We’re ushering in Spring by welcoming back Broadtree with their brand-new single, “Inevitable”!
Formed in early 2020 by Armand Anthony & Nicole McCafferty, the country-pop duo have had an exciting journey since the very start. Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, they have released multiple singles and a full-length album, “Feeling Bad. Feeling Better.”, as well as completing a 25-date tour. Also passionate about mental health advocacy, Broadtree openly hosts conversations around mental health & mental illness with industry peers and fans alike– All in the hopes of ending the stigma and normalizing asking for help and support when you need it.
Recently I spoke with Armand & Nicole about their latest single, starting conversations about mental health in the country music industry and more.
Kyla Pearson: To kick off 2022, you released your debut single of the year, “Inevitable”. The multi-layered track explores the emotions and what-if scenarios that one goes through when catching feelings for a lifelong friend. Can you tell us a bit more about the inspiration and recording process behind this song?
Armand: Emotions is a keyword there. At some point or another, I feel like we’ve somehow been there. It could be something small or, like in the song, something that has the potential of flipping your friendship upside down. We enjoy creating characters and their worlds and putting them into situations where some real stories can be told. “Inevitable” was just that– a simple conflict between two people that neither wants to address, speak about or even think about for the fear of what it could do to the other person. The idea of reciprocated but unfulfilled love can be a tragic one and our theatre mentality really took over to tell this story.
Nicole: In terms of recording, this has been one of our simpler songs musically. We kept the instrumentation very simple because the lyrics are really the heart of this song. To mix, we actually returned to the cottage up North where we recorded our first album, which is a very cool space to record in.
Kyla Pearson: Why did you decide to make this single your first release of the year? What do you hope fans will get out of the song?
Armand: We have an exciting year mapped out of new singles, many of which we wrote immediately after our album release. We realized quickly that we needed a pause to focus on promoting and enjoying the ride of the LP’s release, so many of those songs have been sitting waiting to be worked on. We decided pretty quickly that “Inevitable” felt like a great way to start, despite how tragic the song may seem. It’s winter, it’s gloomy, and our big fun songs didn’t feel right to put out there just yet. Plus, coming out of the holidays and Valentine’s Day, the song felt a little fitting for those that can relate to heartache.
Nicole: This song is for anyone who has ever worried their feelings might ruin their friendship. In “Inevitable”, there is an additional layer where each character, unbeknownst to the other, has actually realized what the other is feeling, but is afraid to bring it up. Even more, tension is created because the listener knows what each character’s internal thoughts are, and really gets to feel the pain of each one being in the same boat of not knowing what to do, and there’s that added element of “If only they knew what the other was thinking!”. It’s about whether to risk revealing their feelings, whether they can handle staying friends even if things don’t fall apart between them, but knowing they can’t avoid this conversation forever.
Kyla Pearson: What is one piece of advice you’d give someone who was in this position? Do you think a strong friendship can survive unrequited love/unrequited feelings for the other?
Nicole: I absolutely believe a true friendship can survive this situation – as long as you approach the issue with care, respect, communication and understanding. Nowadays we mock this idea of ‘the Friendzone’ – but I think that if you truly care about someone, it should be worth it to keep them in your life, even if you can only be friends. Of course, you have to protect yourself, and if you really find it too painful and detrimental to your well-being, sometimes you have to walk away to protect yourself. But I don’t think feelings for a friend have to be a deal-breaker.
Armand: I believe that two people are drawn together because of some form of attraction, be it something exciting that they share, a quality they get to observe, or something as simple as just thinking they’re cute. There’s nothing wrong with it — we’re drawn to others for a reason. But usually (and almost instantly), you’re able to determine what that relationship is going to be: a work acquaintance, someone you can talk to now about a passion you share, a confidant, a potential new friend or something romantic. But for the non-romantic scenarios, that attraction that initially brought you together could potentially resurface, sometimes in a way that’s too strong to hold back — that’s where things get tricky. I think it ultimately comes down to determining whether it’s something you want to bet on. And sometimes, if your relationship is right, it may be extremely easy to bring up and not damage things in any way. Others may make things awkward for a short while. And others, when things are too strong, result in damage that can be tough to get over. It has the potential to survive, but that friendship is going to go through a lot of trials and testing before it can get back to normal if that’s even possible.
Kyla Pearson: You both are prominent mental health advocates and often collaborate with fellow creatives/industry members to spread awareness on mental health and normalize having conversations related to it. Do you currently have anything in the works that align with this mission?
Armand: We’re in the middle of talking to theatre companies about a musical we just wrote based on our first album. The main focus of it is relationships and mental illness, prominently bringing illness and the reality those living with it face daily.
Nicole: We’re also looking at potentially hosting a concert later this year with some artist friends of ours (potentially with a Taylor Swift theme), to help raise awareness and funds for the Center for Addiction and Mental Health here in Toronto. We also always encourage anyone who is struggling to reach out to us on our social media if they need someone to talk to.
Kyla Pearson: In relation to the previous question, something that isn’t spoken about enough in the country music industry is mental health. Why do you think there’s still a stigma around holding these conversations about mental health and/or mental illness? How would you say industry pressures & social media amplify these issues for artists?
