On the road to the CMAO Awards and Conference this month, we chatted with Amanda & Tyler Wilkinson of Small Town Pistols! The siblings reveal what they're listening to now, the importance of camaraderie in the Canadian country scene and music being a family affair!
She's Gone Control: As returning attendees at the CMAO Awards, what are you most looking forward to this year?
Small Town Pistols: It's always an amazing time. A perfect time where we get to celebrate the talent that is here in Ontario. Celebrate one another!
SGC: How does it feel to be part of an event that honours the incredible talent in the Ontario Country Music industry?
STP: We are incredibly proud to be from this province, and it’s amazing to look around the room and see friends who are making such a great impact on country music across Canada and beyond.
SGC: How important is it to have a conference such as the CMAO Conference to help budding young country musicians? How do they benefit?
STP: Before we didn’t really have a platform here in Ontario for young country musicians to get advice, and meet other like-minded musicians who are trying to accomplish the same thing. It’s a wonderful opportunity for networking within the country music industry starting at our doorstep. Absolutely amazing! We wish we had this incredible organization when we were just starting out.
SGC: Considering music has always been a family business for you guys, do you think playing and writing will always be a family affair?
STP: We have been so blessed over the years to do this together. Going forward into the future, we will always be creating together. It’s in our blood.
SGC: What do you think you learned growing up as professional musicians from such a young age and being able to share the experience with your sibling?
STP: It has built a bond that at this point in our lives is unbreakable.
SGC: After you stopped playing music together with your father, you both pursued solo careers. What brought you back together?
STP: The strong creative connection that we have always felt. It really started with just songwriting again together.
SGC: What is it about country music that really speaks to you?
STP: The strong messages and incredible story telling. How it speaks to the “everyday” people of the world.
SGC: As someone who has been involved in the country music industry in Canada, as well as the United States – do you think the scene differs down south?
STP: There is a much stronger bond amongst musicians here in Canada. There is always competition, which is important. It moves us all forward. But the love and admiration we have for one another, and how we “root for” one another…there is no comparison here!
SGC: How does it feel to have such a supportive and thriving country music scene in Ontario/Canada?
STP: Incredible…something to be proud of for sure!
SGC: Now that you are both adults, with your own families, has your musical inspiration changed? Do you think the family band dynamic will trickle down to the next generation?
STP: Not a whole lot, other than we have a different perspective to write songs from now on the given occasion that we didn’t have before becoming parents, and experiencing all the things that come along with it. As far as our next generation, you never know, they are definitely surrounded by a healthy dose of tunes every day!
SGC: Do you have any fun tour stories or fan encounters that you can share from your adventures so far?
STP: When we first started out playing, rebranding ourselves as “Small Town Pistols” a lady came up to our road manager and said, “I really love them…but that girl sounds too much like Amanda Wilkinson…she is great, but she should try and sound like herself.” It was really cute. It’s great to see now that people know our sound and have caught on to the whole concept of Small Town Pistols.
SGC: What advice would you give to musicians considering pursuing a career professionally?
STP: We always say do something else! If you can’t, and you are consumed with it everyday then it is what you need to be doing! It’s this passion and drive that will get you through the music business while you are striving to make music! Also play out every opportunity you can…this kind of live performance education you can’t beat. It’s how you cut your teeth so to speak.
SGC: You are quite active on social media and regularly reply to fans on Twitter. How important is social media as a tool to connect with your fans?
STP: It is insanely important. There are so many platforms now that keep us connected to our fans. These are tools we didn’t have before when we first started out as The Wilkinsons. Fans also want to feel invested in you, and your everyday life. It’s an amazing way to share ourselves with our fans, and get instant feedback.
SGC: Is there an artist that you would have loved to get a Tweet from when you were a kid?
STP: Heck yeah! Dolly Parton for me (Amanda) and Brooks and Dunn (Tyler).
SGC: What's on your iPod? Who have you been listening to lately that you think people should check out?
STP: Kree Harrison's new album isn’t out just yet and we got an advance…I can’t stop playing it. She is the real deal. As soon as it comes out, you have to get it!
SGC: Is there something that you are obsessed with or addicted to right now? (an app? TV Show? Band? Food? Song? Activity?)
STP: Amanda – Masters of Flip with Kortney and Dave Wilson. I love them! I also can’t wait for the second season of Bloodline to come out on Netflix. Tyler – I’m loving The Magicians TV show.
SGC: What would you say has been one of the coolest moments/highlights in your career that really made you realize you had chosen the right path for yourself?
STP: Winning album of the year at the CMAO’s. We honestly didn’t expect it, and often times as artists you have insecurities on how people will accept your music. It’s not a reason to be afraid or amend things, and we definitely have been a “do it our way” kind of band when it comes to every aspect of our career. But to see the support and love from people in our industry was incredible.
SGC: What can people expect from you next?
STP: Summer touring!!!! Can’t wait.