News and Events

A conversation with Nicole Gibson (2011 alum)

1. What inspired you to start songwriting? ­ Who or what first got you involved with songwriting?

Singing and songwriting came hand in hand for me. I started songwriting when I first started taking singing lessons at the age of 8! I remember we had to pick a song to sing for the end of year recital and I decided to write my own because as an 8 year old I found it really hard to relate to the songs that were playing on the radio, so I wrote a song called The Dove. It was about peace. It wasn’t very good but I actually found the lyrics on a cue card again last year, which was fun! From really early on songwriting stemmed from really just expressing myself, my reality and how I felt as a person in a particular moment in my life.

2. How would you describe yourself as a musician?

If someone asks I would just say I play and write music for a pop­ rock band. I have played in a lot of different genres of music from classical to progressive rock but I would say I feel most at home playing in the more pop rock/­indie sphere of music.

3. How long have you been writing music?

I have written music really on and off since I started singing. For most of my early teens I stopped writing songs and just started writing in general. I would pretty much write a short story or poem every single night, it was almost my form of a diary. Then around 16, I started my first original band and that’s when I started writing songs again. Since then I haven’t stopped doing music and have been writing very steadily ever since. It does come in waves, sometimes I will go months without writing, sometimes I will write everyday for a couple weeks!

4. What does your writing mean to you?

My writing to me is really just a feeling or experience. Each song means something different to me but they are always inspired by what’s happening in my life at that moment. Looking back at my older songs now I can always remember exactly where I wrote the song, how I was feeling and what I was trying to say.

5. How would you define ‘success’ regarding a singer/songwriter? ­ Would you define yourself as successful and why? ­ If not, what do you feel you would have to achieve to call yourself successful?

Success to me in general means being happy. But in terms of being a singer/songwriter solely I think having people relate and creating some sort of connection with what I am trying to say in our songs is a big success.

6. What currently inspires you to do this style of music? ­ How would you describe your music?  Have you got a target audience for your music?

I would describe our music as pop­ rock. We definitely did not go into this project with a set sound in mind. Me and my writing partner’s main goals with our first EP was to create something that was really honest to us sound wise and lyric wise and that happened to come out in a pop rock sound! As for a target market I generally think music is very dependent on the person who hears it and that it is hard to nail down a set demographic, but if you were ask me to target an ad I would probably do women between the ages of 18­-35.

7. Once you have created and recorded a piece of music, how do you go about distributing it? ­ How do you use the Internet to facilitate this? ­ Do you rely on a fan base / mailing list? ­ Do you do the distribution and marketing yourself or use external sources? If so, who or what?

We release single by single so once we have a single ready to go and have done all the pre-­promo for it and filmed a music video we use a music distribution website such as CD Baby to distribute it to all the major streaming platforms (Spotify, Google Play etc.). We do rely on our fan base to push and share the song and social media ads and posts to announce it. YouTube, Facebook and our mailing list are big ones for us. Currently we do all our own marketing and promotion.

8. How important is it to you that you perform live music events/gigs? ­ How often do you perform at such events yourself? How do you decide what performances to play or not to play? ­ How do you use these events to market yourself / increase your audience? ­ How often do you attend live music events (by both signed and unsigned artists) as a consumer not a performer?

It is super important to us to play shows live, that is our favourite part! We generally look at performance opportunities and say will this either — 1. Help us grow our fan base and gain connections or 2. Be fun. Those are pretty much the two deciding factors for us at this point in time. We use these events to get people to convert to fans! We do this by having our set super tight and pushing merchandise, mailing list sign ups and selling tickets to our next concerts in town! As for concerts I wish I went to more music events. I really love live music and the smaller shows are somewhat like a networking opportunity for artists, but I don’t go to nearly as much as I would like to anymore because when I am not working I am working on music so at this point a few times a month.

9. How important is the Internet to your development as a singer/songwriter? ­ What sites do you use regularly for distribution/advertisement? ­ If the internet was not available to you, do you feel this would affect your capabilities in getting your music heard?

The internet has made the music industry a whole different ball game so I am not even sure what we would have done without it! 99% of our strategy thus far has been internet based. Mostly all of our press, meeting our band mates, most of the shows we have booked and a majority of our fan base has come from the internet. The internet allows musicians to be completely DIY. We can now distribute our own music and content and connect with our fans without middlemen, which was not possible before. I feel like the internet has really bred a new type of artist, which has been interesting to see. It’s pretty amazing that you don’t need to be ‘discovered’ anymore to have a fan base or for people to hear your music.

10. You did a presentation for Island Pacific School back in January – ­ how was that in terms of playing to a younger audience?

It was definitely a cool experience and I am so happy we could do it! It was different than what I am used to but it was fun to think back to myself at that age and what would have been helpful for me to have known then.

11. This led to a conversation between Shari Ulrich and myself about you and as a result, you were contacted by Shari to Play in February at a songwriters association of Canada event at the Roundhouse SongBird North. ­ What was that experience like for you? Did you make any connections?

It was a great experience! I am so grateful we got to take part in it, especially since it was one of our first times playing live. We made some great connections and it was an honour to share the stage with Shari and pleasure to play with the other incredible artists at the event.

12. Please leave one tip you think is invaluable for aspiring/beginner singer/songwriters to know.

Everyone has an opinion and at the end of the day your opinion is what matters the most. And also to just keep moving, keep creating and keep working, momentum is everything!

To connect with Nicole Gibson and Chris Kelly visit their website here.