Artists in their own words: Heidijo
Where: Lower Garden District
Artists chosen location for interview: Avenue Pub, where she was tasting beers until she found one that resembled champagne the most.
Q: What do you think the role of sacredness and secrecy are in your life?
A: It hits to the heart of the reason that I am a musician. I feel like there’s a part of us that’s difficult to show, and with a musician’s medium being music, the music is that sacred part. Sound moves through all the dimensions, and the secrecy is more the ‘I don’t know’ part. It’s the ‘I don’t know’ that surrounds the spark you get when you play or create. I can tell you where I got the spark, and I can tell you what I did with the spark, but I can’t exactly tell you what it is.
It reminds me of a conversation I was having with a musician the other day. We were talking about the divine. He said, ‘You feel the divine sometimes, don’t you? I can see that you feel it sometimes when you’re playing.’ We talked about how you know when someone else feels it, and you know when someone doesn’t, and you can’t even ask a question about it. It’s a felt something.
That’s what music is. It’s that something.
When you’re playing with other people it’s like a river that you step into. Everyone is in the river, and you’re all moving together, so there’s a unity that everything comes down to. It’s interesting to see where the leader shows up because sometimes the leader is the person in the band who is having a bad day. The water flows to the lowest common denominator unless you’re choosing to be the current and you’re moving it. So someone having a bad day can bring the whole band down.
You have to be aware that you’re the current though; otherwise, it goes where it goes and you’re like, ‘Whoo. Canonball.’ [Laughing].
Before you know it, you’ve gotten sucked under. The other side of that, of course, is when you have these amazing experiences with the whole band. There is nothing like it.
Q: When do you know it’s time to play music?
A: There’s an inspiration, an idea, or a sound, or a wonderment. Sometimes it can be mechanical where you think, ‘I have to get this done.’
Although, I’m the worst at practicing. The worst. I don’t really think I need to practice. That sounds bad, but I have this theory. [Smiling]. I feel like practicing is admitting that you don’t know how to do something. If you decide that you can do something, there’s no need to practice it. You just do it. It is more about the motivation for practicing, if you do it out of fear then you’re practicing fear. If you do it out of curiosity than its playing.
Q: What’s a line you always wanted to put in a song but you’ve never found a fit for?
A: I have a million of them written down in a box somewhere, and now I can’t think of one. All the lyrics that come into your mind have to change too, and a lot of people keep the same lyrics over and over again.
I feel like the idea behind the lyric has to always be there, but the words of the lyrics do not necessarily have to stay the same. That is what makes the music spontaneous. When you change the words according to the moment, that is when you’re looking and thinking, ‘Hey, I’m talking to you as I sing this.’ It’s right then and there in that moment.
I switch lyrics all the time. It drives some people crazy. My partner Kevin will ask me, ‘Did you forget the lyrics?’ and I’ll say, ‘No, I just had to change them.’ [Laughing]. It might drive people crazy, but the heart of the song can become more real when you place the words in the here and now. So I want to adjust for that.
Q: There’s this concept of ‘flight distance,’ which is the distance an animal keeps between it and another animal to feel safe, so what do you feel like your flight distance is according to different audiences?
A: I’m not sure I have a handle on that. [Laughing]. Sometimes I recognize that I have an audience and sometimes I’m with the audience, even though I’m the one playing. There are times when I finish a song, and I’m clapping for myself. [Laughing]. I’m so excited about what I’ve just experienced that I’m right there with the audience. Then I have a reflective moment where I think, ‘Oh, I think I just clapped for myself. I think I just did that.’
That actually happens to me a lot, especially when I’m in the flow with music.
I’ve never been a busker. I’m imagining, though, that with being a busker you feel a movement that’s not in focus to you, so you have to grab people’s attention and bring them in. There’s a lot of times when I don’t know what that ‘grabby’ part is. If I’m the predator then I may have to run 600 miles to get my bunny. [Laughing].
I like thinking of your audience as your bunny.
My little bunny. All my little bunnies.
It’s funny. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that an audience was too close to me. Although, I have been too close to the music in order to express it the way I wanted to. Rather than portraying the emotion through the song, the emotion took over, and it wrecked the song. Being in the studio and playing for my partner Kevin is the closest I’ve had an audience. He will be in the studio with me, taking photographs or whatever, and that was awesome. He’s the most intimate with my music because he’s around it all the time. He doesn’t just see me perform, he also sees me practice.
I always wonder what other musicians are like when they practice. I think about what Ray Charles was like. What did his practices look like? Why isn’t there a Far Side comic of some famous musician practicing? People don’t talk about their practicing. Why is that secret? I don’t know if it’s because we make mistakes when we practice or because it’s more for the musician than the audience, but there are some heavy-duty keys of wisdom going on when you practice.
In New Orleans, Heidijo has played solo shows at clubs such as BMC, The Bombay Club, Buffa’s, The Circle Bar, Marigny Brasserie and RF’s, and performed with acclaimed musicians like Tom McDermott. She is now currently revamping her schedule to accommodate the release of her new EP with her new band. You can find updated announcements about her shows by following her on Facebook or on her website (www.heidijomusic.com).
Her newest EP, Leisurely, has just been released and can be found on iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify.
Kelley Crawford is a professor, writer, mentor, dancer, and constant questioner. If you would like to contact Kelley Crawford, you can email her at [email protected].