s little world in this weird time of everyone being home. I was looking at this stack of wedding invitations that had come in the mail from a lot of my friends who have found their person. And I was kind of sitting there going, well what if we wrote a song about how it feels to be single sometimes? And sometimes that’s like the most empowered, ‘I love this part of my life’ kind of perspective, and sometimes it’s the other side of that emotion, in a more vulnerable place. As I was writing it, we were looking at each other and I was like, ‘This is scaring me how honest this feels’ [Laughs]. Also, the further we go through the song, I was like I can’t be the only one who feels this way. I just know that I’m not. So I wanted the music to be this uplifting, anthemic feeling that we could all come together and stand together in that emotion and sing it at the top of our lungs! It has made me so happy seeing people respond to the song and saying, ‘This is my anthem’, or ‘I feel the same way’, it’s the greatest joy for me to be able to say good, I’m glad that none of us are alone in this feeling [laughs].” 

Speaking of Tenille as a songwriter – and, indeed, as a recording artist – I offered my congratulations on the recent news that her album, The Lemonade Stand, had been certified Gold (sales of at least 500k), with two singles from that collection – Come As You Are and White Horse also reaching that milestone, while two more, Somebody’s Daughter and Jersey On The Wall (I’m Just Asking), both achieved Platinum status (sales of at least one million). Every song and any album, of course, once written and created have their own intrinsic worth, regardless of whatever happens next. But still…gold and platinum is always pretty cool! 

“It was so overwhelming to look at that, I mean, it’s this huge plaque and I was holding it and like, ‘How is this real life?!’ It was so exciting to me, to get to celebrate the fact that so many people have wrapped their arms around these songs and listened to them over and over. That just…[sighs]…it means the world to me that the music has connected us. That, to me, is what that plaque represents. It’s just crazy. But it’s so cool to know that people are listening.”

When Tenille looks at that plaque now and thinks back to when her musical journey began, or even to when she began writing songs, what’s the overwhelming emotion that she feels? 

“Ya know, songwriting is like such a spiritual process to me. It’s always my safe place to understand how I’m feeling about something, whether it’s a storytelling kind of perspective that I’m looking at and trying to find my sense of belonging to, or if it’s something personal that I find I’m struggling with or sitting with, music is always somewhere I can talk about anything. Especially with this new season of songs I’ve been working on, I think my heart was missing being on the road so much [that] it was really fun musically to be like, ok, what kind of music can we create that will be so much fun ‘live’, that we can all sing together? So that’s very much at the heart of the intention of these songs. And I would say that in this new chapter it’s very much a feeling of, ya know, what’s something that can make somebody feel less alone? Because to me, that’s something that music makes me feel. If I hear a song and I’m like, ‘Oh gosh, yeah, same!’, that to me is the most comforting feeling. That’s always pulling at my heart as we’re working on new songs. Those two things: How’s it gonna feel in a show, and how can we make people just really feel comforted, and lifted-up, and just seen and heard? I love the creative process so much. I love really just going where the music takes me, because as much as those intentions are true, there’s such a surrender, I think, when it comes to creating music. I really have to trust the arrow and the gravity that’s pulling at me. I have to be like, ok, yeah, I’ll follow the song, I feel this. I really enjoy that process a lot.” 

As Tenille mentioned how songs would play ‘live’, she actually hit the road with her first headlining tour back in January, and picks up those dates again on March 26th. In between times, she’s been playing some shows with artists you may have heard about once or twice, only names like Reba, George Strait, and Brothers Osborne, with some Brooks & Dunn dates also in her diary. Before getting onto all of those guys, I asked Tenille to share the importance, the excitement, and also the challenges of putting her very first headlining tour together…

“It was so overwhelming, truly. The only headlining show before this tour that I had done was one show in London. And other than that, it’s been opening up for so many of my heroes and friends. So to get to go back to some of those cities and be able to show up and play some really cool small clubs and see everybody who’s coming out, who bought a ticket, and who knows the music, that’s the most incredible thing for me. The feeling in those rooms, it’s so hard to put it into words. The first night of our Canadian headlining tour in Ontario, I mean, I could see people through the curtain and I was like, oh my gosh…they came! [Laughs]. This is so crazy, they’re here [laughs]. And then from the very first song they were just screaming the words! It was remarkable. I had the best time on that tour, and we’ve had a lot of fun continuing a few of those shows this year, and I can’t wait to do more and keep going back to those places. The sense of community is so important to me, in being able to feel like we’re bringing people together and making friends, [people] standing next to each other and being,’Yes, I feel this song too!’ That sort of united feeling in a room is such a sacred thing to me. So it was just beautiful to see that play out for the first time on our own headlining tour.” 

