What is your names?
What is your genre of music?
Give us a little bio about you.
I’m Heather J, an alt-pop singer and songwriter from a little town just outside Toronto, Ontario. My artist journey is one that’s been ongoing for quite some time now, but the birth of it started when I was 6 years old and my mother was teaching all of us siblings piano. Music was always present in the house. When I was 8 I began writing, and taught myself guitar around the age of 13. I think I naturally had this need to express myself through art. There was really no defining moment of me saying “I want to be an artist”. As I grew up it, music just became my language, an extension of me. I’ll try and wrap up the last 10 years in a nutshell, but I started posting cover videos and original music to Youtube around 2011, and found people listening really connected to it. I was lucky to have built a solid following there, some of which still follows me today, almost 10 years later. Since then I’ve released my own music commercially, been in a girl/guy duo, and have now embarked on my own solo career. It took all those years and experiences to learn to be authentic to myself, and understand where my talent lies. Feels likes I’ve been at this forever, but those years were crucial for building the foundation. Now we’re getting ready to start building.
What made you go into music?
Like I said, it was always around – in the house, at church, at school. With it being so present, I think it was just something I naturally gravitated towards, and the opportunities were there that I could dabble in it. It became a form of expression, an escape, a sense of freedom. I think that’s just about enough to make you love something, right? It allowed me to step a way for a moment, get in my own head space, express what was happening inwardly. Music was therapeutic. I follow the path that music takes me because it frees me and creates a feeling of peace. It moves me.
Are you a signed?
I am very much independent. I’ve been lucky to work with a small circle of like minded creatives, who believe in the music as much as they do. The evolution of my music and art would be nowhere without them.
You released your single ‘Dancing When I Die’, tell us more about the single. What is the meaning behind ‘Dancing When I Die’?
Dancing When I Die is a ballad that talks of love, loss, and the things that matter most in life. There was a moment a few months ago where life was put into perspective for me. It scares me sometimes – how fragile and uncertain life is, and that at any moment, there may not be a goodbye. It made me think about my own life, and what’s most important to me. And for myself, that’s my family. The song is basically saying, “If I’m at the end, and all I have is you next to me, my heart will be the most happy. Everything will be just fine
Describe the track in two words.
It has some brutally honest lyrics that can hit you in an eerie way, but I think those same lyrics, paired with the melody, have the power to move the listener. It’s extremely relatable
What was the writing process like?
The writing process was quite similar to almost every other. I had the title in my head, so the canvas already had a little colour to it. I really just began writing from the heart. Exactly how I was feeling. “So, I’ve been thinking about my life, all the people that I love, and the love that I might lose. Yes, I am scared to face the end, to leave it all behind and disappear for good”. This was exactly what was going through my thoughts at the time. Feeling terrified of losing the people closest to my heart, having no goodbye, and really just reflecting on life in that moment. The lyrics came together quickly, and added colour and depth. And before I knew it, it was done. I tend to look at the writing process similar to painting a canvas. It had all the right colours, and it felt right. It looked complete. So now it’s in your hands.
What was the recording process like?
A little all over the place! I went to my producer’s studio, showed him a bunch of songs I’d written that week, including Dancing When I Die, and we laid it down. About a month later I went to Windsor to sit in on a podcast with my friend Alex of “In The Red Podcast”. We were hanging out one morning, I was singing songs at the piano with a groggy voice (too much wine the night before) and we laid down Dancing When I Die once again. We were both vibing to it, and just went with it. He started producing a few things up, and by the end of the afternoon I had fallen in love with the direction. Fast forward about a month and a half later, I decided I wanted to release this one, instead of another single I had in mind at the time. So my producer picked up from where we left off in Windsor, and brought the production to this amazing place. I couldn’t be more thankful for these two incredible producers who brought this track to life.
Who did you work with on the Single?
I worked with my producer Matt (Peartree Studios), as well as a very talented producer and friend from Windsor, Alex Seguin.
Listen to Dancing When I Die here
Will we be seeing an EP or Album and if so what can we expect from it?
There will most definitely be an album. I’m at that stage right now where I’m beginning to finally find myself as an artist. I’m also at a prime stage in my life, personally, where I’m experiencing a thousand emotions and moments, and have quite a lot to write about. You’re trying to figure out your life during your mid-twenties, it’s not easy. I think right now I’m eager to share my music as singles, and as I collect all these moments and lessons, and discover more about myself, an album will naturally come out of the works.
Do you have any online shows coming up?
Nothing online as of yet! There have been a few opportunities, but I’m really just focused on the upcoming releases, the visuals, and the direction of the new music to come.
