Teigen Gayse reps BC at the Coast City Country festival

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      Get the best of Vancouver in your inbox, every Tuesday and Thursday. Sign up for our free newsletter.

      You can take Teigen Gayse out of Chetwynd, but you can’t take Chetwynd out of Teigen Gayse. 

      The Métis country singer currently lives in the fabled musical heartland of Nashville. But her childhood growing up in a small town in Peace River Country (population: 2,302), an hour and a half from Fort St. John, had a profound influence on her.

      “All I had to do was walk down the road and there was my auntie, there was my grandma, there were my best friends,” she says on a video call. “I was always out playing with bugs, off at the park, playing with frogs. I loved getting dirty, riding my bike. I wouldn’t change my childhood for anything. It was amazing; it was magical.”

      Somehow, in between all the time spent bucolically frolicking and listening to country greats like George Strait and Loretta Lynn, Gayse spent much of her free time on the ice. She skated competitively for years, but eventually realized that it felt like more of a job than a calling. 

      “I always loved singing, I always loved music, it was a big part of my life—and figure skating was too, but I just don’t think it was my whole heart and soul,” she recalls. “When I quit figure skating, that’s when I turned to music. I just had such a drive in me, and as soon as I quit one thing, I was like, ‘I need to do something else.’”

      That competitive nature helped Gayse put in the time and effort to turn an interest into a full-blown career. She began collaborating with Calgary-based producer John Thiel in 2010, and released her first single for Canadian Country Radio, “Your Girlfriend’s Crazy”, back in 2016. But it was 2022 that saw her break into the big leagues. 

      “I Don’t Need A Boy”, a syncopated pop-country bop celebrating singledom, was the beginning of a run of songs that cemented her place in BC’s country pantheon. That was followed up in short order with tender, twangy ballad “If You Show Me Yours”—co-written with none other than Nickelback's Chad Kroger—and her latest single, the breakup toe-tapper “Sleeping With Her”, which is currently making waves on the country radio charts.

      Her emerging success was recognized with a hat-trick of awards from the BC Country Music Association last year, when she scooped Female Artist of the Year, Interactive Artist of the Year, and Songwriter of the Year (for “If You Show Me Yours”). She’s also the only BC musician playing Vancouver’s inaugural Coast City Country festival later this month, sharing a bill at the Commodore with Kameron Marlowe and Meghan Patrick for the event’s kick-off party.

      All that’s pretty impressive for a musician who has yet to put out her first full-length record.

      “I have so many songs I want to share,” Gayse says, confirming there are plans for an album. “I want to have something in there for everybody—I want everyone to have a favourite song.” 

      Gayse’s music has a chocolate-box quality, with each song scratching a different cowboy itch. Her next single, “Better Mistake”, is due to release shortly after she plays at Coast City Country. It begins with steel guitar—”I love a good guitar lick, something that just drives you”—and evolves into a sweet, honey-tinged love tune that shows off her impressive vocal chops on a soaring chorus. It’s the latest offering in her brand of accessible, catchy country music—a genre she says that found her organically.

      “I don’t know what it was when I started writing music, because I could have gone anywhere with it,” Gayse reflects. “But every time I wrote a song, I was like, ‘This sounds like a country song.’”

      And while Nashville is a long way from Chetwynd, in true country music style, Gayse still has strong ties to her hometown.

      “Chetwynd and the Indigenous community there were just so wonderful. To this day, they’re constantly rooting for me,” she enthuses. “They helped me go to college, my Métis family back home—so I’m definitely trying to make everyone proud.” 

      That isn’t to say making it as a Métis country singer has necessarily been easy. With social media being the toxic terrain that it is, some people take it upon themselves to imagine they know Gayse’s heritage better than she does.

      “Because I have blonde hair and green eyes and fair skin, I get some people reaching out saying not the nicest things, or telling me I’m not [Indigenous],” Gayse says. “There are so many Métis people out there that have blonde hair and green eyes and fair skin that can’t stick up for themselves and can’t speak up … If I can be strong for the people that are having a hard time with that as well, I want to be able to.”

      There are more important things going on, after all. You can’t please everyone—and Gayse knows that the people who matter most are in her corner. 

      “Why should you have to hide who you are?” she adds. “My nana would be proud of me.”

      Coast City Country kick-off party 

      When: April 18, 7pm

      Where: Commodore Ballroom 

      Admission: From $75, available here