Don’t let Lindi Ortega‘s adorable appearance and sugar sweet voice fool you! The girl has a dark side and it just might be what makes her so unique in her respective genre. The Nashville, by way of Toronto (yes, that’s right Toronto), songstress is the closest thing to perfection you will find in the world of country music right now and if you haven’t heard of her yet, chances are you will fall head over heels for her very shortly.
I had the absolute pleasure of chatting with the lovely Miss Ortega recently and, with that ladies and gentleman, I introduce to you the best thing to happen to your ears in a long time.
Lindi Ortega: It’s going great! Unfortunately, I picked up a bit of a cold, but I am getting through it!
BE: Sorry to hear that, but glad you’re powering through. How’s Europe been treating you, aside from the germs?
LO: It’s been great. Every show has been a lot of fun. Everyone has been real nice. Good times.
BE: Awesome. So you’re in Bristol now, and you end in France. What are you looking forward to most of all the stops?
LO: All of it’s fun. I always enjoy going across Europe and the UK. Last time I drove through Switzerland was a really nice drive.
BE: Let’s talk a little bit about your latest album, Cigarettes and Truck Stops. I had the pleasure of being able to listen and review it and I’ve been listening non-stop. Tell us a bit about the making of it as well as your favorite parts.
LO: It was recorded over about three days with the exception of about two songs which were recorded six months prior. We were at the House of Blues studio in Nashville in a live off the floor thing with drums, stand up bass, Colin Linden and myself on guitar. We recorded all the main parts live and then recorded the harmonies a little later on. It was very much a live feel. We could all see each other as we played, just how I like it. I like to not stray too far from that raw feel.
BE: Your first real big onto the US stage was on the TV show, Nashville. What was that like? You actually performed on the show. Tell us about that experience.
LO: It was exciting and cool to be part of something like that. I had never been involved with TV programs and late-night television before. It was interesting to see the acting side of things. It’s definitely a career of things. It’s definitely a career choice that I probably wouldn’t do, not that I don’t appreciate and respect it, just singing is my forte, not acting. It was awesome to see them to their thing and it was great that they allowed me to be involved with it through my music.
BE: I grew up with country music and something I find really unique about you, is that your sound as a bluesy country artist is so natural. I know you’re from Toronto, but where does that natural sound come from? Can you tell me a little bit about your background?
LO: I wasn’t really brought up on Canadian country music. It was my mom’s love of country music that planted the seed for my love of country music. She always loved Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, you know, all the legends. That’s what I was listening to more than anything that was coming out of Canada at the time.
Honestly, I wasn’t really listening to a lot of Canadian music so maybe that’s why it never really affected my sound that much. A lot of my music collection is on vinyl and a lot is blues, soul and country all from 1970s and preceding that! *laughs* So yeah, I listen to a lot of old school kind of music. I love Elvis, Buddy Holly, all the outlaw country dudes. So I guess it’s just a mix of all that stuff that amalgamates into whatever it is you want to brand my music as, there’s just a mix of all those genres thrown in there.
BE: What’s cool is that it all creates something really awesome. You have this “naughty side” for the country genre.
LO: Yeah, that’s what I was attracted to with outlaw country music. I loved that they were talking about dark stuff. You just didn’t hear a whole lot of that stuff, especially coming from female artists. I was really interested in putting my take on it and writing about that stuff from a female perspective.
BE: Yeah, as someone who grew up with that genre, hearing that sort of thing again is awesome. I absolutely love the album. Congratulations.
LO: Thank you!
BE: You’ve opened for everyone from Social Distortion to Dierks Bentley. What is it like playing on the same stage with such different artists?
LO: A few really good ones for me with contrast were KD Lang and I went straight out of that tour and into the Social Distortion tour. It was interesting for me because I got to tap into the sort of edgy, badass side of my personality. It was really cool and empowering as a female to be able to open for a punk band like that. Then with the KD Lang tour, she had a much more reserved and older audience and I had to sort of cater to that a little bit. I realized in doing those tours that the real me is somewhere in between the two.
BE: I gotta tell you that the funny thing is – not to take anything away from other country artists – but any other country artist, if I heard they were going on tour with Social Distortion, I would think, “Okay, that’s incredibly insane!”, but with you, it really, really fits. It’s cool that you have that sort of flexibility.
LO: We also rocked up the set a bit more. We played more of the upbeat songs. I had an electric guitar player, myself and a drummer. We just rocked it out as hard as we could. What was really great was that I didn’t realize the impact it had on my own audience. When I headlined after the fact, a lot of Social Distortion fans came out to show support my music as is.
BE: You’re from Toronto, living in Nashville now. Tell me about that culture shock.
LO: It is quite different. Nashville is more of a city with a small town kind of feel and laid back. Toronto is very hustle bustle all the time. There’s a million things going on. It was interesting getting used to the pace, but I’m more of a laid back person at the end of the day, so I enjoy the pace in Nashville. It’s a great city, full of lots of talented people. I’m really into food and they have great restaurants. Southern cooking and soul food is really awesome. I have a deep love for fried green tomatoes. So yeah, it’s pretty great.
BE: Going back to the album, you have some brilliant songs. The cadence is perfect throughout with your writing. What was your favorite song to write on the album?
LO: They were all fun to write. Every time you write a new song you’re always excited to play it and get attached to it. For me, a lot of my inspritation comes from my own experiences. A small portion is made up. “Murder of Crows” is obviously made up, if it wasnt I’d probably be in jail! *laughs* Every once in a while I like to take liberties to do a bit of fiction and I might explore a little more with that. There was a song called “Heaven Has No Vacancy” which was based off a documentary called The Bridge which was about people who commit suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.
It was a really poignant movie for me to watch to hear the plight of these people who felt entrapped by their own lives. I grew up in Catholic school and I remember them teaching that if you commit suicide, you won’t go to heaven. I had a problem with that ethically. If there’s such thing as an all-loving God, then those are the people who should be welcomed first. So I wrote that song from the perspective from one of the souls who are unable to be accepted anywhere. It’s probably the darkest song on my record.
BE: What can people expect when you come back to North America?
LO: I’ll be recording a new album. I’ve been writing and more touring!
You can pick up Cigarettes & Truckstops by Lindi Ortega on iTunes now!
Editor in Chief of Lemonade Magazine
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