Kitchener’s Angelica Appelman made her first appearance on the country music scene with the release of her song “Happy Place” just over a year ago and it was a great introduction to her! With a background in acting and having performed full band shows and songwriters’ events, she’s comfortable sharing her stories & songs in front of audiences and is a pro at being in front of the camera for her music videos.
Angelica’s first released song reminds us all that we don’t have to travel far to find our own happy place. It’s usually where the people we love are.
“My single, ‘Happy Place’, is a song that means so much to me, because it was my debut single, all about cherishing the simple times and the simple things with the ones you love and who love you.” shares Angelica. “I was inspired to write this song when I spent a wonderful summer day with my niece and nephew during the pandemic and realized that is all I needed to be happy. That is my happy place. It has been such a thrill to watch ‘Happy Place’ take off and continue to live on to this day. It continues to spin on Sirius XM Top of the Country, it was on Country 104 Top 30 Countdown with Matt Weaver, continues to play on the airwaves all across the country and is the song that people constantly remind me is their go-to song to get in their good vibrations or to get them out of a bad mood and remind them what really matters in life; and to me, that is what it’s all about and I am so glad that people are still resonating with it to this day. It has been such a blessing to have this song out in the world and establish me in the country scene, and to be the song that placed my mark in this industry and showed people who I am as an artist and what I have to offer going forward.”
It’s no doubt the first single release brings with it a big learning curve – especially with independent artists who are wearing many hats. And aside from the business side of the music business, there’s a lot to learn about yourself along the way. Upon reflection, Angelica knows she’s discovered what it takes for her to be a successful artist.
“I have learned so much about the music business since releasing ‘Happy Place’, but one of the most important lessons is to stay true to yourself and what you want as an artist.” says Angelica. “What makes you special is what makes you unique, not what everyone else is doing. You must have your own back in this industry and if you believe in what you have to offer, then others will jump on board and believe in you too. I have also learned how important it is to make connections, or genuine, respectful friendships with people in this industry and to collaborate and learn from one another to help each other level up. I also learned how important it is to take risks. They usually pay off more times than they don’t. The more you stay true to yourself, the better the writing will be, the better the branding will be, the better the marketing will be, the better your sound will be. There is only one you. Find what makes you unique and lean into it.”
While blazing her own path and creating her own sound (with valuable assistance from her producer Matt Koebel), Angelica, like all artists, has influences that she wants to incorporate into what she does. Learning from the best is a good thing. And, of course, reaching back to the 90s country sound never hurts!
“One of my key influences for me, sonically, would be Tenille Arts.” explains Angelica. “I think she has a great way of applying 90s country elements to a contemporary sound and that is something I have been hoping to emulate. I have also learned so much from Tenille in how she comes from a genuine place in her writing and how she handles herself professionally. When she didn’t feel as though her voice as an artist was being respected, she sought after a label that would respect her stories and her voice and took a risk in making the move. She understood the importance of putting herself and her artistry first. Her sophomore record, ‘Girl to Girl’, was exactly what I wish my younger self could hear. She writes songs that have impact and that is exactly what I am intending to do with my music, especially my EP ‘A Reason or a Season’, which encapsulates the road to self discovery in your 20s.”
Every artist faces challenges on their journey, but last year, Angelica faced one of the toughest any of us could imagine. Not a career challenge, but a serious life challenge that called on all her strength – physically and mentally – to make it through.
“The hardest challenge I have had to face thus far would be the car accident I was in this past October.” admits Angelica. “I was in the middle of releasing my single, ‘U-Turn’, and finally had a day off and was going to meet my friend Nicole Rayy for a night at Brooks Farms and I was rear-ended on the 401 by a truck at a high rate of speed and he took off. I suffered a terrible concussion, whiplash, neck injury, copious amounts of trauma, and a severe case of PTSD. My car was totaled. I got out of the car in confusion to try and find who hit me and I had a panic attack in oncoming traffic and was very nearly killed by a car as a pedestrian. For months, I was learning how to string sentences together again, because I was severely incoherent. I couldn’t turn my neck. I couldn’t use computers because my vision was blurry and I was suffering from terrible headaches and pain. Because I was not working, I couldn’t afford to live at my apartment any longer and I had to move home and live with my parents and put my music career on hold for quite some time. Cancelling shows, not attending events, and delaying the rest of my plans for not only my single ‘U-Turn’, but also for the release of my EP ‘A Reason or A Season’, which was supposed to come out in late Fall of 2022. However, in this time, on my good days, I was able to work with a team of professionals to get me back to music, get me writing for therapy, get me singing in front of crowds again and reminding me of the importance of music in my life – not just from an industry perspective. I was able to write down ideas for songs and really make a metaphorical U-Turn of my life with the path I was on and the kinds of stories I want to tell and the kind of artist I want to be going forward. I have been truly transformed and am so grateful to be alive and doing what I love and am now preparing for one of the most career-defining moments of my life, with my double album release show with Rich Cloke at the Rivoli in Toronto, sponsored by KX 94.7 and KX 96.”
Angelica has just released her 4th single, “Not Gonna Hurt”, and while she’s not a writer on it, she chose it because she could relate deeply to its message. Her first shot at the vocal in the studio was so heartfelt that there was no need to hit “record” again. She had captured the feeling and sometimes it can’t be recreated as real – and as raw – as that.
“The story for me behind my new single, “Not Gonna Hurt”, is someone who is dealing with the grief of love lost. At least that is what it means to me. It was pitched to me by the incredibly talented writers, Lydia Sutherland, Aaron Pollock and Rich Cloke; and when I heard it for the first time, I got quite emotional… because I had just been through a relationship where a man I was seeing had to leave my life unexpectedly and moved far away, and he had a major impact on me and my life that has stuck with me ever since. It was so hard to say goodbye and I am reminded still, to this day, of the pain I felt when he had to leave. It stings harder than a shot of tequila without the lime. It also reminded me that you have to go through the stages of grief… the hurt… and it’s okay not to be okay. The song helped me get through the heartbreak by being honest with where I was at.”
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Dave Woods is a monthly columnist for CMAOntario, hosts the popular podcast & social media page “In The Country with Dave Woods” and runs various songwriters’ showcases, including “Country Nights In The City” at The Moonshine Cafe in Oakville.