You grew up on a farm in Southern Alberta singing in a family band and now you’re opening for major artists and acting on television. How would you say you’ve changed?
I’m on the road 24/7. I haven’t been home to my own apartment in a year and a half. I finally just moved out because there’s no point in me having that home. It’s been a huge adjustment, the constant travelling. But I’ve been able to see a bunch of new things and meet so many people whereas growing up it was obviously more sheltered. My world has expanded and I’ve seen a lot more. I don’t think my personality has changed at all. My lifestyle definitely has.
How does a musical family influence a musician’s development?
Well, I started playing classical violin, piano and singing classical music when I was four. Both my brother and my sister are musicians as well and they were taking lessons when I was little, which made me want to take them too. It’s just kind of this thing that my family has done forever. Our house was always very loud and full of music.
What was it like touring as a family band?
It was really silly. We did medleys of the Beach Boys, The Beatles and Madonna, just a lot of classics. We also did a whole song and dance thing. It was hilarious.
Let’s go back to when you won Nashville North Star.
That competition is actually held in Canada! The top prize was a chance to open for Kenny Chesney. I won that and got to open for him, and because of that he invited me to sing at another gig for him. That was really the beginning of when I started touring. Since then, I’ve opened for Blake Shelton, Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood and other big country stars. But it all came from the experience of Nashvile North Star.
Who was your favourite to open up for?
I think probably Blake. Those were the biggest shows that I had, somewhere around twenty-five or thirty thousand people. It was huge, sold-out arenas and I got to do a few shows with him. He was so sweet and really kind and just supportive of me. He ended up tweeting out the sweetest message saying that I was an amazing artist. He was really supportive and he didn’t have to be because he’s such a huge star.
Who would be your dream artist to work with in the future?
I’m a huge fan of Casey Musgraves right now. I’d love to work with Miranda Lambert. But there’s also a ton of people not in the country world that I’d want to work with. For the most part, I’d want to work with women. They’re such an inspiration to me.
Your music is obviously country. Would you ever move fully into making pop music?
Well, my music does have pop influences in it, but definitely plays on country radio. But no, I don’t think so. I might do specific projects in a different genre, but I love country music. I mean, it kind of ties into how I grew up on a ranch with a small town feel. It’s just what I know.
What do you picture when you think about a great career?
Honestly, just being able to support myself, make movies and music that people really enjoy and have a fan base that loves what I’m doing and are with me for the long haul. I don’t necessarily want to be some huge famous person—I just want to be able to make music and movies that people love.
It sounds like music was your love way before acting. How did you decide to move from one to the other?
I booked my first lead on a TV show when I was 16 and was really busy with film and television work. After I graduated high school, I moved to Vancouver and I don’t know if it was because I moved to a new city or what, but I didn’t book an acting project for a year. I was really down and wanted to focus my energy on something else. That’s when I started writing songs and getting back into music. As soon as I started focusing on music, that’s when I got booked for acting work.
Is acting as fulfilling for you as music?
Definitely, it’s just different. I’m so thankful to have both because this industry is full of ‘no’s.’ And so, if I get a ‘no’ in acting, I can work on my music for that time and vice versa. I think I’d go crazy if I only had one because it can be really disappointing. If you have something else to turn your focus on it helps a lot.
How do you split your time between the two?
That’s the difficult part. I was struggling this year because my TV show shot for six months and I actually went on tour and would fly out on the weekends, tour on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and be back on set for Monday. I recorded my album between days on set as well. Scheduling has been the biggest challenge for me.
You have a new show that you’re shooting called Dress to Kill. Tell me about it.
I’m really playing myself. It’s about me and a friend going to Toronto Fashion Week for the first time and experiencing that whole world. We have a mentor, Mary Kitchen, who is involved in the show as well as our guide. Mary is awesome. She’s the other personality in the show and has been giving us lessons in style and how to talk to designers. We got to sit front row at fashion shows with her, so it was great to be working with her every day. It was such a cool experience. I can’t wait for people to see it.