Amanda Jordan is an independent country music artist who is ready to put her unique spin on the country music landscape, both in Canada and Nashville. Her brand new single “Driving in the Dark” is a great representation of who she is as an artist and where her career is headed.
I got the chance to talk with her about what the country scene in Canada is like, what inspired “Driving in the Dark”, what she’s currently nerding out about and so much more! Keep reading to see what she had to say!
Tell me a little bit about how you first got into making and performing music.
I was performing at an early age. My mom tells the story of me standing inside my crib at about 18 months when my caregiver heard me singing “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen”!
I performed with Dominic D’Arcy – a singing police officer from Ottawa – from time to time as a child and had a country band with my friends when I was in grade 6, 7 and 8. For high school, I applied for a school of the arts in Ottawa and I was part of the Ottawa Idol program one year. It was in the first year of music/singer songwriter stream at Carleton University that I first received a showcase with the Country Music Association of Ontario. At that point, I was doing local gigs and writing songs. Things have continued to move forward from there and now I’m in Nashville!
Was there a specific moment or person that made you realize that music is what you wanted to pursue professionally?
That’s a really hard question for me as I started so young. I just have always loved everything about music. Thinking back – I loved performing, I loved songwriting, I loved playing in a band with my friends, and I loved the way music makes me feel. Music was really my identity growing up and I’ve even loved the challenges that come with it as I’ve learned more about the industry.
You were raised just outside of Ottawa, Canada and now, you split your time between there and Nashville. It seems like the Canadian country scene is hotter than ever right now. From your experience, what’s the country scene in Canada like?
The country scene is Canada is really great! We have so many talented females being played and promoted like Meghan Patrick, Lindsay Ell and Madeline Merlo. We’re also so fortunate in Canada to have FACTOR, which is a government agency that supports artists and their music through various grant programs. I’ve been fortunate enough to receive several showcase grants and two artist development grants from FACTOR, which really helped me in my career. We also have wonderful country music associations in each province such as the Country Music Association of Ontario that work very hard at providing emerging artists with opportunities. The fans are great in Canada as well and they really support country music.
I’m always genuinely curious about what artists want to convey with their music. Your current sound would generally be classified as country, but if you had to describe it without using genre names, how would you describe it?
My songs are about taking feelings and experiences and making music from those that people can enjoy and relate to. I like to be blunt and tell it like it is in a lot of my songs. I’d say I have a smooth voice and people have compared it to Colbie Caillat a lot.
Going off of that, who are some of your musical influences?
I’m influenced by so many musicians every day, so it’s hard to name them all but I love Caitlyn Smith, Tim McGraw, Willie Nelson, Neil Young, Alec Benjamin, and Miranda Lambert to name a few.
Let’s talk about your newest single, “Driving in the Dark”. What inspired that song?
The inspiration for this song came the first time I did the 17-hour drive from Ottawa to Nashville with my twin brother Thomas for one of my first writes. As we drove, he was talking about how he loved to drive at night and into the sunrise. That’s really where “Driving in the Dark” originated. I started writing it in the car on the drive and continued in the hotel room when I arrived in Nashville and then the next day took what I had into the write with me.
What was the songwriting process like for this song specifically?
The songwriting process with Phil Barton and Jason Matthews was so fun. Phil is a renowned songwriter from Australia who is now an American citizen and Jason is also a very renowned Nashville songwriter with more than 80 cuts in his discography. Phil is very high-energy and there are always a lot of laughs when he’s in the room. When he gets excited about a song, he’s notorious for saying, “Yeah baby!”
After writing the song in Jason’s studio on Music Row, we scooted over to Phil’s studio where we made a work tape and then that working tape was sent to Jason Barry, my music producer in Canada at Barrytone Studios.
Something I’ve always been curious with songwriting is how topics come to mind. Did you guys know what you wanted to write about going into the song session that birthed “Driving in the Dark” or did it just come about organically?
Usually when I go into a write, I have an idea/hook in mind and that was the case with “Driving in the Dark”. What’s great about co-writing is with three people in the room, we just kept bouncing ideas off each other. We never say, “Oh that’s not a good idea.” No idea is a bad idea in the writing room. You don’t want people to feel intimidated or less creative. If someone isn’t fond of something, we just keep going and circle back to things and it’s really amazing how the magic happens. Sometimes something that we weren’t too fond of at first is circled back to with a new twist or a new spin, and it really works!
Were there any major changes to “Driving in the Dark“ that happened once you guys got into the recording studio, whether it be in the lyrics or something sonically?
There were not really big changes. There might have been some grammar or word smith changing. I remember there was a discussion about the line “Jet black car” and we wanted to be more specific but we decided to leave it as it was. First, we laid down the vocals. Then, Lyle Molzan played the drums, Mark McIntyre played the bass and Jason the producer played all of the other instruments: the banjo, organ, electric and acoustic guitars. Jason also sang the harmonies.
I know you also recently released a music video for “Driving in the Dark”. What was your experience shooting that video like? Was that your first time shooting a music video?
I had shot a few videos before. One was for a cover I did of “Better Man” which is on YouTube and the other was for a fundraiser for a little girl named Everley, who lives down the road from me. She suffers from CCHS and I was helping to fundraise for her new breathing machine.
For “Driving in the Dark”, I worked with the same filmmakers this time – they are more like friends. They are both graduates of Algonquin College in Ottawa and are a lot of fun to work with. The actor that I had in mind for the video wasn’t available, so my friend Matt Martin came to the rescue at the last minute. We had a lot of fun and it was all shot within a three-mile radius of my home. We thought about shooting it in Nashville or Ottawa, but I had everything including a beach, a bridge, the sunset in front of the lake right at home.
You’re still relatively new to the music game. What are some music industry-related goals or benchmarks that you’re aiming to reach in the next couple of years?
I’m working on an EP that I hope to have out in 2020! I’ve been really fortunate to be performing on the SongBird Tour Bus in Nashville this year as a songwriter. It’s just the greatest tour and while you hear all of the secrets behind the walls of the record labels on Music Row, you also get to hear songwriters play their hits and their latest originals. I’ve met so many great songwriters and am so blessed to have this opportunity.
I also love acting, so I plan to take some acting classes and continue to audition for any acting parts that come my way.
Last question — we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner nerd so what is something that you’re currently nerding out about?
I’m currently nerding out with documentaries about psychology and the brain. I’ve been watching The Mind, Explained on Netflix and I’m totally hooked so far. I’m currently working on applying for my Masters in Psychology through a program for working students, so I can do it part-time while I’m continuing with music!