DREAM Records’ Nicole Croteau was kind enough to answer some email questions by Christian Music Zine’s Joshua Andre, here they are below!
Thank you Nicole for taking some time out to talk with CMZ.
Q1: Tell us a bit about yourself Nicole. How did you start becoming interested in music and singing?
Answer: It all started when I was about 3 years old and sang “You are my Sunshine” on a Sunday morning service at my church, I continued to do “Shows” for my parents, grandparents etc. , as I grew up and eventually these little things I did for fun became a passion. When I was in 7th grade I started signing on the worship team at my church and from then on my involvement just grew! By the time I was in 10th grade I was the main worship leader at my youth group and also sang on the Sunday services. My love for worship continued to grow and around the same time I started picking up my guitar. I had gotten my guitar for my 13th birthday but I decided after 2 weeks of trying it was too hard, so it had just sat around until one day when I was going through a difficult season of finding out who God made me to be, I picked it up and began the process of teaching myself and writing! To this day I am learning and growing and believe that that will never stop. After graduating high school I attended a discipleship school in South Carolina where I dug deeper into the will of God for my life. Thanksgiving break, He told me that worship was not the only thing He wanted for my life; that I needed to use the gift He gave me of writing to reach the world outside of just church. My heart is to reach my generation with the Hope that I have found in Christ, knowing that He is the only answer to the void we as humans experience until we meet Him.
Q2: You are a relatively new artist on DREAM Records. Tell us about how you came to sign with them, both as a solo artist, and with Press Play?
Answer: I moved out to LA from SC in June of 2010 and started attending my now “home” church New Hope Christian Fellowship shortly after. Dave and Gina Hanley of Dream Records are the worship pastors, and they approached me after hearing from my family that I was an aspiring artist, to come have a meeting so they could hear my stuff and hear my heart. That week I went in and that began the process. Dave approached me again in the midst of us working out my solo contract and asked me to fill in on a tour for their lead female vocalist, and of course I said yes. Shortly after that first tour, we decided to make the “fill in” a permanent spot and now I am also in Press Play, which has been an amazing experience and I am so thankful that God brought me where I am today! I officially signed with Dream as a Solo artist in October of 2010 and I am so excited to see where God takes me!
Q3: Your sound is quite unique, guitar driven and acoustic sounding. For me your style of lyrics are similar to Needtobreathe, Brooke Fraser, and Switchfoot. Was this type of writing intentional? How would you describe your sound for someone who hasn’t heard it?
Answer: I think you hit it right on the head, with this album I was intentionally going for a very organic feel, my main influences were Needtobreathe, Brooke Fraser, and Jon Foreman of Switchfoot! My goal was to make the album as much like sitting in the living room or at a live show as possible, we didn’t use any electric guitar on the whole album. Lyrics are so important to me, I really aspire to paint a picture or write a story that anyone could relate to. I tried to take anyone who will listen to it on a journey, having the happiest and deepest of songs. I would say the same to anyone asking about my sound.
Q4: How did you come to choose ‘Butterflies’ as the first single for this album? Can you give us an insight as to how the song came to light?
Answer: We chose ‘Butterflies’ as the first single not only because it is one of those songs that just makes you happy, and gets stuck in your head but also because it really says my heart about how a relationship with Jesus can look like. I wrote this song when I was at school in SC, one night when I was just so overwhelmed by the presence of God and who He is in my life. There is no greater love and no greater satisfaction outside of Him.
Q5: Which songs are your personal favourites, to either write or sing?
Answer: That’s a tough question! All of the songs on the album are what I like to call “heart songs” that came out of experiences I have walked through; However if I have to chose, I would say ‘Amazing’ is so fun to play at a show because everyone can get so into it, and it really gives me a chance to interact with not only the crowd but the band. Also, “Rescue”, because when I was writing it, I really tried to capture the heart of our Father and how tender yet powerful His love for us is.
Q6: Which song was the most difficult to write?
Answer: The most difficult song to write was probably “Devon” because I wrote this song for a very dear friend of mine, whose mother passed away from cancer this past year. Her mother was a very important person in my life, encouraging me to pursue my dreams, when a lot of other people thought I was nuts. I wrote this song in one night, but the journey was emotional and means a lot to not only me but my friend as well. This song was definitely rewarding however, getting to tribute it to her and hearing my friend Devon’s reaction was a wonderful once in a life time experience I feel blessed God allowed me to be part of.
Q7: Is there any artist that is your favourite, or has inspired you along your musical journey; any artist you look up to and admire their skill?
Answer: Definitely Needtobreathe, I actually saw them on their first big tour in Missoula MT, and ever since then they really have hit home with my heart as far as music goes. I love the style, and not only that but my younger sister sings harmonies on all my songs and that fact that Bo and Bear are brothers is awesome! The album “The Outsiders” was absolutely probably one of my favourite albums of all time.
Q8: Tell us about your recent visit tour to India in January, and your upcoming tour with Press Play this spring in the US.
Answer: India was a Life Changing experience, I can’t really describe what I saw and got to experience, but I am so humbled God used me to minister to those people and share my gift with them. I fell in love with the people of India! My upcoming tour with Press Play is going to be awesome; we are planning on doing another tour in the Fall as well. I will most likely be opening with my solo stuff at a lot of our shows, which will be great!
Q9: Besides your promotion for your new album and touring this year, what are your personal goals and ambitions for 2012?
Answer: Besides touring and promoting, my goal is to keep writing and praying for God to continue to open doors! I realize that I have a lot to learn and I can’t wait to see who I can learn from!! Family is also so important to me, so definitely spending as much time I can with them and investing into those relationships.
Q10: I know this is early days, but have you given some thought as to what you would like your 2nd album to sound like? Any collaborations with other artists you are thinking of?
Answer: I actually have a lot of the songs written for the next album and am starting to think about what I want to go for! For now I think I’ll keep it a surprise but it’s going be awesome! As far as collaborations, I would love to work with some other names! We will see what ends up happening!
Q11: What are your plans in the future, as a solo artist, and also with Press Play?
Answer: I really have no limit to what I see happening, as long as I am continuing to walk in the will of God I’m up for anything! I would love to see a full U.S. tour in the next year and just play and travel as much as possible with both Press Play and my solo stuff!!
Q12: What has God been teaching you lately?
Answer: Recently God has been showing and teaching me a lot, but I think one of the main things is trust. Trusting in His perfect will and timing isn’t easy, especially when you really never know what’s around the corner. In this industry there is no set way things can happen and there is no way of knowing what will happen, but relying on Him is the only way to feel peace. I can say that the more I focus on Him, and our relationship the more the other things just seem to line up! So instead of thinking about how I can make things happen, I am trying to just focus on Him and hearing His voice!
Q13: There may be many aspiring songwriters looking up to you right now. Is there anything encouraging you would like to say to them?
Answer: I would encourage them to make their personal time with the Lord their number one priority, and if you do this, He will honor and bless you for it!! And don’t limit what God can do, because His plan for you is bigger and more wonderful than you can ever imagine or picture.
Q14: Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers that we have not covered?
Answer: Hebrews 6:19, Christ made a way! He is the anchor for our souls!
God bless you Nicole this upcoming year! Have an awesome 2012 with Jesus!
Nicole Croteau’s debut album ‘Anchors and Silhouettes’ will be available via Dream Records on iTunes, Amazon mp3, and other digital media outlets March 13th 2012. You can check out her ‘Butterflies’ single here, and on iTunes February 21st.