If you had told Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine about the direction their career would veer in when they started their musical journey together, it’s a safe bet to say that they wouldn’t have believed you.
“Jamie and I started doing this stuff four or five years ago — just writing music, and we never saw it going this direction,” admits Woods to Billboard. “So it’s interesting to have a song take off the way ‘Ain’t Easy’ has. We never really thought this going this way, so to have the level of success we’ve had and continue to have is really exciting for us. We’re writers first, and we’re really all about the art, so to have a song that is reacted well around the world is kind of surreal.”
The winners of the inaugural season of the Canadian series The Launch, the duo has struck big time with musical success north of the border by notching a platinum-certified hit with “Ain’t Easy.” The track topped the iTunes All Genre chart and scored No. 1 on the Top 200 most Shazamed songs in Canada, garnering over 17 million streams to date. In addition, they won an iHeartRadio Much Music Video Awards for Best New Canadian Artist. Now, the duo is casting their nets into the American music waters, with the tune currently climbing up the U.S. pop radio charts, and so far has garnered nearly 2 million on-demand streams in the United States, while being featured on various pop playlists at Spotify and Apple Music including Fresh & Chill and Breaking Pop, respectively. Fine hopes the song makes a similar impact on listeners in the States as it has on audiences in their native country.
“We’re typically really emotional writers, and when ‘Ain’t Easy’ came to be, it was actually quite poppy for us, and a little more dance-y. And so when people started reaching out and telling us that it was really connecting with them, and they were going through a hard break up, or just a difficult relationship we thought that was really interesting, because we connected with the song on a little bit less of an emotional level, a little bit more of a fun level than what we’re used to. So, it was interesting to see people connecting with it on an emotional level, and it made us listen to the song in a really different way than when we first released it. That was really cool for us.”
Woods says that though television thrust them into the public eye instantly, people don’t realize there’s a lot of work to get to that point.
“Yeah, it’s funny, right, because people call it an ‘overnight success,’ but not a lot of people see the work that’s gone in over the past five years. Jamie and I have been independent artists and writers for the last ten years. Then, over the last five years, we just kind of honed our craft together and started releasing music about two years ago. Then The Launch happened about a year ago now.”
While most aspiring artists would leap at the chance to compete on a television series, Woods said there was some trepidation on their parts, but The Launch proved to be just the right vehicle.
“I think there’s a certain connotation around music television that is, about entertainment first, and not about the artist or the art. We were really kind of shy about that. But, when we were approached about the TV show, it seemed like the right system because it really was about the music and the message — which is exactly what we’re about.”
As a result of their winning The Launch, they got to work with one of their heroes, Ryan Tedder (One Direction). Woods said that qualified as a “pinch me” moment.
“He’s been a huge inspiration both in terms of songwriting and in terms of being an artist and performer for a long time for both of us. Working with him as a producer was also great because with our unique relationship where we are producing vocals as well, I found myself learning a lot from that as well. It was incredible having him sort of drive the session and watching what he does, it’s so easy to absorb information from somebody at that caliber.”
Fine says that it’s been amazing getting to work with the team at Big Machine. “It was the most refreshing thing in the world to meet somebody like Scott Borchetta. We were pleasantly surprised with how much they understood our vision and got us as individuals, as musicians, and artists. That was incredible for us to see. They have been very encouraging by hopping on board with what we’re doing and what we’re trying to accomplish with our music.”
What exactly do they want those accomplishments to be? “I think we just want to kind of keep working. Jamie and I are two people who just want to kind of take everything as it comes. I think a lot of artists nowadays kind of reach for the stars, but not in a positive sense. They see this lifestyle with a lot of the negative things, with fame and fortune and all that, which can be very positive, but I think it’s really distracting. Not that we’re there yet, but I can see how somebody would go down a negative path because they’ve set strange goals for themselves. So, I think the biggest thing for us is to keep releasing music, keep writing, and listen to what people want from us.”
Fine agrees with those sentiments, but stresses that he hopes they always continue to evolve and grow as artists.
“I think that we’re two people that typically shy away from the question of where do you see yourself in five years, because we’re always growing and changing as how we write and learning from people that we work with. I think that’s a really important thing for artists to do – to stay open to that change and that growth. That’s something that we try to do every single day. Right now, we are doing what we absolutely love, and we’re really lucky to be able to do it, and to continue evolving both professionally and personally. As long as we’re doing that, I think we’re in a very good place.”