Reklaws: Southwestern Ontario Duo Lead The Nominations at the 2021 CCMA Awards

The ReklawsThe Reklaws are having one hell of a year. The kind of year that might make you scream “What the truck!!!”

Not only does the duo of siblings Stuart and Jenna Walker lead the 2021 CCMA Award nominations with six, they will also be performing on the Awards broadcast from Budweiser Gardens for their fourth year on Monday, November 29.

The pair were headliners for the (free) SiriusXM Top Of The Country Finale on November 26 at London Music Hall.

Their hit “What the Truck,” was the most streamed Canadian Country song ever released during a one-week period and the fastest-ever Canadian country song to go GOLD in the streaming era (under 16 weeks). This year also saw the pair recognized with a JUNO nomination for Group of The Year — the only country act nominated in the category.

We spoke with both of them ahead of the awards show and their return to London at the end of the month.

Congratulations on the CCMA nominations. How does it feel to be the leader in nominations this year?
Jenna – Thank you. That’s still crazy to hear, I think. It feels we’ve been working. I mean, the past two years have been insane as it is.

You feel very lonely over the past few years and feel maybe no one’s listening, but that just proved us completely wrong. We’re so blessed to even see our names up there because I know all the artists in each of these categories we’ve looked up to our whole lives. It’s crazy to us. We’re just so blessed.

What does the CCMA’s mean to you?
Stuart – CCMA’s is our homecoming now, it feels like our reunion, I guess. We’ve been going there close to 10 years now, consecutively every year, showing up just buying tickets to the show, whenever tickets were available.

Most of the time, because, well, Jenna and I still remain kind of cheap. We bought the nose bleeds and would sit and watch the show.

We remember so many times being there and being like, oh, even if we were featured, to do a duet or a tribute to some artist at some point, this would be so cool to be a part of.

We love anybody here; everybody seems to be on our side. And the fact we’re up to six and leading the pack this year is mind-blowing.

Like Jenna said, it’s really a nice reminder of why we’re doing this after the crazy couple of years we’ve had with this pandemic.

Do you guys have a favorite CCMA moment where you’re not personally in it, but as an audience member or watching it on TV?
Jenna – That’s a tough one. I feel every year has a moment for sure. I remember we got to meet Billy Ray Cyrus backstage; that was hilarious. Like what a wild person to meet. He’s such a family guy. It was really cool to see him at the awards. I’m trying to think back, Stu; what was one we were watching? There was always so many cool ones.

Stuart – It’s always the anticipation of an award show, really—the fact they we’re able to actually have a crowd this year. Last year we got to open and close the show, and it was amazing.

But the anticipation right before when it’s the first artist, everybody knows who the first artist is, and all the lights go black, and they’re like, okay, we’re on in five, four.

It’s just everybody in the arena loses it. And I think that’s the first time we witnessed something like that go down was the CCMA’s. So every year, whenever that happens, no matter how prepared we seem, I am always really nervous when that part begins—no matter what artist is playing first.

Who is the coolest country star you guys got to hang out with at the CCMA so far?
Stuart – I would say Dean Brody, because he’s literally become one of our best friends. For so many years, we were huge fans. We bought all of his albums, knew all of his songs, and would request him on the radio and stuff. And Dean, he’s truly a hundred percent Dean every time you hang out with him. And I would say, in my opinion, is the king of Canada for country music.

Jenna – Yeah. And we really got to know him last year with that COVID show, we really got to know him a lot better. We sat backstage. We opened the show and then closed it with him, and we got to do that single with him, so it’s definitely Dean Brody.

London is no stranger to you guys. Do you have any fond London memories so far?
Jenna – Oh yeah. I remember even before all this started, my friends went to Western University and I remember just being at Cowboys Ranch, which is a country bar there, and just losing my mind of just how fun it was. It was one of the first country bars to go to.

I remember they played one of our first singles ever over the speakers because my friends were not leaving the DJ alone about playing one of our songs, and no one knew the song. They were like, “Hey, shut this off, we don’t know what it is”. But I just remember London being such a great town, such a great vibe to go to all the time, especially for country music. It’s been cool to always go back there. We spent a lot of time in London actually.

