What are your names?
Hi I’m Angela Saini.
What is your genre of music?
Rootsy folk pop. I have been described as “angelic vocals with a little stomp.” (Cadence Canada Magazine.)
Give us a little bio about you.
Toronto-based folk pop artist Angela Saini is all about second chances and empowering others. Hope, despair, confusion, joy, love, all happen in the same place. Are you living by your heart or your head? These are the themes that Angela delves into in her upcoming album, “Hope on the Stereo.” Lead single “Black Sheep” is all about living life to its fullest and dancing to the beat of your own drum, all presented in Saini’s signature positive upbeat style. “Rules are made to break” she sings as a call to go against the grain. Complete with an animated black sheep breaking all the rules in the official music video, the track is empowering with a little kick.
Her most known single “Living on the Bright Side” can be heard in rotation on Stingray across Canada. With an ability to combine humanistic and honest themes laden with catchy hooks and memorable melodies, Angela is entertaining as well as relatable. BBC Radio has called her “massively talented,” with two European and five Canadian treks under her belt. She is a 2017 Toronto Independent Music Award Winner and blogTO named her in their “Top 5 Folk Acts to Watch.”
The Calgary native got her guitar chops early on when she formed her first band at the age of 15, with her Austrian mother and Indian father driving her to gigs in bars before she was legally allowed to frequent them. She was the front woman of her high school rock band Supernal, which catapulted Angela to Toronto after 4 independent releases and thousands of kilometers touring. The rocker-turned-songstress released her first solo EP in 2012, after her refined songwriting skills and natural vocal ability got the attention of Tragically Hip drummer Johnny Fay. Demos together became pre-production for “Cake and Callouses” and shortly after, her second EP “Leap” was released in 2013. Three singles and a live album later, “Black Sheep” showcases her empowering positive outlook and reflects her life-affirming perspective: the road may be untraveled, but you’ll never know if you don’t take a chance.
What made you go in to music?
I was singing from the womb, but really went into music seriously at the age of 15 after seeing an Amanda Marshall concert at the Calgary Stampede. At that very moment I decided I wanted to make people happy the way she did. Shortly after that I bought a guitar and started my first band in high school and haven’t looked back!
Are you signed?
I am a proud independent artist.
Your latest release is out ‘Black Sheep’, tell us more about it.
“Black Sheep” is the first single from my upcoming album. It is a song all about taking chances and dancing to the beat of your own drum. I co-produced it with Guillermo Subauste in Toronto.
What was the writing process like?
I wrote this song with a good friend of mine named Lori Kelley who had invited me down to Nashville for a visit. We were talking about how often we were not understood by the “average” person for chasing our dreams and living as unconventional creative people. The song took shape as we described the act of being fearless and going against the grain. Being a black sheep!
What was the recording process like?
We recorded my band live-off-the-floor at Pacha Sound in Toronto, which was captured as organically as possible. I recorded my own vocals and backgrounds in my home studio as well as the acoustic guitar track. It was my first time doing so much of the recording myself to bring to the final song. It was a great experience and I’m happy with how it turned out!
What is the message you want listeners to take from the single?
Don’t be afraid to be different. Dance to the beat of your own drum. Be you. Be a Black Sheep!
Describe the single track in two words
You also released the music video for your single, what was the planning process like?
The concept was primarily created by the illustrator and director, Derek Mok. I have worked with Derek before on a previous music video (for single “Here I Go Again”) and we wanted to make something that was totally different and nothing like anything I had done before.
What was the making process like?
Derek did the drawing and created the scenes to send to me as we went. We shot for one day in my living room using a green screen; those are the parts that I am in. It was a very organic process, and Derek definitely did most of the work!
What is the story behind the video itself for the single?
We follow the adventures of a black sheep; a disgruntled part of a flock that wants to live their own life. It starts in the dream bubble of a man sleeping. The black sheep is a total badass and there are different scenarios to the story, including a very rebellious rock band made up of all black sheep! In the end the main character helps all of the other sheep escape. The other sheep are empowered to live their own destiny.
You’re also set to release a new sophomore album early next year, tell us what can we expect from it?
