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'I didn’t even know how to feel': Northern Ont. musician up for 3 Junos

Preston Pablo has gone from being scared of taking the stage in high school to prepping for his first performance at the Juno Awards
Timmins' Preston Pablo is nominated for three Juno Awards and will be performing at the March celebration.

TIMMINS - It wasn't too long ago that stage fright kept Preston Pablo from performing with his high school's band. 

This March, the Timmins musician is performing at the Juno Awards, where he's nominated in three categories.

This year's Juno Awards are being held on March 13 in Edmonton, Alta. In January, Pablo was named as one of the performers for the 52nd annual celebration. Earlier this week, the 21-year-old learned he'd be hitting the red carpet as a three-time nominee. 

The categories he's nominated in are TikTok Juno Fan Choice, Single of the Year, and Breakthrough Artist of the Year.

“We weren’t really planning for a performance at the Junos, it kind of just happened. When they told me, it was a very exciting feeling and it’s so many emotions all at once,” said Pablo. 

Being nominated was an emotional overload.

"I didn’t even know how to feel and I wasn’t even at the Junos yet. I can only imagine once I’m there on the stage and my family will be there, which is going to be great seeing them and having them there, so I’m looking forward to all that for sure,” he said.

It has been a busy time for the Timmins High and Vocational School grad. 

It's been just over a year since he left the city he was born and raised in.

He was supposed to go to the school in North Bay and moved there before making his way to Toronto, where he's living now.

It wasn't until leaving Timmins that he really appreciated certain aspects of living in Northern Ontario.

"The whole small town aspect of Timmins and the fact that I had all my friends in the same neighbourhood and I grew up riding bikes and jumping in lakes and camping and just being outside. Getting dirty, falling down, scraping my elbows, you know what I mean. I feel like that was all the stuff that really made me who I am today and just kind of built me as a character,” he said. 

While music has been part of his life for a long time, it's taken time to build up confidence. 

Before high school, he played the drums. Because his older brother was part of the music scene at the school, Pablo remembers the teacher at the time — Barry Promane — asking him to play with Sonic Democracy, the high school's performing band.

"He would bring me into his room and his office and try to get me to play in the band, but I remember being so nervous and so scared that I just kept saying no. I was like, ‘I can’t do it’, I was so scared of playing on a stage and being in front of a crowd, which is crazy to think now because it’s literally a huge part of my job,” he said. 

Going from being afraid to take the stage at TH to getting on stage at the Junos is a "pretty crazy journey". 

Pablo didn't give up on being an artist, consistently putting out music and growing. 

"It’s not something I was working towards — being confident on stage. It’s not something you picture when you’re starting out making music. I was just making music and just enjoying it and it was strictly a passion and a hobby for me and I think just because of that it just kind of led to me continuing to grow and build that confidence naturally and organically," he said.

Flowers Need Rain is the single he's garnering attention from. 

The chorus, he said, was written on his bed in Timmins with a guitar. He finished writing it after moving away and it the song started taking off last summer.

Music is his full-time job now. 

“If I tried to focus on anything else, I don’t know how I’d make it work. It’s a job that requires … your full attention and all my energy goes into this. My days are spent doing this. There’s definitely room for me to exist as a normal person at this point, but for the most part it’s just all music,” he said.

Being able to take a passion project and turn it into a career feels great for the young artist. 

"It does feel very rewarding and all these things like Juno nominations and songs on the radio and performing on stages. It’s all stuff that it feels very rewarding and it fills my heart, honestly, because it’s one thing to be able to make music and to just put it out to the world, but then the world starts receiving it and you start hearing people singing your songs and you start seeing people sharing it," he said. 

Looking ahead, expect a lot of new music from Pablo, who's spending any free time writing. 

In March, he's headlining his first shows. March 15 he's in Montreal and March 17 he's in Toronto.

Meanwhile, he's prepping for taking the national stage in Edmonton. 

He's working out to make sure his cardio's good and he can have energy on stage and is working with a vocal coach.


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Maija Hoggett

About the Author: Maija Hoggett

Maija Hoggett is an experienced journalist who covers Timmins and area
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