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HEDDY EDWARDS

RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW HEDDY EDWARDS WHAT HAPPENED?

Hiya, thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.

Introduce us to you all and your musical history.

Music has always been a part of my life. I was raised by two music-obsessed parents with an intricate sound system and huge, joint record collection—I knew how to play vinyl records on a record player from a young age.

My parents noticed when I was three that I loved to dance around the house, so they signed me up for dance lessons—I spent 16 years training in every genre from Russian-style ballet on pointe to jazz, modern, and hip-hop. Dance taught me a ton about musical timing, textures, phrasing, and even lyricism. When I was really young, my mom would take me to music stores like FYE, and I built a large tape and CD collection of my own, curated from my taste on the radio.

Growing up, I also took piano lessons and sang in choirs. But when I took a guitar class in school at age 16, songwriting suddenly clicked for me, and I wrote my first full-length songs. Something about learning and playing chords in any order I wanted (unlike the individual notes played in classical piano, which I never wanted to practice) made progressions and melodies come to me.

I wrote a bunch of songs and rushed to share them on the internet where I played poorly with my new guitar skills. I also sent some of those rushed demos to an indie label, and then a popular YouTube channel, who told me I could fly out to record the songs, but then backtracked a few months later and told me I needed more work.

I was crushed and stopped writing new music for about a decade, until I picked it back up in 2020 during the pandemic. Since then, I’ve released three songs, and my fourth, “black tunnel,” has finally arrived!

What made you decide that music is a thing for you?

In 2019, my husband and I were rear-ended on the expressway—everyone was fine but it was a mentally harrowing experience that landed me in therapy, where I finally got some diagnoses for mental health issues I’ve suffered from my whole life.

After that, I realized if things had been different and my life had ended that day, I would never have pursued my greatest dream, to be a singer-songwriter and release original music. So, in the early part of the pandemic when everyone was quarantining, I built a small home music studio and took some production classes and set out to release my first song before I turned 30. I released my first single, “white lightning,” a week after I turned 29.


What was life like for you before music?

I sometimes look back on the 10 years that I didn’t write more than a couple songs and feel that they were meandering in comparison, but there were some really big highs in other areas of my life. I graduated from college, experienced professional success in a high-pressure field in which I still work, and obtained a master’s degree.

I did a lot of traveling, moved to a city where I knew no one, and built a life. Most importantly, I met my soulmate, we moved in together, rescued two dogs, and got married. But once you climb to the top of the mountain that you’ve always thought will make you happy, there’s a lot of fresh air and time for quiet reflection that enables you to look around and think about what you actually want.

Although my day job fulfills a lot of what I’d want from a standard career, I realized chasing that dream over music and a creative life was just younger me following what society expected of her. I try not to waste any time on regret because I wouldn’t have chosen any other path. I have empathy for younger me, who did the best she could, and I’m grateful for who I am and where I am at in life now. But, writing and releasing music fulfills my soul’s purpose in every way.

To me, there is nothing on earth that compares to feeling I get while writing and recording music. I find it to be an intensely mystical act that teaches me a lot about myself—a vehicle for personal expression that I can use to build a world that others can metaphorically walk around in. And I hope my art and what I’m building can speak to and help others, the way my favorite music has helped me.

What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?

When I was first starting to write songs at age 16, I discovered Carole King’s Tapestry album. I’d listen to it on the bus ride home every day, and I guess “Home Again,” is the song that comes to mind right now.

Listening to that record taught me a lot about the power of songwriting—how a good song is a good song, whether it’s played solo on the piano or it’s fully produced. It’s all about the bones, and Carole King’s songwriting is a testament to that.

Where do you feel you currently sit within the music industry?

I’m in a comfortable space right now, somewhere in between indie pop and indie rock, and I’ve built a small but meaningful following on social media. One of my songs, “cherry picker,” has gotten more than half-a-million streams on Spotify, which is more than I ever dreamed of, to be honest. So I feel grateful that, because I am self-funded and not required to answer to a label, I am in complete creative control to make only authentic art that I believe in.

I do a lot of automatic writing, where I keep whatever melodies and lyrics come from my subconscious in the moment, rather than trying to hash out the absolute catchiest melody possible but in a more manufactured way. Because of that, I think my melodies and sound aren’t reflective of the zeitgeist and my lyrics are more abstract—or I should say abstractly poetic in a way that may not always be easily understood without some painstaking analysis.

Not that anything I’m doing is groundbreaking, but I love being in that space, where I feel like the art I’m making is unique to me and perhaps something I can someday be known for. Despite that, I somehow have a solid group of listeners I love dearly, who are eager for and care about the art I release. That’s a great place to be in, and one I think I’d miss if I somehow had more support and resources like a label or manager, which often come with restraints.

What’s the biggest thing you have learned from someone else in the industry?

Until this new release, I pretty much operated in a silo. I don’t have any friends who make music and I worked on all of my previous songs alone, from my basement. This year was the first time I got into a studio with another artist, my producer Alan Day (vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter in the band Four Year Strong).

That three-day production session with him taught me more than I have learned in my three years of seriously recording and releasing music combined. Watching him build out a song, and hearing what he thinks about—from adding underlicks to surprising textures and trying multiple ideas before settling on one—was the best musical learning experience of my life. Because of that, I think my approach songwriting is a bit different, certainly better, now.

