Sykamore is the alter ego of Calgary, Alberta-based singer/songwriter Jordan Ostrom, and she is poised to be one of Canada’s breakout country music stars of 2018. On Jan. 5 she will release her second collection, a six-song EP entitled Self + Medicine, through Road Angel/Warner Music Canada, preceded by her first music video for the single “Better Half,” which has garnered strong radio support since its release in April 2017.
Self-taught, with a keen focus and sharp wit, Sykamore also recently signed on with Nashville-based Home Team Publishing after being discovered by one of the company’s founders, Rhett Akins. Her progress in Music City is in addition to an impressive amount of industry accolades and awards here at home, including recognition from the ATB All-Albertan Song Contest, Project Wild, and the Canadian Country Music Association’s annual Discovery Program.
Born in Carseland, Alberta, Sykamore has spent much of the past two years travelling across Canada appearing at prominent summer festivals, including Interstellar Rodeo, and sharing bills with Canadian music heavyweights and Juno winners such as Paul Brandt, Tebey, MacKenzie Porter, Lindi Ortega, and Adam Cohen. After attracting significant attention with the single “Heaven In the Pines,” Sykamore’s songs have been featured on the hit CBC TV show Heartland, and she was a nominee for the CCMA Discovery Award in 2015.
With the release of Self + Medicine, Sykamore is gearing up for a busy year, and you can keep tabs on her moves at sykamoreproject.com
How does Self + Medicine differ from your previous work?
I definitely embraced pop on this record. My first album, Petal, was in more in the folk neighbourhood of things because that’s where my brain was at the time. This time around I wanted to add some “gloss” so I brought in a country producer, a rock producer and an EDM producer to see what we could create, and I’m super happy with the results. I also have a song on this record that is a co-write, which is a first for me as I usually write alone.
What songs on the EP do you feel best capture your musical vision at the moment?
“Playing the Fool” is a song I worked on with Joel Fraser, who produces lots of EDM and remixes pop songs into fresh, gritty double takes. It was super fun to show him this song and work alongside him to make it into something that adheres to my brand as a country artist, but pushes the envelope a little bit. And I think that’s an excellent representation of the music I envision for myself—always evolving, pushing boundaries a bit, but remaining authentic.
What are your fondest musical memories as you were growing up?
I was in a lot of silly bands with my friends growing up. Those were my earliest experiences writing and performing for people, which, even though they were just for fun, were pretty formative for me. You figure out what’s working and what’s not, what people are responding to, how to collaborate, and most importantly how to enjoy what you’re doing and share it. Another great musical memory from growing up is listening to Elton John’s Greatest Hits CD, one of the few CDs my parents owned. I still remember it was a solid yellow compact disc and I spun that thing until it was all scratched up.
What song by another artist do you wish you had written?
There are lots, to be honest. But I’d have to say it’s a tie between “Girl Crush”[by Little Big Town] and [George Strait’s] “Amarillo By Morning.”
What are some of your goals for 2018?
I want to become more comfortable on stage this year. I’d love to be able to build a live show from the ground up and make something cool out of it. I also just want to keep writing and continuing to get better as a writer, it’s one of my favourite things about my job! Something, not music related, that I consider a goal for 2018 is to cook for myself more. I want to be super capable in the kitchen.