The past year has held a lot of firsts for Madison Olds.
No. 1 on the list of firsts is the release of her debut album, Blue, released Friday, Feb. 22.
“It’s done so much better than I ever expected,” the singer-songwriter told KTW.
No. 2 on that list might be her current position in CBC’s Searchlight music contest. On Thursday, Olds’ entry, her single Thank You, was named in the top 10 in the nationwide contest.
Thank You was written in Nashville in 2017 and recorded in Los Angeles and Vancouver in collaboration with Brian Howes, who has worked with bands like Mother Mother, Nickelback and Daughtry.
The remainder of her new album was recorded at Sticky Studios, located 45 minutes outside London, U.K.
That studio is behind albums from some big acts, including Ed Sheeran, Shawn Mendes and One Direction. And that’s the reason Olds reached out, on a whim, to see if the studio could work with her.
Olds said she recalls thinking, “In a perfect world, I would do my album with them.”
She reached out and asked if there was any chance they would work with “this little old indie gal from Canada who writes songs and plays guitar,” as she put it, and Sticky Studios said yes — offering Olds an unsigned artist rate after listening to the tracks she sent to them.
“My jaw just totally dropped to the floor,” she said.
Olds spent eight days recording at the studio (and another two having some fun in London) and returned home.
In conceiving the album, Olds, 21, looked back on how she got her start as a musician.
“My first guitar, which I got when I was 13, was Blue. It was such a huge milestone in my life to get that first guitar,” she said.
That first guitar, a blue Takamine, led to busking sessions downtown and her first gig at age 15, supporting the duo The Royal We for a show at The Art We Are.
“It was probably the most rockstar I have ever felt in my entire life,” she said.
Even though it was six years ago, Olds said it feels more like last summer because of all the big things that have happened for her since.
Among them, is her experience with her former band The Bees and Bare Bones, who in 2016 won $10,000 toward a recording session and a trip to Nashville in a nationwide contest.
Add to that the release of her 2018 single Music in the Mountains, which she wrote for the opening ceremony of the BC Winter Games.
The artist’s recent success in Searchlight came as a surprise to her. She said she had no expectations when entering and has done it twice before.
But this time, she entered with a single that has hit the Canadian charts, and the judges took notice.
She is now among 10 artists vying for a prize that includes a performance at the 2020 Juno Awards and a recording residency at Studio Bell in Calgary.
Olds said she would like to tour, but for now is continuing to promote her music online through social media and playing shows around Kamloops.
Right now, she’s got a string of upcoming shows, including opening for Scott Helman at a sold-out show at The Blue Grotto on Thursday.
If you missed tickets for that show, you can still see Olds elsewhere. She will be at the Tumbleweed Lounge in the Plaza Hotel on March 8, March 9 and March 17, at Thompson Rivers University on March 9 for TedX and March 12 for the IDays kick-off event and at Chances Barside Grill and Lounge on March 30.
Her album is available online through Apple Music and Spotify.