ELEVEN SIX WOMEN | HEATHER WOODS BRODERICK
Have you discovered the dreamy, atmospheric melodies of Heather Woods Broderick? We recently fell in love with this incredibly talented musician and composer. (Listen HERE) Listening to her music is like journeying a beautiful, layered landscape of textured sound. We talked to Heather about her musical path, what creatively inspires her writing and how she is navigating COVID as she gifts us with meditative music to sooth the mind. For this story, Heather is photographed within Oregon landscapes close to her home wearing her favorite pieces from our Spring 20 collection.
How did you start out in music and how has your music journey evolved?
I grew up in a musical family. My mother and father are both wonderful musicians, though they didn’t pursue music as a career. They met in Bellingham, WA where my mother had a weekly gig at a local cafe bar. I started piano lessons when I was eight years old and kept studying through my college years until I began touring in my early twenties. Music was my passion from an early age, but things really shifted when I moved to Denmark in 2009 to tour in a band called Efterklang. Growing up in a small town as a shy kid led to me wanting more, and the move to Europe cracked open opportunities I never would have imagined. Touring was a way to see the world while performing music that I loved. This opportunity was so exciting for me that I never really looked back. My desire to write and perform my own songs initially took a backseat to touring with larger acts, but over the years I’ve tried to strike more of a balance between working on my own music and my love of touring with other acts. Touring is definitely a lifestyle, and not one that’s rooted in balance. It’s full on or full stop with adjustment periods on either end. In the quieter times between tours I focus more on my own music. Somehow, I’ve managed to release three full length solo records as well as some other special limited edition projects, but I aspire to become a more accomplished musician and release much more.
What have been some of the highlights of your music career?
I’ve had the opportunity to play some amazing festivals with some of the larger acts I’ve toured with. Playing Glastonbury and performing on late night shows like David Letterman with Sharon Van Etten were certainly memorable experiences. For me though, playing a small show and having a more intimate connection with the audience can be just as impactful. I’m really thankful to have experienced the full range!
Could you tell us about the challenges of the music business?
Music is consumed so differently today than in past generations. The internet and streaming has really changed the industry. On the positive, it’s expanded accessibility for listeners and artists in a big way. Unfortunately most artists make pennies at best from streaming services and touring is only profitable for some. It’s a hard business to find stability in, whether that’s financially or within your personal life. Touring takes you away from home and relationships and takes a toll on your body after a while. Some of these challenges might become irrelevant post COVID. Touring and live shows aren’t promising to be options for musicians in the near future, so it will be interesting to see how the industry adapts. Maybe some new pathways can be made that support more artists on all levels. That would be best case scenario.
You have toured a lot …how to find moments of every day balance whilst on tour?
There’s usually a strict schedule to follow to make sure everything is set for the show each day, but when time allows I like to get out and walk or jog around whatever city I’m in to experience the world outside of the tour bubble. For my own personal well - being, I try to get enough sleep, drink a lot of water and tea, read, and regularly exercise. All the things that help with travel fatigue and staying healthy on the road.
What inspires your music, your writing?
I think our minds hold music and images in our subconscious in a way that we can’t even fully recognize, so I feel like I pull from a melting pot of experience, the music and sounds that have shaped them and images attached. In the past my songs have had a narrative element that I sort of steep in imagination and a bit of mystery. I have always been very inspired by sweeping landscapes, the light they reflect, nature, and the elements. I usually have a few records at a time that I listen a lot to that surely inspire my writing and playing. For example, over the course of writing my last record, Invitation, I was listening a lot to Nina Simone and Piano, a collection of early Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush’s ‘The Sensual World,’ and Chet Baker’s ‘It Could Happen to You.’ I also like to read novels and note words or descriptions that I find relevant or inspiring.
Has this home-spent COVID period been a musically or otherwise creative for you?
COVID hit right at the end of a very busy year of touring for me. I was ready to get off the road for a while and spend some time at home. I have more time than I have ever had right now, which is amazing and also daunting at the same time. There is a self-imposed pressure to make something great with that time. I struggle a bit with that amidst juggling the intensities that COVID has highlighted, the reality that my industry will not be the same on the other end of the pandemic and the unknowns associated with that. I show up each day and some days are more musically productive than others. I know I’ll have a collection of new music from this time, and I’m hoping that I can find a way to use my voice and the platform I have to creatively express the times and more actively support positive change.
We were particularly moved by the 'song cycle' short video you posted last week on IG (see HERE), that honored the countless, recent Black murder victims in our news-feeds. Can you share some more on the piece?
I am deeply disturbed by the injustice and violence inflicted on the BIPOC community as a result of systemic racism and long standing white supremacy in our country. Coming to terms with my lack of awareness, and the lack of awareness at large, around these devastating issues has left me feeling at a loss for words and in a space of listening, educating myself, and showing up in the ways I can to be part of a much needed societal shift. The piece I posted for Elijah McClain was a cello drone I made as an expression of acknowledgment and wrongdoing to those that have been murdered at the hands of police brutality and white supremacy. For me these song cycles feel like a form of meditation, so I hope that they also bring some peace to listeners while acting as reminders that we all need to remain aware and active to make progress toward anti-racism.
Do you have anything exciting in the pipeline for your music?
I’m working on several projects at the moment. Definitely a new collection of songs with words, but I’ve been particularly enjoying experimenting with my cello lately. I am excited about compiling and releasing some of these meditative cyclical compositions.
Heather has a free stream of cello drone made for meditative purposes. This piece: A Small Journey For The Mind was posted at the start of COVID as a tool to encourage peace in these strange times.
Which pieces of the ELEVEN SIX Spring 20 collection are you enjoying and why?
I was drawn to the TARA Sweater because of the open lace knit. I default to wearing all black, so it fits seamlessly into my wardrobe. I could see it being a beautiful piece to perform in.
The MARI Sweater is a great light weight sweater for the summer months. It’s also a very versatile piece. Because it’s finer gauge it works well tucked into high wasted pants or a skirt.
I live in oversize garments so the The MIRA Tunic Dress was an easy choice. It’s so soft so great on its own as a warmer weather dress, but also has the versatility to be layered for colder weather. The little bit of color in it is lovely.
I love the LAYLA Crew Sweater. The weight makes the sweater lay beautifully, and since I tend to run cold I like the heavier weight for warmth. It’s a staple for me, as I can wear it with jeans or throw it on over a dress.
WATCH + LISTEN...
Listen to Heathers latest album Invitation: HERE
See Heather Woods Broderick videos: HERE
Heather Woods Broderick "Up In The Pine" / Out Of Town Films (See HERE)