NY Rock Interview

NY Rock Interview

Interview with
Heather Nova
by Gabriella, July 1998
Does the more confident Heather Nova really no longer fear the spotlight...
You did a huge world tour and then practically disappeared...

I think the thing with fame is that everybody claims they all want your best. They all know what's good for you and you end up ragged, empty and tired. I did. I felt so empty. Everybody tried to grab a piece of me and everybody tried to push me into a corner. That was when I realized how important it is to still be in touch with who you really are and where you come from. Especially if you're so busy that it's hard to concentrate, when success doesn't leave you the time to think.
But it must be a great feeling to have a lot of people admire you...

In a way it really is, but at the same time everybody thinks they know you just because they listened to your album. My songs are really personal and they are a part of me, they reflect a part of my soul but only a part of it. It's not the same, not the real person.

You're from Bermuda. You returned there last winter to write new songs...

I wanted to go back to my roots. I wanted to be surrounded by people who know me as a person, with all my faults and not only a part of me. I was really confused, at the same time I wanted to be surrounded by people and I wanted some peace and quiet, the kind of quiet that can only be interrupted by waves and wind. I need long lasting relationships. I need my environment and I need people I know around me.

Whereas your 1995 release Oyster sounded like you were hounded, Siren sounds like you freed yourself from some old demons...

At some point you have to free yourself from your past. Oyster healed me. Well, it started a healing process. I sang about things I never even talked about. I couldn't talk about it before. When I saw the reaction from the audience at concerts, I realized that I'm not alone. I'm not the only one who feels like that. I'm not the only one who suffered. I felt less alone and that was a great feeling.

So touring wasn't a purely negative experience?

Not at all, I learned a lot. The live gigs showed me that a lot of my songs work better live. They have more energy and force on stage.

Is that why Siren sounds rougher?

Yes, it is. I liked the way we produced Oyster. I still love it, but I think I used too much control. Everything has its place. Siren is different. It gives more room to the vocals and the instruments. It's not as smooth as Oyster was, less polished and more rock'n'roll.

But even your voice sounds a bit different now...

The boarders have changed. My vocals explore different elements and you know it was really important for me to transfer the atmosphere of the songs with my voice. I wanted to sound more earthy and I think I managed it. If you look at "Make You Mine," that's a typical example. I don't think I could have recorded it like I did a couple of years ago.

You once hated photo sessions, but the recent one didn't seem to bother you...

I always knew that photo sessions are part of the job. I still didn't like it, but I learned that it's something you have to do. It's just something you have to go through, unfortunately. I used to be angry if the photos were bad. Now, I just do my part of the job and try to make the best of it.

"Paper Cup" is a very touching song, but rather dark. Would you care to give me your interpretation of the song?

It's something you wish to hang on to, something you want to keep because you love it so much, but sometimes it's better to let it go, especially because you realize that it can't last. I think that is something that describes a lot of situations. It can be love. It can be a friend. It can be just a moment, a feeling... basically anything.

Did it bother you to talk about one of your songs? Previously, you've stated that it sometimes feels like rape talking about your songs...

Sometimes it really felt that way, but I think I found a way to talk about my songs, to talk about the lyrics without digging too deep. Without going where it really hurts.

Why did you title your album Siren? Do you have a thing for mermaids who charm and destroy sailors with their songs?

(laughs.) In history and literature the siren was always the female being who killed men, who brought doom and death to men. Of course, those interpretations were given by men. I see sirens differently. I think sirens are women who free hearts and souls with their songs. Most of the songs on the new album were written by the sea. I was sitting on the shore writing songs, just like a siren...

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