And that tour is named after Tenille’s song of the same title, Villian In Me, which was a single for her last November, and which has one of the best opening lines I’ve heard in a long time, in, “Pulls back the arrow…” Like her new single, When’s It Gonna Happen, Villian In Me is another very personal song. And again, it highlights her strength as both writer and human being. I asked Tenille to tell us a bit more about Villian In Me…

“Yeah, ‘Villian In Me’ came out of probably the darkest and loneliest time of isolation in the past couple of years. Having so much space and time to be by myself in my house with my most vulnerable thoughts. I think in the quiet is sometimes when we hear the villain in our head the loudest, ya know? And for me, that was very much ringing true in that season of working on myself and processing a lot of those things that I’d be hearing in my head. This song was really – and honestly – it felt very much like a journal entry of that, going yeah, this is very much how I’m feeling in this moment. I didn’t really think very much about the song, to be honest. I thought, well that was very therapeutic and I’m so grateful to have written that. But there was something about it that kind of kept pulling at me and it was so scary to post a video of that song. I was literally like, this IS inside of my head [laughs]. But I did, and it was just the most encouraging thing to hear people responding and saying, ‘I have the same villian in me.’ It was like wow, ya know. So ok, we can be braver, and stronger together in this now. And that really began the release of sharing more of these personal kinda songs. I think it will forever be terrifying to release something that feels personal! I don’t know if that will ever get any easier. But I was so blown away by the courage that people were showing in response to that song, in saying hey, I feel this too. It was really encouraging, and hopefully I’ll get to share more of those kinda songs very soon.” 

Going back to Reba, George Strait, Brothers Osborne et al, I wondered about when Tenille is walking out in front of their fans. What’s her plan for turning as many of those folk into fans of her as well by the end of her set? 

“We literally kinda huddle before we go out and play our show, and it’s like, let’s go make some friends! And even if it’s just one, ya know. It’s such an honour to get to meet somebody’s audience and to learn from what people are showing up to see when they’ve chosen to come to that show. It really is such a joy to get to just go out there and do our thing. A lot of those artists have such different musical styles, I’m not sure sometimes where we fit in that mix [laughs]. But all we really know how to do is to go out and do our thing, ya know. Here’s our truth, and our songs, and here’s what I stand for on stage. It’s been so exciting to meet A LOT of new friends on those tours. And at some of these new headlining dates we’ve been doing, it’s like, ‘Hey, we saw you open for Dierks Bentley’, or maybe Miranda Lambert, or, ‘We were just at the Brothers Osborne show [and saw you]’, and I’m like, wow! This is incredible. I’ll send a text [to that artist] saying thank you for letting us open for you, we just had some people come to our shows [laughs]. It’s so exciting. But yeah, I’ve had the best time getting to open up for some people on the road. And it’s a dream every time. It’s like going to school, you always learn something. Everybody’s got their unique style and way of entertaining people. And every time we get to open up for somebody, my whole band and I are always standing up front of house, watching the whole show and going ok, did you see how they did that? And this is interesting, we could incorporate something like this into what we’re doing. Just to get to watch and learn from so many of my heroes, it’s the dreamland, it’s so cool to me.” 

Does Tenille tweak her set much depending on who she might be opening for? 

“A little bit! For the most part we stay true to what we do. We’re like, ok, this is us! But we always try to maybe do a cover song, that one will change depending on who we’re opening for. When we were out with Brothers Osborne, it was like ok, we can get a little more rock ‘n’ roll, let’s do some Joan Jett or something [laughs]. For George Strait and Reba, it was like what song should we do for this audience to maybe make a few new friends? We’ll tweak it a little bit, but for the most part, we kinda just do our thing!”

Given the hugely impressive – and long – list of names that Tenille has already worked with on the road, is there anyone with whom she’d love to hit the blacktop if that chance happened to come along? 

“Let’s see…ya know, I feel so grateful for all the people that we have had the absolute honour of opening up for, but I’m such a huge fan of Eric Church and the culture of his music. I think it would be such a dream to get to meet his audience and to get to watch his show. I got to open two shows for Keith Urban in Vegas, at his residency, which was just a dream. I loved that SO MUCH [laughs], I would love to do more of that! His show is one of my favourites. There’s so many people whose music I love and respect so much. I’m also a huge Chris Stapleton fan, that would be super-cool someday. Yeah, it’s fun to dream about that!” 

