Jodi Pederson can so relate to the start of the 1981 single Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey.
You know the one, where a small-town girl, livin’ in a lonely world, eventually takes the midnight train goin’ anywhere and ends up as a singer in a smoky room with the smell of wine and cheap perfume.
In her case, and to the relief of her parents, she didn’t end up walking up and down the boulevard, instead Pederson has traversed that often rocky road to mount a music career on her own terms.
And now she’s back at it with a new name, fresh perspective, and a brand new single, Wild, that is currently getting airplay across the country.
Now known as ROYAL, Pederson says she’s excited for her hometown to hear her new music when she plays at Vernon’s Record City Friday.
“It’s been an exciting time,” said Pederson, who is now 28 and has been living in Vancouver the past three years.
“I took some time off from performing after the PEAK Performance Project (Pederson was a finalist in the B.C.-wide competition sponsored by Vancouver radio station The PEAK in 2014). I had back problems, so I took a hiatus from then to now, which gave me time to work on my songwriting and focus on the sound I wanted to create.”
Not only has her style changed to indie pop, Pederson decided a name change was also in order to reflect her new sound.
“I never intended in sticking with my own name as my stage name. I was looking for something that stuck. It was around the time I was recording my song City Lights with an EDM artist and I found out the name I had chosen, someone else already had it. Suddenly, ROYAL came to me. It’s bold, timeless, unique and elegant, which speaks to the music. It’s also powerful to women.”
ROYAL is also a long way from that shy girl who was, at first, scared to get up on stage.
A graduate of Kalamalka Secondary School, Pederson admits to still having stage fright, an affliction she first overcame when she was 17 and was discovered while singing at a family gathering in Saskatchewan by Toronto TV-movie composer and producer Jack Lenz.
He helped her record her first album, Seasons, which launched Pederson’s career.
Years later, she went out on a whim and applied to the PEAK Performance Project and made it into the top 12.
“You usually have to apply more than two times for them to even look at you, but I got in the first time, and I came out with two songs there and that was it.”
Besides City Lights, the other song was Wild, which Pederson co-wrote with Vancouver producer Luca Fogale.
She recorded the song with award-winning Vancouver engineer Ryan Worsley, who has worked with fellow Vernon musician Windmills as well as with recent Juno recipients Dear Rouge.
Wild was officially released to Canadian radio Sept. 13.
“I am shocked with the response to the song. We put millions of hours into this one, little song and it’s been rewarding to hear what people have to say about it. Many say it’s quite different from what they’ve heard from me before.”
The lyrics are also deeply personal.
“For years, I was going out with the wrong guy and the song came out of that. It’s about falling in love with the wrong person and losing a piece of yourself in the process. It’s how I was able to pick myself up and walk away,” said Pederson.
The song is not only about empowerment, it’s about getting over fear, she added.
“For me, songwriting is therapeutic. I am the type of person who buries stuff and when I write, it puts me in a vulnerable position. When I’m on stage, it puts me back in time and I feel all those emotions again…. I hope my songs can relieve some of those anxieties. That’s why I pursued music. It’s amazing to look out at an audience. I feel their energy.”
Pederson is currently recording demos for her new album with Fogale, and says it should be released in spring, 2017.
Meanwhile, her hometown show as ROYAL will include her band of local musicians Matt Mazur on bass, Michael Mazur on lead guitar, Connor Murdock on keys and Kevin Dreger on percussion. Supporting acts include Vernon artists Easy Ginny and Shaughnessy Rose.
Doors to Friday’s show at Record City open at 7:30 p.m. and admission is $10. For more on ROYAL, visit royalofficial.com.