Thursday, July 23, 2020

HEATHER EDGLEY Written Interview 7/23/2020


The following interview was started right before the virtual tour with AL1CE got going.  Since Heather was a guest on the tour - this written interview understandably got delayed a bit.  

Heather's EP comes out on July 25th as does her virtual show from the High Dive in Seattle.  Check both out if you can!

Connect with EA:  Social Media Links HERE!


(Brandon Witzel (c))

Eclectic Arts: Hi Heather! First things first - how did you fare with your schedule the past few days? (Heather and I had a conversation about schedules during this pandemic, how hard it was to keep on track, etc)

Heather Edgley:   Hi Mark!  Keeping to a schedule has been an ongoing challenge for me during quarantine because I don’t have a lot of external structure and my days are virtually free form. I want to be able to utilize this free time to be productive, enjoy my hobbies, take time for myself, and accomplish a lot with my music but I have gotten somewhat stuck on a very late, night owl schedule, which has been difficult to change. I try to force myself awake at a reasonable morning hour but when there’s nothing really pressing, pressing snooze and continuing to sleep often is more enticing than getting up to be super productive. I’m always able to knock a few things off my to do list each day but there are a lot of distractions when I’m home all day. I get a huge sense of fulfillment when I do finally get in a really productive groove because when I focus, I really get in a zone and just go for hours. It’s sometimes difficult to jumpstart the work but once I’m doing it, I can just take off.

EA: Tell me about your background please. Where were you born, raised, school, early music involvement, etc,

HE: I grew up in Bellingham, Washington and moved to Seattle in 2010 to attend the University of Washington.

Music has always been a very instinctual outlet for expressing my innermost feelings and emotions and helps me process through experiences in my life. I started writing lyrical songs as early as age 7 but I enjoyed singing even earlier than that. Singing and writing songs was just a natural part of my day. I used to make up songs and sing while I was doing chores or playing games. My family also very much enjoyed music. I have many memories dancing around the living room with my mom to Shania Twain and Brittney Spears. My dad also enjoyed playing guitar and singing and would often sing my siblings and I to sleep. When I was twelve my mom gifted my dad a keyboard for Christmas because of his interest in music. I played around on the keyboard frequently and ended up teaching myself how to play at a basic level. I didn’t learn how to read or write music but I taught myself how to play by ear and putting chords together to write songs came somewhat naturally to me. Since I had been songwriting for a few years prior to playing piano, this became the point where I started putting my lyrics to chords and created actual songs. I also began writing piano compositions at this age.

I didn’t have any formal music training growing up. I was in band in middle school and played clarinet but that’s basically the extent of formal training I experienced. I continued singing, writing, and playing music all through grade school and into college but did not sing or perform my songs publicly. I performed my original piano compositions at a few school talent shows but at the time I was not confident enough to sing my songs for an audience.

EA: I believe the first time I saw you perform you were working with Tobias The Owl as a background singer. How did you become involved in the music community here in Seattle? You've worked with many musicians as well as your own solo work.

HE: I actually met Tobias the Owl several months before I had even started playing my first open mics. I was invited to a show at Tractor Tavern in Seattle by my roommate at the time and I saw Tobias the Owl perform. I really enjoyed his music so I talked to him after his set and ended up telling him that I sing and song write as well. He asked me to send him one of my demos and after I did, he asked if I wanted to sing on his album. I was very excited about this opportunity so I jumped on it. He asked me to sing background vocals on his track “Broadest Akimbo”, which is a beautiful song. I tracked on his song and I actually didn’t run into Tobias the Owl again for about a year when I found myself at an open mic he was hosting. He’s become a good friend of mine over the years and it’s really cool to look back at how he was one of my first contacts in the local music scene and how the circumstance began somewhat randomly.

I first stepped into the local music community by playing at open mics. I met another local artist Bug Hunter early on and he and I decided to play our first open mics at the same time. Stone Way Cafe was where we both performed our first open mics and we went basically every week for a while. I had major stage fright when I first started performing but the other performers and the audience were always so kind and supportive. I discovered some other local open mics and for a while I was frequenting 3 sometimes 4 open mics a week. After regularly performing at the same open mics I started seeing familiar faces and made a lot of friends with other musicians who were starting out and playing solo. I honestly feel like I grew up in this Seattle music scene with a lot of other truly amazing and talented artists. We started out as solo musicians playing open mics. We then evolved to getting our first actual shows from these open mics at local coffee shops and bars. Then we started playing our first venue shows and formed bands and even shared bills together with our full bands at great local venues. It’s been a journey and a climb but the local music community really feels like a family.

I too started as a solo artist, singing and playing the keyboard. I met the members of my initial band mostly in the music scene and through friends and a few members have come and gone since then but I still play with a solid 5 member band right now and I couldn’t be happier. I’m really grateful for all the wonderful musicians I’ve met and had the pleasure of playing with. My current band members are Andrew Gemkow on bass, Chris Lovings on drums, Shaun Crawford on guitar, and Dylan Mines on the Erhu and lap steel.

