Canadian country recording artist Elyse Saunders is thrilled to share her new EP “Free” on all digital platforms. On release day (October 21st), “Free” hit #2 on the iTunes Country Music Album Charts in Canada and #11 across all genres.

Listen to the “Free” EP:

“Free” uses a modern country production canvas to integrate a seamless and dynamic blend of propulsive power pop elements, R&B influences, traditional classic country licks, and heartfelt storytelling across six songs. These artistic choices set the tone for the broader themes of the EP that Elyse wanted to convey. 

She says, “I created ‘Free’ as a means of bringing joy to others. I want people to listen to it and get excited – not only about the music, but also about embracing their own identity, and finding happiness and freedom in every moment.”  

Three new songs will be unveiled with EP release: The inclusive and empowering “Genes” produced by CCMA award-nominated Dan Swinimer, the sassy and campy “Famous” produced by BCCMA Award winners Paul Shatto and David Wills, and the breezy bonus track “California” produced by CMAO Award-nominated producer Shawn Moore. 

“Free” arrives after more than a year of anticipation since the release of the EP’s title track in May of 2020 – a period that has seen the Peterborough-born artist reach numerous milestones with the EP’s first three single releases, while she has also broken new ground as an artist.

What inspired this last release?

My new EP “Free” is finally here and for me, this EP really captures the messages I want to share and the different sides to who I am as an artist. What I love about this release is that it has ebb and flow and keeps the listener on their toes. It’s about celebration, love, being in the moment, confidence and inclusivity. 

Prior to dropping the EP, I released 3 singles from it: “Free” (the title track), “Wine Down” and my latest “Sunshine State of Mind.”. 

“Sunshine State of Mind” came from a place of wanting to get away out of the cold weather and how that’s a form of escape. The more I thought about it, I realized that we all have that feeling of wanting to get away for many different reasons but it’s important for us to realize that paradise can be anywhere as long as you carry a positive mindset or if you surround yourself with the right person that you love or your friends. 

What are some sources of inspiration for your storytelling?

It’s my own experiences, my friends’ experiences and the world around me. I believe that part of being a good songwriter is to have a strong compassion meter and to be able to soak up the different moments around you. The best songs draw on real experiences and real conversations. I love when I can listen to a song and feel like I’m right there with words that are sensory. When I write, I try to write from that perspective and I make mental and physical notes on different things that pop up in conversation. 

Any funny anecdotes from the time you were recording or writing this?

So I don’t necessarily have any funny anecdotes from writing or recording, but I do have a funny moment from when we were filming the video for “Sunshine State of Mind”. 

The beach scene in the video was shot at a beautiful beach with all of these sandbanks and because it was a Thursday and a bit rainy, we pretty much had this usually highly populated beach all to ourselves other than some seagulls and swans that were hanging out. I had bought us some food and drinks to have in between scenes and we set it up on a table to come back to later. We climbed up one of these sandbanks to catch a scene and even though all of the food below was packaged, one seagull found its way into a bag and carried out a full sub onto the ground, opened the container and was going to town. I looked down the sandbank and saw what was going on and didn’t want to interrupt the scene so I took off running after it to try and save our food. At that point the seagull already ate some bits of the sub so I let it have the rest. I have no idea how a seagull can eat a whole sub but it did. 

Tell us about the music video and the idea behind it?

Since, the music video was filmed during the pandemic, I thought it would be interesting to use some of the elements of what we’ve all been turning to during this time and what’s kept us all connected and that’s our screens (tv, smart phones, computer.) The video shifts between scenes of me in a dreamy neon world telling the story and feeling paradise from the artificial neon lights around me and then we take the viewer through the tv screens into the life of a couple who are together living in that moment of paradise together. 

It was so much fun to film! My videography team (Roadhouse Productions) and I were in like kids in a candy shop when filming in the neon room and the beach scene was so much fun too. It was cool to be behind the scenes at a beach, hanging with these two wonderful people and letting them shine on the screen. 

What’s a record that shaped your creativity?

I feel like so many records have and continue to. I get inspired by a lot of music but one that had an early impact on me when I was younger and just starting out was Shania Twain’s “Come On Over.” At that time, her sound was very fresh for country music and her whole approach as an artist was vibrant, outside the box and bold. I’ve always wanted to be able to do that with my music. I don’t want to feel like I have to be confined, and I’ve always admired her confidence in doing that. 

Who is an artist or band you look up to today?

I have handful of icons that I’ve looked up to forever and have taken parts of all of them for who I aspire to be as an artist and that’s Shania Twain, Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks, Martina McBride, and Johnny Cash.

Any future projects?

I’ve been a writing machine this past year and I’m already looking at recording more music for the New Year. For right now, I’m really focusing on the EP and the other songs that are left. 

“Genes” is one of the newly-released tracks from the EP and it is getting a lot of attention and feedback right now. It’s all about inclusivity and is the kind of song that is about sharing a drink with someone and getting to know them without biases. We’re recording a new music video for it to be released in the new year along with it going to radio and then soon after, I look forward to promoting my song “Famous” from the EP, too. I have lots of cool things coming up for this EP!

What is your view on genres and music styles since you mix a lot of them in your music?

For me, I’ve always loved all types of music and believe that a good song is a good song. Country music is my home, but I really enjoy bringing other elements into my sound to give listeners something fresh and my own stamp of what my country music sound is. I don’t like being confined to a box and really like the freedom of bringing these other sounds in!

What does music and art mean to you?

It means the world to me. Music has always been a part of me and I wouldn’t be who I am today if I didn’t pursue a life in it. It started as an outlet and still is my outlet but I also believe that it’s more than that. Music heals and can connect to so many people and their stories. I want to be able to make a difference through my music!

How would you describe your act in one word?