As seen in Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 20 – Summer 2022
Tenille Arts is a country singer and songwriter from Canada now residing in Nashville and is making her way up the ranks in the country music world. How do you describe all of the talents that country music artist holds? It is hard to do so. Arts has seen her single “Somebody Like That” hit No. 1 on the Mediabase/Country Aircheck chart — the first in history with an all-female team — Arts, Allison Veltz Cruz (co-writer), and Alex Kline (producer). She has won awards for her music from the Saskatchewan Country Music Association and the Canadian Country Music Association. In 2021, she was nominated for ACM’s New Female Artist of the Year, became a member of CMT’s Next Women of Country Class of 2021, and in 2022, was nominated for Female Video of the Year and Breakthrough Video of the Year for her single “Back Then, Right Now” at the 2022 CMT Awards.
When it comes to guitars, she got her first guitar as a Christmas gift from her parents. Arts shared with us in a previous interview last year that she “grew up always wanting a guitar, and my parents got me one for Christmas, 10, 11 years ago. It’s a guitar made in Canada, and it’s one of my favorites. I always feel like that’s where I write my most vulnerable songs. Then I also have two PRS acoustics and the black one I got as something to go with my album, Rebel Child. I just recently got a new one and bedazzled the entire front of it to go with Love, Heartbreak & Everything In Between. I have three guitars, and I love them all. They kind of all have their own little thing going on.”
Arts is down-to-earth, relatable, awestruck by her recent successes, and opens up to her fans about what she has experienced in this whirlwind we call life. She is currently on a cross-country tour opening for Jordan Davis.
What was it like to be nominated for the 2022 CMT Awards Female Video of the Year and Breakthrough Video of the Year? Congratulations! How was that experience for you?
It was an awesome experience. I was so excited to be nominated. I didn’t even know! I guess when I found out I was nominated for Breakthrough Video, I was like, “Oh, my gosh, that’s amazing!” And then to add Female Video on top of that was just super cool and unexpected. And, of course, I loved attending the awards. It was just so much fun and getting to see all of these other incredibly talented people — and I’m nominated in the same category as them. You know, it was just it was a lot of fun.
You were also nominated for the ACM New Female Artist of the Year. How did it feel to be nominated next to so many up-and-coming women in country music?
I mean, that was incredible, too, to be recognized in the same category; as you said, it’s just special. You feel like it’s a big hug from the industry, you know, welcoming you into the ACMs, and all of these other amazing artists that I looked up to have been nominated for that as well. Also, it’s so cool to see how far people have gone since being nominated for that award. I’m hopeful that that’s my future as well.
What do you want your listeners to take away from your Girl to Girl album?
Well, I wrote this album during the pandemic. I was literally sitting at home every day and writing over Zoom, which had its own challenges. But I just remember feeling really, really down and thinking like, I have nothing to write about. I’m not living life, like everything’s on hold for me. And I had a tough moment trying to figure out what I was going to do next and how to fill that time and make it productive. And that’s when I realized that there were so many things that I hadn’t written about yet that have happened in my life or emotions that I’ve experienced that I haven’t put down into a song yet.
That’s when I came up with the idea of writing songs for my younger self, like what would my 15, 16-year-old self need to hear in a song? That’s when I started writing songs like “That’s My Friend You’re Talking About,” which is all about body image and not saying things to yourself in the mirror that you wouldn’t say about your best friend. And then songs like “Growing Old Young,” which touches on a ton of topics. Some are my stories; some are my co-writers’ stories — about things that make you feel like you have to grow up a little bit too fast —I think everybody’s kind of experienced that. There were all things that I realized I actually do still have a lot to talk about, and I needed to put it into this album. When I wrote the song “Girl to Girl,” which is about giving advice to another girl when this guy just goes from girl to girl, I thought that was such an awesome title that summed everything up into this one project. Like this is not to my fans; it’s to my younger self — and to anybody out there really that’s experienced the same thing.
