Interview: Loretta Heywood

From Bomb the Bass to 2014, Loretta Heywood has been an inspiration. When Molly from her record company (http://www.futureproofrecords.com/) contacted me and send me Loretta's new album, I was so excited that I couldn't stop listening to it! You can imagine what a surprise it was to have an interview with Loretta Heywood herself! For all the music lovers, this is a gift for holidays! ;)  Enjoy! 

Loretta, thank you for being here with us! Could you tell us from where exactly are you answering this long-distance Q&A?

LH: In my flat in Ladbroke Grove, London. The same front room where we made the album The Boy Across The Road.

LOMW: From Bomb the Bass to your fresh album “The Boy Across the Road”, what are the changes you have noticed in the music industry?

LH: Well, since 1991 when I first came back to London, I’d say – loads, yes, so many changes!  In fact I don’t think I even know if there is an “industry” now so to speak. Record companies are no longer doing what they use to, therefore, making it harder for artists to get started. While at the same time, it’s easier artistically, as anyone and everyone can now enter it.


You can do what you want and there are no rules; charts are not based on sales and royalties are no longer there, as everything is free. It seems in 2014 “the artist has to fund his own career now, make decisions and basically do  everything. Then a rec company MAY get on board for marketing IF you have a million followers on twitter /FB etc. But in reality, especially at my age and where I am at, who has the time to spend on social media gathering followers, or money to buy them or pay for PR to get them? So it’s a catch-22, you can make great music if you have the recording means but how do you get people to hear it? It is the beauty and the beast ,very frustrating and overwhelming!  But it’s also exciting with no rules. Social media is great, the world is our oyster, but sometimes we can feel lost in it. All positive and negatives, but as an artist, there is a lot more hard work involved to market yourself and find a way to pay for it or survive. So now unless very lucky, or with a lot of help behind you and money to pay for it, your music career may be an expensive hobby…but if you love to sing or play, what choice do you have other than carry on!

LOMW: When someone checks your website can see that it is divided into two categories. 1) Music and 2) Ayurveda. In what ways have those things define your life so far?

LH: Mmm well that’s an interesting question thank you!  I started to get involved with music in the 80s in Japan, and then in 1991 I had a hit with Bomb The Bass. I wasn’t prepared and found that time (as exciting as it was) stressful for my nature. So my only tool to “heal” myself was through Ayurveda and yoga and meditation.

Then in 2000, when I decided I had to take a break from music, the only thing I knew about was Ayurveda. It seemed natural to me that I went on to study it; this and my music have now become my modality of healing. The songs I write or sing are healing; the therapies I offer are the same.

I guess you could say healing is my journey in life and choice. I have been made to do this in whatever form it comes through. Also being creative, this is my way of expressing my soul. Every massage to me is new each time, what comes through is different on everyone. The body, the canvas or blank music sheet and I create healing from there. Every song I sing my songs is different from the last time and my feelings when singing are also new every time. Modalities I use define who I am and what my life is about. “The Essence” (the meaning of Ayurveda) is the knowledge of life. This system has also helped me a great deal to understand myself and others, especially now as I’m entering music again. I find I’m drawing from Ayurveda to help me understand the dynamics of people and how best to cope!  

This is my way to help me survive in what isn’t such an easy world, knowing how to rebalance and stay true to myself. Now at 51 I’m trying to re-establish myself with no backing or management, financial help etc. So it’s not easy (to say the least) but I have to find ways to move this forward and remain healthy – so I can get on stage and sing, follow my dharma (path in life at this moment). Also I’m so grateful to Phil and the team at Futureproof (my PR company) for supporting me in this stage. Without them, we wouldn’t be having this interview!

At present, Ayurveda and music are all I live, think and do. If I’m not organizing musical work, a show or recording, then I’m giving a therapy or ayurvedic consultation. I enjoy sharing my knowledge and experience with others who are going through something similar, yet different. We all suffer from stress. We all need rebalancing and to get in touch with our soul to stay calm and focused, especially in London.

LOMW: You had a big break from the music scene and you came back with an album full of soul, jazz, folk elements, ethereal vocals and lyrics that I could only name them honest. What was that empowered you to get back to singing again?  

LH: The lyrics are from my experience and my way to heal my own heart - they are very honest, from my life and my past. I believe that what I’ve been through many have, if you have loved and lost or had depression. The music and song are my way to express, and therefore release, what I’m feeling - hoping others will relate also.

My return to music began from seeing Skip McDonald Little Axe play maybe 3 years ago in a small Kilburn venue. I loved his sound and feel for music. That inspired me to go forward and re-start my project with Andy Mitchell. I had started the album with Andy Mitchell “The Boy Across The Road” and then got stuck in how to move ahead, release an album, play live etc. I was also working and just couldn’t find the way forward. When I saw Skip play (who I knew from BTB days) I LOVED IT! My thoughts were: this is the sound I want, this man was amazing and he inspired me so much. I also asked him to remix a song, which turned into 5 songs and 5 Shades Of Blue, a spin off from The Boy Across The Road, was made. We started to put together a live show with Andy Mitchell too.

The Boy Across the Road  album is a  humble, acoustic recording and the seed to future projects. It has 10 of my best songs there. We felt good about releasing that first, then following it with my 5 Shades series and a live band. The 5 shades of summer EP was released on BBE records this year and are dance remixes of songs from The Boy Across The Road.

