Lindsay Ell - Right on Time
Written by Jamie Agoglia
Studio Photography by Robby Klein
Stage Photography by Nathan Leslie
One-on-one with the sensational Canadian country singer and television host, Lindsay Ell.
Jamie Agoglia: With your career expanding and growing with incredible force, looking back on 2022, what would you consider to be the greatest, most transformative moment of the year? Including 2021 if you would like during that interesting period.
Lindsay Ell: I have had so many moments in my career that have been heart fulfilling and career expanding in ways that would be hard to explain to my younger self. The past couple years have been full of so many incredible moments - hosting my first national TV show Canada’s Got Talent, touring with Blake Shelton, becoming friends with the angel of a human Gwen Stefani, being the first to post a country award show with my now dear friend, but most incredible drag queen, Priyanka, touring Germany and the UK again when I hadn’t visited them for over three years, but hands down the craziest moment of 2022 so far, would be opening for the queen herself, Shania Twain.
If you were to tell 10 year old Lindsay that she was going to step on a stage in front of 50,000 people and open for Shania Twain, she would’ve said you were crazy. But it happened. August 7, 2022 at Boots & Hearts Festival I got to be direct support for the woman who not only got me interested in country music, but set my sights on wanting to be a performer. The coolest part of the whole experience, was I’ve been able to be around Shania a bit this year.. There is the cointessential phrase “never meet your idols”, well let me just tell you, that doesn’t fit at all for Shania. Shania is the coolest, smartest, most down to earth human, and a pleasure to be around. After the show that night, she came up to me with a piece of strawberry cake, and was like, “here Lindsay, have some strawberry cake that my family made!” Let me just say…Shania could’ve handed me anything in that moment and I would have eaten it like it was Christmas morning. While we were eating our cake, we were catching up about all the things Shania was up to around this festival, one of her only shows this year away from her intense Vegas residency. Let me just say, this girl is busy! She was shooting a music video the next day, supporting her documentary that just came out, and told me about some other projects she was working on.
This experience was an incredible reminder that the stars at the top didn’t get there from being passive. You think sometimes that “once I accomplish this….” then everything will be easier. But more and more times as I get to meet people that I look up to at the top of their games, they are working the hardest out of anyone. Once you walk through a door, it just opens to a room of more doors and windows that you then need to figure out how to get through. It’s not that things get easier once you experience success, but the work just gets a little more complicated, diverse and with a little more pressure. This whole incredible day was not only one of the most proud bucket list checks I’ve gotten to do to date, but also the most transformative perspective affirming to just keep your head down and keep doing your thing. :)
Inspiration is all around us. And some people, like yourself, are literally inspiration personified. When you wake up, what inspires your creative drive, what lights the fire?
Inspiration is definitely all around us. I think this is why I love traveling so much, because I am constantly stimulated with new places, new things, and new people. People watching is one of the most incredible and constantly surprising things you can do on the road. I think it’s so good for our brains and our hearts to take in new information, new smells, try different foods. When I wake up in the morning, I first start my day with gratitude. Before I even let my feet hit the ground I think of something I’m grateful for. Having this underlying foundation is so crucial to setting my intention, my purpose and quite honestly will determine my results of the day. I am also a firm believer of what we put in our bodies is what we get out - aka, our diet is going to vastly affect our creativity. It’s why I’m a pretty hard core health nut on the side of all my creative endeavors. I try to intermittent fast every day, starting my day with lemon water, then celery juice, and then by first bite of food not until 11 or noon. On the road sometimes this gets hard, so I just do what I can whenever I can, but I find this routine sets me up for the clearest mind.
With an open mind upon waking up/starting my day, I feel my brain is much more ready to be the sponge I want it to be. To take in as much information that it can so then I can therefore mix up new ideas and create new things. Being out in nature also always inspires me. Sometimes in order to finish a song, I’ll go for a walk or a run in nature. Often being stimulated by unpredictable things like a forest can spring my creativity.
I would imagine that when you are living your dream and killing it doing what you love, as you are, there are moments where you pause and think, “I’m living my wildest dream”. What is that like?
I’ve been asked before “when was the moment that you knew that you made it”. I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but at this point in my career, this very day, I still don’t think I’ve made it. Which poses the question - will I ever feel that I have made it? I think there’s a natural sense of always striving for the next goal post, figuratively speaking, that is healthy. These are the ideas that make you excited to wake up and get out of bed with a spring in your step. For this reason, I appreciate this quality within myself. But I would be amiss if i didn’t confront the darker side of that coin. The is-it-ever-going-to-be-enough side of that coin. Therefore, there are definitely moments over the past few years where I want to pinch myself and ask, “Is this really happening?” Aka - eating strawberry cake with Shania after a show where I opened for her; opening for Blake Shelton and getting to become friends with my style-icon, Gwen Stefani; or getting to hang with John Mayer for the day getting to be in a guitar commercial for his latest Silver Sky PRS SE….but I must confess that I don’t even know if my “wildest dream” has an end to it. And perhaps that’s the very point.
Expand upon these lyrics from Right on Time: “I’m either optimistic or a little naive, I’m everywhere and nowhere that I thought I would be, 30 years later and I gotta believe that I’m either late to the party or right on time”
I think our natural self talk has two sides to it. Especially when we’re operating in circles of comparison to friends, family, social media, etc., I feel that it’s a constant back and forth to “Am I doing this right?” or “Yeah! I’m doing great!”. This lyric of Right On Time was specifically highlighting this part of our conscience. But ultimately I’m a firm believer that things are happening in our life just as they should. Sometimes we don’t understand that order, although everything in hindsight is 20-20. Just after I turned 30, I felt like all my friends were getting married or having babies, and I wasn’t close to doing any of those things. I felt like I was falling behind, or completely “late to the party”. But it was important for me to write this song, as much for myself, as a reminder to us all that things unfold in our lives just as they should for OUR own timeline. Not someone else’s. Your story isn’t supposed to look like someone else’s story. Everything is happening Right On Time as it should in your life. And for the record…you can never be late to your own party!
Last time we spoke in regards to your previous cover was about the time you were rocking with Keith Urban, you played in Santa Barbara, at the Bowl, you performed “Horses” in that ICONIC place, what was that like?
Anytime I get to perform with an artist that I’ve looked up to ever since I got into music, is such a legendary moment. Touring with Keith Urban is an incredible experience. I look at opening for artists like that, like a college course on how to do my job. Keith is one of the best performers out there. Not only is he an incredible singer/songwriter/player/performer, but watching him move around the stage, dance while he plays and command an audience is so inspiring to me as an artist. Then on top of all of this, Keith is just a really great guy - amazing husband, dad, and human. Getting to record “Horses” and play it every night on tour with him, specifically that night at the Santa Barbara Bowl was a moment I’ll never forget.
So now a TV star, kudos, and being so proactive and chasing the/your dream, if you went to a moment, say 5 years from now, what has Lindsay Ell done, and then in that moment, what is she running off the next cliff to do?
Well, lets see…I would like to say I’ve won a few Grammys, have recorded some records that have inspired millions of people around the globe, just finished my first headlining arena tour, and have a national TV show in the US. As far as what I’d be running to next, I would love to be working on acting in a movie, and collabing with some of my musical heroes. I guess I should get to work.