Singer/songwriter Tenille Arts, who is from Canada, is breaking through in the U.S. with her current single, “Somebody Like That.” Not only has this appealing, uptempo song become Arts’ first Top 20 Billboard country hit in the U.S, but it has now debuted and is moving up on Billboard’s prestigious pop chart, the Hot 100. She is also listed as an Emerging Artist in Billboard.
Arts, who grew up in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, is already a well-known artist in Canada. She was recently named one of CMT’s “Next Women of Country 2021,” and she was named the Canadian Country Music Association’s “Rising Star.” In addition, she picked up three awards—for Single, Album and Country Artist of the Year—at the Saskatchewan Music Awards.
Currently, Arts’ single “Somebody Like That” continues to move up the charts, and it looks likely that it will continue its run and further establish Arts as a successful new artist. Arts wrote “Somebody Like That” with her producer Allison Veltz and Alex Kline.
Born and raised in the city of Weyburn (population 10,000), Saskatchewan, Arts debuted in 2016 with her EP, Tenille Arts. It peaked at #1 on the iTunes Canada Top Country Album chart, and her first album, Rebel Child, debuted at #2 on that chart.
Arts made her U.S. television debut in early 2018, performing her original song “Moment of Weakness” for millions of viewers on the hit ABC show, The Bachelor. The song debuted on the iTunes U.S. country chart, and a year later The Bachelor producers invited Arts to sing her single “I Hate This” on the show. This single helped her gain further exposure.
Then in January 2020, Arts released her second album, Love, Heartbreak & Everything in Between. This album contains both her singles “Somebody Like That” and “I Hate This.” Notably, she co-wrote or wrote all 12 songs on the album.
Here’s the video of Tenille Arts’ hit, “Somebody Like That.”
Rolling Stone magazine has named her one of their “10 New Country Artists You Need To Know” and PopCulture.com named her one of their Artists to Watch. In addition, she has toured with country stars Reba McEntire, Scotty McCreery, Dylan Scott, and Maddie & Tae.
We are pleased to present this new Q&A interview with Tenille Arts. She tells the story behind her hit “Somebody Like That,” and discusses her songwriting. She also tells how she’s built a strong social media following, and what it’s been like to have a breakthrough hit in the middle of a pandemic.
BC: How did your hit single, “Somebody Like That” develop?
Tenille Arts: This is a song I wrote with Allison Veltz and Alex Kline. Allison produced the song as well. It was an all-female project. I loved working on this song with them. I had gone through a break-up before this, and I really didn’t want to write any sad songs anymore. They were up for the challenge to write a hopeful love song about looking for love and not settling. It took us a couple of sessions to finish that song.
BC: You’ve been writing songs since you were 13 years old. What was it like when you were able to transition from being a solo writer to a co-writer?
Arts: For me, co-writing is a tricky thing because I like to keep to myself a little bit. My first experience co-writing was when I came to Nashville for the first time. I was 15. It’s almost like a blind date. You go in and don’t know anything about these people, and you have to get to know each other really quick and share a lot about yourself so they can get to know you and be able to contribute to writing a song that is about your life. For me, it’s a challenge, but I’ve gotten more used to opening up and realizing that the songs turn out way better if I let people in a little more.
BC: It can be an intimate experience. Do you also enjoy writing songs solo?
Arts: It depends. Every once in a while I’ll get a burst of inspiration, and I can sit down and write out a song in about 30 minutes. Sometimes if I’m really happy with it, I won’t take it into a writing session. Sometimes even when I finish a song by myself, I’ll take it into a writing session to see if I can make it better and try to continue working on it.
Here’s the video of Tenille Arts’ single, “I Hate This.”
BC: Can you talk about the making of your second album, Love, Heartbreak & Everything in Between?
Arts: I didn’t really know I was going to do a theme album right at the start. I had gone through a break-up, so I had written a ton of break-up songs. I knew that I couldn’t put out an entire projects of break-up songs. So I decided to sit on those for a little bit and see what else I would end up writing. “Somebody Like That” was the song that sparked some of the more hopeful love songs. Then, I met someone and ended up writing love songs. The entire album came together in a weird way, but I had the idea to have this themed album and have the first four songs be love songs, the next four be break-up songs, and the last four songs be everything else in life. It came together in an organic way, but it felt like it was meant to be.