Nicole: To be honest, I think people are just afraid. Our minds are what make us who we are and how we perceive everything in life. I think the idea of not being in control of their thoughts, actions, or emotions, much like the fear of getting say, dementia, for example, is a very deep-rooted fear, so people don’t like to think about that for themselves, let alone other people. That same loss of control can be worrying if they are thinking of someone else with mental illness because there’s a fear they may be unpredictable. Especially for conditions that may be less understood, like schizophrenia, as opposed to those which are beginning to be a bit more seen and thus less scary, like anxiety or depression. It all comes down to education and understanding. Educating and normalizing is the best way to combat that fear. Music is a great way to foster understanding and normalize these topics.
Country music in particular often projects an idyllic, romanticized life. So it’s often rare to hear songs highlighting these struggles. You may encounter topics like alcoholism, but it isn’t common to have mental health issues explored in this genre. Songs are a great opportunity to get someone who might think they could never relate to or understand what it is to struggle with mental illness to hear a lyric and go, “I know what that feeling is”. Suddenly there’s a connection and understanding.
Armand: We’re still in a world where media dominates and influences us in every way. When it comes to mental health and illness, lately it’s become a world of what’s “trendy”. There’s been a slight shift away from calling someone “crazy”. You have shows like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend that actually embrace that same illness as a means to show how harmful it can be (and how fun it can be as well, at times), but that’s not on prime-time TV and it never will be. Ask yourself if you’ve ever heard of it, then ask yourself if you’ve heard of Locke and Key. Now, which do you think negatively portrayed BPD to push their story of the antagonist forward?
Kyla Pearson: Continuing on that note, what are some things that someone with a loved one who struggles with their mental health and/or illness should keep in mind? How can they show up in a more supportive way?
Armand: “How can I best support you right now?”. That’s the magic question that anyone struggling wishes they would hear more often than not. The challenge is trying to explain what you’re going through when you don’t quite understand it yourself– I think that’s a direct line from the musical we’re working on. Showing up, validating even if it doesn’t make sense to, and being patient. If you’re having a tough time because a loved one is going through an episode or mental distress because of an illness, you can bet they’re going through something 100 times worse. We all need love, care, patience, and support– some of us just need a little more at times than others.
Nicole: I think the keyword there is ‘support’. The best thing you can do is learn as much as you can about what they’re going through. It’s important to not take things personally and realize that what’s happening is not your fault and it’s not your job to ‘fix them’. The same as you might support someone with a chronic physical illness, this is just something to work through day by day. Having someone by your side can make the biggest difference. Let them know you are a safe person to talk to, ask for help from when they need it, or trust when they need you to take a step back and let them handle it. But it can be so, so hard on the side of the supporter, too, so remember to be kind to yourself, too. It can be exhausting and scary on both sides. Episodes, relapses or bad days don’t mean that you’re failing. Living with any illness is never easy, but the fact that you’re asking how best to help is already a step in the right direction.
Kyla Pearson: Moving forward in 2022, what is one goal you hope to achieve by the end of the year?
Armand: Rolling with the punches that 2022 is going to have. We’ve been through a lot in 2020 and 2021, both good and bad (we’re a product of it!). At this point, you have no idea what might get thrown at you. Things may open up completely, or we may get hit with another Greek letter that shuts the world down again. For us, we want to continue to write and release songs we love, play as often as we can, and continue to grow as musicians, as writers, as performers, and as people. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves together and separately since this whole project started and, while it’s had its challenges, I’m beyond grateful for what we’ve achieved so far and look forward to whatever may come next.
Nicole: But we do have our year mapped out in terms of which singles we’re releasing, and hope to have a great bunch of new songs to wrap up the year with an EP.
Kyla Pearson: Do you have any upcoming shows that fans can catch and hear you play “inevitable at” live?
Armand: Our live set is going to change up throughout the year, but you can bet that our favourite singles, Inevitable being one of them, will always be somewhere in there. We played it recently at a writer’s round show and the room went dead silent a few lines in – it was eerie, you could feel the emotion from the stage, and there was just something magical about watching that story unfold for everyone. It’s definitely a highlight of our young career so far.
Nicole: We keep our online info well updated, so you can always find out about any upcoming shows on the link in our Instagram bio or at linktr.ee/broadtree.
Nicole & Armand: Just to reiterate, we encourage anyone who is struggling and feels they have no one they can talk to reach out to us on social media. No one should have to feel alone. We answer every message and want to let the world know what support can truly look like for those that seek it.
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Broadtree. Interview. Conducted by Kyla Pearson, Mar 6 2022.
Unknown. “Featured: Pop-country duo Broadtree.”. Photo courtesy of Broadtree. Accessed Mar 6 2022.
Unknown. “Featured: Pop-country duo Broadtree.”. Photo courtesy of Broadtree. Accessed Mar 6 2022.
Unknown. “Official cover art for Broadtree’s latest single, ‘Inevitable’ ”. Photo courtesy of Broadtree. Accessed Mar 6 2022.