Editor’s Note: In celebration of Women’s History Month, You Sing I Write is highlighting female country artists and songwriters throughout March.
“If you wanted somebody to write a good song about you, treat them well,” Robyn Ottolini tells me over the phone from her home in Canada. Days away from releasing her major label debut “F-150” to radio, Ottolini reflects on the ex who inspired the song. “He has heard the song. I don’t know what he thinks about it.”
Ottolini initially wrote “F-150” alone after an ex of three years dumped her. He drove a Ford F-150 truck and whenever she spotted one in her small town her stomach would drop thinking it was his.
“I did not want to see him as you don’t want to see your exes,” she says. “It brings back all these memories.”
She finally had enough and pulled over to the side of the road and sang into her voice memo, “When I see an F-150.” She then drove home and finished writing the song in her bathroom. While she loved the song immediately, it took six months and some convincing to release it. As she explains, managers Mark Schroor and Erik Fintelman from Workshop Music Group said the song was too sad and she’s a happy person.
“They’re like, ‘We should rewrite the last chorus to be strong and independent, just like you,’” she recalls. “So that’s why we rewrote that chorus to give it that hope that I usually have in my music.”
The song was written and produced by Schroor and Fintelman and released February 2020 independently. It’s included on her independently released The I’m Not Always Hilarious EP.
Ottolini embraced TikTok when quarantine hit and shared the song there in August. In September, she posted it as a trend video, and “F-150” went from 100,000 streams to 1 million overnight. She met with several labels in October before signing with Warner Music Nashville. “F-150” has over 9 million streams on Spotify while its music video has amassed nearly 2 million views.
“I had almost no marketing budget back then,” she says of releasing the song independently. “It was all utilizing social media and trying to show people my following. This is something I never, ever imagined ever.”
For more of my interview with Robyn Ottolini, visit Country Insider.