Written by John R. Kennedy 

After several years of crafting their own songs, producer Elijah Woods and vocalist Jamie Fine were thrust into the spotlight in January with the single “Ain’t Easy” – a track penned by OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder with Camila Cabello and Zach Skelton.

“It was a hard pill to swallow,” Fine admitted. Added Woods: “It still is.”

The catchy-as-heck song, which has been ubiquitous on radio stations across Canada and has been certified Platinum, debuted on the second episode of the CTV series The Launch.

“When you read, ‘a Ryan Tedder, Camila Cabello song,’ it’s like, hang on a second, it’s ours too,” Fine explained. “Because we’re writers first. That’s the part of this that’s most important to us.

“There were a few comments along the lines of ‘They’re not real artists. They can just sing.’ We’re two of the least sensitive people you’ll probably meet but with that it’s like, OK I guess we’ll show them on the next single.”

While Fine’s powerful vocals are showcased on “Ain’t Easy,” it’s not immediately obvious what role Woods played.

“One of our fears going into this was because we’re a producer-vocalist duo, what am I doing?,” he admitted. "I always joke that I’m the first person to win a singing competition without opening my mouth. It’s really strange, especially for me.”

When the song comes on the radio, both Woods and Fine said they turn it off. “It’s tough because we’ve been living with this song for so long now,” he said. “We love the track and we know what it is but if you ask anyone who has a song that does really well…”

“We won’t listen to it for months,” Fine added, “and then we’ll hear it on the radio when we’re in an Uber and we’re like, ‘that’s a cool song.’”

To be clear, Woods and Fine are not ungrateful.

“Very few people get to experience it and we’re trying to soak it up,” explained Woods, in an interview with iHeartRadio.ca on the garden terrasse of a Montreal café. “It’s so rare that you get to do all these things as a musician and we’re just tying to soak that up as much as possible.”

A challenge for the pair was having to keep quiet about their big break between the time their episode was taped in September and when it aired in mid-January. 

“It was weird,” Woods recalled. “It was very strange because we were in this stage where, OK we know we’re going to have a lot of attention but what do we do for the next few months? So we wrote tons of music.

“I don’t even know what I did during those three months because it was such a strange period in our lives.”

Fine added: “We were eager to see how people would react to the single, we were eager to see how people would react to us. We were eager to see the other artists because you can’t meet anybody when you’re filming.”

Both said they knew “Ain’t Easy” was a winner.

“We were big fans of it,” said Fine. “It was such a great demo. That’s the exact kind of demo song that you want to receive from somebody.”

Added Woods: “Yeah and it was strange because we’ve never received a demo before. We write all of our stuff independently. So having a demo was very strange for us because we listened to it and we were like, ‘OK, let’s flip this’ or whatever and we didn’t understand that that wasn’t the premise of the show. We were under the impression that we were going to maybe use an original song or co-write something or whatever so we just went in with our own ideas and it ended up going really well.

“At the end of the day the song that we came out with was the best product for everybody.”

Woods and Fine – who will perform on Parliament Hill on Canada Day – have since recorded a version for the Quebec market and are bracing for the song to drop south of the border.

How important is success in America? “Very,” replied Fine, who hails from Ottawa. “We wanted to find a happy medium between looking past Canada while also appreciating it as a market and being proud of being from Canada.

“We realize its importance but it’s so easy to get stuck so you do have to look past it and you do have to move around it very quickly because we are bigger than just a Canadian sound.”

Woods, a native of Perth, Ont., put it more simply. “It’s about making a sound that is worldwide.”

Woods and Fine said they have more than two albums’ worth of music ready but they’re taking their time with following-up on “Ain’t Easy.”

“We could release an album tomorrow if we wanted to but there’s no huge rush,” he said. “We want to make sure that it’s done right. I don’t have a date to give you but I wouldn’t say it’s too far off.”

Fine said whatever they put out will be more reflective of who they are as artists.

“We have so much music that’s kind of ready to go that if another producer wants to touch it, we’re very open to that, but for the most part we’re really content with where we’re at and what we have so far.”

Of course, the exposure Woods and Fine got from The Launch meant significant increases in their individual social media followings – including the inevitable trolls. “We don’t even notice the haters,” said Fine. “We clearly don’t give a s**t.”

Woods agreed: ”We don’t pay attention to it at all.

“We just try to be ourselves. People can see right through any sort of act so it’s just about being yourself and trying to interact with people to the best of your ability. But it’s taxing. It requires a lot of work and it’s constant.

“We want to hear from the people who are listening to the music and interacting with us, but it’s impossible to keep up with it because it’s so constant. You want to interact but there’s not enough time in the day.”

Added Fine: “We realized probably 15 minutes into the episode that gone were the days where [we] can actually enjoy social media. It’s devastating because we want to connect. We love connecting with people in general. It’s just kind of who we are and when that’s taken away from you because there’s not enough mental capacity to do that or else you’re sacrificing yourself in a lot of different ways...

“It’s devastating for us.”

The Launch is a co-production of Bell Media, parent company of this website.

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