Back and better than ever in an exclusive interview, Broadtree, comprised of Nicole McCafferty and Armand Antony, have seen quite the year. The duo met through theater productions and began performing together during the pandemic make up for the lack of stage productions.
From releasing an album and two EP's to a 25-date tour, we're more than excited to give our readers the latest rundown of what Broadtree has been up to.
Welcome back to BuzzMusic, Broadtree. It sounds like you've had quite the year! What was your duo's greatest accomplishment since releasing your first single around this time last year?
Nicole: It’s great to be back. Thanks for having us again!
Armand: That’s a really tough question just because it’s felt like every single thing that we’ve done has been such an accomplishment. Every release had some sort of monumental highlight to it. We have become so much more active in a lot of different causes which I don’t think either of us ever anticipated. We’ve released more music than we could have ever imagined doing, which has also been incredible. Everything from that very first single that we released last year, which was actually supposed to be a one-off, right down to releasing an original Christmas single to cap it off - it’s been a pretty wild ride so far. It’s hard to really pinpoint one specific thing as an answer. Can I say all of it and get away with it?
Nicole: For me, the thing that comes to mind, I think, was releasing the album that kind of kicked everything off. That’s where Broadtree really started. And then also the individuals that we have been fortunate enough and honored to connect with in some way with music. We’ve had a couple of people reach out to us and to thank us for some of the songs that have meant so much to them. That’s something that’s truly special and feels like a true accomplishment every time we think about it.
What initially inspired your duo to come together in the first place? How did your theatre experience help make this process easier?
Armand: Our theatre experience is actually what brought us together in the first place. We’ve worked together on so many different projects in the past and I think that’s what, consciously or unconsciously, led us to work on that first single together. When when I first thought of getting back into music and recording another solo album during the plague (as we like to call it), I knew I wanted to have a duet and Nicole was the first person that I called. In a million years, I never thought that it would’ve turned into this and I’m lucky to say it did. I would never take back any of it and it is really, really exciting to think of all the cool experiences that have allowed us to work so well together.
Nicole: We think and feel very similarly about how we write our songs. We have this mind-twin connection when working together. We approach songwriting in a very different way. We’ve talked to other writers who just look at how we write songs that are a little baffled by our process, but it’s something that works really well for us. We’re able to connect and know what the other is thinking. For two people who are heavily involved in theatre, it’s just what works and it I think that’s why we’re able to turn out a song in an hour or two which is pretty exciting.
What was the most challenging aspect of the past year for your duo?
Nicole: I think one of the most challenging things has just been the sort of unexpected snowballing of everything that’s happened in this band. Everything happened so fast that there’s never been a time to slow down. We made decisions so quickly to move on to the next step. First, we’re making an album, and then more singles, and now we’re taking stances in social activism, now we’re on tour - we consciously made those decisions, it all felt very organic but there was a point where we got swept up in it pretty quickly. It’s been go-go-go ever since we first started and really haven’t stopped at all - that has felt a little overwhelming at times because it’s such a massive project that kind of sprung out of nowhere all of a sudden. So that’s been a bit of an adjustment, especially given the fact that everything else we’ve been dealing with in and out of the band on a personal level, personalized issues - things like that... Regardless of that, it’s been amazing.
Armand: I think to the point based on what Nicole just said - the things that we talk about quite a bit in our songs come from a lot of experience, mental health being one of them in particular. But just because you write about them as a form of release doesn’t mean that you stop experiencing them. The last year has been challenging for us more than the year prior. I think a lot of people experienced a big challenge in 2020 and had to face their own issues and their own mental health, or learn how to deal with this pandemic in 2020. For us, 2021 has been a year that we’ve been hit pretty hard with. I think it’s impacted our working relationship and our lives outside of Broadtree at times, and we support each other extremely well with everything, both in and out of Broadtree. We’re very lucky to have one another to lean on, but there are times, regardless of the amazing support that you have, where there’s always gonna be challenges that emerge with that, combined with the pace that we’ve been going at and not having the time to take a second to breathe, can create trouble on the way. So we’ve learned as we go and we’ve gotten a lot better at how we manage ourselves, support each other, and handle our own mental illnesses and health. That’s definitely been one of the things that we’ve had to overcome this last year.
Which show was your favorite during your 25-date tour? What made that show so memorable?
Nicole: The whole tour has been amazing especially with the return of live music in Ontario. We can’t tell you how much it means as performers to actually be able to perform in front of live audiences again. And audiences have been so appreciative of that live music coming back, and it’s great to be a part of that experience.
Armand: To be honest, I think they’re more excited than we have been at times to be watching live music again. Which is a-ok with us!
Nicole: One show in particular that really stands out to me was a show that we did at a Pub in Newmarket, Ontario, and that was just because of the audience response. It was so amazing that they were so into it - they were singing along, they were dancing. It really wonderful feeling. Secondly, of course, and Armand will agree with me on this, was when we performed at the Moonshine Cafe in Oakville for the first time, which is the most incredible place - we can’t say enough good things about it. It feels like it is the Mecca of country music here in Ontario or Canada. There’s a place in Nashville that everyone knows as the main home of music Nashville called the Bluebird, and we often say that this is like the Bluebird of Canada. They have live music every single night and this one was so special to us. We’re so new to this world and we were put on stage with these artists that are so far ahead of us when it comes to talent and their careers, but we were welcomed like family. From the moment we arrived, everyone treated us as equals, everyone treated us like we belonged and they have really really really embraced us. It has brought us into this world made us feel like we belonged, and we couldn’t be more thankful.