LOMW: You had the chance to work with music legends in the past but now that you are back are there any new artists that you admire and you would like to collaborate with?

LH: Well, I’ll be honest. I don’t have the time to listen to a lot of new music nor the head space to listen to a lot of music other than my own, as I’m holding a series of live shows. I love all the old soul music, so I pretty much play what I’ve always listened to if I’m playing music at all. Sometimes I’ll be out, hear something and ask what’s that? and then google the band. I can become inspired by the one song I hear and add my own musical twist.

I’d love to work with Damon Albarn, I think he’s amazing and want to work with him on my 5 Shades Of Red. I’d love to become involve and work with the same people I’ve admired for years - David Sylvian /Robert Fripp,Brian Eno etc – who can add the leftfield twist to the soul of music. But I’m happy to do more work with Skip Mcdonald. He has soul and passion in his music - I simply feel and LOVE swamp blues. We are working on projects Loretta Heywood V little Axe as well as the 5 shades live band acoustic soul meets swamp blues.

I’m happy with the people I work with and could happily keep working with them. Skip Mcdonald and Andy Mitchell are amazing producers and understand my voice and songs.

I do however love the X factor! There isn’t anyone I’ve seen that I’d want to work with, as it doesn’t inspire me musically - but I am inspired by the talent of some young, new artists who have the courage to get up there and sing! Some of them have me in tears they are so good, and for that I have respect. I’d love to be part of something similar, a show for talent and artists who haven’t yet defined their sound or who they are. I’d like to be part of their journey – encourage and mentor.

LOMW: While you were on a break from music, you were practicing massage therapy and ayurveda. Have you inspired also musically from this experience and in what ways has this changed your perspective? 

LH: Hard question- I live my life by intuition and what my heart says: no rules no plans. I have realized that all the best made plans take much longer than expected to execute - or just simply don’t happen or go wrong and not as planned! Hence it’s taken me 23 years to finally release an album.
I took a break from music because I had no choice other than to stand back. I worked with Ayurveda because I knew nothing else, I’m now re-entering music  because it feels like the right time in my life. I have learnt that we must only follow our heart and do what feels right and stop when it feels wrong or your health is at risk. It’s being able to understand what is our sprit talking or our heart. There is a time when both say the same thing then you know it’s right. You need to be able to discern the difference and just do what feels right. My perspective now, after the last 2 years of trying to reestablish myself is it doesn’t matter what I do, if it’s successful or not as I have little control over the outcome. As long as musically I’m happy and it feels right, I’ll do what I want and there are no rules. I’m being as good a person as I can be, inspiring  others and not hurting anyone, remaining in the moment ,then I'm on the right path and my perspective is it could end tomorrow so do today what feels right ..
LOMW: You have played and recorded an acoustic version of one of your new songs only for www.lyricsonmywall.com ! Could you tell the story behind the song you chose to play for us? 

LH: Winter in July was written at the beginning of The Gulf War in 1990 /1991. I was very depressed, I remember it well. It took a weekend to write, sitting in front of the TV and watching the news of us going to war. The song was written out of my own heartache, loss of faith in life and love and depression. To help me transcend this feeling, I wrote the song finding beauty and hope in sadness. It’s a song that still has people email me to say thank you for giving them hope at a time when they were down. It’s a positive song even though quite melancholic. It inspires a future, when you can’t see one. I guess that’s where my journey into healing started with this song.

LOMW: What should your fans expect from you? Do you have any live concerts, festivals or maybe a tour planned?

LH: Yes we have had a series of 2 lots of 5 shows, some shows well now there only 2 left this year. Next year who knows I’m hoping to find an agent now to take this forward. Up to now I have been doing 5 shows at a time to follow on with my 5 shades concept. 5 signifies my musical future in 5 shades of e.g. blue, jazz, dub, red etc. Five shades is the name of the band and also in Ayurveda 5 is used allot and very present, my therapy room is number 5 also.

 In numerology 5 is about not being constrained by convention, being on an exciting journey of discovery, seeing possibilities in existing structures and communicating with enthusiasm.

I think that sums me up and with what I’m doing now (-: The website will have all details of any shows coming up. I also will be playing a series of acoustic guitar small impromptu sets.

LOMW: To the new musicians that are reading this interview right now and they are trying to build their future in music, what would you suggest to them? 

LH: Keep going, if you love what you do. In this day and age we may not reach financial success, but that hour on stage, writing or recording in a studio is the pay back. It’s why I do it…the pleasure of art, creating and expression. It’s a great vehicle to express what we all feel deep within.

I’d tell them to it’s incredibly hard to be heard now and not to be disheartened if nothing happens right away, music is a lot of hard work. Even if only a few people hear your music and enjoy it, that’s a great start. I’d also say to keep the day job, as there is nothing worse than the worry of money. In 2014 find a way to do both, survive and make your music and you never know as Ronald Dhal says “those who don’t believe in magic will never find it

LOMW: Loretta, it is our great honor to have you on Lyrics On My Wall! We can only wish we had you in person for this interview! Please keep on writing the right music for our souls. We are here to support anything from you! Thank you so much for playing this exclusive acoustic version for us!  To all the music lovers, Soul is back! ;)  


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