Reklaws - FDLFTA - Toronto-54 (1)Many country stars leave their hometowns for Nashville. You guys are so proud to be in the 519 area, and even went to the University of Guelph. So what does Southwestern Ontario mean to all of you?
Stuart – Southwestern Ontario will always be our original stomping ground. We actually bought a house in Nashville this year, it’s strange, we seem to, especially people from Ontario, find people from Ontario in Nashville, and not to say that Americans aren’t the best, they’re not fun to hang out with, but it’s just, I think there’s something about hanging out with people from where you’re actually from, that they just get you a little bit more. It’s so nice we actually have friends down in Nashville to hang out with. There’ll always be a piece of home when it comes to Southwestern Ontario. It has the best lakes that nobody knows about, the best summers and also the best winters. We’re very fortunate to be in this little spot of the world. We hit all four seasons in such a nice way.

You just mentioned you just bought a house in Nashville. So are you guys going to be moving down there permanently?
Jenna – That is the plan. We spend so much time up here. It gives us a home base when we go there because we do spend a lot of time there. We’ve fallen in love with Nashville, and we write majority of our songs there. We record there. So it just made sense to have somewhere to kind of call a home base when we need it. But we’ve loved Nashville. We love Southern Ontario. It’s been pretty cool to experience both.

Tell me about the first time you guys went to Nashville. Was it overwhelming at all?
Stuart – Oh yeah, definitely. I want to say we were 15 and 17 at the time, and our dad brought us down, and he let us actually stay at the Opry Mills or beside the Grand Ole Opry, basically the hotel that’s attached to it.

It was one of the nicest hotels you could stay in because he just wanted our first experience to be nice, and he was so kind and sweet, but it was our first time ever songwriting with a bunch of American songwriters that have written huge number ones.

And we just felt we had bitten off more than we could chew at the time, but slowly as time goes on, getting better and more used to being able to write and actually be in those rooms with confidence and stuff.

But I remember Jenna and I were just so nervous. I remember not even being able to compensate what was going on. I couldn’t keep my cool, it seemed.

Speaking of Hometowns. That reminds me of “Hometown Kids”. We were there when you guys won the Boots and Hearts Emerging Artist Showcase back in 2013 and took a whackload of pics. It wasn’t all that long ago, but it also feels like it was. How much did that competition play a part in your career?
Stuart – It almost entirely ran our whole career, surprisingly. Jenna, you can answer this. Sorry, I cut you off.

Jenna – No, that’s real. It is funny how long ago “Hometown Kids” was, but it does feel like just yesterday. And every time we play that song, there’s sort of a nostalgic feel. I think whenever anyone’s singing it, they just love it; it’s funny. It’s almost become a good memory to have.

Boots and Hearts, literally every person we work with right now is from Boots and Hearts. I think that festival was amazing. It was a starting ground to us, and we didn’t know at the time every person we came in contact with would one day end up on our team and end up dreaming this big dream with us. It’s just pretty cool. It means a lot. It’s a good memory to have.

How do you think you guys have changed since that appearance in 2013?
Stuart – Wow. I really don’t even know what my mindset was when I was that age, in that time of my life. I want to say I was definitely immature. I was in music because I love music, but I also just obviously wanted to write party songs and stuff.

And I started realizing that’s not necessarily all there is to country music and writing music and becoming a musician. I think there’s many steps you have to take.

I also think the pandemic has changed both of us drastically.

Between 2013 and the pandemic and between, we have changed substantially as people I’d like to think for the better. But definitely grew up, had some learning to do.

There’s a new song that comes out this month – Happy Hours. Tell me about the song.
Jenna – (Sings) Happy Hours. Honestly, we wrote this in the middle of the pandemic when it was at its worst through Zoom in Stuart’s basement with some people in Nashville. And I just remember writing it and finishing the song and being like, this is kind of sad because we can’t go to happy hours right now.

It was kind of remembering how that made you feel and the vibe of that. It’s just so funny when enough time passes, you get to look at a song in a whole new way, and now things are open again, and we can go to happy hours.

It makes this song such a great time. And it’s just funny we wrote it in the middle of not being able to do that. And now it’s out, and now we can have unlimited happy hours if we want. And that’s just how we feel. Since we missed out on so much, there should be unlimited happy hours now.