Tell us Two truths and a lie about you.

I’ve been a swiftie since 2006, I’m a published poet, and I have two older brothers.

HEDDY EDWARDS



If you could wish for one thing to aid your career what would it be?

Unlimited funds. I think the average listener doesn’t realize how much money independent artists sink into their music and merch—everything we do.  I save up $2k per song to ensure I can make high quality music.

That doesn’t account for that song’s artwork, promotion, or anything else. At the less-than-one-penny per stream that songwriters make from streaming, only one of my three songs made most of its own cost back when it hit 600,000 streams. Because of that, I’m only able to release about two songs per year. I have big dreams—projects that I’m too superstitious to talk about, but I’d definitely need more money to make them a reality.

What was the worst experience on stage?

I have not yet had the pleasure being able to perform my original songs on stage at a show (I’m nervous to, but know I’d love it from my past dancing and singing performance experience). But in high school, I was in a rock and pop variety show, and one night when I was singing a Carrie Underwood song, I focused a bit too hard on the crowd and the lights and suddenly forgot a line or so of the words… I had to look to the background singers to get back on track. It was fine, but I’ll never forget it!

Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about.

In my music and art, I frequently discuss mental health and my anxiety, so I think people would be surprised to know I actually skydived when I was 18. I was afraid of heights and thought it would help cure that fear, and it surprisingly did! Once you jump out of a plane at 14,000 feet, for a few years, everything else feels so low in comparison, even being on the top floor of a skyscraper.

What are the next steps you plan to take reach the next level?

I think I’m still in the middle of them. Instead of working on my music by myself in the basement and shipping it off somewhere to be mixed and mastered, I’ve started to work with a producer in a studio. That was my intended next step, to add the alchemy of collaboration, along with higher quality production (than my own basic level at home), to my music and see it come to larger, grander life. Beyond that, I want to save up more money for visuals to build on the world I’m creating through my lyrics and sound.

I hear you have new music, what can you tell us about it.

Yes! My fourth song, “black tunnel,” comes out on March 29th. It’s my ode to 90s alternative and shoegaze music. I hope the vibes are kind of The Cranberries meets Alvvays, with a touch of Stevie Nicks, and also a bit of something that is uniquely my own. I had really wanted to push myself into a rockier sound, and thanks to my producer Alan Day, we achieved that.

The song is about how my mental health struggles have frequently led me to isolate myself and lose touch with people—and how it feels so odd to see them again years later, whether in the grocery store or when they appear in my dreams. It’s also about how I don’t regret losing touch with some of those people, because they didn’t have my best interests at heart yet I gaslit myself into thinking it was all my fault for losing touch. I was a mega-square, never drank alcohol until I was 21 or broke any rules, and people could be truly mean about that in high school and college.

For a while, I think some of my friends kept me around just to make fun of me. As a defense mechanism, I adopted an ego complex I used as a shield to feel better than those who hurt me, or important in some way. The verses are the isolation, longing, and regret, but the chorus and bridge are where the latent anger comes out. That whole time in my life is still painful and embarrassing to look back on now. The lyrics of the song touch on all of that, but you’d probably need to read them closely!

What was the recording process like?

Alan and I spent three days recording it at his studio in Massachusetts. We spent the first two days nailing down the sounds and what we wanted the song structure and different sections to feel like, and the third day recording my vocals and fine-tuning the other sounds. I haven’t sung in front of anyone besides my family in the car for so long that I felt extremely nervous.

When I record my vocals at home, I am a perfectionist and can record a line upwards of 20 times on different days, and come back to try again another day, etc. But I was interested to see how I would perform under pressure while someone was watching. Alan made it easy—it’s not like the producer is sitting staring at you, they are watching the screen to capture the audio and we both had headphones on. So I was able to retreat into my own little world and give it my best, I think. We did about five takes of every line and comped our favorites.

We ended up keeping my home demo vocals from the chorus and the second verse because they felt emotionally raw and irreplicable, since they were from the day the song was freshly written. The whole weekend session was an incredible learning experience for me. I actually cried when I drove away from the studio on the last day, because it made me realize even more how deeply I would love to do music full-time someday and be able to afford to frequently travel to writing and recording sessions.

What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?

I wrote this song on the guitar, which is ironically my favorite instrument because I am unfortunately still not great at playing it. I actually didn’t even know what one certain chord I was playing on the demo was, I made it up and the finger positions yielded no internet results upon searching, but I liked the sound of it.

I wasted quite a few hours trying to figure out its proper name through online chord generators. But it didn’t matter in the end, because Alan converted my basic chords from the demo into more expensive-sounding ones in the final version (thanks, Alan). I’m still trying to get better at guitar, though…

Would you change anything now it’s finished?

No, I genuinely love everything about it and feel we made something unique and expressive of my deepest, honest, and inner-most thoughts. I’m proud of all the emotional excavation and creativity it took to make, and how the recording process expanded my artistic boundaries. I am so ecstatic to share with whoever will listen that I may put QR codes up around my neighborhood!

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?

You can text me at my text club number, (312) 820-8875, where I send alerts about new music, merch, and more. I also have new merch coming soon that is a map design of the little world I’m building through all my songs. It was designed by the amazing @elowyn.makes.art on Instagram. You can see it on all of my social media platforms at @heddyedwards. I’ll post updates there when it drops!

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