Hi Claudia, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Hey! I’m excited to be here! I have been good, 2018 has already been off to a pretty great start!
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Say Yes”?
I’d love to! This is one of my favorite songs from the album, it was one that ended up coming together quite easily and organically. The idea for this song was what I took into my first Nashville co-write! I had the first verse finished, and explained to my co-writers Jason Wyatt and Mason Douglas that I was craving adventure and a change of pace when I wrote the first verse, and together we came up with this song idea to just pack up your bags, hop in the car and say yes! Since the song is about heading to LA I wanted it to have a bit of a beachy, chill vibe, but with a hint of Nashville thrown in, because that’s where the song was finished. I really wanted this song to inspire people to throw some clothes in a bag, grab a map and just drive! I feel like sometimes it’s so hard to say yes to the fun things in life, whether that’s a full on road trip, or just taking the afternoon off to see a movie. This song is a fun anthem of YES!!
Did any event, in particular, inspire you to write this song?
Yes! I actually lived in Los Angeles for a few months at the start of my career and I ended up coming back to my hometown Edmonton, Canada to help take care of my grandparents who both had cancer at the time. I came home at Christmas and when the holidays were over, I found myself on google maps checking how long the drive back to LA would be! It would be crazy to do, but the drive from Edmonton to LA is about 24 hours, which is one of the first lines in the song. I wrote the first verse of the song here in Edmonton and then got stuck. I loved the idea and vibe of the verse so much, that like I said before, I took it into my first co-write in Nashville and we left a few hours later with the finished version of “Say Yes”!
Any plans to release a video for the single?
At the moment, I’m working on a lyric video for “Say Yes” that will be up on my YouTube channel very soon, but if the opportunity to make a full production video of the single came up, I would have to say yes… pun intended haha!
The single comes off your new album Nashville Songwriting Sessions – what’s the story behind the title?
This album was the hardest album of mine to name! Originally I wanted to release all the songs on this EP as singles because I felt they all had a different sound and vibe and I couldn’t quite see how they could work together on an album. But releasing them as singles was also proving to be quite the challenge. For my last two EP’s I used song titles, but none of these new songs seemed to be the right fit to use as the title for the album. I was talking to my mom about this dilemma, saying how they were all written in Nashville, and some songs were co-writes, so she suggested I call it The Nashville Songbook, which sparked my idea to call the EP “Nashville Songwriting Sessions”. I thought it sounded a little cooler and more youthful than songbook haha, and it felt like the perfect title.
How was the recording and writing process?
This whole album was such an amazing journey from start to finish, I’ll start with the writing process. The songs “Heartbeat” and “Stay” were both written by myself in my Nashville hotel room. I had been working on song ideas to take into some upcoming co-writes and these just came out!! I played them for my team and everyone loved them, so we knew they were going to be recorded. “Stranger” was written with my good friend Stacy Stone and came from an experience she had when she saw her ex out at a bar. She realized that the person she once knew so well, was now a stranger. I thought that was such a great idea for a song and we had it written in under an hour! “Love On Replay” was a co-write with Ben Picker and we were playing around with the idea of love being like a song, and we wanted to reference as many different musical things as possible. We wanted to make a fun, catchy pop-heavy song that would get stuck in your head “on replay” haha! And you already know all about the “Say Yes” single!
The recording process for this EP was incredible. We recorded vocals for “Say Yes” and “Stay” in my producer Jason’s home studio, and every part of “Love On Replay” was done in Ben Picker’s home studio. The rest of the album was recorded at Watershed Recording Studio in Nashville. It is the most beautiful studio I’ve been in yet. Even though it is super spacious, it feels intimate and homey, which is such a fantastic atmosphere for recording. I felt really professional being in that studio! The musicians that played on this album are so talented, and they really brought the ideas in my head, to life. I’m always in awe of studio musicians, especially the ones I’ve met in Nashville, because I can just hum them something and they can translate it to guitar, piano, ukulele, bass or drums and I think that’s just incredible.
What role did Nashville play in the music?
Nashville played a huge role in the music! Just being in that city and feeling the vibe there is so inspirational. I’ve explored lots of the downtown and East Nashville, but have also had the chance to hang out in some of the outskirts like Franklin and Brentwood. Every area is just so cool, but each has a slightly different feel to it, kind of like the songs on this EP!! I met my various co-writers in different locations and songs were written in my hotel, apartments, a coffee shop and even a place called “the writers cabin”. I also like the feeling that when I’m in Nashville, I’m a bit out of my element and kind of on vacation all at the same time. Being out of my element keeps me sharp and pushes me in a different creative direction, and the vacation element frees my mind and helps it wander which are both great tools for songwriting that I can’t always recreate at home!
What made you want to record this city?
My last EP “Shine” was also recorded in Nashville. It was the most amazing experience so I knew I wanted to record here again. Nashville has so many amazing musicians who work in many different genres, and as someone who likes to flow between pop, country, folk and a touch of rock in my music, I knew I needed musicians who would be able to morph with me and my songs. My producer Jason Wyatt is also based in Nashville, and I loved how the songs on “Shine” turned out, so I knew I wanted Jason to produce my next album. Plus what musician wouldn’t want to record in music city?!
Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
Since three of these songs were co-writes the inspiration was really a collab between myself and whoever I was writing the song with. I always like to take an idea into a co-write but most times just talking and fooling around with melodies and chords is how the song is created. For example, there is a line in “Say Yes” where I sing “I don’t want to build a snowman no, this winter wonderland ain’t so wonderful…” and that was totally inspired by the huge amounts of snow we get in Edmonton every winter; but I would have never written that line if I hadn’t been inspired by my co-writers and the direction we were taking the song.
Any plans to hit the road?
I’m always playing shows in my hometown Edmonton, and occasionally playing in Calgary and other cities around Alberta. I’m currently working out the details of a show in Vancouver, and I’m hoping to play in some new places during festival season!
What else is happening next in Claudia Norris’ world?