Name: Heidi Talbot
Occupation: Singer, songwriter
Recent release: Heidi Talbot's Sing It For A Lifetime is out now.
If you enjoyed this interview with Heidi Talbot and would like to find out more, visit her official homepage. She is also on Instagram, Facebook, twitter, and Soundcloud.
Where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?
It varies. Sometimes I'm on a deadline to write with someone and so I have to sit down and try to chanel my creativity - sometimes I'll catch something and sometimes I won't.
For you to get started, does there need to be concrete ideas – or what some have called a 'visualisation' of the finished work? What does the balance between planning and chance look like for you?
When I'm writing or gathering songs for an album, I will have an idea of what kind of album I want to create. If I'm writing and a good idea is forming but it's not suitable for the record I'm working on, I'll still follow that idea in the knowledge that it will find its place on another project some day.
Do you have certain rituals to get you into the right mindset for creating? What role do certain foods or stimulants like coffee, lighting, scents, exercise or reading poetry play?
I walk for hours and sing ideas into my phone. I feel like if you're open to it, you'll notice that you're constantly creating throughout your day.
Your decisions on what to eat, how to start your day, what to wear, we're all creating constantly! I sometimes will dress up, put on makeup and perfume and not leave the house, just because it makes me feel like I'm ready, and i feel and smell good!
What do you start with? How difficult is that first line of text, the first note?
It varies. I just wrote a song on my new record called "Sing It For A Lifetime" and the whole melody and lyrics to the chorus formed within minutes. I caught it in the forest when I was walking.
Again, I believe if you stay open, it's possible to catch an idea. Other times it can take me a really long time to write lyrics. The melody usually forms quickly.
What makes lyrics good in your opinion? What are your own ambitions and challenges in this regard?
Saying something really simply in a lyric is what makes it beautiful and powerful in my opinion. It's a difficult thing to do well.
Tom Waits does it really well. So does Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton.
Many writers have claimed that as soon as they enter into the process, certain aspects of the narrative are out of their hands. Do you like to keep strict control over the process or is there a sense of following things where they lead you?
I definitely follow an idea. For good and for bad. I can decide to dedicate a few hours of my day to work on an idea and by the time I'm finished, want to throw the whole idea away. Sometimes it goes really well for me. It's all part of being open and also a good practice in staying humble.
There are many descriptions of the creative state. How would you describe it for you personally? Is there an element of spirituality to what you do?
I certainly believe so. I have a great friend who writes songs as his meditation practice. I admire that so much. I meditate, do my yoga practice, then I feel like I'm coming to write from a clear and open hearted place.
What's your take on the role and importance of production, including mixing and mastering for you personally? How involved do you get in this?
The right producer makes a massive difference. I have been so blessed with the producers I've worked with over the years. The mix can make a song fly or take all the energy away.
The same with mastering - it's the very last step to recording but I always keep in my head, that this is what people will hear. It's so important, and I can understand how this last step can be rushed sometimes when an artist to keen to get their album finished.
After finishing a piece or album and releasing something into the world, there can be a sense of emptiness. Can you relate to this – and how do you return to the state of creativity after experiencing it?
I can relate to this but then touring the songs turns them into something else. They evolve into their own entity when you perform them live for an audience.
Then I want to go back and record them again!
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you personally feel as though writing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
That's a great question!
There's creativity in all tasks if you're looking for it. I do believe music is different in that it can transcend all else - religion, culture etc. it affects us on a cellular level and in turn can heal and bring so much joy that lasts a lot longer than a cup of coffee!