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The Coppertone

There’s plenty about Amanda Zelina that belies her actual age. Most striking is her stirring, smoky voice with an aura of experience far beyond her years. Couple that with her ability to pen soulful blues-laden songs and you’ve got a performer with the output of an established artist and the vigor of a young upstart – and that vigor has started to yield dividends.

Now better known as The Coppertone, the King City, ON native has been a musician for half of her life, though it wasn’t until 18 that she picked up an acoustic guitar and started to discover her true musical voice. Since adopting her moniker only two years ago, Zelina has paired ambition with a love of a musical style of yore to find a sound of her own.

Beginning her career with a singer/songwriter-style album comprising what she calls “very safe stuff,” Zelina soon found herself in a post-secondary music school south of the border; however, the experience left her more discouraged than endeared. One particularly miserable day during that daunting period was interrupted by John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom” – a great song, but to Zelina, also an epiphany. “You know when your hair suddenly rises like there’s a ghost in the room? That’s what I felt; it just seemed that all my questions were answered. Music just started flowing out of me and I threw myself into it.”

Zelina adopted a moniker to mask the insecurities associated with the exploration of a well-guarded style of music. As The Coppertone, she’s embraced her haunting, howling voice and set it to the backdrop of reverb-drenched, fuzz-dripping blues that first emerged on debut full-length Hidden Dreams, which Exclaim! called “an ideal introduction to an important new homegrown talent.”

The venerable publication wasn’t the first or only fan Zelina earned with her signature sound; that list is long, though it includes other notables like longtime friend Dallas Green (City & Colour, Alexisonfire) and the late Dan Achen, a renowned producer and principal of Hamilton’s Catherine North Studios where Hidden Dreams was put to record. Green and Zelina have since collaborated on the original song “At The Bird’s Foot” and a cover of “When I Lay My Burden Down,” dedicated to the memory of Achen, their mutual Midas-handed producer and close friend.

Now set to release Hymns Of The Hollow on May 31st through Dine Alone Records, Zelina calls this first of two EPs expected this year the “big brother of Hidden Dreams” – an extension of the explorations found on the debut with slight refinements, including more dynamic and hooky choruses and a further emphasis on an engulfing overall atmosphere.

The songs and arrangements on the release all belong to Zelina, though the performances are rounded out by Spirits drummer and frequent collaborator Nick Skalkos. “I’m very hands-on with my arrangements,” shares the young artist. “The full sound is in my head as I’m writing a song. I always have a vision of the overall vibe I want.” The follow-up, though only in its early stages of construction, will foil the first with a more positive tone – “still dealing with the same themes,” assures Zelina, “but rather than being cathartic, it’ll be more celebratory.”

Fans can expect the same rich, raw blues rock riffs for which she’s celebrated to propel both releases, augmented each time around by some new explorations. It’s a versatile sound that’s warmed up welcoming audiences for artists ranging from Bombay Bicycle Club and Fucked Up to Grace Potter & The Nocturnals. “I pride myself a lot of my live show,” she says, “and I plan on playing as often as possible to reach as many people as possible.”

With Hymns Of The Hollow in-hand, The Coppertone is poised to make the most of her obvious potential and carry the torch of contemporary blues into the future as an unlikely but more-than-able ambassador.

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