Tate McRae on Repping Canada and Taking Zamboni Lessons


From Bryan Adams to Nelly Furtado, Avril Lavigne to Carly Rae Jepsen, Canada has an illustrious history of pumping out musicians. The latest Canuck to take over the airwaves is Tate McRae, the 20-year-old Calgary native whose hit song “greedy” is dominating pop radio and currently sits third on the Billboard Hot 100.

This weekend, McRae will take part in a uniquely Canadian rite of passage: performing at the NHL All-Star Game in Toronto, where she’ll also serve as a celebrity captain alongside Canadian royalty Justin Bieber, Will Arnett, and Michael Bublé. The last few months have been a total whirlwind for McRae, who made her SNL debut in November, released her sophomore album—Think Later—in December, and will embark on the European leg of her world tour in April. As she prepares to take the stage at the NHL’s midseason celebration, McRae reflected on her own (extremely brief) days as a hockey player, shed some light on the Canadian Easter eggs in her music videos, and explained what it’s like to drive a Zamboni.

Photo courtesy of Beth Saravo

Tate, I’m wondering if you are a tangible goal-setter. Are you someone who sits down and makes a list of things you want to accomplish? And if so, was performing at the NHL All-Star Game ever on that list?

I am one-hundred percent a big goal-setter. I have been like that since I was eight years old. It’s something I do every month; it’s super important to me. But performing at the NHL All-Star Game was not on my bingo card. I didn’t expect that to happen in my career. But obviously, it’s such an honor. I’m so pumped.

What sort of reactions have you gotten from friends, family, and the other Canadians in your life when you’ve told them about this?

It’s really funny, because usually when I do a performance or release a song, I get contacted by a lot of the people who are in the same performing arts industry as me. But this was one of the first things that I announced where I got hit up by all my old high school friends, lots of people from Calgary, my dad’s friends, my mom’s friends. It was the first time that I’d ever really been reached out to that much by hometown people.

I do have to ask: did you play hockey growing up?

Absolutely not. I remember I tried skating for one day when I was six years old, and I was a tragic skater, so my mom put me in ballet. My dad has been trying to train me how to skate for so many years. We had a skating rink in our backyard my whole life and I never got the hang of it. My brother was just skating laps around me.

I was so busy with dancing and music that I didn’t make it out to too many games, but I have lots of memories of me just running around the rink at my brother’s hockey games. Obviously, it’s a huge part of Calgarian culture.

Were any other sports part of young Tate’s life?

I think I tried soccer for a couple months, but dancing was the one that I fell in love with. I ended up training 30 hours a week in dance. I didn’t really have time for other hobbies.

I have some Canadian family and grew up near Canada with a lot of people who are from there. When people hear Canada, they immediately go, “Oh, hockey! Maple syrup!” I’m just wondering how often you get that.

Every day. They always say hockey, Tim Hortons, maple syrup, and, “You guys are so nice!” I feel like there’s worse things to be called. It’s pretty harmless, though. I don’t mind it.

Do you feel like you are who you are because of growing up around friendly Canadians?

One hundred percent. I think the way that we’re raised, especially where I’m from, is just treating people with kindness. [There are] specific manners that are in my blood. It is interesting, sometimes, going other places. I feel like I don’t notice it very much, but people always say, “You guys are so polite and respectful!” I guess that’s a good thing.

I could be completely off-base here, but in the “exes” video, there’s lots of hay bales. There’s cowboy boots. I’m wondering if that was inspired by—or perhaps a little bit of an homage to—the Calgary Stampede. [The Stampede is an annual, ten-day rodeo in Calgary that attracts over a million visitors per year.]

It was absolutely an homage to the Calgary Stampede! It’s so funny because when I was younger, my biggest dream was to move out to LA and honestly, just get out of my hometown. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve just learned to love where I grew up. Finally, I’m appreciating it so much every time I go back home for Christmas and in the summertime.

A lot of my album campaign, we tried to draw a lot of inspiration from my roots and little Calgary-inspired things to try and make it a bit more of my identity. In that music video, I for sure was referencing the Calgary Stampede, which me and my family go to every year. You have to go. It’s the best time.

This whole video was so hilarious, because I remember I had first written the song and honestly, just had no idea what to do for a video. We were sitting in a coffee shop, trying to brainstorm ideas, and me and my creative director have this really playful banter, which is the best way to be creative. Sometimes jokes can turn into the greatest things that don’t feel as serious.

We were talking about how when you do music videos, you can check things off your bucket list, and I was like, “You know, it would be so insane if I came in on a Zamboni. That would be bucket list.” It ends up turning into this huge video, which started off as us just goofing around.

Did you have to train for it? Was there a Zamboni safety class you had to take?

Yeah, I actually had to take a lesson, day-of. The manager of the rink had to give me a lesson, and he sat beside me as I was lip-syncing and filming the whole video. I was maybe going three miles per hour, max. I was going so slow. It’s hard!

Can you take us behind the scenes of your photo shoot for the Think Later album cover? Whose idea was it for you to wear the hockey pads?

The album cover for Think Later

The album cover for Think Later



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