Heather Christie: Featured Artist

Heather Christie

Heather Christie

Santa Cruz-based singer/songwriter Heather Christie seems to spend every waking moment engaged in one creative project or another. Along with fronting the “bluestronica” duo Feral Fauna, she performs solo under the name of Cheraki, sings in the all-female soul/folk quartet Sirens of Soul and collaborates with artists like Subaqueous, Alia, David Block and SaQi.

Cheraki MusicOn Wednesday the 13th, Heather performs at Don Quixote’s with both Feral Fauna and Sirens of Soul. Also on the bill are KR3TURE (a.k.a. multi-instrumentalist/producer Krikor Andonian, the other half of Feral Fauna), world beat/electronica act HeartBass and the headliner, “Afro-galactic” group The Dogon Lights.

Here are some potent insights Heather shared with Local Santa Cruz by phone while driving home from L.A., where she had been performing with Sirens of Soul and recording with producer DJ Sol Rising.

Local Santa Cruz: You never stop creating, do you? Out of all the incredible stuff you’ve been doing in the past few months, what are some of the things that stand out for you the most?

Heather Christie SingingHeather Christie: I do have to say that my recent album release for Cheraki, my solo project, was a huge marker for me, because it was not only my first full-length release, but it felt like one of those moments where you actually reach another level; where you feel like you’ve reached the next step of professionalism, growth and recognition for what you’ve been doing. Also, just yesterday we [Feral Fauna] released our single “Tincture” through Artist Intelligence Agency. That’s the first time a record label has ever taken over one of the songs I’ve written.

I’d like to hear a little more about that song. What inspired the lyrics?

Well, to be honest, we have a multifaceted relationship with our music and with all of our creations, and Krikor happens to also make tinctures. So when we were writing, I was always surrounded by his little tincture bottles: wild-crafted herbs and stuff. I was inspired by that to draw the metaphor of a person that you love very much being your medicine. So it’s a very personal song for me that’s also, I think, about a [more universal] theme.

Feral Fauna’s song “Feral Nation” is another powerful one. How did that come about?

I was riding my bike one day along Santa Cruz Boardwalk Beach Front, and I reached this point of looking over the ocean, which is where I often come up with lyrics, or they come to me or something—I kind of feel like they come on the wind and kind of hit me. For “Feral Nation,” I had this idea: I realized that I had ridden past that exact point before when I was stuck in this relationship that I wasn’t very fulfilled in, and I had said a prayer to set myself free from that relationship. I rode my bike back through that exact same location for the first time since that moment, and I [thought], “Oh, my god! This is the spot where I set myself free!” So that was the initial inspiration for that song. The first lyrics that were written to it were [singing] “This is the place to set yourself free.”

Around the same time, Krikor and I were just sitting around with a friend who said, “Why don’t you try slide guitar?” The second Krikor started playing slide guitar, I couldn’t not sing. So “Feral Nation” was a combination of that moment of freedom realization for me and then bringing that lyric to the feeling of Krikor’s slide guitar. It quickly became our anthem. I pulled in lyrics from Thoreau: I changed “In wilderness lies the preservation” to “In wildness lies the preservation”—basically, in the wildness of our spirits and of ourselves, which is kind of what Feral Fauna stands for, is the preservation of the soul. So “Feral Nation” became this anthem of preserving the soul through the wildness of the humanity that we actually are, in connection with our nature.

You recently made it to Hollywood Week on American Idol. Can you tell me a little about that?

Heather Christie American IdolI have to tell you about this experience I had two days ago: I was in L.A., and I was trying out busking for
the first time. My friend and I ended up going to Hollywood Boulevard, and it just so happened that it was on the day that the American Idol finale was happening. We just so happened to set up right in front of the Dolby Theatre where I had performed for American Idol. So it was really crazy to go from the national stage to the street and still have just as much belief in myself, my path and my artistry as I did when I was on national television.

I guess that ties into what the experience [of being on the show] was for me, which was a strengthening in the passion that I have for creating my own musical identity, for having my own creative voice and for choosing to work with the people—not only collaborators, but record labels, etc.—who will support that creative vision. Ultimately, American Idol not only was a really valuable social media marketing tool for my career, but I also learned that the inner reason for why I want to perform at the end of the day is not the externalized idea of fame, but it’s a very real connection between myself and the audience and the people that are hearing my music. I want to create long-term fans. It’s like a long-term relationship, not a one-night stand. [Laughs]

Should I take that to mean that you’re less interested in fame now than you were before going on American Idol?

It’s not that I’m not interested in it anymore, and it’s not that I was before, but I think it clarifies for me the path that I’d like to take in getting to wherever I’m going to end up. The idea of fame was a very enthralling one when I was a child, and as I’ve grown, I’ve reflected on why I want that. I guess it’s just that the reasons have changed, and what it feels like on the inside has changed. I think that can be reflected in what a friend of mine told me recently, which was that the Latin root word for fame means “to walk alongside one’s destiny.” I think I’ve been on the path that I want to be on for a while, but doing American Idol kind of dropped me into the belly of the beast in a way that showed me the edges of this path that I want to stay on. I just want to be aligned with my destiny. I want to be of the fullest service that I can be through my music.

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