AUSTIN, TX (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Canadian singer-songwriter Ariana
Gillis turned 21 two weeks ago, and has just released her second album, ‘Forget
Me Not’, to applause from the dean of American rock writers, Dave Marsh, and
from Elton John's co-writer, Bernie Taupin.
She's an unusual artist not because of her youth but because her songwriting is
unique and uncommonly deep — which is what attracted Taupin when he heard her on
Marsh's Sirius-XM radio show. (Marsh, in turn, had heard her sing 10 months
before in an impromptu session in a hotel stairwell at a folk music convention
She lives with her parents and two younger sisters in Vineland, a small town in
southern Ontario's Niagara wine-producing area. In performance she usually works
with a three piece band behind her which includes her father David — an award-
winning acoustic guitarist — who also produced both her albums, and an EP she
released when she was 17.
The 2009 winner of the Canadian Folk Music Award for young artists, Ariana's
music is more pop than folk, but seems to defy categorization anyway. Her
performances are high energy, and she's confident, funny and likeable on stage.
She's well worth discovering.
How do you compare songwriting to performing in your daily life?
The two are vastly different. Songwriting is a personal experience for me in
which I have to be completely isolated from the rest of the world…otherwise, I
can’t enter my world. Performing is all about the audience and the music. It
requires a different type of energy.
You've always worked with your father in the band? Is this cool, or do you care
Yes, my dad has always been in the band. And I love working with him because of
what he contributes to the whole picture. I really don’t care about what's cool
and what isn’t. Anyone, anywhere can make anything cool, new and exciting as
long as they have the right tools to make it work. My dad is insanely creative,
and he adds so many more dimensions to the music – something that I feel is very
You're 21, and you don't write love songs. Think you ever will?
I think, to an extent, I do write love songs. I just tend to intertwine them
with a story so that they aren’t so obvious. In actuality, the very essence of
songwriting is emotion, and love is one of the most powerful feelings that we as
humans share and express everyday. My song, “John and the Monster” is entirely
about love. When I write songs, I always strive to say things in an original
way. I definitely credit my dad for that; he's always taught me to talk about
subjects in a different light.
Can you describe how you write songs?
Describing my songwriting process is actually one of the most difficult
questions that I get asked by people. And I often find that most people are
disappointed with my answer. Sometimes I think they are looking for a step-by-
step guide or a ‘how to’, but it isn’t that way at all for me. I don’t ever
try to write songs. I never sit down with my guitar and say; “I’m going to
write a song now.” It just doesn’t work like that. Inspiration chooses when it
wants to hit me. I feel I am merely a vessel that it can travel through to
create something that I hope is new and beautiful and exciting.
Name your favourite songwriters…
Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Josh Ritter, Patty Griffin, and Conor Oberst.
… and the performers who have influenced you?
Tom Waits, Peter Gabriel, The Beatles, Travelling Wilburys
What's the best thing that's happened to you so far?
Being on Dave Marsh’s XM Sirius Radio show, “Kick out the Jams” was definitely a
great highlight. Also hearing that Bernie Taupin really dug my music.
… and the worst?
The worst thing was getting double pneumonia in my last year of high school. I
thought that I would never be able to sing and play music again because it
weakened me so much. But, I was determined to get my voice back and so I pushed
myself extremely hard – further than I thought was possible.
If your dreams come true, where will you be musically when you turn 25?
All I want to do is be able to make a good living off of my music and be able to
inspire other artists to create. I also want to always continue to improve as a
musician, songwriter and as a performer. I hope that when I am 25, I can look
back and see how much I’ve grown as an artist.
You made your first EP when you were 17. What did you learn from that
Looking back, I now realize that the most valuable piece of information that I
took from that experience was that I still have a lot to learn. As the years
progress, I find myself feeling like I know less and less, but in a way, I
really like it… What I have discovered, is that music is everything to me.
And that all this hard work and dedication that I’ve put into it through the
years has paid off in different ways than I expected it too. I’ve become more
articulate, I know myself better, and I have become confident in my creativity
and musical style.
What do you do with all the song you've written that you don't record or
I have a lot of songs that I have written and just roughly recorded on
GarageBand. They are just sitting on my computer waiting to see the light of
What books are you reading now?
Right now, I’m currently reading Josh Ritter’s book, “Bright’s Passage.” But
I’m also going back and forth with another novel by Victoria Hislop called “The
What movie has impressed you so far this year?
So far, the movie “The Help” has impressed me the most. I went into the theatre
not really knowing what to expect. What I witnessed was one of the most
incredible stories I have seen in a long, long time. The movie was so well
crafted. It played on every human emotion and the story was brilliantly
What makes you laugh?
What makes you angry?
And what's next?
Touring the United States. Finding the next people to help build my career. And
playing, singing, and writing as well as I possibly can.
Availability: Call for
Val Denn Agency
Agency Relationship: Exclusive
100 Congress Avenue 20th Floor
Austin, TX 78701 United States
Responsible Agent: Valerie Denn
Direct Phone: 512-391-3855
Office of D.P. Gillis
3539 Rittenhouse Road
Vineland, ON, LOR 2C0 Canada
Responsible Manager: D.P. Gillis
Richard Flohil & Associates
60 McGill Street
Toronto, ON, M5B 1H2 Canada
Responsible Publicist: Richard Flohil
Direct Phone: 416-351-1323