Country singer and songwriter Cole Bradley grew up listening to the likes of Kenny Chesney, Garth Brooks and Tim McGraw, Bradley first graced the stage at the young age of five. Since then, he has fostered a passion for performing and sharing his music with others. “As an artist, it is important for me that people connect and relate to my songs,” says Bradley.
Much like Bradley himself, his songs are upbeat, positive and full of life. He is a natural entertainer with an infectious energy. His unique vocals and his edgy country sound, make his music fresh and original. Whether he is belting out a rowdy party anthem or a heartfelt ballad, he is able to captivate fans of all ages with his sense of humor, warmth and honest songwriting.
Your grandparents were musical. Your parents and sister are country music fans. Growing up, from the age of 3, you would be singing Garth Brooks’ songs in the back of your mom’s SUV. Which Brooks’ song was your favorite to sing along with?
Ahh, this truly was one of my first musical memories. Back in the day, my mom would play the Garth Greatest Hits record front to back. The one song that I can remember singing along to was “Callin’ Baton Rouge”. Today, it’s still one of my favorite songs of all-time, that and “Unanswered Prayers”.
Just a few short years later you joined choirs and would do recitals. By the age of 10, you had your first guitar, learned to play, and began to write songs. Do you remember the first song you learned to play?
I do actually — the first song I learned with “real chords” (i.e. not power chords) was “The Girl” by a Canadian band called City and Colour. The first country song I learned was “History in the Making” by Darius Rucker. Darius was my favorite artist when I first started learning the guitar.
At age 14, your first EP was produced by Josh Gwilliam. The producer is known for his passion for capturing sound in unique environments and unusual settings. How did this approach to song production shape you as an artist?
I love this question. Josh was so crucial for my artist development and he gave me the freedom to record songs the way I wanted to. Josh had “no ego” in the recording process- he just wanted me to feel comfortable and have a final project that I could be proud of. He allowed me to have some freedom creatively at a young age and I’ll forever cherish that. We recorded most of that EP in Josh’s studio but also recorded some of it in my house using Josh’s mobile truck studio. Looking back, this approach really stuck with me as it showed me the importance of finding comfort in the recording process — whether it be with a producer who lets you be you or by finding a place (like your house) where you feel relaxed and ready to go!
You were voted fan favorite at the 2012 and 2013 Calgary Stampede Talent Search competition. Sadly, the talent search has ended. How did it boost your confidence as a young performer?
I was blessed to grow up in Calgary for so many reasons but especially as a performer because I was lucky enough to play the world-famous Calgary Stampede every year since the age of ten. The Stampede Talent Search was so great. I learned how to perform in front of a large crowd every summer, to interact with an audience, and to work with a live band. The staff at the Stampede Talent Search were always amazing, and they allowed young artists like me countless performance opportunities at other venues
throughout Stampede too. I am very sad that is has ended. Overall, I feel like being on that stage helped my confidence because it allowed me the opportunity to showcase myself in front of an attentive audience as at a very young age and it gave me my “first taste” of working with a live band.
You were studying business at Dalhousie University until you transferred to Belmont University in Nashville. How important is it for an artist to learn the business side of the music industry?
I was lucky enough to spend a year at Dalhousie in Halifax in 2016 and I made a ton of new life-long friends there. At the end of that year, I transferred to Belmont University in Nashville and spent the next four years here and graduated with a degree in Business Administration in Marketing. In the music industry, I think that it’s critical for an artist to understand the business side of things. It helped me create a marketing plan, understand the finances of a small business, create my brand, and gave me a basic understanding of contracts. I still rely on some great trusted advisors, but I think I at least speak their language.
Having the means to make music as an independent. For aspiring artists, what resources are available?
Obviously, being an independent artist is no easy journey. But I found that if you look hard enough and are tenacious, there are some good resources available that can help an artist create music cost-effectively. For most artists live shows are the primary source of revenue and I’ve been lucky enough to play a bunch of live shows at good venues and my fans have been so supportive. My advice to an aspiring artist is to play whenever you can but make sure you value your skills. Playing “for exposure” doesn’t pay for groceries. Being diligent about collecting songwriting royalties and looking for available grants are other ways that an artist can find the means to make music. In addition, there are so many programs available now for people to record their own music. Many artists use programs like Pro-tools, Logic, or Ableton on their computers to record their own material. The programs aren’t too expensive and give an artist the opportunity to “do it themselves” and save on production costs.
“Love Made Me”. How did you choose this song as your new single?
We have recorded a ton of music over these last three years and I have plans to
release a bunch of it this year. I felt like “Love Made Me” was the perfect song to
release first. Not only is it incredibly fun and energetic but it gives fans a flavor of what to expect music-wise throughout the next year. I think “Love Made Me” is a song for anyone who has even fallen “head over heels” for somebody. This is a song about the “honeymoon phase” when you can’t get that girl out of your head. I can’t wait for you all to hear it!
Shooting the new video with director/producer Brock Mitchell and videographer Oliver Banyard. Did you create the storyboard for the shoot?
I find that the best part of my music journey is getting to meet and work with fantastic, incredibly talented humans along the way. These two guys fit that description perfectly. I shot two videos over the last month with these two directors and I am so excited for everyone to see them. For my music videos, I do not create the storyboard. Brock and Oliver are both creative geniuses so I’ll send them the song and they will come up with the storyboard’s themselves. It’s quite remarkable — I could never do what these guys do! There is so much work that goes into creating these videos and I love how patient, brilliant and hardworking Brock and Oliver are.
A pandemic drive-in show at the Barrie Colts Arena parking lot with David Boyd Janes, John Anderson, Dustin Bird, and Evan Farrell. How are you able to keep the show energy levels high?
We just finished playing a drive-in show in Barrie, Ontario, Canada and it was fantastic! It was the first time all year that I was able to play a full-band show. I didn’t what to expect with everyone being in their cars the whole time and “honking” being the new applause, but it honestly did not feel too different from a regular show. I feel like the music I play is already very upbeat, so the energy that was on stage still transferred to the crowd. We treated it like a regular “Cole Bradley party set” — and it was indeed a party!
Which songs would make your 2020 dance party playlist?
Hmm if I am strictly choosing music from this year, I would probably choose:
Kenny Chesney — We Do
Keith Urban — Polaroid
Niall Horan — No Judgement
Loud Luxury — I’m Not Alright
Dua Lipa — Don’t Start Now
Mitchell Tenpenny — Broken Up
Who are you rooting for to win the Stanley Cup this year?
A hockey question — I love it!! Now that my beloved Chicago Blackhawks are eliminated, I find it hard to cheer for any team, ha-ha! Of the teams remaining in the 2020 playoffs, I’m cheering for the New York Islanders. I’m a big fan of their head coach Barry Trotz and they have a lot of underrated skill upfront.
“Find me on a boat.” What do you like most about being on the water?
The best part of being on the water is getting to spend time and relax with my family and friends. The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough, but the one positive was getting to spend more quality time at the lake with my family and a couple of friends. I especially love being behind the surfboat and belting out to my favorite country music tunes!