Can you talk to us more about your latest single “The Wounds We Bled?”
It’s a philosophical look back at my divorce that happened a few years ago. I often need distance from an event before I can write about it. The idea of the song is that we choose our path, whether consciously or unconsciously. Sometimes it’s easier to blame other people or situations, but if we realise we needed to go through something painful in order to grow, or to get to a brighter place, it all makes a bit more sense, and frankly feels a lot better!
How was the filming process and experience behind the video?
My boyfriend, Vincent Lions, is a photographer, and he’s done all the photos for the album, including the cover which he did as a nod towards the cover of my first album, Oyster; similar pose but with more confidence and positivity. He had never shot video before, but we decided to give it a try! So it was just us, a camera, a mirror ball and a strong flashlight. Very DIY! People think all those flares were done in post, but it was actually Vincent bouncing the flashlight on the mirror ball! The location makes the video; An old abandoned hotel hidden in the trees. I love the way nature had taken over, and the vibe of the place is that of a forgotten time.
The single comes off your new album Pearl – why taking so long on releasing this material?
Hmmm. So long? It’s been under 4 years since my last album! The time flew by! I was touring in Europe, getting divorced, writing a lot. I make a new album when it feels right, when I have written a collection of songs that I’m happy with etc., not to a schedule 😉
What’s the story behind the title?
Well my first album, back in 1994, was called Oyster. It’s been 25 years since Oyster (and I’ve released 8 albums in between) and I thought, what happens over time in an oyster? I felt like this album is a return stylistically, but also a lot of evolution has happened in between. A lot of sand, and grit and experience – hopefully that culminates in a pearl!
How was the recording and writing process?
Writing, for me, is a solitary process. I hole up at home in Bermuda and write. I don’t play anything for anyone until I have finished a collection of songs. I walk every day in nature and I live by the sea. That’s an important element to me with my writing – my connection to nature helps me connect with myself, my emotions, my truth. Once I had finished the songs, I was ready to go into the studio with a band to bring them to life. I knew I wanted this record to rock; To let go; to unleash. I wanted a band sound.
What was it like to work again with Youth and how did he come on board?
I spoke to a lot of producers about making the record. I knew the sound I wanted, but I needed someone who could help me achieve that sound I had in mind. It’s my own particular alt rock cocktail. It involves dirty edgy guitars but also sensitivity and beautiful cellos and atmosphere. Then I had the idea to send my demos to Youth. I knew he would get it exactly, because he had made Oyster with me. He loved the songs and said “Let’s do it!” So I booked a session with him in his studio in Spain, invited some of my favourite musicans, and off we went!
What made you want to have him back?
Youth is a uniquely creative producer. He is great at letting the artist be who they are, and just enhancing that and bringing out the best in them. I knew he’d get the band rocking in the coolest possible way!
How much did he get to influence the album?
It’s all about balance. He never over-produces or takes it from my hands. Just guides and suggests and comes up with amazing grooving bass lines! (He is the bass player for punk rock band, Killing Joke). Everyone involved has creative input in the arrangements. Recording is a collaborative process.
What role does Bermuda play in your music?
As I mentioned, I love the nature of Bermuda. It grounds me and inspires me. The ocean, the soft air, the ever-changing sky. I grew up here, so there’s that sense of timelessness for me.
How much did Spain get to also influence your writing on this record?
I went to Spain after I had written the songs, so it didn’t influence my writing. The recording studio was in a dramatic location in the mountains. It’s always wonderful to record in the middle of nowhere with no distractions. The view from the live room was breathtaking, and I do believe that filters into all of us when we perform.
This being your tenth album, a milestone on its own, did you try to go back into your roots?
As I said above, I revisit the rock of my early 2 albums Oyster and Siren. It just felt like a natural return. Not to duplicate, but just to reference that sound. Every album should be a departure. My last one was more folk/americana, and it was time to do something different!
How would you say this record would somehow mirror the likes of Oyster?
In its approach – it feels like a band performing together. I wanted to keep it raw and visceral and vulnerable and big and beautiful all at the same time!
Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
I find inspiration in all aspects of my life. For me, songwriting is a way of processing emotions, events etc. Thematically, there are songs about falling in love again in a big way, a song to my son, a song to my sister, and a song, “Rewild Me,” about the very essential connection I have to the natural world. “Rewilding” is a term that’s been recently coined due to humans getting so far removed from our fundamental connection to nature. Because of our urban, technological lifestyles we feel lost somehow, ungrounded. Nature is healing, and our souls are crying out for it! It’s one of my favourites on the album.
Any plans to hit the road?
My European tour starts in October, and I hope to come to the US in early 2020. Stay tuned!
What else is happening next in Heather Nova’s world?
I play a festival in Europe later this month, and then I’ll be doing promo and rehearsing for my European tour. I’m also doing a lot of painting, and I’m working on re-releasing my book of poems.