Your last song, “What The Truck”, really took off. Tell me about that song?
Stuart – Definitely, we actually wrote it because we were just wanting to write a COVID pandemic related, at least lyrically, style song where it’s just like, we’re kind of fed up with all of the BS of what’s going on, and we wanted to just get out of town and maybe escape to the country and have some fun with our friends. That was the whole idea of writing it. But we did write it again in my house with our guitar playing in Callum Maudsley. Actually, he’s become better and better at production. So he produced the song himself, and it was just the three of us. We wrote it in the afternoon, which was amazing. We remember hearing it and being like, this is actually really cool. It’s called “What The Truck”, so it seems it’s a joke, but it turned out really awesome.

We sent it to our management team, and then from there, they were like, well, we should talk about maybe uploading it to TikTok and seeing what happens from there. And then we did it, and our team was like, why didn’t you make a plan beforehand? We were like, well, you just said upload it to TikTok. And so they were like, okay, well, let’s start a duet thing. So that girl Sasha reached out to us as one of the many duets that came in, and she actually wrote a lyric we loved; and she has a lot going on for her at the moment and thought it would be a great collab. So you wouldn’t think a song like that would go gold off of putting a song on TikTok, but weirder things have happened, apparently. It’s been incredible.

When I heard the song, it sounds COVID made you guys really restless.
Stuart – Definitely. Yes. Our main spot we want to be and only be is on stage with a huge crowd singing songs and just enjoying themselves. And COVID took that away from us, so we had to express our feelings into words and music.

Are “What The Truck” and “Happy Hours” a one-off or are they part of a new album?
Jenna – We’re always working towards an album, but it has sort of just been a one-off. We didn’t know what to expect with that song. And it took off bigger than we thought it would. So, I feel no matter what songs have different plans for you than you could ever expect. When you put a plan behind a song, I always think it changes because the fans sort of run the show. They love a song, and we’re like, that should be on an album if they want to hear it.

Stuart – That’s true. Very true.

Jenna – They kind of pick the songs. Hopefully, we’re working towards an album that that will be on, for sure.

The last time we saw you was at Caesars Windsor with Dallas and Dean. That was a pretty cool show. It’s such a great venue.
Stuart – Such a cool venue. I love that place, actually. I think I spent more than we made that night gambling, and I regret it, but I had so much fun. But that was an incredible show.

I remember just the actual venue itself being just so spacious and wide; it felt we were playing to a football field of people.

That was right in, I think, the middle of the tour and when we were in the thick of it and just living our lives; it was actually the last real thing we did prior to the pandemic hitting. And it was kind of a nice note to go out on, honestly.

We just love those guys, and we’ll always remember that tour forever. And that particular show is amazing.

I hope you come back to Caesars. We’d love to see you guys there again.
Stuart – Oh, guaranteed. A hundred percent we have to.

Jenna – We’ve been tempted.

Jenna, I wanted to congratulate you on your engagement back in July. Is there a date set?
Jenna – Thank you. Yeah, we’re thinking June 24th, which is very exciting. It’ll be in our cottage town where we both had a cottage growing up. So it’ll be a really nice time. It’s a lot of planning. I can’t actually get over how much planning it is, but it will hopefully all be worth it.

Tell me about Ryan.
Jenna – Oh, about Ryan. He’s actually standing outside of this car right now, waiting to get in.

Stuart – Let’s keep him waiting.

Jenna – Let’s keep him out there. No, Ryan, I’ve honestly known him a majority of my life. I grew up with his younger sisters.

They were my best friends growing up, and he was the older brother.

And I guess I just always had a thing for him, and we were friends for a while, and then it blossomed. It just blossomed, and he’s our best friend, and I’m just so lucky to be able to plan this life with him. It’s pretty cool.

How about you, Stuart? Any prospects?
Stuart – I have been seeing a lovely lady for a while now, and I don’t have… There’s no rings in the picture yet; April, we’ll keep your ears to the floor.

Go to TheReklaws.com to check out tour dates, music and more.

 

Photo: Austin Chaffe
Photo: Austin Chaffe
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