EA: From what I've seen of the local music community, particularly the singer songwriters, there is an actual sense of community where the artists support one another. Is that what you've found? What in your opinion fosters this as there are other local scenes that are not nearly as supportive of one another.

HE: I’ve definitely had the experience that the Seattle local music community is incredibly supportive. It truly feels like a family. I’ve grown up in the scene with many of the local artists I know where we started out as solo musicians playing open mics together, then started doing our first small shows together at coffee shops and open mic venues, and then started playing our first venue gigs, built bands and shared bills together with our bands. Every local show I attend I see so many musicians I know. We’re all out supporting each other and it all feels very genuine and not just self-serving. I feel like the scene is full of genuine friendship and appreciation for one another. I feel like there’s this general feeling that we want each other to succeed because we really care about each other and we know that we all can succeed and if one of us is succeeding, it doesn’t hinder anyone else but actually lifts up the whole community. There is so much talent in Seattle. When I’m attending shows it’s not just to support the friends I’ve made but it’s also because I genuinely enjoy their music. I haven’t been a part of other music communities outside of Seattle but from what I’ve heard, Seattle is quite unique and much more supportive than other places. I feel very lucky to be a part of the Seattle music community and I really miss everyone right now during this long separation from quarantine. I hope everyone is thriving and staying well.

EA: You've spearheaded the Summer Circus shows at the Tractor Tavern and at The Crocodile. How did you come up with this idea and what can you tell me about the shows?

HE:  The first themed show I was ever a part of organizing was a collaborative event I did with another local musician Sarah St. Albin. Her and I organized a Halloween themed event called “A Night in Neverland”. Using a themed show to cultivate unique promotion was very innovative at the time and really helped our show stand out. I’ve always enjoyed themes, costumes, and found this to be a great way to continue doing shows and events.

I want people to know when they go to a Heather Edgley show it will be about the music, it will be exceptionally well orchestrated, it’ll be unique, it will be a full-on experience and it will be a blast.

I came up with the idea for a circus themed show back in late 2017. I put months of planning into the event because I knew I’d need a larger venue, a sizable budget to be able to hire and pay circus performers and a lot of promotion in order to reach the desired attendance numbers for larger venues. At the time in 2017 I had a roommate who was a circus performer and she helped connect me with some other performers. I did a lot of research to find great local bands to join the lineup for both the 2018 Summer Circus at the Tractor and the 2019 event at The Crocodile. Both shows were great successes and my goal is to continue this event each year. I had plans for a 3rd Annual Summer Circus in 2020 but Covid-19 unfortunately interrupted those plans. Hopefully I’ll be able to host an event in 2021.

I have organized numerous themed live music events over the past couple years including a spaced themed show, two Summer Circus themed shows which involved 4 live bands, a fully decorated event, and live circus performances including acrobats, aerialists, light poi performers and more. As well as partnered giveaway events. Just this year I organized an event with the theme being a celebration of love with an emphasis on self-love, called LoveFest. At this event there were 4 live bands, an in-house masseuse, a fashion guru, macramé, and many giveaways including a free massage gift card, free haircut gift card, mani/pedi gift cards and more. I, along with the other bands turned this live show into a local venue festival of sorts.

I really want my shows to stand out and feel like a full-on experience. I want to engage audiences with our music, captivate them with our performances, and make the overall experience of the show very memorable and exciting.

EA: You have a new EP coming out soon. What can you tell me about it?

HE: My debut EP, titled Losing My Mind, is a 6 track EP that will be released digitally on July 25th. Our band will be performing a live stream that’s starting at 8PM at the High Dive in Seattle. The event link is here: Ticket proceeds will benefit the social justice organization Color of Change.

The songs on this EP encapsulates a pivotal time in my life where I struggled to break free from internal and external expectations and judgments and is a movement into fully embracing and accepting myself, my desires, and my dreams and aspirations. The themes of the songs cover my struggles with depression, and the ups and downs of unhealthy and difficult romantic relationships, as well as facing all of the people who doubt and criticize you and tell you your dreams and goals are unreachable. The EP highlights a lot of struggles and low points but also is a story of the journey through those hard times and getting ourselves back out.

I didn’t want to filter myself at all when writing these songs and I think the raw authenticity shines through. I wasn’t trying to prove a point or present myself in a certain light. I just wrote how I felt and I hope people can connect with the vulnerable nature of my writing.

Another overarching message in this EP is that even when things are extremely difficult, don’t give up on yourself, don’t give up on your dreams, take breaks when you need to rest and recoup, but then always keep pushing forward.

EA: I know you've performed solo but you also perform with a full band. Where did you find your bandmates and how would you describe each of them?

