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Making Noise with Jim Beam National Talent Search Winner Myles Erlick

Making Noise with Jim Beam National Talent Search Winner Myles Erlick



Elton John and a 13-year-old Myles Erlick at opening night of Billy Elliot National Broadway Tour (Toronto) in March 2011 — photo credit: Francesca Nicassio

Burlington, Ontario triple threat Myles Erlick, who starred in the title role of Broadway’s Billy Elliot The Musical and in 113 episodes of Family Channel’s The Next Step, was declared the 2024 winner of The Jim Beam National Talent Search, a partnership with Canadian Music Week. Part of the prize includes a writing and recording session with Juno Award winner Hill Kourkoutis (SATE, Aysanabee, Digging Roots).

“I first met Myles when I was in the house band for the show The Launch,” Kourkoutis tells Making Noise of the CTV music competition he was on in 2018. “Myles is immensely talented—an incredible singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, actor and dancer. His performances are so energetic and dynamic. I’m excited and look forward to capturing that magic he exudes live in the song we will record together.”

The pair have been in pre-production and will go into Toronto’s Noble Street Studios tomorrow (July 6) to record.

Erlick, who turns 26 later this month, grew up around entertainment. Managed by his mom, Francesca Nicassio, owner of Stars Academy Talent, a boutique booking and management company primarily for young actors, his uncle Gianni (Nicassio) and aunt Sarah (Blackwood) lead the Juno Award-winning band Walk Off The Earth, while his former step dad Ryan Marshall left the band in 2020. Erlick appears in a bunch of their videos, including this zipper/hand clap combo contribution for the group’s percussive cover of Adele’s “Hello.”

But he has plenty of impressive accolades on his own.

He landed first professional acting gig in the TV show Flashpoint in 2011, then the prized Billy Elliot role in the Toronto production before becoming the 15th Billy of Broadway in New York. 

Meanwhile, where popular music was concerned, the guitarist and pianist kept up his chops by posting cover songs on YouTube, mainly with his brother, Tyson. But one song, with his friend Kolton Stewart, Jason Mraz’s “I Won’t Give Up,” caught the attention of Ellen DeGeneres and they were invited perform on the show.

Erlick then got a fitting part in the youth dance troupe drama The Next Step, becoming a regular cast member in the third season until 2022. He also scored roles in Steven Spielberg’s 2021 adaptation of West Side Story and Michael Lembeck’s 2022 musical comedy Snow Day.

On the side, he trickled out original music, starting in the dance-pop vein with 2017’s “Serious” and “All Day All Night,” featuring a rising Tate McRae, and the past year focused on country music, dropping the ballad “Growing Old With You” and country-rocker “Whiskey On The Ceiling.” He has been spending considerable time in Nashville, working on his album, as well as in Toronto, all the while continuing acting.

Erlick talked with Making Noise about winning the Jim Beam National Talent Search, why country music is the right lane for him, how he won a Juno Award, and his plans career-wise.

Do you plan to juggle acting and music equally?

Absolutely. This is all I’ve ever known. This is what I’ve been doing since I can remember, stepping into a dance studio at three, four years old, and growing up training on classical piano and guitar, and originally starting in musical theatre, where I was the lead on Broadway, Billy Elliot: the Musical. That was my first in, where I was like, “This is what I’m going to do; this is what I want to do,” and I realized you’ve got to dive headfirst.

Myles Erlick, then 14, interviewed by Ellen DeGeneres in Sept. 2012 — screengrab provided by Francesca Nicassio

That said, pursue a recording career is also very difficult. Your acting career is going so well. Why do you want to pursue music professionally, not just recreationally?

It was when Ellen DeGeneres caught a video that I posted online [Mraz’ “I Won’t Give Up”] and flew me and my buddy and had us on her show and we performed the song. That was the turning point for me, where I was like, “I love music. I need to make music. I need to make this happen as well.” I love to act. I love to sing. I love to dance. I love everything to do with the entertainment industry. I need to do it all.

After that, about a year later, I started getting into audio engineering and production and I started making my own music. Then, about two years later, I put out my first single, which was my first original song, called “Serious.”