If you, like me, happen to follow Tenille on Instagram, then you’ll also have noticed that she’s a pretty dab hand with a paintbrush, having done a fab makeover on a gorgeous bookshelf she has at home. And if, like me, you’re a sucker for books, then you probably zoomed in to see what Tenille was reading too! What you’d also have noticed, of course, are some of the brilliant awards and momentos Tenille has on display on those same shelves. And that got me to thinking…what on that bookshelf holds the most sentimental value for Tenille? 

“Hmmm! Ya know, everything has a memory attached to it. I think photos probably are the most sentimental thing to me. And then I have this weird thing. I have a song called ‘I Kept The Roses’ because I actually do keep the roses [laughs], from different events. I have flowers from the very first arena tour we did with Dierks Bentley, and I kept the roses from the very first time I ever played the Grand Ol Opry, the ones that were in the dressing room. So I have different vases of those all around my house, these cool dried flowers, I love those.” 

In another post on her Instagram recently, Tenille wrote how we are, “Creative human beings, created to create.” In terms of her creativity – and especially her songwriting – does she find that it becomes more of a struggle or that it flows even more freely when the world itself is in such a dark place, as it has been for the last couple of years, but even more so, of course, over the past few weeks? 

“Hmm. Yeah. To me, I think the creative flow is very much something that weaves in and out. I don’t think there’s any kind of formula that can be drawn from it. I think, in some of our most darkest times, creativity is something to find hope inside of, it’s a safe place to process whatever our feelings are. And for me, I sometimes feel the most creative in the quietest and darkest places, and sometimes I feel just silent. It’s kind of like both of those things. I think it’s important to take the silence, as much as it’s heavy and hard to sometimes. I think just sitting in those quiet places makes room for the creative spirit to find us in some of the most dark times, absolutely. I do think that there’s a lot of beautiful art that comes from the moments where it’s really hard to be human sometimes. And I’m grateful we have art to turn to.” 

Tenille has the most awesome relationship with her fans, and does some really cool things with and for them. For example, on her Canadian tour last year, she organised to send out loads of disposable cameras to fans so that they could record their experience of the shows from their points of view and then share those with Tenille. And more recently, Tenille even went to the trouble of sending some of her lucky fans personalised Valentine’s cards. I asked her to share why it’s so important to her to interact and connect with her fans the way she does, and also…where does she come up with all these cool ideas? 

“Aaaah, well thank you! For me, it’s like there is no possible way I would be standing anywhere getting to share music if it weren’t for this community of people who are listening out there. There would be nothing without them. And it means everything to me that they are excited to be on this adventure together. And it very much is a ‘together’ thing to me. I’m so glad to get to see everybody on the road, some of the most special moments to me are hugging people after a show, or hearing their story of what a song makes them think of in their life, or reading a message from them on my socials. It gives me goosebumps to hear from anybody on any given day, I love it so much. The ideas? Ya know, I think of it like a bunch of friends, and what would we do? We’d send each other cards and get to know each other some more! [Laughs]. I love being able to have different fun moments together, and being on tour, being on the road, very much opens up a lot of cool doors for things to become memories, and that we can look back on and smile at someday. So I’m really enjoying getting to come up with more of those as we dream about continuing things on the road here.” 

~ TENILLE TOWNES plays C2C at the 3Arena on Friday, March 11th. Her latest single, WHEN’S IT GONNA HAPPEN, is out now on all platforms. 

ENDS

Maria Butterly

NEWS

Press Release via AS Written, February 2022

MARIA TO LAUNCH ‘HERO’ WITH ‘LIVE’ SHOW THIS MONTH

Award-winning singer/songwriter MARIA BUTTERLY has announced a ‘live’ show this month to celebrate the release of her new single, HERO. 


          The Meath native’s creative talent has been acknowledged and recognised by respected bodies as diverse as the New York International Film and Music Festival overseas, where she was awarded Best Celtic Sound, and by IMRO here at home when she was a finalist in the prestigious Glinsk Songwriting competition in 2011. Maria will take to the stage of Dublin’s Seamus Ennis Arts Centre in Naul, Friday, on February 11th to officially launch her latest work, the Bill Shanley produced HERO.


          Recorded at the world famous Windmill Lane Recording Studios, Maria describes the track as being, “An upbeat song that touches on what is an important and – unfortunately – a hot topic still hitting young people today, and that’s anti-social behaviour and bullying.”