HE: I feel really great about my band. I have an incredible group of talented individuals and I feel so lucky to have them contributing to my songs with their immense talents. I write the songs and core melodies but I am able to give my band mates quite a bit of creative freedom in writing their parts on top of the core song because I really trust their instincts. We’ve got a very goofy and fun vibe in our band. My band members are not just exceptionally talented, they’re also great people whom I’m lucky to know and call friends.

Andrew Gemkow, who is my band’s bassist, is the only remaining original band member. He joined the band at its origin back in June of 2017. He’s very spunky and lively on stage. I actually met Andrew because he was the bassist of Tobias the Owl. I was in awe of his bass skills and was totally ecstatic when he approached me and said he was familiar with my music and would love to play with me if I was looking for a bassist.

Chris Lovings, our band’s drummer, was actually referred to me by one of my best friends when she heard I was looking for a new drummer. Chris has been with the band since December of 2018 and is an absolute joy to have in the band. He’s an incredible player and very quick and creative. He often has great ideas on how to approach songs and our setlists. A band’s drummer is really important in connecting the group rhythmically, which Chris does but he also keeps the band in sync both rhythmically and energetically.

Dylan Mines, is our band’s Erhu and lap steel player. He joined the band back in early 2019. I was looking for some string players and Dylan was recommended to me by a friend. I saw him play live with the Humble Urchin at the Rendezvous Theatre and approached him to see if he was interested in collaborating with other musicians. He agreed to play with us for the Belltown Bash in March of 2019 at The Crocodile, Seattle and I’m super grateful he’s stuck with us since then. Dylan brings a very unique element to the band that I love. Strings are very expressive and the Chinese violin/ Erhu that he plays has such an interesting timbre. The melodies that Dylan writes become very iconic and memorable in my songs and I feel so fortunate that he wants to share his talents by adding to my music.

Shaun Crawford, our guitarist, is the newest member of our band. He joined us last Fall around September of 2019 and performed his first show with us at our Astronauts & Aliens event at The Sunset in Ballard. Shaun was a lucky find because he is so creative, such a skilled player and the kind of person who can instantly put anyone in a great mood. He’s so kind and joyful and the band really jells in a new way since he’s joined the band. Shaun responded to an ad I posted on Craigslist when we were looking for a new guitarist. He sent me a link to his Instagram and I was instantly intrigued and hoped he’d want to join the band. Shaun is exceptional at improvising melodies and keeping true to the tone of my songs.

EA: I feel based on the governor's four stage/phase plan to re-open the economy, the opportunity for local artists is going to be unprecedented this summer or early fall. This will be the first time where there is no other competition for the consumer's dollar or time. No sports, no small or big tours (yet), no theatre, no dance, etc. The options for a live event fan will be restricted to local shows for the most part. What are you working on as a local artist to capitalize on this rare opportunity?

HE: We’re definitely in an unprecedented time right now and I think it’s been a large adjustment for everyone. For me this time of staying at home has been a great opportunity to write more and work on at home recording. There was a lot of uncertainty when the quarantine first started but it does seem like it might be awhile before live shows with audiences are a thing again, at least at venues. It’s nice that we still have digital platforms to connect with fans and each other and that inspires more unique content. I created a quarantine video with my band where we each played our parts in my song “Out Of Reach” in our prospective homes and I cut that all together in one video. It turned out really cool but I do really miss engaging with others in the local scene in person. One of the biggest way I engaged with the local music scene was in person going out to local shows, and organizing and performing shows of my own. It has actually been difficult feeling limited to just social media and virtual connections but I am grateful for the opportunities to still connect with others.

EA: I know most of the artist community work day jobs to make ends meet. What do you do to pay the bills so to speak? Is it something you enjoy or is it just "a job"?

HE: The past few years I had been working part time as a legal assistant basically just working enough to make ends meet and then putting the rest of my energy and attention into music. That was really great because music is my priority. Late last year I started working a full-time job outside of music to gain a little more financial stability and save some money, which was a smart move at the time. I’m not currently working and likely won’t find a new day job for a bit because of Covid-19 but once things open up more again, I’ll likely go back to working just to make ends meet and keeping my focus on music. I really want to keep pushing my career forward and find avenues to make music profitable.

EA: Thank you so much for taking the time to do the interview.

HE: Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview with me!

I want to end by speaking to other artists out there who may feel defeated at times or like their dreams are impossible. I have struggled with both those feelings and thoughts many times on my journey and I’ve felt a lot of external pressures that tell me pursuing music is not a viable path but I’ve never been happier than I am when I’m pursuing my passion and performing my music. I want to encourage others to have the audacity to believe in themselves because this is your life not anyone else’s and living your truth, creating your music and your art not only enriches your life, it enriches the lives of those around you. You never know who will be positively impacted by you, your work, and your message, so keep being you and keep working towards your dreams.

(Artwork by Hannah Edgley)



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