A lot of people say you really should focus on one thing and really go hard. I don’t believe in that. I think the entertainment industry allows you to do many things. And, for me personally, if I’m not on set, acting, then I’m probably in the recording studio making music, and then vice versa.

Did performing covers help you learn how to structure your original songs?

For sure. I’ve always been inspired by other artists. The biggest thing is those artists were probably inspired by other artists as well. It’s a continual loop where one person is inspired by another person, and then you understand structure and you emulate, and then you have to innovate and make something your own.

Listening to the songs you have released, there are various styles. Dance-pop, like “Serious,” and the duet with Tate McCrae, then more recently, the past year, “Growing Old With You” is a beautiful country ballad. “Whiskey On The Ceiling” is a twangy country rocker with a band. Have you just been trying to find your lane?

Yeah. To give a little bit of a backstory on me, I’m a country boy at heart. I grew up on a farm with my parents. We had horses, 12 dogs, the whole nine yards. And then, when I went to do Broadway, I went more commercial.  I ended up making pop music because that’s what I was around; I was around producers that were making pop music and I thought that that was what I needed to do. But I, at heart, always loved country, and rock and roll, and classic music. It came to a turning point for me about four or five years ago, where I was like, “It’s time I make music that I truly love and make sense for me and is original and authentic to me.” I felt it’s time to just start fresh and do this right.

You divide your time between Toronto and Nashville. How have you immersed yourself in the songwriting community there?

The move to Nashville was recent.  I’ve been going back and forth for about a year and a half, two years, but being there more permanently was within the past six months.

Yes, I am collaborating with songwriters. Just being there, you end up making friends with one person who’s a songwriter, and then they have a friend who’s a songwriter and producer that you meet, and then it turns into a session. That’s how Nashville works. You have to be there in person, and you end up meeting more and more people. So the more and more I’m there, the more I’m building contacts and friends. And, a lot of songwriters that I knew from LA are going out to Nashville as well. And, obviously, I produce and song-write myself.

Myles Erlick – photo provided

Nashville is such a unique place for music, filled with people that are only songwriters and don’t perform or record themselves. Are they open to a young person who is a songwriter, produce and artist?

Absolutely. Nashville has been evolving over the past, I’d say, 10 years, and is becoming a major hotspot, not just for music, but just in general in the States. It’s almost becoming a mini-Vegas. But, they’re very open to it. If you have something to bring to the table, they’re going to listen to you, they’re going to be respectful, and they’re going to take you in with open arms. But you have to be good at what you do because there’s so many people that are so good at what they do down there.

Which leads to the reason for this interview. You won the Jim Beam National Talent Search contest. Some artists avoid “battle of the bands.” Why did you decide to enter?

I’m the type of person and the type of artist, I do not have an ego. If I have a chance to get on stage and perform, I’m going to go do it. I don’t care if it’s a contest. If I have the opportunity to show what I have, the music I make and be able to get on stage, I’m just grateful. I think any chance you get to show what you got is a platform and an opportunity.

I’m grateful for the Jim Beam National Talent Search and winning it and getting the chance to perform and then play the Danforth Music Hall. It was just a legendary week with legendary people.

Of course, everyone’s in town for Canadian Music Week — for panels and keynotes and awards shows. Did you take advantage of that? Did you meet with agents? labels? How did it go for you?

Yes, absolutely. That week was really wild because I was also on set filming, so I was going back and forth between Canadian Music Week stuff and acting stuff. But, yes, I did get some time to network, connect, meet some people. We had an amazing opportunity [as part of the prize] to work with legend Tom Jackson for live performance, in real time. Me and my band, we played one of our songs and he worked it with us. Meeting him was incredible. And then from him, we met other amazing people, like some touring agents from the States. It was an amazing week.

What show were you filming?

It’s a brand-new Amazon Prime series called Motorheads. It’s really exciting show. It’s like Fast & Furious meets Friday Night Lights. It’s a large ensemble cast with many different storylines. My character is Noah. I’m one of the high schoolers, part of the bad group. We street race. There’s a lot of a lot of street racing, a lot of gangs. There’s not much I can talk about other than that.  [The series, due 2025, was written by showrunner John A. Norris, and stars Ryan Phillippe and Nathalie Kelley.]

