Tara McLeod, Katie Rox, Krista Wodelet and Brandi Sidoryk are Nice Horse, an Alberta-based country-rock band. Nice horse are one of the very few, if not only, self-contained all-female country bands in Canada. These four women are fearless onstage and off, breaking boundaries with their music and paving the way for future country artists. We caught up with Nice Horse to talk about strong women in country music and their hit single, “Mansplainin’”.
Could you tell me about your background in music and how you got started?
Each one of us has a pretty varied background. Katie took music in College, and then began her career as the lead singer for industrial rock band Jakalope. Brandi got her Master’s degree in opera, and then started her indie pop band Sidney York, as well as playing in a math rock indie band. Krista got her Master’s in orchestral performance (bassoon) and played in orchestras across Canada before joining Brandi’s band Sidney York. Tara got her start played in the all-female metal band Kittie.
Prior to Nice Horse, all four members had careers in the music industry. What prompted the four of you to come together?
Brandi, Katie and Krista were all friends for a long time (as well as Krista & Brandi being in a band together). Joining musical forces was a bit of an accident. We took a girls trip to Hawaii and ended up writing a whole bunch of country songs. It was then that we realized maybe we could be a fun, drinking, Stampede party band. But once we started showing it to people, they said they really thought there was something special about the project and that we should do it for real – the rest is history! As for Tara, we met her when we were looking for a new guitar player. She came highly recommended to us by our producer, as well as another very close friend of ours. When we met her, it was instant friendship!
The band is often described by media as the “only self-contained all-female country band in Canada”. Why do you feel this has become a rarity in country music?
We honestly have no idea! We actually didn’t even realize it when we started this band, that we would be the only one. We grew up listening to very strong women in Country music and really aren’t sure when the decline started. We really hope to see it change. While being the only self-contained all female country band does set us apart, we hope there will be more to come.
“Mansplainin’” is a great, light-hearted response to sexism. What’s the response been like?
We get a very positive response whenever we play it. From men and women! People love to come up and tell us their own mansplaining and ladysplaining tales alike after the shows. It really opens a door for people to talk about it in a light-hearted way, once we have stood up onstage and shared the joke with them. One of the most interesting things I have noticed from fellow artists, is that many of our peers call themselves out for their own mansplaining around us—or their “bandsplaining” as we like to call it. We have sort of become a Nice Horse Mansplaining Confessional.
Being an all-female group who can hold their own in a male dominated genre has become part of Nice Horse’s public identity. What’s your take on the way the band is perceived?
We absolutely want to be seen as a great band, not just “a great band for a bunch of women”. We always appreciate getting compared to great female acts, but whenever someone compares us to a band that isn’t just women, that is the biggest compliment of all. While being women sets us apart, being a great band is what we hope keeps us around for years to come.
“Jim, Jack, Johnnie & Jose” is another fun track. How did this song come about?
The concept of this song was pitched to us by Karen Kosowski and Emma-Lee (two incredible writers). When we got together they told us they felt they had an idea that was perfect for our band. They were right, and we had such a blast writing this with them!
With four songwriters in the band, what’s your creative process like?
We write separately, together, and with co-writers, in just about every possible configuration! Our songs are very true to us. When we began writing for Nice Horse, we were writing just for the pure joy of it, so what came out felt really authentic to who we are as people – we like to have a good time, and we’ve got some strong opinions! Even our love songs don’t tend to be too passive – “Six String Outlaw,” for example, isn’t a song about someone getting swept off their feet and then left. It’s about two people who have really met their match, and who know all each others’ tricks! Those kinds of songs feel much more true to our point of view than a more traditional “damsel-in- distress” style.
We all have A LOT of plans for the trajectory of this band—but the truth is, we are continual shocked and humbled by the path that Nice Horse has taken thus far. We never for a million years would have thought our first ever tour would be opening for Tom Cochrane. We never thought we would be nominate for our first CCMA after only three years as a band. And we are still reeling from our recent tour with The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. After all of the wonderful experiences we have had in the past three years, we know better than to think we know what’s coming next! We just do what we do—create music, play the shit out of our shows, work hard, and have fun together—and hold on and see where this pony ride takes us.