HERO takes Maria down a somewhat different path to that followed on her most recent album, a long-player of her own material called Blue Mandolin also produced by Bill Shanley, but it’s something she felt compelled to write because of her belief that, “Music has the power to connect with people. Hero is another example of that. A lot of my songs are inspired from true  stories. Some are my own, and some – like this one – are inspired by others.”


          Maria continued, “‘HERO’ is a story of a young teen being called names in school, but who then dreams up a fictional hero character that represents the inner strength within us all. That inner strength is what allows us to confront and overcome the challenges presented to us, whether internal or external. So that’s how the song looks at addressing issues like anti-social behavior and bullying, just two of the biggest challenges that young people can be faced with in their world! I think the story of the song is a good talking-point in itself, but it’s also a radio-friendly production too.”          

A recent graduate from Pulse and Griffith College in Audio and Sound Technology, and in Music Producing for Games, Maria has expanded her compositional skills by working on commercial pieces for both film and TV, while specialising in games. Her wide and varied arsenal of talents also saw her recently sign with the prestigious Avant Music Port agency to represent her music. In her career to date, Maria’s original compositions have been featured on a host of top TV and radio programs, across RTE, Virgin Media One, TG4 and SKY, and including live performances and interviews on shows such as Nationwide, Ireland AM, Seoige and O’Shea, and Glor-Tire.

          A Renowned vocalist and multi-Instrumentalist, Maria has always been busy – the last few years being obvious exceptions – as a touring recording artist, as in demand internationally as here in Ireland. Maria has graced stages in New York, Nashville, and California – where she resided for over two decades – along the way performing at hit venues such as Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe, The House of Blues in LA, and NYC’s world famous Mercury Lounge. In that time, she has played alongside Bob Wootton from the legendary Johnny Cash’s Band, the golden-voiced Raul Malo of The Mavericks, the late Hal Ketchum, as well as our own home-grown superstars like the Hot House Flowers, Damien Rice, Eleanor McEvoy, Nathan Carter, and The Pogues.

          Effortlessly at ease amidst the glamour of the world-stage, Maria has also had the honour of headlining the Angelica Huston Gala Event at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles, and even performing her own song, Quiet Man, to Hollywood Star Maureen O’ Hara on her 90th birthday. Both the National Concert Hall and Cork Opera House have also borne witness to her vocal prowess, with audiences in both eminent venues being charmed by her unwavering elegance on several occasions. 

         Ever the performer, though, right now the eyes of the 2013 Songwriter of the Year winner at the Leinster Entertainment Awards are set firmly – and only – on the next stage she’ll soon walk onto, and that’s the Seamus Ennis Arts Centre in Naul for the February 11th launch of Hero. 

          “Any time you get to play a show in Ireland, it tends to be special. But I think that’s even more true given what we’ve all come through over the past couple of years. And having a song like ‘Hero’, one that I believe in so much, to properly introduce to everyone, that just adds another layer of excitement and expectation to everything.” 

~ MARIA BUTTERLY plays the SEAMUS ENNIS ARTS CENTRE in Naul, Dublin, on Friday, February 11th, to officially launch her NEW single, HERO. Tickets for the show are ON-SALE NOW and available from www.TSEAC.ie, or from www.mariabutterly.comHERO is also OUT NOW, available on all platforms, from Maria’s official website, and to request from radio. 

ENDS

Cassadee Pope/MacKenzie Porter/ Olivia Lane

First Published September 2021

POPE LEADS TRIO TO WATCH

Grammy-nominated artist Cassadee Pope has confirmed the October 15th, 2021 release of her upcoming album, THRIVE, featuring latest single, Tomorrow Night, which is out now to stream and download.

The album, co-produced by Nick Wheeler (All-American Rejects) and Karen Fairchild (Little Big Town), also features previous singles What The Stars See and Say It First, both released earlier this year.

New song, Tomorrow Night, written by Pope, Dein Guisande and Aaron Chafin, is an upbeat track leaning further into Cassadee’s pop-punk sensibilities and describes a longing feeling that everyone can relate to – whether it is anxiously awaiting a well-earned holiday or anticipating the return of a loved one, we all understand wanting to push the clock forward. 

“I had a chorus idea before my session with Devin Guisande and Aaron Chafin that really excited me. As a big Weezer fan, I really wanted to lean into that influence for this track,” says Pope. “It’s a love song at its core, wrapped in walls of guitars and high energy percussion. I hope people relate to this lyric of just wanting to fast forward to the moment you get to be with the person you’re in love with.” 