Let’s talk about “Somebody Like That.” You were the only artist in country music history to reach No. 1 on the Mediabase/Country Aircheck chart with a song written, recorded, and produced by all women, which is insane. Tell us some behind the scenes and what it was like to work with all females on the project.
I was just writing with my best friends — we didn’t set out to make history or write that record. We just really enjoy working together. It was written with Allison Veltz Cruz and Alex Kline, who produced it. And it was just an exciting time for all of us. As we were climbing the chart, I think we were like maybe top 15 or something like that, we were told that an all-female team had never had a number one. It was just kind of shocking to us. So to know that we had the opportunity to take it all the way and to have that number one was exciting for all of us.
I remember doing interviews with Alex early on and she was talking about how she had never seen a female country producer have a number one. You know, there’s been a ton of co-production teams that have done number one hits. But just alone, you know, no solo female producer had done that, so she didn’t really have anybody to look up to, you know? So, she’s that person for all of those young female producers that are getting into country music that are hopeful for a number one hit day. Obviously, it’s something special that we will all share for the rest of time.
What was your experience with CMT’s Next Women of Country?
It was incredible. It was different, though, than most years because it was during the pandemic, so a lot of it was over Zoom. But it was just so cool to know that, so many incredible women have been a part of that before and have gone on to do so many great things. And just knowing that I am among that community of women is just very exciting. I continue to stay in touch with them. MacKenzie Porter wrote with me on my single “Back Then, Right Now.”
So how excited are you to be touring right now, opening for Jordan Davis?
Oh, it’s been incredible. I’m a huge fan of Jordan’s, and he’s been so sweet to me. There’s a moment in his set where I get to come back out and do a song with him that I’m a huge fan of. His song with Julia Michaels “Cool Anymore” — I’m obsessed with that song. On the first night of the tour that I was out with him, he asked me to come out and sing that song, and I was just super excited. We’ve been having a blast. I think we only have five more shows left together, but it’s been awesome.
My next question is about your Canadian fanbase. They are so supportive, and obviously, they’ve seen you through it all — growing up and making music and making strides. What does that mean to you?
It means the world to me to know that I have that fan base that I know will never leave me. You know, they’ve been with me since the beginning. They’ve seen me grow, and they’ve been fans since the beginning. So, any time I get to talk about Canada or where I’m from and how awesome those fans are, I love to because they truly are. Some people here in the US don’t realize how big country music is in Canada —they get overlooked for the major tours and they really are the diehard country fans. Like every festival that I’ve been to in Canada, the US superstars are always just like, “Oh my gosh, I had no clue how wild and crazy and fun Canadian country music fans are.” I haven’t performed in Canada in almost three and a half years, and I’m going back at the end of June —I know it’s going to be a big party. I can’t wait to see everybody because they have been supporting me from afar. I moved to Nashville, and I hope they never felt like I was abandoning them. I just always wanted to take it a little bit further and moving to Nashville was that in that sense. I definitely am super loyal and love my Canadian fan base.
We are Guitar Girl Magazine and love to ask about guitars. Do you have a certain guitar that you are loving to play right now?
PRS recently sent me their little parlor guitar, which is super awesome for traveling because I can bring it everywhere so easily. It’s what I take to all my radio shows and things like that. I’m loving it — I have named her Dove. Also, I’m sure a lot of people, if they follow me on social media, have seen that I bedazzled a PRS acoustic guitar. So that’s probably one of my favorites to play as well.
Lastly — what does being a woman in music mean to you?
Being a woman in music is a big responsibility to represent women and the real topics. Like I said before, touching on body image and what it’s like just being a girl every day. And I am getting ready for shows and looking in the mirror and struggling with my body image. I have to go out in front of thousands of people. I know that every girl who is getting ready to go somewhere probably has similar feelings and similar thoughts. So, I want to represent women and what we go through and share my stories because the more vulnerable I am, I’ve learned that the more people can relate to it. So, I feel a big responsibility as a woman in country music to just be open, honest, and vulnerable.