The world of independent musicians is vast, and with an ever-changing music world comes an ever-increasing variety of genres and performers. Heather Brockell, aka Heather Rae, is one of those—bringing her unique style of alternative pop music to the hot spots of Nashville and North Dakota County.
Heather has previously appeared in our Studio 701, performing her latest hit. But this is only one song from her discography. At the time of writing, she has released 3 singles on streaming platforms, with more on the way. Heather was born in Minot, but has since moved to Nashville to pursue her burgeoning music career. However, earlier this year, she returned to North Dakota for a series of tours in Fargo, Bottineau, Williston, Jamestown and Minot.
An appearance at 701 isn’t complete, however, without a visit to the Green Room… and while we missed Ms. Rae on set, our digital correspondent managed to catch up with her ahead of her final ND performance of the tour to answer some question.
Q: How has your North Dakota tour been so far?
“It’s been incredible… I mean, I was born here! We’re doing this interview from my childhood bedroom at my parents’ house – I’m staying with them this summer, so it’s a lot of fun. I love spending time with them and seeing old friends and family again. It has been a great experience.
These tours and songs may be new, but Heather’s journey with music — and finding her own style — has been a long one. She has been involved in music since the day she was born… literally.
Q: What first inspired your love of music?
“I don’t have a specific point where it all started. Both of my parents were musicians, so I’ve been around music my whole life. The point when I started doing it as a job was when I finished college and started singing and skating in ice shows. Things continued from there until I decided to start making my own music.”
Learning of her experience in Nashville may come as a slight shock to those familiar with Heather’s music and the typical country sound expected from the Tennessee capital.
Q: Can you describe your style of music? What exactly is the “alternative”. pop’?
“Honestly, if you could tell me, I would appreciate it! Genre is an interesting thing in that it’s hard to pin down exactly what qualifies as a particular style. Alternative pop, to me, is kind of like pop music, but a little more than the typical pop sounds. It could be many things… Billie Eilish is considered alternative pop, for example, or a mix of rock and pop music. To me, as I describe it, it’s like pop, but a little heavier. It’s a very broad section, and because I think my music can be a bit broad as well, I thought it fit perfectly as my genre.”
Q: In terms of musical genres, you’re currently based in Nashville, one of the biggest country music venues in the US. Are there challenges that come with breaking away from the idea of Nashville country into alternative pop?
“I specifically went to Nashville knowing that I’m not a country singer, because it’s known for another major thing in the music industry: songwriting. That’s one thing that place does really well. … they really focus on the song, and that’s an aspect that I really love, and it’s something that I wanted to get better at. Also, there are so many talented people out there… I’ve been able to meet so many who I’ve worked on songs. Sometimes, it’s kind of nice to be in a country place and not be playing country. It helps you stand out a little bit. And I think there’s a lot more pop in Nashville than people realize, too. “
Heather’s song library is much larger than the songs she publishes online. They often have to go through its rigorous screening process before entering the world wide web.
Q: How has the public reaction been to your singles? What is your process for choosing which songs to release?
“I don’t usually record a song and put it out there until I’ve been performing for a while, and when I record songs, they’re based on two main things. The first is how they are received during performances. I pay attention to what people seem to be connecting with. The rest is what I want to say as an artist – the things that are important to me, that I want to say. The process seems to be working, though – I’ve gotten good responses from people listening to my music, and even better when I play it live.
Even when not focusing on public performances, Heather has an active interest in music – especially theory and education. On her website, Heather advertises her services as a piano teacher whose lessons include vocal training, sheet reading and even the ability to play by ear. Getting a hand in teaching the next generation of musicians, she claims, is also a great way to keep them invested in music in one way or another.
Q: How does teaching affect you?
“I think one of the biggest ways that teaching affects me as a performer would be to be able to be around people who are new to music and fresh in their excitement about it. It really helps because it reminds me of how I felt when I started. It’s easy to become cynical and get caught up in the rat race, and teaching helps take me back to the early days. I guess you could say it grounds me.”
Q: What is your favorite part about teaching? Does it help you with your performances?
“When you get caught up in that stupid stuff, being able to sit down and play a C scale with someone who’s brand new to it really helps bring perspective. “
While her North Dakota tour is over, that’s not the end of Heather’s plans for now. She already has another project to announce soon, and will be working on more songs and tours in the future.
Q: What’s next for your music career?
“I’m doing another single coming out on September 2nd and I’m having a release party in Nashville to celebrate. Not an album – they take a lot of time and money.”
We at KX Newsroom wish Heather Rae the best on her new release and look forward to seeing her on her next visit to North Dakota. For more information about Heather’s plans, visit her official website.