Interview: Pop Princess Heather Brave Drops Dark Dance Single "Feel You Watching"
Trust us: you'll be hearing a lot more from Heather Brave soon. The New York native has launched herself on the pop scene with two addictive tracks already under her belt. "Like A Wave," her debut single, just got airplay on The Pulse and now she's celebrating with "Feel You Watching," her next single.
"Feel You Watching" opens with a simple piano rhythm gaining energy as Heather's sugary voice gains power as well. Soon, a buzzing electro-pop dance arrangement explodes. Throughout the track, various catchy elements come together for maximum radio-recipe success: slaps of shimmery percussion, versatile vocal hooks, and dance breakdowns. Heather's voice, at times sweet and other times soulful, may conjure some likeness to current pop songstress Daya's young, impassioned vocals. Singing uncertain lines like "The moment we collide / Just watching one another," Heather smoothly captures the ambiguity of those inevitable "should we, shouldn't we" situations so prominent in young adulthood. A radio-ready girls' trip anthem, "Feel You Watching" is an entrancing power ballad built on sultry synth and major melodies.
Hear "Feel You Watching" below and read on for an exclusive interview with Heather Brave where we talk about her new single, being a fitness fashionista, and crying over pasta (hey, we've all done it).
The Music Mermaid: First, can you tell The Music Mermaid a little about yourself and your music?
Heather Brave: Hey, hey. I’m a singer living in New York City. I grew up in NJ and was fascinated by The Wizard of Oz and I thought I was Dorothy singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" on repeat in my house in a gingham dress when I was 5. I did karaoke in my basement to Kelly Clarkson and Britney Spears with my sister and was acting in theater and film in NYC growing up.
When I started middle school, I discovered indie artists like Regina Spektor and Ingrid Michaelson and was immediately shocked in the best way. I knew I wanted to write and bring satisfying pop together with witty, smart, storytelling lyrics -- that has been the basis of my music. I lived in LA when I was 17 until I turned 19 and then decided to move back to NYC, where I feel like I’m always taking things in and thinking about how I fit into this crazy city, and using that as inspiration. My music is about taking ownership and doing what you know you want and have to do. I just want people to feel that [they can do whatever they want to do] when they listen to my songs and let the lyrics sink in.
TMM: You’ve found yourself in both NYC and LA, two over-saturated hubs for pop. What were the music scenes like there and how did each location influence your work?
HB: My experiences in both cities were invaluable. I learned so much from different people. In LA, I spent time collaborating and writing at Capital Records for other artists, which let me explore how other people think and how they approach a song. In NY, my producer from Nashville, Jase Blankfort, has come here and we’ve worked with this awesome duo A+A. We’ve really built a relationship and understanding of how the song flows super naturally.
I think I’ve found my most personal music in New York because it’s where I’m from and I’m writing for me and with people who want to bring my voice out and infuse it into the song. Also, what I’m releasing now all follows this theme of just going for it and doing what’s best for me, and that is so represented by my move back to NY. Overall I believe that even though my way here was twisty and roundabout, it got me to such a great place and that’s what makes my music feel so whole.
TMM: What was the production process like for “Feel You Watching,” your newest single?
HB: I went down to Nashville to write with my big brother/musical soulmate Jase Blankfort and it was my second time down there and I was feeling super confident. Jase and I were riffing off the idea of being watched and went from there, trying to capture that tense feeling that’s exciting at the same time. We recorded a demo, sat with it, and ended up fleshing out the production and tweaking the lyrics to make the story really strong during another session in New York. I think it’s always best to sit with a song and see how it seeps into you before saying it’s totally done -- that really worked for us with “Feel You Watching.”
TMM: What is the songwriting process typically like for you? Which themes do you tend to employ?
HB: What I want to write about is so dependent on how I’m feeling that day. That determines the mood of the room I’m in and that determines the tone of the song. The process is always different, though. Sometimes I’m in my bathtub and I randomly come up with a melody I like that came from when my mind was blank (happens actually pretty often) or I could be in a room with my producer in Nashville. Usually, there’s a spark of a mood or melody that leads the song. Ultimately, the theme that is consistent in my music is the idea of respecting how you feel and listening to what you want. I think it’s easy to be afraid of denying expectations or being unconventional but in the end it’s so worth it and my songs say, “do it.”
TMM: In what ways does “Feel You Watching” differ from your first single, “Like A Wave”?
HB: “Feel You Watching” is strong and gritty and darker than “Like a Wave,” which is easygoing and bright. Each song on my EP is a facet of me -- “Feel You Watching” represents a tension and frustration that I think we all feel.
TMM: What are the advantages and disadvantages of using social media as a tool for independent artists?
HB: Social media is great because it allows you to connect with people who you wouldn’t otherwise get to interact with, but at the same time it can be hard because I want my music to speak for itself. That’s really the best outlet that shows who I am.
TMM: You’re big into fashion and fitness in addition to music -- can you talk a little about your other passions?
HB: Fashion is just another extension of saying “this is who I am.” I’ve always had fun being unconventional and I love that you can choose what you want to say every day. I think it’s cool to be different which is why I always have an out-there coat (my long cheetah is my favorite) or loud sneakers. Choosing what to wear for a show is a way for me to get my mind in it. For my last show at Soho House, I wore a white romper with silver stones on it and it made the night feel special.
With fitness, I know I wouldn’t be able to do what I do with my music if I don't feel strong and healthy. Something about sweating in a dance cardio class like 305 Fitness or doing a crazy Pilates class makes me feel powerful -- that flows through my music. It brings my attention to what’s really going on with me so I can focus in on that when I’m writing.
TMM: Who are three musicians you think the world needs to hear ASAP?
HB: Regina Spektor because she was the first person who showed me conventions are unnecessary. Liza Anne -- I love her honesty and I’m performing with her this month!!! Brasko -- he’s unapologetic and anthemic.
TMM: What has been your most memorable music moment so far?
HB: “Like a Wave,” my first single, was played on The Pulse recently and I was out to dinner and started crying over my pasta. I was just so overwhelmed. I listened to that station with my dad in the car and those were the artists that I was so impressed by. To be on the station I always listened to in the company of people I respected was surreal.
The Music Mermaid: Finally, what’s next for Heather Brave?
Heather Brave: I’m so happy to have released “Feel You Watching,” but there’s so much more that’s eager to come out. My EP is very on the way and in the meantime I’ll be performing in NYC as both songs hit radio. If you’re in town and are looking for a satisfying musical Friday night, I’ll be at The Standard hotel in the East Village with the Annie O series on February 23rd! Come hang out :)