What is your names?
Heather McClelland

What is your genre of music?
Dark Folk/electronica/ alternative/singer song writer, contemporary classical

Give us a little bio about you.
I’ve grown up with a very alternative family of musicians and it’s always been a natural part of my life. I did my first gig at 6 at a busking festival in Ireland with my family and it carried on down that vein. Since graduating from university I have been following a musical career and have done many collaborations and a real variety of performing and composing. I’ve always been obsessed with harmonies and created a trio called The Sugar Sisters with Ruby Wood and Stac. We’ve had some amazing opportunities and done some brilliant gigs including Terry Wogan’s radio 2 show and The Royal Albert Hall. I’ve loved doing it, but have always known there is another side of my creativity I wanted to explore. Over the last few years I have been working closely with Taz Modi creating this EP, maintaining my love of harmonies, but exploring the voice with vocal harmonies and textures.

What made you go into music?
Having grown up with such a musical background it just feels like a part of me, so I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else.

Are you a signed?
I’m putting out the EP through Reclaimed records

You are set to release your new EP ‘China Mind’, tell is more about the EP.
I wanted to create something ethereal and beautiful, yet dissonant at times. I wanted the music to take you to another world as that is something I really appreciate in the artists that I love. I also wanted to be able to explore the many styles that I love and to destroy genre boundaries. The EP was recorded in collaboration with an amazing group of musicians and includes harps, strings, guitars, synths, percussion and vocal textures and many harmonies.

What is the meaning behind ‘China Mind’?
After many years of collaborating and performing, this EP has felt like my time to find my voice as an artist. Harmonies and lyrics are my main musical loves and I wanted to make these both an integral part of ‘China Mind.’The songs were written in a time where I was dealing with the anticipatory grief for my mother’s loss following her cancer diagnosis. This was also the time I met my now husband and had a child, and the contrast of finding love in the tides of loss was a very intense chapter. I felt like I was in another world and I wanted to find ways of using words and vocal textures to create a landscape and invite others into my journey.

Describe each track in two words.
China Mind- Ethereal waltz
Oceans Part- Other worlds
Here again – Harp & strings
Can’t be enough- Vocal textures

What was the writing process like?
I did a lot of experimenting with writing on one instrument and then exploring it on another. For both China Mind and Here again I started off by writing lots of lines of vocal harmonies and then we put the lines onto cellos. Taz Modi of Submotion orchestra who co-produced was super helpful in translating it onto the tracks and it fitted perfectly. I also begun the chords for Here again on ukulele and we then transposed it onto harp. In terms of the songs, I was writing in a time when I was really delving into poetry and lyric writing. As I mentioned above, these songs were written at a very intensive moment of my life, but I really wanted to explore using imagery to express my journey.

What was the recording process like?
A lot of different locations were used! Bringing in lots of different musicians up and down the country, ranging from a studio, a bedroom to a hallway and then all wrapped up by Taz Modi and Steve Lovells production magic

Who did you work with on the EP?
Taz Modi, Steve Lovell, Vanessa Lucas-Smith, Rachel Lovell, Amanda Whiting, Bellatrix, Darren McCarthy, Margit Van Zwan

Will we see a music video for any of the tracks?
Yes! There is a music video for Can’t be enough coming out on Tuesday the 10th of March and one for China Mind on Friday the 20th of March.

Do you have any shows coming up?
My EP release is happening at the amazing St James Church on March 13th. I am then playing in the Purcell rooms of the South bank on 24th September There are some other shows in the pipeline, but we shall confirm them soon.

What else can we expect in Early 2020?
Working on my next EP. I see China mind as the beginning of the journey and not the destination

Would you be up for collaborations if other musicians wanted one with you? and who would they have to contact?
Yes, contact me through my Instagram page

Do you play any instruments?
Guitar Ukulele

Who are your influences?
Agnes Obel, Bjork, Daughter, Laura Mvula, The Staves

How do you get inspiration to write songs?
I love lyrics and love the way that Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell and Laura Marling find a way of capturing the human condition and really seem that they have paid attention to the details of life and their lyrics can help you see things with a new perspective. Without meaning to sound cliched, day to day life is a perfect inspiration with its challenges, complexities and beauty.

Where do you see yourself now in 5 Years?
Writing, performing, collaborating. I would absolutely love to do a gig with a choir and an orchestra behind me bringing the full vision of my sound to life.

When you’re not doing music, what do you do?
I am the musician in residence at Great Ormond Street Hospital and Royal Brompton hospital where I work with amazing world champion beatboxers providing music for our patients and their families. Though that’s this is still doing music, just not my solo stuff. I also have a two year old son who keeps me very busy when I’m not doing music, he’s taught me how to have a break from work and I love going on adventures with him on my days off. I have 7 siblings so it takes a lot of time just keeping up with them and I also love seeing my friends. I think growing up in such a big family has made being sociable very important for me.

What was the song you listened to most that influenced you to go more in to the music scene?
This is such a hard question, very difficult to narrow it down to just one! So many things I loved when growing up. But I remember being so influenced by Portishead in my teens. I was obsessed with Beth Gibbons voice and loved how the music took you to another world. It really showed me how you could bring in electronic elements to create atmosphere and contrast that with Beth’s beautiful vocals.

What’s the best advice you have ever been given?
Only do music if you can’t imagine yourself not doing it. It is a very full on path and there have definitely been moments of my life where I have wondered why I’ve followed this path. But ultimately I don’t feel like it’s what I do, it’s who I am. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else as it’s ultimately a part of me.

What advice would you give to aspiring musicians not about the industry and just as an artist?
Be kind to yourself and your creativity. Every single artist I know, no matter how successful they seem from the outside they have their challenges and moments of self doubt. So know that that is just a part of being a creative and don’t let it stop you. Also as much as we can get fixated on the location with music, its so important to enjoy the journey. This is something I am really trying to do at the moment. Enjoy all the many rehearsals and recording sessions as much as the big gigs and finished product.

Where in your hometown is a must go to visit?
The Southbank centre, its my favourite place in London. It has something for everyone.

You’re coming off tour;
1/ Where do you go first?
2/ Who do you see first? My son and husband. My little boy gives the best cuddles
3/What do you eat first? My husband is an excellent cook. So I imagine I would love for him to cook me one of his Thai curries.

When you are at a gig, what are 5 things you cannot forget?
Harmonies- always my favourite
The songs
Stage presence
The journey of the show

Do you have social media accounts so your fans can follow you?

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