Guitar Girl Magazine talks with the Bermuda born singer/songwriter, Heather Nova, about her new release The Way It Feels, what songwriting is to her, and some things we didn’t expect!
GGM: You’re latest record The Way It Feels was just released and is available on Amazon and iTunes. How would you describe its personality and spirit?
HN: Earthy, atmospheric, longing, letting go, hazy-sunlight after the rain, with some cool guitars and a little banjo here and there……I don’t own a record player, but I think this would be a good one to listen to on vinyl. Lying by an open window with a glass of wine. Preferably with a view of the ocean.
GGM: What was it like working with Josh Kaler and Jay Clifford?
HN: It was just so right. I had heard other records they’d done and loved their sound so I knew it’d work musically, but I didn’t know it’d be so enjoyable – you know when pretty much everything someone plays feels like synchronicity? They had great ideas but were always respectful of my songs and my vision. They are both master musicians so it was like this self-sufficient little ship we were on – whatever we needed played on the record they could play – from drums and bass to piano, vibes, and pedal steel.
GGM: Were there things that turned out differently than you imagined?
HN: Yes, there always are. And that’s part of the magic of making a record; it’s an adventure, and I think that if you went into the studio with it all mapped out you’d be missing out on a lot of the great stuff that makes up a recording – because so much of it is about being open to what happens in the moment. I mean, you need to have a vision, but within that vision it’s really key to be open and receptive and flexible. I always have the songs completed before I go in to the studio, but the recording process is a collaboration.
“I’m a very visual person”
GGM: Your songs feel so personal and heartfelt, how much is about you?
HN: My songs have always been personal. My best songs have been the ones I’ve taken the biggest risks on, in terms of being raw and real, so I try to stay true to that. Songwriting is my way of processing life. But I try to make poetry out of it. Something beautiful out of “the every-day,” the confusing, the joy, or the pain.
GGM: What do enjoy about going on the road?
HN: I enjoy the actual shows. That 90 minutes of singing live is the time I feel most connected to ….. spirit, I guess. That’s the only way I can describe it. Everything falls away except that moment in time. So it feels very pure and it’s a kind of freedom. And I love that live music is still so important to the artist and the audience. It’s like ritual and communion and connection is still so vital even with all the incredible hi-tech stuff we have access to. Nothing can replace that experience of performer and audience coming together with music. I love being part of that.
GGM: What have been some of your favorite shows?
HN: Hmm…probably some of the festivals in Europe; amazing locations like on a mountain top in Switzerland or under a full moon in an ancient town square. Those are exhilarating. But then again, sometimes playing in a small sweaty overcrowded club, when the band is rocking out feels pretty wonderful too.
“Songwriting is my way of processing life”
GGM: Growing up on a boat, are you drawn to the water?
HN: I grew up on the sea and I’m back to living next to it, having spent 15 years in the heart of London. London was incredible and started my career, but at one point I felt a definite calling to go back to the sea. I have both a love and a fear of it; having lived on a boat as a kid I know its potential fury, so it has my respect!
GGM: At what point did performing change from a calling to a profession in life?
HN: It all still feels like a calling; the writing, the singing, the touring. It’s my profession as well, but it goes beyond that. It’s a need and it’s also the thing I feel I’m here to contribute.
GGM: You’ve been on some soundtracks, how do you like working with movies?
HN: I love hearing my music in films; hearing my song enhance the emotion of a scene. I’d love to create a soundtrack for a feature film someday.
“My best songs have been the ones I’ve taken the biggest risks on.”
GGM: How would your friends describe you?
HN: Not sure. I’d love to know! Friends have become more and more important to me as I’ve gotten older. I like nothing better than to get together with my girlfriends in the evening for deep discussion and laughs over a good bottle of wine. It uplifts me and relaxes me and gives me courage in whatever I might be dealing with.
GGM: What’s something about you people don’t expect?
HN: I just asked my son what he thought and he said, “That you were the manager of my football team, and that our house is full of bugs!” (We live in Bermuda, so they’re good clean tropical bugs, but it’s true as we leave the doors and windows open. I don’t like air conditioning.)
GGM: When you’re not making music, what do you find yourself doing?
HN: I have an 11 year old son so besides making music that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 11 years! Looking after my son and my house and my dogs keeps me busy. Being a mother gives me more joy and more challenges than anything else. It’s the biggest gift life has given me. My son has always come on the road with me, from as young as 5 months old. He loves it!
“I don’t like air conditioning!”
GGM: Obviously you’re focus right now is on The Way It Feels but what’s ahead?
HN: I’ll be touring this album in Europe in the fall. Also, hoping to come to the US in the New Year. So stay tuned!
GGM: What’s the best way for people to find out the latest information on you?
HN: My website www.heathernova.com or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/HeatherNovaOfficial But of all the social media stuff I like Instagram best, as I’m a very visual person. I like capturing something in a photo and putting it out there.