Following a premiere last week with PEOPLE.com, Cassadee went on to share the music video for Tomorrow Night via YouTube. Directed by Kamren Kennedy, the quirky video calls back to the style and feel of the early 2000s as it takes us through all the fidgety ways in which we may try to busy ourselves while aching for the time to pass. The conclusion of the music video features someone near and dear to Cassadee’s heart and who she can’t wait to see every day – her beloved dog, Cuppy!

“I knew I wanted the music video for ‘Tomorrow Night’ to be fun, quirky and early 2000s nostalgic,” says Cassadee. “I wrote the treatment and was so happy that Kamren Kennedy was up for bringing it to life. I’ve never had so much fun shooting a video before. Getting to spend the day shooting with my dog, Cuppy, was such a blast. I hope this video makes people smile and feel like they’ve been transported to a time that was so influential for me.”

Cassadee is a Grammy-nominated, platinum-certified singer-songwriter, and Thrive will be her ninth album when it drops next month. The album’s first single, the aforementioned What The Stars See – featuring Karen Fairchild and Lindsay Ell – is a raucous anthem about longing to see what a past partner is doing since going separate ways. Pope performed the track on The Kelly Clarkson Show where she also revealed  what the title of her latest collection would be. The project is special to Pope – blending her influences from her pop-punk days fronting the band Hey Monday, and the country music storytelling and songwriting that she now calls home.

Last year, Cassadee released her first acoustic solo album co-produced by Pope alongside Todd Lombardo. The project followed her album, Stages, featuring hit singles Take You HomeOne More Red Light, and If My Heart Had a Heart.

From fronting rock band Hey Monday, to winning Season Three of The Voice and releasing her #1 debut album Frame by Frame, Cassadee has effortlessly re-arranged the lines of country and pop. She has already experienced tremendous success throughout her career, with Platinum-selling single, Wasting All These Tears being awarded with Breakthrough Video of the Year at the 2014 CMT Music Awards, and her #1 hit Think of You with Chris Young receiving a 2017 Grammy nomination for Best Country Duo/Group.

Cassadee has toured extensively, joining legendary artists Tim McGraw and Dierks Bentley, playing London’s iconic O2 Arena during C2C: Country to Country Festival, and earning the distinction of the only country artist to perform at 2018’s Warped Tour. Cassadee performed If My Heart Had a Heart on the TODAY show and toured with Maren Morris on her Girl: The World Tour. Cassadee continued to tour throughout the spring of 2019 as the headliner of the 2019 CMT Next Women of Country Tour, which brought the franchise outside of the U.S. for the first time ever.

Put October 15th in your diaries now, because as far as contemporary country music goes, you’ll make few better moves this year. 

Rising singer-songwriter OLIVIA LANE is another name to watch out for, and she’s just released her new full-length album HEART CHANGE, whichisalsonowavailable to stream and download also. The album features eleven songs, all of which are written or co-written by Lane, along with well-acclaimed songwriters including Matt Nolen (Eric Paslay, Trace Atkins, Lindi Ortega) and Skip Black (Craig Morgan, Jana Kramer, LOCASH), among others.

“When thinking of what to name this body of work, I had to reflect on what I had experienced in my life over the last few years,” says Lane. “I’m learning heart changes lead to growth, maturity, heartbreak, heart mending and new ways to look at life. They are necessary in becoming our truest selves.”

Olivia’s new collection features the brand new song BREAK, as well as recently released Lois Lane, Woman At The Well, and I Let The Devil In which has received airplay across the UK and Europe following its exclusive first play on BBC Radio 2 in February. Streams for the album tracks released to date have already totalled over 3.9 million, with 2.4million+ views for the official music videos, and features on high profile playlists including Wild Country and PopCo (Spotify), New In Country (Apple Music) and Country Waves (TIDAL).

Most people would probably know Olivia Lane from her appearance on NBC’s Songland, as host of her Living Instead podcast, by the songs that have earned her recognition as one of country music’s new top female artists, or from the highly lauded entrepreneurial spirit that led to the launch of her own publishing venture, Liv Write Play Music. 

But, this new album, Heart Change, heralds the arrival of an Olivia Lane her fans have yet to experience. A Houston native, Lane spent time in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Southern California before settling in Nashville in 2013. Her sweet, soulful voice and insightful songwriting helped Lane earn an enthusiastic following and she continues to grow her audience on her socials and her consistent headlining UK tours. She’s a savvy businesswoman who enjoys being a publisher and mentor. 

