Nicole Croteau has had quite the journey to the release of her new single “I Don’t Drink.”
Ever since she turned 17 and placed third in a competition that sees aspiring artists come from near and far trying to catch someone’s ear, music has been the Montana native’s main focus. She made a pit stop to tour internationally with the band Press Play, but as of late, Croteau has settled in to Music City and shifted her focus to songwriting. Seven years into her Nashville journey, she’s seeing the fruits of her labor come to fruition. Her songs are getting cut and they’re landing on major streaming playlists, but most recently, all eyes are on her after the release of “I Don’t Drink.”
Croteau’s debut country single comes soaked with lyrics of heartbreak and drowning a love lost with 90 proof. The song’s largely piano-driven melody allows Croteau’s vocal to stand prominently at the forefront of the mix on a song that’s admittedly personal to her.
We chatted with Croteau about her diverse influences, all about “I Don’t Drink,” including her emotions leading up to its release and the inspiration behind it, her plans for new music this summer and more!
Nicole Croteau: My musical influences from an early age were Martina McBride, Miranda Lambert, Need To Breathe, Mary Mary and Earth Wind Fire. I was kind of all over that map when it came to genres. I love Mo-town too.
PC: Your bio mentions that you grew a love for music at a young age and wrote your first song at just 13 years-old. What was it about music and songwriting that connected with you so early in your life?
NC: I started using music to process my emotions from a very young age. Even before I wrote my first song on the guitar, I would make up little songs to help me remember things, or even if I was happy, I would just sing little jingles. As I got older I started to use it to help me through harder emotions like anger, sadness and hurt. I would tell stories and it would help me to clear my head and get a better perspective on real life.
PC: At what point did that early interest in music translate into wanting to/realizing you could pursue music as a career?
NC: I was 17 years-old when I entered the Colgate Country Showdown and that was the first time I ever thought about music as a career. I think it had something to do with the fact that my parents were shocked and extremely supportive after they saw me perform for the first time on a stage that big. The confidence they gave me really helped me solidify my choice as I got older.
PC: You ended up placing third at the Colgate Country Showdown. Is there a certain level of validation that comes with that recognition of your talent at such an early age?
NC: Honestly, I was just as shocked as anyone when I came in third. My sister was singing with me, and it just felt so right. I knew from that minute on I wanted to share my music with other people as a way to connect, and I still feel just as passionate about it.
PC: What emotions were you feeling as you were preparing to release your debut country single, “I Don’t Drink”?
NC: I have been so excited and anxious about releasing this single. It’s been a long time since I’ve put out music, and it wasn’t country, so it’s definitely a vulnerable spot to be in, especially when the song is as personal as “I Don’t Drink.” It feels like I’m bearing a little bit of my heart for people and hoping they can relate, or at least like the way it sounds.
PC: “I Don’t Drink” was written with Frank Legeay and Raquel Cole. Can you talk about the inspiration behind the song?
NC: The chorus started to come to me while I was cleaning my house one day. I was walking from my bedroom to the kitchen and I just stopped in my tracks and said, “ I can’t believe no one has written this.” 2020 was an extremely hard year for me personally and I know I’m not the only one. The song has multiple dimensions to it, so I feel even if you aren’t in a relationship or you are in a good one, it doesn’t have to be about that. It could be about someone you lost, or someone who is breaking your heart without even knowing it. That’s the thing I love about music, it can morph and change depending on who is listening and what they need.
PC: You have shared several positive responses to “I Don’t Drink” to your Instagram stories. What has the support from both the Nashville community and listeners meant to you over the first week of the song’s release?
NC: The support on this song has been tremendous, and I’m honestly blown away by how many encouraging texts, calls and messages I gotten. I’ve been a writer in Nashville for the last seven years, so to know that I am making the right call in releasing something for myself is huge to me. I will never take someone’s kindness and championing of me for granted; to feel alone is the worst of feelings.
PC: You co-wrote “Down For It” by Willie Jones, which has landed on major Spotify and Apple Music playlists, as well as “My Truth” by Tiera, which premiered on CMT. What has it been like for you to see those songs achieving those honors and continuing to reach new people?
NC: The trajectory of my career over the last two years has completely rocked my world. The fact that songs that I have been a big part of are landing on Spotify and Apple Music curated playlists and CMT means everything to me. It feels so good to be recognized for something I have spent so long working hard at, and I will continue to celebrate even the smallest wins.
PC: Of the things you can control, what are your plans for the rest of 2021?
NC: I am planning to do a video and to release another single sometime around mid-summer! So you can be expecting me to keep pumping out new music and content for ya’ll, which I am incredibly excited about! I am also a co-writer on a few more releases this summer/fall by other artists who have yet to announce dates.
PC: Is there anything you’d like to add?
NC: Thanks for having me for this interview! It’s so fun getting to talk about my music and put a little more of my story out there for people to hear.
*All images courtesy of Nicole Croteau Facebook page*
**”I Don’t Drink” is featured on The Best of Pro Country playlist!**