We initially became aware of the delight from Carseland, Alberta that is Sykamore when she was named by CMT as part of their Next Women of Country class for 2020 and our first meeting was is April last year when she caught up with Jamie which you can read HERE. At that point she was teasing news of her debut studio album which came out on August 12th and the Michael Knox produced project titled “Pinto” (available to download/stream HERE) was well worth waiting for and justified what Rhett Akins saw in her as an artist when he first discovered her. Sykamore also shared that whilst she had previously been to both Ireland and Scotland, the extent of England that she had seen was limited to Heathrow airport, but she was very keen to change that, and that plan is now coming to fruition with her first UK shows taking place this month.
Ahead of her trip across the pond to play shows alongside Jeff Cohen in both Liverpool and London, she took some time over Zoom from her hotel room in Swift Current, Saskatchewan whilst she was on radio tour in Canada to catch up with Jamie to give us all the plans for the upcoming visit. “It’s gonna be awesome. It’s coming up so quickly, we made the plans and part of me thought it was never going to happen, but we are leaving at the weekend which is crazy. Honestly, I want this to be the first of maybe a couple of trips over this year so there is these two and I’m also doing some songwriting then maybe going to some of the Americana events so that’s going to be really great for us because what we would really love to do is start building relationships in the UK and that would be a great place to start. There is only the two shows but we are really hoping to be able to make enough connections that we can maybe come back in the early spring or summer so we are hoping there will be more shows on the horizon if not immediately but definitely eventually.”
On this first trip there are only the pair of shows: The Cavern Club in Liverpool on January 24th and The Camden Club in London on January 29th. Sykamore and her team had potentially looked at a third show that didn’t materialise with their plans which as she had said was focused around covering as much ground as possible and viewed it as much as an opportunity to connect with the UK scene in its entirety rather than just viewing it purely as a tour per say. The shows on the trip to the UK will also feature Sykamore’s friend and highly regarded songwriter Jeff Cohen who has been a very regular visitor to these shores than was one of the co-writers on a track that sits on her latest album. “I had known him prior to writing “Record High”, we had written maybe one or two songs together before that, but I feel like it wasn’t long after meeting him that we wrote it. I was writing pretty heavily for “Pinto” and Jeff was the one that knew Bobby Hamrick who was the third writer on that song. It was sort of him wanting me to get in touch with Bobby saying that you guys should get together and I can be the buffer for the first write and that is how that song came about. I met Jeff technically through my manager, they had been friends for a really long time but what I love about Jeff is that he is very, I would say unconventional in his approach to music, and it has been very successful for him. He has put in the time to forge relationships with Canadian artists like me, artists in the United Kingdom and obviously in the States, where compared to other career songwriters and publishers like he is, he has a really eclectic roster of people that he works with, and it serves him so well.”
“In terms of heading over there, we knew of his connections to The Shires and a lot of other UK country acts, then it was me being almost off-hand saying I wonder if we could get a trip together to go to London because I wanted to write and see more than Heathrow airport because that is all I have ever seen of England to date. I didn’t really know if it was going to materialise, I mentioned it to my manager thinking maybe someday we can go over there to write and maybe play some shows, then before we knew it, we have this whole solid trip booked. I really feel so blessed that I put it out into the universe, and it came back to me.” Since we last spoke around nine months ago, the upcoming album that she had hinted about was released into the world and was titled “Pinto”. The sound and creative flux of the project is really interesting which portrays a lot of fascinating musical and lyrical imagery. A prime example of this comes from the records title track which depicts a young couple and their car which is portrayed as a Ford Pinto, a cult classic vehicle that at times presented an array of problems for its owners. From what I had heard Sykamore previously talk about relating to the album, the inspiration came from finding an owner’s manual in an antiques store which we explored how this became both the title and focal point for this project. “It’s funny, at the time I was sort of struggling as I had just put out an EP a couple of months before and I didn’t know what the next project was going to look like. What I did know was that I didn’t want it to be a carbon copy of the last EP, I wanted there to be some growth and I wanted a little bit of departure from that last project. That’s not because I didn’t like the last project but because you always want to be growing as an artist and you don’t want to do something that you have already done. I came across this Pinto manual in an antiques shop in Franklin where I had heard before and it refreshed my memory about this car that became a cult classic, but it was very hazardous and a couple of makes of it were recalled. I think the issue was that the gas tank was in the front of the car and if there was any kind of friction or a spark would happen, the gasoline is right there so it was causing these cars to like blow up all the time or the engine catching on fire.”
“For whatever reason, upon reading that it kind of reminded me of the explosive, intoxicating nature of your first relationship, your first time being in love and how it can be really exhilarating but the emotions can feel very explosive where the highs are high, and the lows are low where it is dangerous or hazardous that way. I wrote the song with that in mind about this young couple that are driving around in a Pinto all the time and how it is a metaphor for their relationship. As I’m writing it, I’m getting this lightening rod of inspiration that is just hitting me and all of a sudden, I’m thinking there needs to be eighties style, Stranger Things type synth on this. Then I could see the visual for the album and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it so “Pinto” became the muse for the rest of the album. I think the only song that I wrote before it that is off the record was “Just 4 July” but it was a very bare bones version of it. I ended up bringing “Pinto” into all of my co-writes saying I want you to listen to this and whatever we write needs to point back to this. It was almost like a concept record and there really would be no doubt in my mind that it would be called “Pinto” because it was all about that song in the beginning, and it served as the perfect centrepiece for what the rest of the songs needed.”
In our first interview, before the release of “Pinto” it was implied that the record was ready and pretty much had been for a while but due to the pandemic, there was more thought into managing the timing of the release. As the record came out in August and had been written some time before this, I wondered if it may be time to start hearing something brand new and whether we may be super lucky on her upcoming trip. “That is definitely possible. I guess a lot of artists can say that the pandemic set them back an album cycle because no one was touring so I guess you start the next record and that was sort of my journey as well. “Pinto” was done, in the can and ready to go so it’s not finished but I have a lot of songs that are definitely going to be on the next record and yeah, I think it may be a good place to try out one or two new ones. For most people, probably all of the songs will be new, but I would love to play a couple and see what people think.” Whilst the trip to the UK will be short, very busy and hopefully highly productive for Sykamore there was one thing that she was really keen to try to fit in whilst she is on this side of the pond. “I never want to sound like so much of a tourist but I’m a huge fan of Pride and Prejudice, so I really want to go to Stourhead to see the Temple of Apollo, all of the gardens and everything. We are so busy that I don’t know how much sightseeing that I’ll get to do, we are playing The Cavern Club in Liverpool so will see the museum, but I would really love to see where they shot a lot of Pride and Prejudice. There were no promises but that was my one request to my manager.”
As a fellow coffee connoisseur and aficionado of a certain Seattle based chain that is also highly prominent over here, I felt it my duty to prepare her for the milk and syrup sweetness being slightly different compared to in North America. She was excited to experience England to follow up from her previous visits to Scotland and Ireland and whilst “Sykamore” isn’t typically what the Starbucks employees will write on her cup, I told her we needed to see at least once how this would come out and looked forward to seeing each other in person for the first time. The debut studio album “Pinto” from Sykamore is out now and available to download/stream HERE. She will be in the UK later this month playing her first UK shows at The Cavern Club in Liverpool on Tuesday January 24th (TICKETS) and at The Camden Club in London on Sunday January 29th (TICKETS) whilst you can learn more about Sykamore on her WEBITE and keep up to date with her socially through TWITTERINSTAGRAMFACEBOOK.
True country music is honesty, sincerity, and real life to the hilt. Garth Brooks