At her essence, Lane is a singer/songwriter, and entertainer, and she’s excited for her audience to experience the songs on her new album.

Add Heart Change to your music library and you’ll find that it’s a long-player you keep coming back to. 

And finally for now, we come to Big Loud Records’ Country riser MACKENZIE PORTER who has released track-one in a series of new songs to come with UNLONELY ME. 

Penned by Porter herself, along with Nick Bailey and Craig Wiseman, the song is a light and sunny ode to wanting to rekindle a former flame, and is an infectious country track.   “I wrote ‘Unlonely Me’ at the very start of quarantine in 2020,” explains Porter. “I was super resistant to write over Zoom because I’m very much an ‘energy in the writing room’ person, but when I jumped online with Craig Wiseman and Nick Bailey, I started playing those chords and this song just kind of fell out. We wrote it about the beginning of a relationship, but for me personally, it was about feeling pretty lonely at that time. I can’t wait for y’all to hear it.”


This song comes on the heels of the launch of the Buy Dirt Tour withJordan Davisat The Fillmore in Minneapolis, MN. Porter is tapped as support for the tour this fall. From Minneapolis, she will start the three-month club run across the country, stopping at legendary rooms such as Webster Hall in New York City and Joe’s Live in Rosemont, IL. Porter also recently released a new Amazon Original cover of Natalie Imbruglia’s Torn. Featured on the playlist cover, Amazon Music listeners could find Porter’s cover of Torn on the highly coveted Breakthrough Country playlist. They could also find her on Canada Now, Amazon Music’s playlist celebrating the best new Canadian music. 

The 2021 JUNO Award nominee for Country Album of the Year is also featured on hitmaker Dustin Lynch’s current single Thinking ‘Bout You that is quickly climbing up the U.S. Country radio charts. About to knock on the doors of the 20s, this song has shown itself to be a massive hit. Selected by Lynch during a blind audition, Porter delivers her signature “girl-next-door vocals” that, according to Billboard, “cut like a blade.” 

Recently wrapping her 2021 extension of The Loft Sessions, directed by Caleb Donato and shot at the iconic Bluebird Caféin Nashville, the series originally launched in 2019 with These Days and continued in January of 2020 with a cover of Alanis Morissette’s Hand In My Pocket. With Nashville taking notice of what American Songwriter magazine has called her “authentic heart”, and Billboard paying attention to “her mesmerizing vocals and hook-driven songs”, Porter was also inducted into CMT’s Next Women of Country Class of 2021, joining an elite sisterhood of trailblazers and tastemakers.


Signed to Big Loud Records, Porter is currently enjoying the spotlight thanks to her headline-making Thinking ‘Bout You collaboration with Dustin Lynch at Country radio, plus her own Drinkin’ Songs: The Collection, an arsenal of two years’ worth of new music produced by Joey Moi.

Since moving to Nashville in 2014 from her native Canada, MacKenzie has developed a radiant country style which threads the needle between traditional heart and modern energy, often collaborating with songwriting mainstays like Nicolle Galyon, Craig Wiseman, Natalie Hemby, and Tommy English. Her songs have sparked a list of headline-worthy accolades, including multiple Canadian Country Music Award nominations – four times for Female Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year and Fans’ Choice – as well as 2021 and 2015 JUNO Award nominations, both for Country Album of the Year


In really making her mark, Porter became the first female artist to have three back-to-back #1 singles at Canadian Country radio in twenty-two years with About YouThese Days and Seeing Other People in early 2020, following Shania Twain who last achieved that feat back in 1998. Porter also earned her first crossover Top 10 at Canadian Pop radio – a first since 2003 for a Canadian Country artist – with These Days (Remix), and joined CMT’s elite sisterhood of tastemakers and trailblazers as one of their Next Women of Country class of 2021.

The Pandora 2021 Country Artist to Watch has toured extensively on her own, also sharing stages with Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts, Chris Lane, Blake Shelton and Dallas Smith, and co-starred in the Netflix series, Travelers. Her newest release Unlonely Me is part of a series of new music to come.


THRIVE, the brand NEW album from CASSADEE POPE, will be available on all platforms from October 15th. HEART CHANGE, the NEW and full-length collection from OLIVIA LANE is OUT NOW, available on all platforms, as is the latest single from MACKENZIE PORTER, titled UNLONELY ME. 

ENDS