Because your background is in musical theatre, there’s a distinct sound to singing musical theatre versus pop or country or rock. It’s bigger and dramatic and you have to project in an unnatural way. Do you have to shake that off or is your natural inclination towards pop or country?

I totally get what you’re saying. So, yes, musical theatre, it’s a very specific style. We’re trained a certain way, but I will say that us performers, in musical theatre, we’re trained to have long endurance with our vocals and to be able to place our vocals and our sounds to project a certain way. That’s helped me as a performer, in general, not just to do the country rock and roll, but to be able to have control of my voice because I truly believe musical theatre performers are the most incredible singers and performers. What they can do with their voices and hold a show for two-and-a half hours is crazy.

So, I’m grateful for the training, but it hasn’t really been that much of an issue where you’re getting a musical theatre performance in a country rock and roll song. I’m able to change the scene and bring a harder and more attitude when it comes to the country-rock stuff. It’s just helped me in general.

There’s a crossover trend now with rock into country that’s accepted by country audiences, Hardy, Jelly Roll and Chris Stapleton. Is that the vein of the album that you’re working on?

Absolutely. All those artists you just mentioned are huge inspirations for me. I’m especially a big Hardy fan. But, yes, it’s definitely the approach that we’re going towards. Also, being a musician at heart, trained in classical piano growing up and appreciating music in general, I’m not going to just narrow myself into just that one lane of making purely big country rock music. There will be more than just the heavy country rock stuff; there will be the rock ballads to show range and dynamics, and the classic soulful country music as well, which all work with each other. The most important thing is to be authentic.


Your family is in the industry. What guidance have they given you to carry into your music career and do you still go to them for advice?

Absolutely. My mother, most importantly, has been the biggest leader for me and supporter. My uncle is Gianni Nicassio, a very well-known producer and artist in Walk Off The Earth, and Sarah Blackwood is my aunt. My mother is Francesca Nicassio, Gianni’s sister. It’s one big family circle.

And your stepdad Ryan Marshall was in Walk Off The Earth too.

He was. He’s no longer my stepdad.  It’s been really cool having family in it because it’s made it a little bit easier in a sense of they understand the struggles that comes with it. And that it’s not going to be easy. 

Your mom manages you. Who else do you need on your team? 

My mother’s always been managing me. We’ve always been a team. But the goal, especially going into 2025, is to find American management to work together and an American agent because you’ve got to get on the road to get playing for fans. We want to build those connections. That’s what we’re looking for.

Your mom had said that you were nominated for a Juno Award and you won a Juno, but your name’s not in the Juno database. So can you explain your role in the projects that were recognized by CARAS (the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts 7 Sciences) for Juno Awards?

The nomination was for a girl group that my mother was representing called GForce, then called Gen Z, and it was for Children’s Album of the Year [2020, for the album It’s GFORCE]. I was a producer, songwriter, and kind of development for them. I did the whole nine yards for them. And then, the one that I won, and was a part of was, with Walk off the Earth, for Children’s Album of the Year, titled Romeo Eats Vol. 2 [2023], which I was a producer and singer on.  So that’s how I was connected and affiliated with that and that’s where that Juno came from.

Part of your Jim Beam National Talent Search prize is a writing session with a professional music composer/producer and the recording of one original song at Noble Street recording studio. You will be working with Hill Kourkoutis.

I’m bringing a song to the recording session. I’m super excited to work with Hill.  She is awesome. We worked together many years ago on The Launch. I was very briefly with a band called the Revel Boys [a five-piece including his brother Tyson]. Hill and I met on there and now we’re reconnecting in the studio. We’re going to make a really big track. I’m stoked on it.  I’m going to be putting the song on the album.

Who else are you working with on your album?

My uncle Gianni, we’re working on a lot of stuff; his engineer, Tokyo [Speirs], we’re working on stuff. I do a lot of collaborations with Tyson, who also plays bass for me. He’s amazing songwriter. And then, there a few different songwriters that I’ve been connecting with over the years.



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