Fans of country artist Justine Blanchet have felt the sprinkles of “intelligence and badassery” in her songs since 2017. These are two traits that are warmly mentioned on her website, expressing how she uses them in every move she makes. Whether she is touring, recording, performing, speaking at masterclasses, or assisting fellow musicians through her very own Nova Media Agency, Justine is proving that a successful artist does not have to excel in singing alone. Along the way, she has racked up over one million Spotify streams and YouTube views for her previous singles, the support for her music ringing loud and clear. When working on her debut EP, Don’t Ask Me to Dance, the support continued in the form of 14 talented songwriters who brought Justine’s vision to life. Justine was determined to “create something relatable” for her listeners, and she ended up with a five-track project that explores both the joyous and problematic aspects of dating in the modern world. We recently spoke with Justine about the EP, diving into each track, exploring the memories she has from the recording process, and learning more about her thoughts on dating and relationships overall.
Hi Justine! Congratulations on the release of your debut EP, Don’t Ask Me to Dance, which explores the highs and lows of dating in today’s world. It really gets into the complex emotions that come from meeting people and inviting them into your life, and I was wondering how you figured out which stories you wanted to highlight on this EP, as I can imagine that there were probably a lot to choose from…
I knew I wanted a range of experiences and music styles to paint one big story, but the process of putting this EP together took about two years. My producer, Danick Dupelle, and I went through two different rounds of sourcing songs until we found just the right ones. By the time we had chosen everything, the songs started to fit together as a real examination of modern relationships and the emotions that come with dating. I’m really proud of how these songs turned out because they not only showcase my own work as an artist, but they also express the feelings and stories of some incredible writers like Madeline Merlo, Emma-Lee, MacKenzie Porter, Jason Nix, Emily Weisband, and Kelly Archer – just to name a few! The EP really represents an examination of dating from many different perspectives.
The first track, “Hard to Love,” gets into the frustration that comes from being with someone emotionally unavailable – would you say that’s a big turn-off for you in a relationship, or are there other qualities that are deal-breakers?
I was in a relationship like the one depicted in “Hard to Love,” and I definitely don’t want to go down that road again. For me, however, the biggest turn-off is someone who pretends to not care, whether that would be about people or things. I value people around me a lot and go out of my way to spend time with them simply because life is short, and every moment should be treasured.
On another note, what qualities do you value the most in a partner?
Gentleness and a heart of compassion are the most important. I say this because typically, a lot of other admirable qualities follow when someone has at least these two things.
I love the way sunglasses are used as a metaphor for relationships on “Cheap Sunglasses” – what was it about this song that spoke to you and made you want to record it?
I love the song because it’s real and talks about a very real behavior that a lot of people turn to when dealing with pain. Often, we put our hearts out there and we end up hurt. To me, it only makes sense to take what’s left of your heart and protect that at all costs to avoid pain again.
The title track is playful, but it also gets down to business. If you found yourself in a similar situation – where you were out and someone you weren’t really into came up to you – is there a song that you would make an exception for, a song that you would agree to dance to?
That’s a good question! I don’t typically put myself in potentially uncomfortable situations like that. I prefer to dance to music played by a jazz or blues band, so it would be tough to pick a song.
Out of all the tracks on the EP, “Waste the Weekend” is more optimistic, focusing on how wonderful it can feel to be with someone you love. If you could pick anyone in the world to waste the weekend with, who would it be?
It would have to be my sister. She is currently away for the summer, but when she gets back, I will for sure be wasting a few weekends with her!
The first track I actually listened to from the EP was “Heart Less,” which touches on choosing your head over your heart. As I listened to it, I imagined different dating situations where this advice would come in handy, so what would you say are some red flags that people should look for when they’re dating – where they should listen to their head more and their heart less?
I believe it’s very easy to let your heart talk louder than your head, so it’s important to know yourself in those situations and maybe ask someone you trust to be the voice of reason for you. Many red flags can mask themselves as orange flags. The most important would be to pay attention to how they treat other people when they are around you because that can be a good indicator of how they’ll talk about you when you’re not around.
When thinking back to the recording process of this EP, what are some memories that stand out to you?
There are a few that stand out! I remember having difficulty picking the songs to record. I had quite a bit of choices and couldn’t settle on which songs for the longest time, but it was so rewarding once it was all said and done. I also remember picking out the artwork and being so happy with the result. Most of all, just being able to record my debut EP and do it in Nashville was an incredible feeling. Even now, I don’t know if it has really sunk in.
You have accomplished so much in your career already, from releasing your first EP to hitting over one million streams on Spotify and YouTube to performing at iconic festivals and venues. What else is on your bucket list?
I would love to add an extra iconic venue and get to play at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville!
I read that you are an avid reader, and because I am also a bookworm, I just had to ask what you have read lately, and what are some books that are next on your list?
I’ve been so busy lately that reading has been difficult to get to! I love C.S. Lewis, so I’ve been trying to read as many of his books as I can. The one currently in progress is Miracles!
What are your plans for the rest of the summer?
I am moving to Nashville at the end of the summer so in the meantime, I’m doing a bit of packing and trying to visit as many friends and family back home in Canada as I can.
Thank you so much for taking the time out for this, is there anything else you wish to add?
There’s a lot more coming! Keep an eye on my social media @justineblanchetmusic
You can listen to Don’t Ask Me to Dance on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.