INTERVIEW: Heather Woods Broderick | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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The next time you see your favourite singer-songwriter perform a blinding full-band show, it’s worth remembering they’re probably not the only talented, ambitious creative gracing the stage. Solo artists after all often carry three or four backing musicians in tow – individuals who not only have projects of their own, but also the spark and commitment to sustain them.

Consider Heather Woods Broderick. For over a decade, the Maine-born multi-instrumentalist has drawn praise for her plaintive, evocative solo work; a critical consensus which swelled last year with the release of her terrific third album, Invitation. However, many – perhaps even the majority – who’ve witnessed her perform aren’t even wise to this resume – understandable, since much of her time is spent in a supporting role. “I’m very thankful to be involved in the projects that I’m a part of, but my music usually does take a back seat to other commitments,” she admits. “It ebbs and flows, but in the future I’d like to devote more time to my material – if and when that’s possible.”

While past gigs have included stints with Efterklang, Laura Gibson and Lisa Hannigan, it’s with Sharon Van Etten that Heather has become best associated, having become a key cog for the New Jersey singer, both live and on record. It’s a contribution SVE was keen to highlight when interviewed in these pages last August, praising her friend’s artistic growth and willingness to experiment, as well as encouraging her to break out on her own. “Sharon is a very prolific songwriter, and I would say that I’ve seen her grow enormously as a musician and songwriter as well,” Heather responds. “One of the ways I challenge myself musically is by playing in other bands or working on other people’s music. Sharon is always writing and demoing new material. That’s been inspiring and encouraging to me over the years.

I think the personal upheaval which inspired these songs came more from the desire and struggle to connect and find a sense of purpose in a more stationary and simpler life

I think the personal upheaval which inspired these songs came more from the desire and struggle to connect and find a sense of purpose in a more stationary and simpler life,” she continues, delving further into the process which spawned Invitation. “Being a touring musician who’s spent most of the last decade on the road, I think my perception of what upheaval means is a bit skewed, or maybe numbed. My norm has been being on the move. Certainly, in my case the shift from life on the road to settling down on the Oregon Coast led to a surge in creativity.”

Despite establishing these roots, this month sees Heather cross the Atlantic once more, returning to the UK for the first time since August’s Sharon Van Etten tour. This time, though she’s doing so alone – save for a backing duo of her own in bassist/keyboardist Andrew Carlson and drummer Dean Anshutz – with venues ranging from Islington’s sizeable O2 Academy to Durham’s tiny Old Cinema Launderette, where she appears on Friday 28th February. “I do enjoy playing a range of venues. Some of the smaller places have a lot of character and of course a more intimate atmosphere that can make for a special show. There are many venues on this tour that I’ve never seen, so it will be a learning experience yet again!”

Heather Woods Broderick plays Old Cinema Launderette, Durham on Friday 28th February. Invitation is out now



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