Born and raised in Godmanchester, Quebec, Lydia Sutherland has spent much of her life honing her craft. Throughout the past 2 years, she has written over 800 songs, including co-writing Jake Davey’s newest single “Ends with Y,“ which charted #1 on the Australian iTunes country music chart.
At only 22 years old, Lydia’s professional songwriting experience speaks volumes to her natural ability to self-express through song. Lydia has written for artists in Canada, the US, and Australia, scoring her first major label cut with Warner Music Nashville on emerging country music sensation Robyn Ottolini’s new EP (Hold me Back). With a unique and luscious voice of her own, Lydia is bringing own her own sound into the spotlight as she embarks on a solo career.
Today, Lydia released her new single “Date A Friend,” on which she shares,
“I wrote “Date A Friend” with Robyn Ottolini and Chris Yurchuck after a complete fall out with the guy I’d been seeing. This guy also happened to be my best friend and before things came to be, my crowd had been on my case about how complicated and messy things would get if we ever broke up.” “I was so in my head about the whole relationship and where it was going that I needed to write something that shed a positive light on the whole situation. Something that would highlight the reasons why I chose to cross the friendship boundary with him in the first place and why I shouldn’t regret taking that chance. “Date A Friend” is a song that speaks on how intimate friendships can be and how naturally it can lead to something more. It can be the easiest and most special feeling ever, even when it’s not meant to be forever.”
Lydia is currently in the studio putting the finishing touches on her debut EP with JUNO-nominated producers Spencer Cheyne and Justin Kudding. Inspired by new country artists such as Kelsea Ballerini, Carly Pearce, and Maddie & Tae, Sutherland’s music is defined by her undeniable voice, catchy melodies, and relatable lyrics.
Born and raised in the small town of Godmanchester, Quebec, (an hour outside of Montreal) you were introduced by your grandparents to artists like Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, and Shania Twain. Explain how your upbringing fueled your love for music.
Lydia Sutherland (LS): “I loved watching my grandparents play when I was growing up but I don’t think it’s my upbringing that fueled my love for music. There was a point in high school where everything clicked for me when I started songwriting. I loved performing and singing but writing gave me a voice and a purpose and really motivated me to pursue music.”
At the age of 18, after spending time in singing competitions across the province, you decided to produce your very first French EP titled La beauté de nous. How do you feel this release has since helped you further familiarize yourself with the music industry and/or solidify yourself as an industry professional?
LS: “To me, there’s such a disconnect with the first EP and the music I’m releasing now that I sometimes forget it’s even out! When I first recorded La beauté de nous, I didn’t really know where to start so I was writing and singing songs I thought people wanted to hear. It definitely made me realize I wasn’t happy or inspired by the music I was putting out. I had to go through with it so I could learn to trust my gut and dare to make something different.”
Following this release, you were approached by La Voix and were fortunate enough to be on Alex Nevsky’s team. What was this journey like for you? How do you find it has influenced your craft, as well as the level of confidence you’ve come to instill within yourself as a rising artist?
LS: “If I’m honest, it was one of the toughest times of my life. I was only 17 and knew nothing about the business, so being thrown into a big production like La Voix was very confusing for me. I was still trying to figure out who I was as a person and who I wanted to be as an artist but it definitely was a wake-up call and motivated me to pave the road I’m on today.“
Inspired by the country artists of today such as Kelsea Ballerini, Carly Pearce, and Maddie & Tae, how do you feel going back to your roots has allowed you to better express yourself through the music you’ve chosen to create going forward?
LS: “What’s helping me express myself most right now is that I’m not boxing myself in or sticking to one specific genre. In some ways, I feel like I’ve returned to my roots because of the little country elements we include but I also love the fact that my producers and I are just letting the songs go where they need to go. I don’t like saying this is too pop or this is too country; I just want to release music that’s honest and fun to listen to that I can create freely, without boundaries.”
Over the past 2 years, you’ve written over 800 songs including writing with and for artists in Canada, the United States, and Australia. What is it you enjoy about songwriting the most? What do you feel is the best asset you can bring to the table when working on collaborative projects?
LS: “My favourite thing about songwriting is definitely getting to help bring people’s stories to life. I always find it’s such a privilege when someone wants you to be part of their project and trust you with something so personal. I myself love catchy melodies so I always like to come in with a base of piano chords and a few toplines. I think as long as you have a strong melody that stays stuck in people’s heads, that the crowd will want to sing back; the rest of the song will easily follow.”
Written with Robyn Ottolini and Chris Yurchuck, your latest single “Date A Friend,” came to be after a complete fall out with a guy you had been seeing, who also happened to be your best friend. Explain the importance of turning this experience into a song. How do you feel collaborating with Robyn and Chris on this track has helped give purpose to your feelings, as well as offer you comfort in the way of advice or understanding?
LS: “For a while, I was really bitter. After the relationship ended I was so easily taken over by fear, what if’s and all the negatives that come with a breakup. When I first brought in the idea, it was aimed to be a sad breakup song but Robyn and Chris are amazing and really helped me shine a light on all the positives. We wrote it to remind me how special that connection was and why I should be thankful I ever got to experience it in the first place.”
In what way do you hope a song like this can encourage others to be more open and honest with their feelings, as well as understand that though things may not be forever, special moments are still a possibility?
LS: “I hope fans take in that dating a friend can be one of the easiest, most special feelings ever. It can be risky if it doesn’t end up working out, but a strong bond can make it through anything; even a breakup. After going through it, I think it’s a chance everyone should take. You never know what’s on the other side!”
Currently working on putting the finishing touches to your debut English-speaking EP with JUNO-nominated producers Spencer Cheyne and Justin Kudding, how has this shift in language allowed you to explore other parts of yourself as an artist?
LS: “It doesn’t really feel like a shift in language because both have always been very present in my life. I decided to release the first EP in French because all I knew was the Quebec industry and it felt right at the time. But I grew up in a bilingual household and have always been writing in English, so I always knew that I would eventually switch it up.”
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