Armand: This is the only genre of music where I’ve ever truly felt at home. I have played in a variety of bands in a variety of genres, but there’s something special about country music and the people in it that just it feels like a community. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been at it or where you come from or what you do, or anything of the sort - you feel at home and it’s incredible to feel that from the very beginning. As for your favorite show? As we have this interview, we haven’t played it yet but I’m going to say and safely assume that our hometown finale of this tour which is coming up very, very soon is going to be the highlight. We have a few more dates left before the final show here at home in Toronto. It’s probably going to be a personal favorite - we’re gonna be performing in front of our family and friends for the very first time which is so exciting, considering it’ll be a year without being able to do so! We have some amazing friends who are performing with us and it’s just going to be a very special night we can already tell this far in advance. And it’s gonna be a really great way to cap off it’s been a really busy but really, really fun year.
Would you say that the many experiences you've encountered over the past year have made you stronger as a pair? Will your future releases showcase the chemistry you've built since last November?
Nicole: Absolutely! I don’t think you could possibly share some things that we’ve shared during this whole experience and also in our songwriting and not grow stronger and closer. We spend so much time together that we’ve only grown stronger as pair. It’s funny - we get chemistry comments all the time: “it’s amazing how much chemistry you have together!”. I think that’s one something we’ve had since the beginning. Maybe it’s in all our experiences prior to Broadtree, acting together on stage, but our chemistry is never something that we’ve really lacked. It’s exciting to think that it might grow even more, but we’re pretty happy with how well we connect personally and how that resonates with others.
Armand: We've gotten so much closer in the last year than I think that we have been 6+ years of knowing one another and that just comes from sharing experiences. Whether it’s writing new songs, being creative about the characters we write about and how we put them together, how songs get recorded, to being on the road together, we’ve learned and discovered new things about one another that we wouldn’t have shared under normal circumstances, I don’t think. We have spent a lot of time on the road together - I think we just did the math and it’s something like 3500 km that we spent in a car by ourselves so far. And that’s just driving, not to mention shows, hotels, rehearsals, and everything like that. We’ve definitely gotten to know each other‘s pet peeves, but that’s been part of the fun about this whole journey. We click well, we’ve bonded well, and all of that results in the chemistry people talk about. I don’t know how much more chemistry you could add to us, but what’s exciting is definitely other people getting to see that, who we are. For us, we just want to see more and more people joining the Broadtree bandwagon and seeing a little bit more about who we are. That’s one thing that I think we’re most happy about - we just love letting people know the goofy, quirky, fun people that we are, and that seems to be something that people latch onto, which is a part of the chemistry we’ve mentioned earlier.
What's next for Broadtree?
Nicole: Obviously, it’s really hard to plan long-term which is something we’ve learned from this whole plague. You know, you have you can have a five-year or a three-year or even a one-year plan and then have it completely derailed and taken away. And that also goes for just this last year where we didn’t really have an idea of where we wanted things to go. If you’d asked us to plan something, that plan could fall apart about six or seven times in the last year, so we’ve really kind of focused on trying to live as much in the moment as possible and really savor and enjoy things we are doing right now. Obviously, we have some songs that are starting to focus on and eager to release, and it’s all baby steps again. We might have a trip in the works to a songwriting capital, but as far as long-term planning there’s not too much that we’ve done just yet, just because we’re really going to focus on the now and here and what may be coming in the next couple of days or the next couple of months.
Armand: We have some songs on the back burner that we're looking at releasing. We definitely think we have a single we’re very excited about. We’re really excited to get back to writing now that the tour is wrapping up. And we’re excited to see what that looks like because there are people we’ve had in mind that we might start collaborating with which will be a first for us so that’s exciting and a little scary at the same time in a great way. And we’re always coming up with new things to do, so keep your eye on our Instagram - we’ll keep everyone posted on everything that’s coming up because you never know what may happen. Our mentality now is to really expect the unexpected. If you had told us a year ago when we first launched our first single that we’d be releasing an album six months later, we would’ve told you that that was outrageous. If you told us that we would’ve been releasing more singles after that to commemorate what might feel like the end of the pandemic, or that we would be so heavily involved in things like mental health advocacy, or actively involved in education and the movement of First Nations right here in Canada, or writing songs that impact the LGBTQ+ community - it’s someone so massive that we never could’ve imagined any of those things happening. Oh! And, of course, writing a Christmas song! None of that was anything we could have dreamed of, but here we are. And if this is what our first year was like, we can’t really put any expectations on the second year. If next year only results in three amazing singles or one or 10, or another album or another tour - any of those things are going to seem like really great accomplishments. So our goal is to really just keep going, keep this train moving, and enjoy the ride as it comes. And it’s been a pretty incredible ride so far.
Connect with Broadtree on social media, here.