EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Stacey McKitrick
Stacey McKitrick is a firecracker waiting to explode. She has both the talent and personality just waiting to ooze out of her for the whole world to see.
This Canadian newcomer is stepping into the spotlight with a self-titled album that was released late last year. With already two singles released to radio, a JUNO under her belt, and quite the powerful voice, she is looking ahead to the many great things this year has in store for her.
Stacey found time to call us today from Ottawa where is she is spending the weekend for the JUNO awards this upcoming Sunday. She gave us a great amount of insight into her life and her career. Find out why Stacey McKitrick is not only a gem to talk to, but a gem of an artist.
You just released your single “What Goodbye Looks Like” to radio a few weeks ago. What does that song mean to you?
It’s a little bit of an empowering kind of song. It definitely stuck with me when I listened to it the first time. I was hoping that other people would be able to relate to it the way that I did – you know, when things aren’t going quite your way and you’re basically like, “Yeah … enough is enough. I’m gonna leave now! I’m strong enough to do so.”
How does it feel to hear it on the radio?
Oh my gosh. Honestly … it feels unreal. I have to tell you, the very first time I ever heard any song of mine on the radio, and this one especially, I was just thinking like, “Oh my goodness. Did I put my CD in … am I listening to my record?” And then it’s really validated when they say, “You’re listening to ___ station and that was Stacey McKitrick.” It’s a dream come true.
How did you get involved with music?
I’ve actually always been quite musical. I started singing, according to my mom, when I was 9 months old. Before I could even form sentences, I was singing to Reba McEntyre. And she was like, “There might be something to this.” As the years went on and I continued to really be drawn to music and always wanting to sing, they just really encouraged me to follow my dreams. They put me in vocal lessons, in local fairs, at hockey games I’d sing the anthems – just basically anywhere that would take me. I was like, “Yeah! I’m your girl. If you need a singer, I’m here!” And it just kind of started from there. It’s just such a passion that it doesn’t matter to me if it’s for one person or a million (I haven’t got to sing for a million yet, but I sure hope to one day). It’s always the same excitement and a great feeling to get a chance to sing for people.
How important was it for you to have a stake in co-writing two of the songs on the album?
It was so much fun. For me, it’s all about the music – it’s all about the songs. I don’t care if I didn’t have a hand in writing the songs as long as I’m passionate about it. But to be able to say, “You know, actually, this is what I was thinking. When we wrote this line, this is exactly what was coming to mind.” It’s definitely nice being able to put your stories out there and really have the conviction because you’ve been through it.
You were part of a tribute song to the Canadian Armed Forces called “Standing Strong and True” with other Canadian artists like Emerson Drive, Tara Oram and Dean Brody. Can you tell us about that experience?
That was an absolute honor to get to be a part of. It was great to be able to go in and be able to give back to our troops and their families. It’s not just them, but their families that also sacrifice while they are away. And to be able to give back a little bit of something, which, obviously, music is something everyone enjoys – it was just really great to get to be involved with that. What was really special is when they were shooting that video, a bunch of the family members of troops that have passed away or troops that are still out there fighting came in and told us the stories of their loved ones. For me, that was just so unreal and so touching – to not only hear the stories, but you have a face and a name to go along with who you’re actually singing for
What is the tone or message of your music that you hope to get across to your fans?
For me, it’s all about being real and being true to who I am and hopefully inspire people to have that same attitude – that they can be confident and comfortable in their own skin, no matter who they are or where they come from and to be happy with it and embrace it. I’m definitely a quirky, different kind of person (laughs). It took a lot of years to get to the point where I felt confident in being who I was. But once you get to that point, life is so much happier and so much easier. That’s really the biggest thing I hope people can get out of it.
What has been your most memorable or rewarding experience being involved in the music industry?
There has been a lot of really great ones. I think being a part of the “Standing Strong and True” or also being a part of the “Wavin’ Flag/K’naan song which went on to win a JUNO last year. That was an unreal experience. They surprised me actually. It was during the Olympics when the video was being recorded and my manager was like, “We’re just gonna go downtown Vancouver (which is where I’m from) and make sure you are dressed nice.” I showed up to the warehouse which was the studio where it was being recorded at. All of a sudden I see Tom Cochrane and Jully Black, and Kid Cudi, Feist, and K’nana of course too, and all of these celebrities and these artists that I so dearly look up to myself. And having it be for such a great cause (it was for Haiti), it was just such an unreal experience. I seriously didn’t want to wash my hands for a week after shaking hands with some of those people. I was like, “I’m not having a shower for weeks!” and my manager was like, “Oh yes you are.” (laughs).
You released a song written by Chad Kroeger of Nickelback called “Friends for Life” as your first single. How did it feel to be given the opportunity to record a song from such a great musical talent?
I’ve been very lucky. I honestly count my blessings – I don’t know how they’ve happened. My manager is very good friends. We needed one more song for our record. It was actually the very last song we recorded. She called him to reach out and basically say, “Hey .. we need one more song. We just haven’t found the right one yet. Could you recommend anybody for us?” And he so kindly was just like, “I think I have the perfect song for her.” And it happened to be one he had written and he was very very kind to give that to us. We’ve been very fortunate.
What kind of experience do you hope to give your fans when you play live?
I really hope to take them on a little bit of a ride. I just hope that when they come, it’s going to be lots of fun and there are going to be moments of shock and surprise. I’m kind of a goofball – there are moments when I’m laughing. But I also like to have those moments when everything gets brought down and it can be very sentimental and just about the music. That’s what I hope, just that people get a full experience and it’s something that they won’t forget when they come to a Stacey McKitrick show.
What do you think you have that allows you to stand out from other new artists in the business?
You know, I’m just a bit of a weirdo (laughs). I think that being unique goes a long way. I’m cut from a different cloth in some ways and I know it can be a negative at times, too. I’m just a little bit wild and out there. But I think that being a different person and being a genuine and a kind person can go so far. There’s so much talent and the one thing I think can set you apart is being yourself and being kind – being good to others because you can’t help but want the best for someone that you truly like.
What can fans expect from you later on this year?
I just hope that we’re going to have lots of excitement going on. We’re going to be going on tour this summer. We’re booked everywhere from Merritt to the Stampede to Havelock. I think we’re doing Big Valley Jamboree. We’re doing a show in Duncan with Dierks Bentley. There are a bunch of exciting things going on as far as tour dates. We’re just hoping to get a chance to promote the single, keep the music coming, and get a chance to really meet everybody in person.
Is there anything you would like to say directly to our readers?
I am so grateful to be doing something that I love so much. If this were to end tomorrow, I would still be singing, whether it be in my shower or in my car. It’s honestly such an amazing feeling getting to do it for others and know that they like what I do as much as I love doing it.