STAYING IN THE SONGWRITING SADDLE
Lindi Ortega returned to Australia last month for the Out On The Weekend festival and her own headline shows. She fills Chris Familton in on what she’s been up to in the year since her album Faded Gloryville was released.
Canadian (and Nashville resident) country singer/songwriter Lindi Ortega will make her third visit to Australia this October, this time with a guitarist and drummer and the possibility that they’ll preview some new songs she’s been working on for her next album.
Over the last 12 months, writing has been a priority for Ortega. “This time I was very much writing constantly,” she explains, keen to avoid the stress of fast approaching album deadlines. “I’ve been in the position where I’m told that we have to put out a new record and I only have a month to write it. I don’t like being rushed like that and you can’t rush these things, it always makes me anxious and nervous. This time I knew that was coming and I wouldn’t let it happen that way so I kept writing after Gloryville and I have ever since.”
Two major achievements in the last year for Ortega have been her debut at the Grand Ole Opry at the ‘mother church of country music’ – the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, plus a nomination for Roots Artist Of The Year at the CCMA (Canadian Country Music Awards). After winning the two previous years it turned out she was correct in her prediction that “I’m in no way expecting to get another one this year”, instead focusing on the experience of attending. “It’s always a lot of fun and I have a great love for my home country and hang out and see people from the local scene there.”
Her Opry debut was a more nerve-wracking affair and one that every country artist dreams of achieving in the career. “I don’t think I’ve ever been any more nervous than that in my entire life. It’s funny because when you play there they don’t tell you that you don’t get to rehearse on stage, so the first time you step on the stage is for the live performance which is overwhelming, so I was very nervous. My parents were there and it was such a beautiful moment.” recalls Ortega.
In Australia there’s always been a divide between the commercial country music industry and the burgeoning alt-country scene. Ortega confirms it is the same in the US and Canada though things are definitely changing with the likes of “Chris Stapleton and Kacey Musgraves getting a foot in the door”. She remains optimistic that opportunities for greater exposure will continue to arise, even though that type of success isn’t the driving force behind her desire to make music.
“We all just keep working and we don’t have too much control over what happens in the mainstream industry. We’re just growing it ourselves, the only way we know how. We’re not going to stop or give up just because we haven’t had a Billboard hit or something. That’s a whole different dream. My dream was to be a singer and make a living from music and that’s what I do, even when I struggle to pay the rent. I’m happy doing what I love and hopefully there will be more opportunities that will come.”