BC: You’ve been named by CMT as one of the Next Women of Country. What was your reaction when you heard that news?
Arts: I was so excited to be a part of that. There have been so many women in the past and now in this group that have done amazing things. I look back on some of the artists that have been a part of it, and they’ve gone on to be household names. It’s really exciting to have all that support from all those females, and of course the Nashville support is really exciting because it’s CMT.
BC: You had already done well in your home country of Canada. What were your expectations of the Nashville music scene compared to the reality?
Arts: I think everything took a lot longer than I expected it to. I knew it was going to be a long journey, but I think people think I’m going to go to Nashville and everything’s going to happen overnight. I’m going to be discovered, and it’s going to be great. But just because you sign a record deal doesn’t mean that things are going to suddenly happen. It’s a long journey, but I’m thankful for the long journey because I think over the last five years my music has grown so much, and I’m extremely proud of the music I have out right now. I feel like things are happening when they’re supposed to.
BC: In what ways have you seen your music grow?
Arts: For me early on I was too shy. I wasn’t really sharing a lot of my personal life, and I think that’s something my fans have gravitated towards. I’m always on social media; I’m always sharing what’s going on in my life. If I have a boyfriend, they know about it. They’re very invested in that stuff. Once I started to really open and really share who I was as a person, I think people started to relate to my music more. I’ve had to learn over time that’s what people are looking for. It took me a minute to be able to grow into that and to be comfortable enough to share that.
Here’s the video of Tenille Arts’ song, “Everybody Knows
BC: You’ve earned quite the following with 73 million lifetime streams and a digital audience of over a quarter of a million. How strong a role has social media played in your career?
Arts: It’s been huge for me, especially in the year 2020 when you couldn’t be out on the road and you couldn’t be sharing music with people in the normal way. I tried to make social media interesting and fun for the fans to still feel like they were getting some live music. Also, having performed on The Bachelor a few times, there are a lot of fans from the show that have continued to follow my career. And once you get those fans, you need to keep them interested and try to have them check out your music. I’ve tried to be open and honest, and make people feel welcome and have it be a really positive place for people.
BC: You started writing songs as a teenager. What was it about songwriting that appealed to you?
Arts: Being a super private person, I didn’t really talk to friends or family about my feelings. For me at a young age, 13, picking up a guitar for the first time…my emotions started coming out. It was really therapeutic for me—I loved writing songs. Sometimes I wouldn’t share them with people. It seemed to really help me.
Growing as a songwriter, I’ve learned songs I can write by myself, and song ideas that I should take to co-writers. I do like to start the ideas on my own and take those into writing sessions and have something somewhere to start. For me, it usually starts with an idea or melody and then I just go from there.
BC: What do you see as your strength as a songwriter?
Arts: My strength would probably be matching the feeling of the lyrics with the melody of the song. That’s something I’ve focused on my entire songwriting career. If you were to have no lyrics or words to a song, I would want the melody to still make you feel what we’re singing about. An easy way to do that is to take the lyrics out and see if you feel the emotion that you would feel with the lyrics. I really do think it’s had a good impact on my music.
BC: What do you think has been the most rewarding part of being involved with music the last several years?
Arts: For me, it’s been getting to know the fans. I honestly talk to them more than I talk to my family some days. Social media has been such a great thing. To have the single, “Somebody Like That,” doing so well at country radio, it’s really opened up so many new fans to me. I’ve been so grateful to have this single doing so well during such a weird time, 2020. And now the start of 2021 has been so different than everybody thought it would be. Normally, I’d be out on the road promoting the single. (But) I’m at home and needing to be creative and find ways to keep people interested in my music. I’m lucky that we have social media, and I can connect with people. That’s been one of the best things lately.
Bill Conger is a freelance writer for various publications including Bluegrass Unlimited, ParentLife, Homecoming, and Singing News and is currently writing a biography on The Osborne Brothers with Bobby Osborne. He can be reached at [email protected].