Toronto-born country star Lindi Ortega calls her every day style “Calamity Jane goes to a funeral.” Take her stage attire, which could easily include a mournful black pillbox hat worn jauntily to one side, a netted veil flowing over smudged smokey eyes, a floral peasant top, and, her signature, cherry-cola red cowboy boots.
But when she walks the red carpet at the Junos in Ottawa on Sunday, April 1, celebrating her first nomination for Best New Artist, she plans to push her look towards full-on glam. When FLARE caught up with her in between Nashville recording sessions for the follow-up to her breakthrough album Little Red Boots, she was hunting for a short black lace dress with red ankle boots. The priority: easy movement. “I just hope I don’t fall on my face,” she says self-deprecatingly.
Ortega fell in love with country music as a child, and holds fond memories of watching Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers on TV with her country-loving mother. When she grew up, it was country’s raw heartache she grew to love, citing Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” as an example.
Like her country heroes, she’s been no stranger to heartbreak herself. “I have terrible luck in the love department,” she says. “I don’t know what’s going on! I do my best! It’s a blessing and a curse. I am not lucky in love, but I get to write songs about my terrible experiences in it in the hopes that maybe someone will feel better about their situation. It’s sad that I have to go through that but I’m always very optimistic.”
When it comes to her shot at a Juno Sunday night, she’s less hopeful (she will be pitted against electro wizard Diamond Rings, “Alone Again” singer Alyssa Reid, pop-dance star JRDN and indie folk favourite Dan Magnan). She’s not even writing a speech. “Oh that’s just crazy,” she says with charming modesty. “I can’t even think of that. If that happens I will fall on my face. That would definitely be the moment when I would fall on my face.”