Interview: Tebey talks new music for 2023

Canadian-American singer songwriter Tebey
Tebey talks new music plans. Photo credit: Emma Lee

The autumn chills have set in. The huge event that was the Garth show has been and gone, so it’s the perfect opportunity to sit back, relax and let Paul Sammon remind you of just how much fun it was at The Long Road Festival:

Sat in the Lutterworth sunshine, having already set up my tent and made ready for the first night of entertainment, I made my way over to chat with Canadian-American singer/songwriter Tebey.

The platinum-selling artist has had over 75 million career streams to date and numerous award nominations. He kicked off 2022 with his Canadian Shotgun Rider Tour, and performed five capacity shows at C2C, as well as co-hosting a live radio show with Bob Harris for BBC Radio 2.

SSC – You know you’re my first live, face-to-face interview for Six Shooter. You’re also a new artist to me, I’m not gonna lie.

T – I feel like I’m a new artist to a lot of people over here, honestly. It’s a whole new market for me. I should’ve come over here earlier.

SSC – Canadian country music seems to have its own kinda feel to it. Do you fit into that, or do you have your own sound?

T – I think I do what I do. I make my records in Nashville and always have. I’ve lived there for like 14 years now. I never tailor music towards a certain audience or a certain territory. Y’know, sometimes people will do re-mixes for Germany or the UK. I don’t do that, and people are either gonna love it or they’re not.

SSC – You’ve come at the right time in terms of the country scene in the UK right now.

T – Yeah, people are coming over now. Y’know, you’re getting the bigger American acts finally coming over to the UK. It’s not just Garth Brooks and Keith Urban anymore. But I think we’re gonna surprise a lot of people, because in the beginning when I started coming over here about four years ago, I was unknown.

So, I had to do a lot of these acoustic type of things. But that’s so not what I do. Our show is full on, American, high energy. We’ll probably play maybe one ballad. It’s so important for people over here to see it. If you put myself and Thomas Rhett on the same stage, the show is gonna be very similar.

Tebey on new music
‘Our show is full on, American, high energy’ – says Tebey

SSC – We’ve spoke with you before, so we know you’ve written hits for many UK pop artists. Did you make a conscious decision to start releasing your own stuff?

T – I guess I’ve come full circle y’know? In the beginning I had a record deal when I was really young.

Seventeen years old and I was with BMG as it was then. We made a record, but it didn’t really work. A half-black kid singing country music, y’know? Now you’ve got Darius Rucker, Mickey Guyton, Kane Brown. Kane Brown is one of the biggest artists in the genre and he looks like me… I look like him you could say.

So, 10 years ago I honestly feel I was just ahead of my time. When I lost my record deal I moved back to Canada, and I wondered what I was gonna do. I didn’t want to work a job. I wanted to be in the music business, so I started writing songs for people. I started doing stuff for Canadian Idol.

Y’know when I first moved to Nashville, I became friends with Big & Rich. We all came up together, before they had a record deal. Then I got a call one day out of the blue from John to say they’d cut Radio and they invited me to come back to Nashville to lay some harmonies on it. I ended up getting a new publishing deal and eventually the song-writing success came with One Direction and Pixie Lott and JLS over in the UK. And now I’m doing my own stuff and there you go… full circle.

(Among those hits for UK artists, in 2012 Tebey wrote and co-produced the songs They Don’t Know About Us and Loved You First from One Direction’s second album Take Me Home; as well as Pixie Lott’s All About Tonight from her second studio album, Young Foolish Happy in 2011.)

SSC – You said earlier about “Bringing it” Are these your guys that you’ve brought over? Is this your band?

T – No it’s not actually. This is my English band and I love ‘em to death. Usually, I would bring my bass player, Randy who’s been with me since day one ‘cos he’s a massive football fan as well. He comes over to play bass but really, he just wants to watch a live football game.

SSC – Ah, you mean soccer?

T – Yeah, yeah, soccer. I’m actually a real fan so I call it football (Laughs)

SSC – I have to ask will you be singing Somewhere in the Country? ‘Cos there’s the lyric “We can find ourselves a long road and make a getaway”

T – Good question. I haven’t looked at the set list if I’m honest. We’ll see what happens.

SSC – Here’s a fan question for you – What’s your favourite song you’ve written?

T – Man oh man, that’s a tough one. Probably Denim on Denim. It was such a career changer for me. It’s gonna go double platinum soon.

SSC – In your last interview with SSC you said, “Wherever my song-writing takes me, is where I end up.” And now you’re here. Did you ever plan to have a UK audience?

T – I used to live here so it’s always been on my radar. My Grandfather’s from Norwich so I’ve always had a connection. But y’know, I wasn’t really sure. My priority at the time was just getting things off the ground in Canada and in the States. I feel like we’ve done a good job kinda jumping the queue over here if I’m honest. We’ve just dropped a new single – Sink with the Sun and we’re gonna do a full, extended EP. So, probably about seven tracks in early 2023.

SSC – What do you prefer as an artist in terms of albums, single releases etc?

T – I mean the game has changed so much with streaming y’know? I think a majority of fans are not really expecting an album unless you’re Taylor Swift or Adele. It’s very much singles driven, so I think the EPs are the way to go. There may be four singles off that EP so you’re “wasting less songs” is another way to look at it.

SSC – Do you aim for radio play?

T – Yeah, I think I’m a very contemporary artist and you have to be conscious of that. Everybody has their own lane that they run in, but I want to be on the radio. I want to be mainstream so I think it’s in the back of my mind. But there’s been times when I’ve released songs and I don’t know if they’ll play it. I just don’t know. But I just do what I do, man.

New Tebey EP

Tebey’s Sink with the Sun three-track EP is available to download now and also features Used to Love That Song and What Was I Drinking.

Keep up with the latest news from Tebey on https:www.tebeyofficial.com/

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