This album is about the shadows between light and dark. Peaks and valleys. Through doubts and uncertainties. Finding your reflection. Being brave and finding hope in stillness. Moving from confusion to clarity. Finding perfection in imperfection. It really is a journey between the spectrums. I generally write with uplifting and empowering themes, but how would you know you were in the light if you had never experienced darkness? It’s an exploration of the fear and hope that goes along with having courage to live on your own terms. The title is “Hope on the Stereo” which is a lyric from one of the songs and aptly sums up the overall theme.
What was the writing and recording process like?
Over almost 3 years I had 39 songs, demoed most of them in my home studio, and then narrowed it down to the 7 that fit well together with common themes and sound. I enlisted the help of Guillermo Subauste to co-produce it, and for the first time I got my long-time live band to track live-of-the-floor in Pacha Sound Studio. I recorded all of the vocals and my guitars in my home studio, which was also a welcome first.
What was the naming process like?
I felt “Hope on the Stereo” sums up the overall theme and is a lyric from a song called “My Once Upon a Time.” When you see the cover art it will all make sense! (I’m sitting in front of an old-school stereo complete with a tape deck. It’s a total throwback!)
What else can we expect from you this year?
Touring in Canada and Europe for the album release, hopefully some more festivals over the summer, and a couple more music videos to go with the single releases from the album.
Will we see any shows or a tour in planning?
I will be heading back to The Netherlands in January during the Eurosonic conference and festival, Montreal in February for Folk Alliance International and then touring Ontario/Quebec and out to western Canada in March/April of 2019. Definitely planning to tour more of Europe likely next fall but could be sooner. Fingers crossed!
Would you be up for collaborations if other musicians wanted one with you? and who would they have to contact?
I am always up for the discussion and do my own bookings!
Do you play any instruments?
I play guitar and dabble a bit on the piano.
Who are your influences?
I’m influenced by great songwriters, not specifically by genre. Some of my favorites are John Mayer, Ani DiFranco, Dolly Parton, Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie.) I love a great song in any genre and also listen to many kinds of music that I enjoy but don’t necessarily influence my writing. I love rock music for example. I always joke you can take the girl out of the band, but you can’t take the band out of the girl!
How do you get inspiration to write songs?
Life experience is the best inspiration, but I also get inspired from the stories of others, things I see in the media, movies and books. Even if a story is not entirely mine I always find a way to find myself in it.
Where do you see yourself now in 5 Years?
Touring more in Europe and the U.S. and playing some bigger stages and festivals. I have an idea for a book and might have started it by then.
When you’re not doing music, what do you do?
I teach songwriting and am a private songwriting coach on the side. I love spending time outdoors (especially with my dog!) doing yoga and reading. I’m not much of a cook but I also like to experiment in the kitchen. I love eating! (who doesn’t?)
What was the song you listened to most that influenced you to go more in to the music scene?
I have been playing music for a long time, but when I was a kid if I had to choose just one: it would be Let it Rain by Amanda Marshall. Amazing vocals on that song. She’s just got this incredible voice.
What’s the best advice you have ever been given?
Sometime “No” just means “Not Now.” That can be true in the music industry as well as other pursuits in anything in life. Life is all about evolving into the best person you can be, and the universe helps you along in every way, even when it doesn’t seem like it.
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians not about the industry and just as an artist?
Listen to your inner voice. Trust your instincts. Be your authentic self and tell the truth in your songs. Find your tribe. There is an audience for authenticity.
What quote or saying do you always stick by?
“Leap and the net will appear.” I’m not sure who to credit for that quote but it has been a mantra of mine ever since I started my solo career. I’m always finding a way to do things even when I first thought they were impossible.
Where in your hometown is a must go to visit?
My actual hometown would be Calgary so I would say the Rocky Mountains! A must see. They are breathtaking. I miss them almost as much as I miss my family.
Your coming off tour;
1/ Where do you go first?
Home to see my dog Banksy!
2/ Who do you see first?
Banksy and my partner in crime at home.
3/What do you eat first?
Probably something spicy and delicious like Thai or Indian food. So yummy. On the flip side, knowing how hard it is to eat healthy and balanced on the road, I probably would be best eating a salad!
When you are at a gig, what are 5 things you cannot forget?
My custom earplugs, capo, set list, microphone and winning attitude. There are more but that is 5.