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TC in Conversation with Tebey

We may not have had the festival that we hoped for at Country 2 Country but we still did our best to make the most of it experiencing the delights of our capital, catching up with some friends and uniting over our shared love for this beautiful genre. A lot of artists travelled home but we were still able to catch up with a few people that had made the trip. One of them was our new friend Tebey, who Jamie spent some time with and getting to know more about this rising Canadian star in what proved to be a really fun and interesting hang.

He has 4 consecutive top tens in his native country, is an established producer and a go-to hit songwriter who played his first UK shows in October last year during Country Music Week and after becoming an instant favourite is set to make this side of the Atlantic a regular destination and key priority to build his fan-base. Now living in Nashville, TN where he has been for over 10 years, he is an artist that even if you are not familiar with his name you may well have come across his work as a writer having had his songs cut by artists including Cher, One Direction, Fifth Harmony and Flo Rida along with number one songs ‘Somebody Else Will’ which Justin Moore took to the top of the US Country Airplay on the Billboard Charts and Pixie Lott’s third UK chart topper and Brit Award nominated ‘All About Tonight’.

The “elephant in the room” and the festival that didn’t quite happen:

It is what it is you know! Ultimately I think a lot of the fans were upset, understandably but I think when a lot of the shock kinda wears off, I think they will understand why it had to happen! Most people don’t know, yes I’m actually from Canada and grew up there but I’ve lived in Nashville for son long that I actually am a US citizen so I would be OK. I remember waking up to a text from my wife saying they are banning anyone that has been to these countries and then of course the Trump administration eventually kind of laid out the law of the land there. But I mean Matt Lang is heading back to Canada and he doesn’t know if he’ll have to go into a quarantine just because he’d been to Germany so it is what it is.

Tebey on plans to return to the UK:

Yeah, in a couple of months and I guess I’m headlining the Sunday night at Buckle and Boots so that will be fun so I’m looking forward to it. I’ve heard that if you keep coming back over here they truly do appreciate it and I’m a huge Anglophile anyway, my grandparents are English and I lived here for a little bit so I feel a huge connection to the UK and I definitely feel at home here so I’m really excited to build the fanbase in the UK and I’m determined. I know there’s a market here for country music, I’ve seen it with domestic acts like The Shires and Ward Thomas.

The goal of building a fan-base on this side of the Atlantic:

You just have to put in the effort you know, it’s a little bit different in the UK because typically in a grand scheme of things you guys don’t have the same radio reach that we do. There’s not a lot of terrestrial country music stations so it’s hard to break an act of the back of radio in the UK so it’s always been one of those things where I’ve been very perplexed with how I’m gonna go about making this fanbase. I learned pretty early on that a lot of it is word of mouth, it’s about coming here and coming back then coming back again and showing the fans that you’re in it for the long haul.

and how he has begun that process:

I’m in it for the long haul, I said that since day one! We came last year to C2C and I didn’t know anybody! Literally I was like ‘Hey I’m Tebay, I’m from Canada, I’ve done this blah blah blah blah blah and it was basically just hanging about backstage and just meeting people. The difference with me and a lot of other folks is I’ve had some pretty significant songwriting successes here: Single of the Year nomination at the Brits, number 1’s and cuts by One Direction so that kind of opens the door a little bit to people but at the end of the day we are not talking about One Direction songs, we’re talking about me and my songs. I’m excited by what The Shires have done, I think it’s incredible and I want to get to like that where I can sell a couple thousand hard tickets in this market. Back home in Canada it’s been a lot of hard work, it’s been a grind over the last seven years but we’ve done well. We sold out the venue in Montreal last month that was 1100 tickets which is really hard to do.

Tebey on the song-writing process and how songs find their way to other artists:

As a writer I just try and write great songs. I think if you try and pigeonhole something and you try and write something for a specific artist, I think you’re typically behind the curve because they’ve already done that. I just try and write great songs and worry about where gonna land later. Every single big hit that I’ve had has never been written towards a specific artist, I just write something that’s awesome and hopefully it finds it’s way to the right artist. I feel like it always does in the end.

