Shantaia is making waves in Canadian country music. With her latest single “Hung Over You” already seeing support across Canada, and her previous single “Broke To Brand New” landing at 33 at Canadian Country radio, Shantaia is just getting started.
She recently joined The Washboard Union for some of their East Coast shows for the “Road Back To Cavendish”.
With a busy summer of shows across Canada, Shantaia will hit the stage at Cavendish Beach Music Festival, Boots and Hearts Music Festival, and more!
Shantaia is a top three finalist for SiriusXM’s Top of The Country, where we will see her hit the stage during the 2022 CCMA Awards weekend. She is also currently participating in the RBCXMusic First Up Program.
Five Questions With Shantaia
While in Nashville recently, I got to have my first in-person “Canadian Women in Country Spotlight” interview with Shantaia, and we talked about all things music, sports, moving to Nashville and more!
1. Lots of artists have their sights set on Nashville. What’s the biggest lesson you learned when you moved to Nashville?
A lot of young artists have their sights set on Nashville, and the thrill of the city can overcome you pretty quickly. Shantaia says it’s about learning balance, something she was able to manage with the pandemic and being cautious.
“Learning balance; this city can consume you when it comes to going out all the time and you think you have to be networking all the time. A lot of people burn themselves out.”
Shantaia moved to Nashville in October 2020, and because of Covid, she was being careful and not going out a lot. She would play a show and then go right home.
“You don’t have to go out all the time. You’ve moved here, you’re not on a trip or vacation. You can stay in and know you’re not missing out.”
She says there’s an overwhelming feeling that you’ll be missing out by not going out to everything, when in reality, there are so many opportunities that prioritizing what’s best for you is always going to work in your favour.
She says that balancing your mental health, going to the gym when you need to, going for a walk when you need a break, and recognizing when you need a night in are key.
2. What do you think it was about “Broke To Brand New” that really resonated with people? How do you set expectations for a song you love knowing it could be big or not?
“You never know what’s going to stick, but I always had a really good feeling about that song.”
“Had a Good Weekend” which was released in February 2021 did pretty well on its own, so she set a standard for “Broke To Brand New” that was achievable and reasonable, based on the success of the previous single. She wanted to make sure her expectations were aligned, regardless of the potential it had.
“You can be hopeful, but set a slightly lower expectation, and when it passes you still have something to feel good about.”
While “Had a Good Weekend” approached Top 50 and didn’t quite make it, the independent artist had lots to celebrate when “Broke to Brand New” not only entered Top 50, but peaked at #33.
“When it was 33, I was like, that’s so cool.”
While she was proud of how well the song was doing, her friends were set on Top 20, and of course it’s hard to not listen to your friends get hyped for you. You just have to keep that in the back of your mind.
“Broke To Brand New” proved to be life-changing for Shantaia.
3. You were gifted musically from a young age. Were there any other talents or hobbies that you explored and still love today?
While a love of music was something engrained in Shantaia from a very young age, she was also an avid athlete.
She played volleyball and basketball, refereed hockey, and still rides horseback. She even had a scholarship opportunity to play volleyball if she chose to go to university.
“I’d hurt myself so much in sports that it’s hurt me musically,” says Shantaia. She broke her ankle playing basketball and had to cancel a show, which led to management asking if she could dial back the competitive sports.
She definitely misses playing more competitive sports, but she plays beach volleyball every once in a while.
When it came to choosing which interests fulfilled her most, she knew it was music.
4. What do you do for yourself when you have a day off?
Taking time to step away from the madness and busy schedule that an independent musician has is important for preventing burnout. It’s also important for keeping the creativity and inspiration buckets full.
When she has a day off in Nashville, she loves to go find a hiking trail.
“There’s a lot of cool stuff around here, about 45 minutes out of town. There are waterfalls and really nice hiking trails”
If she has a day off, she likes to be outside. The Nashville weather is almost always nice, so she likes to take advantage of it.
5. How do you balance the demands of social media as an independent artist? It can feel like an obligatory part of the job.
The tricky social media relationship is something I like to dive in to with many artists. It’s part of their work, but also part of their leisure time, so it’s difficult to separate the two. It’s something that definitely consumes a lot of time for many artists, and the balance can become tricky.
“Sometimes my brain just needs to shut it off.”
On release day for her latest single “Hung Over You”, Shantaia felt loved and supported by friends and fans, but she was also in the studio that day, so she had to laser focus on what she needed to get done. It’s hard to feel like you have to shut it off but sometimes, even when it’s such a positive space, it needs to be slightly deprioritized.
“It’s a balance and I do struggle with it a little bit.”
“At one time it was Instagram and now we’re told to build out a TikTok following. There’s an unrealistic expectation that you have to post on TikTok multiple times a day, and who has time for that?”
Social media can be a catalyst for artists but it definitely has its drawbacks, and Shantaia says: “I don’t love how time consuming it’s become and it’s taking away from the art and what the music is about.”
Growing Up In A Musical Family
Shantaia is no stranger to the stage. From the age of three, she was already in singing lessons after following her brother on stage at his recital and stealing the spotlight to sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”.
Describing herself as a “super outgoing kid”, Shantaia remembers being the kid who would grab a hairbrush and put on a performance anywhere.
“I don’t remember my life ever without music,” says Shantaia looking back on her musically-influenced childhood.
Taking singing, piano, and then guitar lessons, Shantaia grew up destined to be a performer. At just thirteen years old, she was recording her first album after winning a 10k20 grant from Rawlco Radio, making her the youngest recipient to receive the grant. That taste of the recording studio and making an album had her hooked.
“This was a turning point for me where I was like, this could be a career and I was very invested in it from a very young age.”
While always prioritizing music and playing on the weekends, Shantaia spent her senior year of high school making the most of her other passion. She loved competitive sports growing up and her final year of high school was her last opportunity to enjoy that before chasing her music career. She played competitive volleyball and would end up being offered a scholarship to play post-secondary.
Chasing Her Music Dream
After finishing school, traveling back and forth to Nashville for five years, and building out her network with the SCMA and the CCMA, she made the move to Nashville in October 2020.
Her big move to chase her dream was followed by catching COVID and not being able to travel home for over six months.
“I missed my family, I missed my boyfriend. It was hard and a weird thing to juggle.”
Still knowing it was the right time to move to Nashville, Shantaia has now had opportunities to play at The Listening Room, Whiskey Jam, and more. She’s working with industry-leading songwriters, and has built out a team that she feels supports her goals.
She’s also part of a growing community of Canadian musicians, songwriters, and producers who take up residence in Nashville.
“The Canadians adopt you when you get here. The community kind of adopts you and there’s a huge Canadian community and everybody looks out for everybody.”
With more on the horizon this year for Shantaia, she will be spending her time between Canada and Nashville playing shows and setting her sights on the Top of The Country Finale at the CCMA Awards.
Connect with Shantaia on Social Media!
Make sure to follow Shantaia on social media and check out her website to see where you can catch her on stage.
Stream All Of Shantaia’s Music
Country music lover with an unhealthy collection of concert t-shirts. Always looking for up and coming artists. Believer in music's ability to soothe the soul. Connect with me on Instagram and Twitter.