What else can we expect in 2020?
2020 will be a year of releases, both from myself and a few other collaborations I have with a couple artists. 2020 will be all about growth, and maturing, really honing in on how I want my music and art to be portrayed. I can’t wait to share it all.
Do you have any collaborations coming up with any upcoming artists?
I do! I’ve had the privilege of writing for some incredible producers/DJs in Toronto. Myself and Jack Trades have a single coming out May 29th, as well as a track with producer Ryan Shepherd. They’re a totally different style from my own, but I’ve had the best time writing for them. I’m a songwriter at the core of it, and if I can collaborate on tracks that allow me to be stretched and grow as a writer, I’m in. So these songs are going to be fun. I also have tracks in the works with a couple other local artists, and one out in New York. 2020 has kept me busy so far.
Would you be up for collaborations if other musicians wanted one with you? and who would they have to contact?
I am always up for creating and collaborating with like minded and talented individuals – there is so much power in collaboration. As long as everything and everyone is vibing, there’s so much greatness that can come of it. I can be reached by email at email@example.com
Do you play any instruments?
I do! I play piano and guitar. My mom taught me and my other 3 siblings piano from a young age. Sitting at the piano and practising killed me when I was 6. I hated it, and got so frustrated. But even though I hated it, I stuck with it funny enough. I taught myself guitar when I was 13. My heart always leans more towards the piano though.
Who are your influences?
Stevie Nicks and Joni Mitchel will forever remain my idols. They seem somewhat fragile on the outside, but their hearts are made of steel. They didn’t take no for an answer. They followed their hearts. And they have an incredible way with words. Anyone who portrays this genuine, authentic artistry in their music or poetry – old or new – inspires me immensely.
How do you get inspiration to write songs?
Life. Experiences, poetry, people, lessons, billboard signs, the alone-ness you might feel at 1am on a saturday night. Literally everything. If I feel it, I’ll write it.
Where do you see yourself now in 5 Years?
5 years. I think I’ll just be beginning to understand myself at a deeper level. I think I’ll have the same struggles, but a better understanding of how to deal with them. I’ll have my own place with stacks and stacks of books and artwork, and I’ll be writing. For myself, and for other artists.
When you’re not doing music, what do you do?
There is a small amount of time during the day where music is not being worked on. But, I tend to fill that free time with cooking, reading books or poetry, getting inspired online and looking at artwork, interiors, photography. I like to paint, go for long runs, and walk my sweet pup Kaito (he looks like a fox).
What was the song you listened to most that influenced you to go more into the music scene?
I love this question. There have been songs that I’ve stumbled on, which completely move me. They tear up my world. They hit my soul in a powerful way and blow my mind. How could someone write something like this? I have a laundry list of songs like this. Again, artists like Stevie (Landslide), Joni Mitchel and her song A Case Of You. Recently, I listened back to Johnny Cash’s cover of ‘Hurt’ (Nine Inch Nails). I bawled. Regardless of whether I connected to it or not, that song makes you FEEL something. It moves you. So I have moments like that when I listen to a song, and I just think, “God. I need my music to do that”. It inspires me to write better.
What’s the best advice you have ever been given?
Something that’s always stuck with me is something my past writing partner taught me (through our experiences together, and his own words). It was that there is nothing stopping you from getting to where you want to be. Nothing. I don’t like hearing “no” as an answer. The older I get the more eager I am to just find a way. There’s always a way.
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians not about the industry and just as an artist?
Be patient. Put your head down, and do the work – do your best to not get distracted by everything that everyone else is doing or accomplishing. Focus on YOU, and the work that you need to get done. But, at the same time, be present. Be inspired by what’s going on around you. Understand when you need to step away for a moment, because you’re getting too attached to the art. Don’t let it negatively consume you. Don’t let it become your only identity. Just be present, be aware, and be patient with the process.
What quote or saying do you always stick by?
Patience, Persistence, Perseverance.
Where in your hometown is a must go to visit?
The lake behind my house, in the middle of July. You have to walk through the forest to get there, and there’s a dock that reaches out into the water. It’s quiet, it’s peaceful. It’s close to home but far enough that you can think. It’s a special little place
Your coming off tour;
1/ Where do you go first?
2/ Who do you see first?
3/What do you eat first?
Gnocchi for dinner. A nice full bodied red to pair. Brownies and ice cream for dessert. Hawkin Cheesies for a late night snack. It’s a celebration! You gotta go all out.
When you are at a gig, what are 5 things you cannot forget?
My piano/guitar, my innears, a hair brush, a mixed drink, and the ability to be present.
Watch the official music video below