Creativity, his musical style and influence on his song-writing:

For me I’ve always just written what I love, I grew up listening to all different kinds of music. I really do have the most eclectic taste in music, so for me it’s always been write what you love, pull different influences in from things that you grew up listening to. R&B, pop and country or whatever it may be, so I’ve just always created my own lane and hoped that people liked the music. Recently with songs that I’ve been putting out that are left of centre: “Denim On Denim” “Who’s Gonna Love You” those are songs that have been certified platinum and gold that have amassed a crazy amount of streams kind of because I did what I wanted and I didn’t chase it or be as we say in the States “Vanilla” as I really don’t wanna sound like everyone else. I’ve always just tried to be different.

Making country music in Canada and the similarities between his native land and the UK:

You have a lot of artists back home in Canada that are mostly domestic that do really well! People like Dean Brody and Dalla Smith who I don’t believe have ever been to the UK before but in Canada are doing 15/16 thousand tickets A NIGHT! Like it’s incredible so I’m really proud to be Canadian and I think it’s important that the UK fanbase is able to differentiate between us and the Americans. At the end of the day being part of the commonwealth, we’re all in this together. That’s just the way it is, we’re all very similar obviously we have our differences but for the most part the commonwealth countries are very similar in how we think and who we are as people so I think naturally are very welcoming when they find out I’m Canadian. I’ve been able to grow my career back home, over the last couple of years in particular having more success than in the past but like I said I’m excited about breaking down this UK market and figuring out how to be able to tour it and sell some tickets.

Tebey on current single back home “The Good Ones” which is a duet with Marie Mai:

She is a MASSIVE pop star in Quebec, which is almost like Texas in how it has it’s own music scene. It is like this massive market, she will do easily 15/16 thousand tickets a night there and the rest of the country has no idea who she is so it’s really helped me grow my fanbase in Quebec. We’ll see if “The Good Ones” is a single over here, if it is we will probably end up putting a UK based artist on it because the song kind of leads itself towards Radio 2 anyway.

Looking at the position of country music in the United Kingdom and the consumer market for the genre:

It’s changing the stigma, I think for a long time there was a stigma around country music anywhere outside of Canada and America. It’s old, it’s not cool and then you get artists like Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum. I was over here working, I know the guys in Lady A and I got to hang out with them on one of their first shows at like the Hammersmith Apollo which is actually a pretty big venue but they did really really well to come off the back of that massive crossover song. I know for a fact because I’ve been across the country, I’ve lived here and I know that in the Midlands as you guys say over here there’s loads of soccer moms in the Midlands that love country music but don’t have the access to it. It’s not like they can turn on their radio and hear the new Maren Morris single when they’re dropping their kids off at football practice but I know that they are out there it’s just reaching them and figuring out how to make that happen and I plan on doing it! Not exactly sure how, but I’m gonna figure it out! I think I may put a giant cardboard cut-out of myself in every Asda! Could you imagine? People thinking who the hell is this guy?

Finally what is next for Tebey:

Coming back for Buckle & Boots, I think that’s a huge opportunity, stop into as many radio stations as possible, introduce myself to as many people as possible then I would love to do a hard ticket tour of the UK. Figure out what makes sense, maybe teaming up with another artist or doing something with one of the presenting radio stations here? I dunno, we’ll figure it out. You’ve gotta keep coming back and investing your time and your money. We’re definitely gonna come back to Germany that’s for sure in October then it’s British Country Music Week here if I’m not mistaken so I have every intention of being back and just keep building. It’s a slow and steady process but the fact we came here and nobody had any clue who I was, then come back and got some really great slots on the show and people like yourself know who I am now. It just takes time and we’re gonna continue to grow it.

His first official UK single is his Canadian gold certified top 5 smash ‘Denim on Denim’ which has approaching 4 million streams on Spotify alone whilst his most recent release ‘The Good Ones’ a duet with Marie Mai has just cracked the Canadian top 10 and you can listen to HERE. This was not Tebey’s only venture across the pond planned for 2020 as he is set to return for Buckle and Boots Festival taking place near Stockport over the late May Bank Holiday weekend on a lineup that also includes William Michael Morgan, Payton Taylor and Kaitlyn Baker. Further information about this event can be found HERE.

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Annette Gibbons
Hi, I’m Annette, I have been a huge country music fan since the early 90s those were the days we were lucky enough to have CMT in the UK. I enjoy nothing more than listening to country music whilst having a cold beer (or a moonshine) with friends. I try to as many gigs as I can here in the UK and in the USA; I think of Nashville as my second home and I am lucky to have made some amazing friends in Tennessee. Think Country is something I am very proud of, I just want to share my love and passion of all things country music related with you all.
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