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Interview with Heather Hill
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
My mom was my inspiration to get into music. She was an amazing pianist and gospel player. My grandmother passed away when I was a toddler, and my mom played the piano to grieve and cope. I loved what she played and wanted to play like her. As soon as I showed interest, we shared the love of music.
If I had not pursued music I would probably be a creative of another sort. I love poetry and writing. I am also a leadership coach because I have had a career in business and found that I really like to help people find their way into doing what they love.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I love the outdoors: hiking, skiing, running, sailing, adventuring. Nature feeds my creativity. I also love writing and free write every day to explore my muse and keep my balance. Human behavior and stories are fun to write about. Traveling and exploring is another passion. I am a mom of two teens and am active in their lives.
How long have you been making music?
All my life. I started taking piano and singing lessons when I was three or four. I got my piano performance degree from the Royal Conservatory at 18. I have performed more times than I can count. I also performed regularly in church. I began writing my own music in my late twenties and have never stopped.
Where are you based and how did that influence your music?
I am based in the Blue Mountains now but spent most of my career in Toronto. I also lived in New York for three years and wrote my first album there. Blue Mountains is an incredible inspiration for my songs about nature and healing. Toronto feeds my storytelling side and is a great place to observe people and complexity.
Tell me about your most memorable shows, if you haven’t played live what is your vision for a live show?
One of my favorite shows was my CD release of “Leuty Station” at the Drake Hotel in Toronto. I had an incredible band and sold-out show. Micah Barnes opened the night with his amazing solo set. I was so proud of the album, and my producer (Orville Heyn) the players (Dave Restivo, Paul DeLong, Russ Boswell, Eddie Paton), the venue, and the support of my musical community.
My other favorite show was when I opened for Greg Nori and Bill Priddle (Treble Charger) in Lop Lops in Sault Ste Marie. The town and crowd were so fun and sharing the stage with those two was a great adventure.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I enjoy playing at the Hugh’s Room and the Rivoli in Toronto. If a girl can dream, I would love to play the Danforth Music Hall or Koerner Hall. Locally, it would be fun to play at the Gaiety Theatre in Collingwood or the Heartwood in Owen Sound.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
I would love to play a show with Ron Sexsmith, Suzie Vinnick, Julian Taylor, Ann Vriend, Joel Plaskett, Bruce Cockburn, Feist, and Blue Rodeo…ahhh… such a long list.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into making music and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
I am not one to give music advice, as I have no idea about how the music business works. I think you need to make music because it runs through your veins. Music heals you. It brings you joy. It helps you be a better human. Do it because you love it and don’t have expectations. I would tell my younger self to write lots of songs, play as much as you can, keep learning from others, and be the best version of me that I can be.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
“Strawberry Girl” is the story of my parents and how they met and fell in love. It is about Port Elgin, a sweet love story and a strawberry beach bag.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
My favorite song to play is “Last Train”. It has a cool percussive piano part that reminds me of my Classical training. I love percussion and this song has a train-like rhythm and begs for a drum solo in a live performance. I get asked for “Leuty Station”, “27” “Never Grow Old”, “I Rise”. I like to perform a few covers in my own way.
What is your creative process, and what inspires you to write your music?
I keep a journal of ideas and recordings of musical ideas on my phone. Whether I am inspired or not, I sit at my piano and write every day. I often start with technique to warm up and then I will play some covers or just sit and explore with my voice or on the piano. I am part of a songwriting guild that meets each month. I write a new song for this gathering, and I try to collaborate with a few artists each month.
Do you have messages that you like to get across in your music, if so please tell me about them?
My messages are often about hope, peace, and inspiration for the human condition. I like heart-opening stories that are grounded and rich in imagery. I am in love with humans, their stories, their shadows, their hero’s journey. I like to observe what is happening in nature and apply it to something difficult in a human experience.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
I am planning on releasing another 12 songs in the spring. The title track is “Twilight Mist”. This is an inspirational album that mixes poetic lyrics, sound healing, percussion, and rich soundscapes. The entire album was written in the Blue Mountains during the quiet of the past few years.
How can your fans best keep up to date with you, any socials you want people to check out?
I send out a monthly newsletter. You can sign up on my website (www.heatherhill.ca). I am busy writing on my social sites, Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube.