the Vox Q interview with heather pierce
Vox Q Interviews are short question and answer pieces revealing a glimpse into the minds of singers I know. I’m a fan of back-stories—especially about people who make music. For the inaugural interview, who better to be my guinea pig than me? Hope you enjoy it!
What did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
Well, as a small kid, I’d often say that I wanted to be a singer or a teacher. I was really into creating variety shows for my friends in the neighborhood and for me to perform in. I also played a lot of “school” (I, of course, ran the classroom). I think it’s amazing that I turned out to be both!
What singers and songwriters have inspired you?
Ah—so many! Here is a handful. Tori Amos, Kate Bush, Ann Wilson of Heart, Natalie Cole, Juliana Hatfield, Sarah Vaughan, Blossom Dearie, Julie London, Astrud Gilberto, Chet Baker, Erykah Badu, Jeff Buckley, Alison Goldfrapp of Goldfrapp, and Natasha Kahn of Bat for Lashes.
When do you feel musically free?
On an artistic level, when a new song spills out without having to think about it. When I’m tapped into the flow of creativity and the muse chooses to find me. That, I love.
Onstage, when the sound mix is “perfect” during a gig with my band—yes, it’s actually happened once or twice!
Also, when I help a singer discover something new in his or her voice. When they make a sound they’ve never made. If they’ve been “stuck” in their voice or a section of a song for months or even years and they finally break through, it’s a total rush!
Any moments of mortification along your path as a singer?
In college, my worst nightmare came true—I forgot all the lyrics to a song during a live performance. All I could do was stand there and attempt to look as if that’s exactly what I meant to do as my accompanist played the piece from start to finish. Avant-garde performance art? Right. Even more awful was that it was for “juries,” the end-of-semester final, adjudicated by the entire voice department faculty. After a few days of feeling like I’d never be able to show my face in public again, I realized that I was actually lucky to have had the experience. The simple fact was that I had survived the thing I was most scared of and lived. I knew I’d be able to handle anything that happened to me onstage in the future. Last week, Eric (Karmacoda’s bass player) broke a glass during our set and I didn’t even flinch!
How about “first-time” moments of awe?
Hearing “Motion Picture,” a song from Karmacoda’s debut album, on Live105’s “Local Artist Spotlight” was truly amazing! I’d been waiting for that my whole life and it really did feel wonderfully surreal. Also, playing my first show at Café Du Nord was great. It’s one of my favorite live music venues in San Francisco and I’ve seen so many artists I love play there. Knowing my feet were planted on the same stage that theirs had been was magical. Shooting the music video for “Turn” was also a major thrill (especially since I had to risk my life scaling a cliff to get those beautiful beach scenes!). Again, something I’d always dreamed of doing coming to fruition.
What are your creature comforts?
Lemon and cucumber slices in my reusable water bottle, quality green tea, agave nectar, avocado, cedar and white sage incense, pure beeswax candles, stargazer lilies, gardenias and dahlias, my two cats, and lots of organic beauty products.
What helps you stay on-track?
Having a plan for my career. Working on my vocal technique regularly. Surrounding myself with a collective of positive, like-minded people. My bandmates, mentors, and acupuncturist. My wonderful clients who remind me what a gift it is to sing everyday. Also, friends and family who continually have my back and encourage me to seek out my dreams. Pausing to breathe, take in the space around me, and acknowledge how grateful I am.