Singer/Songwriter Alternative Country Artist Elizabeth MacInnis began 2013 by taking her amazing voice, an inspired collection of songs and a lifetime worth of experience and passion to the Los Angeles studio of famed producer Billy Sherwood of “Yes” and “Circa.” The collaboration resulted in “One Eye on the Highway” which was released in May, 2013. A backup singer on major productions for years, Elizabeth tells us a little bit about the process of moving into the limelight with her own music.
IT’S INTERESTING THAT YOU WORKED BILLY SHERWOOD OF “YES” FAME. HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT?
My agent Kimberly Bjorklund, of K&B Entertainment, presented me with so many options. She is in the know of so many great artists. There were options in Canada and Nashville, but she wanted to make sure that I was making the right decision. When she presented him as an option, my heart said yes, so I went to L.A.
YOU MUST HAVE BEEN A FAN OF YES. DID THAT INFLUENCE THE RECORD, OR DID THE CREATIVE PROCESS BETWEEN YOU AND HE OR DID IT JUST GO STRAIGHT TO YOUR IDEA?
It was such a cool process. I’ve recorded many times before but never my ideas, never my concepts. I did a little research on what Billy’s been doing lately, and it runs from A – Z. He is open to every style of music, and he is such a purist. He has a great sense of what the song should be.
We emailed back and forth, I’d send him demos, and he’d send me back positive encouragement. But I didn’t have a clue until I got there to record my vocal tracks, and they were almost 100 percent complete.
It was really bizarre and wonderful. When I first heard what he’d done, I was blown away. He captured every nuance of what I wanted and more. It exceeded my hopes and expectations and dreams. We were instantly friends. He’s super cool, hilarious, but he’s a genius.
I had to snap into another dimension because he works so quickly and brilliantly. It honestly took me about four weeks to come down from that. I connected on a different level than I’ve experienced before musically.
HOW WOULD YOU CLASSIFY THIS CD?
It’s almost a throwback from old country meets new modern. I don’t want to say country because there’s a lot of folk and roots in there. I feel like we’ve established something new.
A lot of country is on the pop side, this is not pop, it’s a roots, modern country album. Billy had this amazing concept in his head that he had since I sent the last song to him. It flows one song into another, so they’re not all sounding the same. They’re all uniqe, but there’s a flow. We talked about that at length.
SO THERE’S A COMMON MUSICAL THEME, AND A COMMONALITY IN THE SONGS, WOULD YOU CALL IT AN ANTHOLOGY?
Yes, it’s a story about me, but anyone can relate to it. It’s about relationships, loss of a parent, being angry, girl power, heartbreak, joy, and let’s party. I think that’s how he figured out the theme, “a day in the life of.” I’m over-the-moon happy with it.
IT RUNS THE WHOLE GAMUT OF EMOTIONS. WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO NOW? TOUR?
Internationally is one of the goals. I also want to establish here in Alberta, and Canada. I sort of have already, for the last number of years. But a lot of my fan base is in Europe, so we’re putting together a tour now for that. It’s very exciting. But in the meantime, it’s summertime here and there are lots of festivals to be playing. So it’s Europe in 2014 but we’ll be crossing the border near the end of summer.
HOW’S YOUR NEW ALBUM BEING RECEIVED BY AUDIENCES?
Great so far, from 13 to 65. It touches a wide variety of demographic. Again, I think it’s because it’s that “day in the life” that everyone can kind of relate to in one way or another.
It’s really hard when you put your heart out there, and you think “Oh my God, what did I just do. What if they don’t like me.” fear of rejection.
But the it’s been fantastic so far.
YES, IT’S SCARY, CONGRATULATIONS FOR BEING BRAVE ENOUGH TO DO THAT.
We had a CD release party, probably about 500 people and we played half the CD then played the other half live. The response was overwhelming. It’s been well-received on sites like reverbnation but when someone comes up to you and tells you face to face that “I don’t know who you are, and didn’t know what to expect and I’m buying your CD” and that they were just blown away.
WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN FROM HERE? SOUNDS LIKE JUST THE START.
It is, I’m already writing songs. There’s so much ‘business’ attached to do this, and that’s why Kim is so helpful. Once things started settling down, the creative side is kicking in and I’m ready for more, but Kim is saying “slow down!”
It’s a wonderful balance that you have to learn between the business aspect and the creative aspect.
YOU TOOK THE PLUNGE, YOU’VE BEEN A BACKUP SINGER FOR A LONG TIME, AND NOW YOU’RE OUT FRONT. YOU’RE COMING AT IT FROM A VERY “BUSINESS” STANDPOINT. HOW DOES THAT DIFFER FROM YOUR PREVIOUS EXPERIENCES?
The reality is there are millions of extremely talented singers songwriters and performers that have a plethora of great songs. But they only know how to make it and not how to get it out there.
It’s changed so much, nowadays you can have a hit on youtube and be an overnight sensation, but that’s a one in a bazillion chance. It’s really tough to build and keep a fan base. There’s so many people out there and I work with them and see them all the time.
A lot of my musician friends, my “family” as it were, say “good for you, whatever it is you’re doing I wish I knew how to do that. Well, it is somebody like Kimberly Bjorklund who can guide you, if you have no idea.
It’s not the creative fairyland it’s the music “business.”
YOU KNOW WHAT THEY SAY, YOU DON’T CHOOSE TO BE PART OF MUSIC, MUSIC CHOOSES TO BE PART OF YOU. IT’S MORE LIKE A CALLING. THE MUSIC INDUSTRY APPEARS TO BE IN A FREE FOR ALL STAGE. IT’S BEING SORTED OUT THOUGH, SOCIAL MEDIA HAS COME TO THE FOREFRONT, AND THERE ARE PEOPLE LIKE KIMBERLY, THAT HAD ONE ROLE BEFORE AND ARE ADAPTING TO A NEW ROLE NOW.
It is a music business, and it’s evolving. I had a conversation last night with someone who said “It’s just terrible the way the music industry has changed.”
I disagree, it’s actually better. People now how have more control with what happens to their music. But you have to work for it. Every morning I get up, get on the computer and connect with people.