California Smile – New Single from Tikka and Chew


Sometimes when two artists collaborate, magic happens. And that’s exactly what transpired when Finnish artist Tom Tikka and Wisconsin resident Nolen Chew Jr. of The Star Prairie Project joined forces. The plan was to write two songs, one for each artist to put on their upcoming albums. The plan failed. Instead of two album tracks, Tom and Nolen ended up writing two singles!
The first song to be released from that collaboration is the gorgeous California Smile, a tune that will make any fan of Americana fall in love with it. It’s got it all: heartfelt lyrics, great guitars, strong lead vocals and soaring harmonies. Indeed, one could argue that the song has California written all over it.

california smile
California Smile

Both Tom Tikka as well as The Star Prairie Project have done well for themselves lately.
Tikka’s previous album Rainbows And Dead Flowers boasted two UK Top 10 iTunes hits, while The Star Prairie Project’s lead single off their wonderful New Day At Dawn album, “Old Dirt Road”, peaked at #9 on the same charts. In addition, both artists have catalogues with millions of Spotify streams and both have been praised by the critics on each side of the pond. They both release their music through the British publisher One Media. In other words, this was a collaboration just waiting to happen.

Tom Tikka interviewed Tom about the music scene in Finland, England and California. “I live in Finland but I’ve spent years in the US.” says Tom who also spends a lot of time in the UK. “I come to London about four times a year since my label is there (Pinewood Studios) and I love London. That’s where I’ll move at some point. Whoever thinks Brits and Americans are very different should come and live in Finland for a while”. Tom’s last album “Rainbows and Dead Flowers” features a country ballad as the title track, and “The Loveliest Rose” on the same album is country rock, so clearly the direction of travel is there to see.

Rainbows and Dead Flowers

Is there a country scene in Finland we asked? “In Finland, there is no country scene at all. Or maybe a small one. Yeah, a small one. But it’s not music you hear on the radio. People don’t talk about it. It’s not considered “cool” music.” says Tom, adding “My parents loved country music. I love it. Merle Haggard is my all time favorite. I love Kris Kristofferson as well. Keith Urban is good.”

Nolen Chew Jr.

Nolen Chew Jr. has released six albums under The Star Prairie Project including: Panacea (2020), Surreal (2020), and Rudiger’s Revenge (2021). His biggest UK hit came with the country-flavoured “Old Dirt Road”, which peaked at #10 on the UK Top 100 Country Chart and is featured on the New Day at Dawn album (2023).

More Music on the Way

We wanted to know how did the collaboration come about, and Tom told us: “I asked if Nolen wanted to do something together and he was all for it, so we gave it a go and ended up with these two beautiful tracks. Just wait until you hear the one that’s coming up. It’s called ‘Starting Over With You‘ and it’s just absolutely fantastic.”

“California Smile” will be out worldwide on March 8 and it will be accompanied by a music video filmed on site in the Golden State.

Catch the song on Spotify as soon as it is released:

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