INTERVIEW: The Heartland Collective

Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Thank You.  Yeah, I’ve been really good, thanks, there’s a lot of crazy stuff going on in the world, but I’m trying to fight the good fight. Head down, music loud, nothing finer.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “My Deepest Darkest Friend”?

My Deepest Darkest Friend is a deeply personal song about the demons that lie buried in all of us. We may try to tell ourselves they are not important or that they are not part of what makes us, us, but I know you can’t have light without shade, that’s not how it works. We all have a ‘Deepest Darkest Friend’ and sometimes that is all we have.  It’s almost ‘better the devil you know’ (I’m a huge Kylie fan!) I have chosen to release this song particularly at this time when we are coming out of a manic period when everyone has been forced to look inside themselves to a degree, and it’s not always pleasant. I think it chimes with the times.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

I wouldn’t say an actual one off event inspired the song more a creeping build up of emotion over a lot of years of pain. The lyrics came out quickly though.

Any plans to release any sort of video for the track?

Yes! I’m super excited about the video for this track. Although the track is a very personal expression, I decided to use an external character as a vehicle for the song. He’s an angelic anti-hero called Vex Ryan, a good man made bad. I was inspired by Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver for the tone and visuals of the video but wanted to combine a comic book aesthetic with live action. I directed and edited the video and wanted to keep Vex’s intentions in the video ambiguous, is he good or bad, both?  The music video premiere is on Youtube and Vevo on the 25th June.

How was the recording and writing process?

The actual writing process was quick but what took some time was getting the correct sonic tone for the track. It had to have the right amount of anger but not just all out power, I really tried to temper the lyrics with a stark dirty production and adding female backing vocals really gave the track a contrast I like.  I would describe the track as brutal but beautiful.

My recording process is cool or maybe crazy. Being a solo artist means you’re in control of everything but you have to find the right musicians to suit the song. I hired online musicians to play the various parts: guitars on this track were done in Ecuador; backing vocals from Canada; vocals in Leicestershire. When I’m happy with the parts I’ll take them into a studio and record my drums live. That’s the process, but in terms of how the recording went for this track, I’d say awesome.

What role does North East England play in your music?

The North East of England is integral to my music, the project’s name is The Heartland Collective and the ‘Heartland’ is the North East. It’s where I live and get my strength and attitude from. The North East tells it like it is and that’s what I like to do with my songs.

How has NIN and Johnny Cash influenced your writing?

I think they both have an unapologetic attitude and beauty to their music. I feel for me their music walks a fine line between good and evil but at the same time can be inspirational and funny, I love the contrast. They talk and sing a about real stuff and that’s what I’ve tried to to with this track

Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?

Yes you can definitely expect more coming, I would like to tie in the concept of Vex Ryan to the next two singles which have in mind. They are both nearly there in terms of recording and mixing.

Any tentative release date or title in mind?

The title of the next track could be a joyful tune called ‘Gun 2 My Head’ but the release date is something to watch out for but hopefully won’t be too long after My Deepest Darkest Friend.

What else is happening next in The Heartland Collective’s world?

Apart from the last year being quite fruitful in terms of songwriting I’m really excited about going totally 360 with Vex Ryan and his adventures. I’m producing a Webcomic to go with the music videos where we will delve deeper into who Vex is and where he comes from and we may find out why he’s so pissed off!

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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