Check our exclusive interview with Platinum-selling Bermudian singer-songwriter Heather Nova, who is about to release her 10th studio album, Pearl, which comes 25 years after her breakout album, Oyster, which spun off hits including ‘Walk This World’ and ‘Maybe An Angel.’ Heather’s follow-up 1998 album Siren saw the release of her biggest hit, ‘London Rain (Nothing Heals Me Like You Do).’ Nova has sold over 2 million albums, released 12 top charting singles, played nearly 1,000 concerts worldwide (including as a main act on Lilith Fair) and has released 3 live albums, 6 EPs, a poetry album/book, and a live DVD, Live at the Union Chapel. Her newest album, Pearl, is a tour-de-force of a record that threatens to knock Oyster off the block as her fans’ all-time favorite. Heather has managed to make yet another beautiful, raw and passionate record that proves she is very much still at the top of her game. In October, Heather Nova will kick off her 19-city European tour.
Hi Heather, please tell us a little about yourself and where you are right now in your life and career.
Hi! I’m a singer/songwriter (you probably figured that much) and I’ve been making records for 25 years, which makes me think I must be quite old!…..But I’m actually feeling better than ever at the moment, on every level, and especially creatively. I’ve just made my 10th studio album, Pearl, and I believe it might be my best yet!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Creative, positive, resilient.
Who inspired you musically growing up?
My parents had a great record collection of 60s and 70s music. So, from a very young age I was exposed to, and influenced by, the likes of Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, The Beatles, The Stones, etc. Later I was inspired by artists like David Bowie, Patti Smith and Kate Bush for their uniqueness, individuality and poetry.
How did you get started in music?
I grew up on a sailboat without electricity, no tv, and long days at sea. So that lack of entertainment – the possibility of boredom – led to creativity. I taught myself guitar from a chord book and started writing songs soon afterwards. It was something that came very naturally to me, and gradually became something that felt necessary; like a comfort, like a way of processing life.
What’s the best advice that’s ever been given to you?
Trust your instinct!
Is your family musical?
Yes. My brother, Mishka, is also a singer/songwriter, and several of my cousins are too.
How would you describe your sound in 3 words?
Ethereal meets dirty.
Can you tell us about your forthcoming 10th studio album, “Pearl?”
Well, the sound is my own cocktail of dirty distorted guitars, soaring slide guitars, beautiful moody cellos, fragile acoustic guitars, a kick-ass rhythm section, and my vocals, of course . There are sonic similarities in the sound to Oyster (my breakout album in ’94) but I believe the songs are better. And it feels current and alive. As always, my songs reflect my life and experiences. There’s a song about moving on from my 20-year marriage, a song about the painful moment I have to tell my young son his parents are divorcing, but also big celebratory love songs and more reflective songs about my need to connect with the natural world.
Heather Nova - "Pearl" - Preorder Campaign
What is the feeling of releasing this album, “Pearl,” after releasing “Oyster” 25 years ago and continuing to have such a successful career so many years later?
The feeling is – grateful. I feel really grateful to still be making music, still be playing gigs to sold out audiences, still recording albums. Each time I get to do another one, it feels like a huge privilege. I never take it for granted. Honestly, when I made Oyster I thought “Wow! I got to make a record of my own songs!” and I figured that would be it!
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Playing live. There’s something very magical that happens in a live performance. I really let go and immerse myself, and feel the music and the audience. It’s a time of pure connection.
What’s some advice you could give to up-and-coming singers?
Play live as much as possible. It helps you hone your skills as both a singer and a writer. You find out what you really feel about your songs when you perform them live. Plus it gives you the added advantage, in a very competitive field, if you can cut it as a live performer.
Any touring in your plans?
Oh yes! Touring Europe in Oct/Nov, and Hopefully North America soon afterwards.
Who is your favorite actor/actress? And why?
I love Julianne Moore and Cate Blanchett. I find them both incredibly beautiful, as well as having real emotional depth.
Any loves other than music?
Lots! Being a mother to my wonderful son is my biggest love. But also: Nature, my dogs, painting and drawing, sunshine, family, home, and natural healing.
How do you spend your spare time?
Usually involved with the above!
What are 3 things you can’t live without?
My voice, my guitar, breakfast.
Five years from now, you will be….
A little older, but hopefully doing more of what I’m doing now! I will sing and write songs until the day I die.
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
I’d like to meet Georgia O’Keeffe. She was so talented and really seemed to live her art. And then perhaps Bach, just to watch how he worked.
What is your favorite healthy food?
Avocados – I could live on them!
And your favorite cheat food?
French fries with mayonnaise. I feel guilty every time I eat them, but yum!
What is your idea of a perfect Sunday?
Slow start. Coffee outside in the sun with my dogs. A day on the water with my son and my honey. Dinner at my sister’s or my parents’, with a nice bottle of wine under the stars.
How would your best friend describe you?
Fun and a good listener, (I hope!)
What is your own definition of happiness?
It’s so inextricably entwined with gratitude. So, feeling grateful leads straight to happiness. What makes me happy is being truly loved and understood, sunshine, the sea.
What kind of music and artists do you like to listen to?
Depends on my mood. If I’m sad I’ll listen to something melancholy like an old Neil Young record, if it’s a sunny day I’ll put on Bob Marley and dance around a bit. Rainy days I like classical. And I like to check out new stuff too.
What’s next for you in 2019?
I’m about to release my album, Pearl, which involves promotion, etc, then I’ll go on tour in the Fall. All of that will keep me very busy! I’m also working on some paintings.
Are there any specific charities or causes you support?
I like and support environmental charities, and charities for children. Basically the ones that help those who can’t advocate for themselves.
What do you think of the advent of Social Media?
If we look at the positive aspect of it, it has opened up communication. I like how connected we all are, including the fact that I can now connect directly with people who enjoy my music. But of course we all know the dangers of it, the addiction, etc. As can be said of most things – all in moderation.
Where we can follow you?
The usual places –
And my official website, heathernova.com
Quote: “Be the person your dog thinks you are.”
Favorite Singer/Artist: So many great ones – can’t pick just one!
Movie: The Graduate
Travel Destination: Home
Sports Team: Uhhhh….
Tv Show: I liked ‘Bloodline,’ ‘Dead to Me,’ ‘The Crown’……
Book: Winnie the Pooh