‘Never the same performance twice’

Singer-songwriter Heather Andrews on being a foreigner in India, her love for Indian collaborations and what jazz means to her

August 02, 2016 03:28 pm | Updated 03:28 pm IST - Bengaluru

Heather's heart is in the freedom of jazz and meaningful pop

Heather's heart is in the freedom of jazz and meaningful pop

Every jazz artiste has a different opinion of what jazz music means to them. For London born, currently Mumbai-based singer-songwriter Heather Andrews, jazz, as she simply puts, is freedom.

“There are many different varieties of jazz because there’s so much freedom in this form of music expression. For me, the jazz that I perform and enjoy is one that takes these old songs that are beautiful in themselves, and brings something fresh to them from my heart. I love the fact that you’ll never get the same performance twice in a jazz set-up.”

She catches up with MetroPlus after a recent performance with her jazz band Heather Andrews & The Jazz Cats feat. Carl Clements, at Windmills Craftworks.

“It’s fun being in Bengaluru. I enjoy myself here. I have a great time on stage and off it. Musically, the Bengaluru audience is appreciative and super enthusiastic about jazz. You don’t get that in Mumbai very often,” she chuckles.

The singer, who hails from South East London, lives and sings in Mumbai where she moved two years ago. She essays an impressed view of India’s music scene: “The quality of musicianship here is incredible. When I first came here, I understood that you’ll never hear a bad band. The musicians here are talented and work really hard.”

On her music experience in the country, she continues: “It’s been wonderful. I’m making the kind of music that I never expected to make. Apart from making electro pop music with Hologram 28 with Suprateek Chatterjee and acoustic music in Mudrews with percussionist Sarthak Mudgal, I’m also travelling around the country with my jazz band. I never expected to be collaborating with so many artistes and playing different kinds of music. I enjoy a lot of the culture here. And I love the food! I’ve been learning Hindi for a long time so it’s exciting to get better in the language as well.”

Will she call India her new home?

She laughs and replies: “That’s a funny thing. Although I do feel quite at home here, I’m not sure if I will ever be able to call it home because as much as I try and become a part of the culture, I’ll never be Indian. There’s always that element. I’m always going to be a foreigner here. That’s quite an interesting experience in itself.”

Heather also dabbles in a form of music she fondly calls ‘meaningful pop’. She explains: “The songwriters I really admire and enjoy listening to are people like Billy Joel, Carole King and Stevie Wonder. Each of them, you cannot really call their music anything other than pop music. It’s got depth and is something that everyone can connect to. That’s the kind of music I try to play and where I coined the term from.”

Recalling her roots, Heather says she came from a sound engineering background. “I enjoyed music and started off thinking I’ll be more on the technical side. But gradually I was pulled on to the musical side. Even when I was working in a recording studio in London, I was inspired by what the artistes were doing. Although I enjoyed the engineering, I was fascinated by music.”

The vocalist has an interesting take on how performances should be. “I feel that to an extent, we have to forget about the audience and concentrate on making awesome art and be thoroughly into the music. We need to connect with the song and deliver its emotions correctly. If I’m not doing that, I feel like I’m letting the audience down. They must experience the truth of the song which can only come through if we do justice to it.”

Heather goes on to say that young musicians often ask what they should be concentrating on. “I think they expect a technical answer. But I always tell them, you can be super talented and work hard in your craft – that is important – however, to make it professional, what’s more important is to be reliable. Be professional even when you practice. Make sure people call you again.”

On future plans, Heather affirms she will continue to be in India for a bit. “I enjoy performing with the jazz band. It has been a while since I released my debut album Songs Of My Very Own , hence, I’m thinking about a second album. I’m also working on new material with Hologram 28 and Mudrews. So that’s going to keep me occupied.”

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