Musician Heather Maloney is an artist known for her powerful voice, poetic lyrics, and dynamic energy. Her unforgettable live performances have earned her the title of “Artist to Watch” by Spin Magazine. In our exclusive interview, Maloney discusses the places that have shaped her, her musical inspirations, and her upcoming Side Door music series concert at the Currier Museum of Art. Read on, then grab your tickets for the anticipated performance on Friday, October 13.
What is your favorite part about being a musician in New England?
New England seems to have been a singer-songwriter epicenter of sorts for a long time, so I’ve always felt a sense of support coming up in this community. For this reason, there is a concentration of venues in this part of the country that attract listening audiences, who really seem to appreciate the “writer” part of singer-songwriter music. So many of these stages are filled with history too, where songwriters like Bob Dlyan and Joan Baez have stood when they were coming up (Club Passim, Caffe Lena). Of course there are other, very music-centric cities & regions in this country that I love, but I’m going to generalize here and say that I think there is a sort of thoughtfulness, introspection, wit, and grit to the lineage of songwriters here who have faced New England winters and been forced indoors yearly with their guitars and journals. Maybe that is why some of my favorite writing, over generations, has come from the northeast. Also, because everyone is just a bit closer to each other geographically, I’ve been fortunate to meet and form friendships with many of those songwriters who’ve inspired me over the years.
Where does inspiration for your lyrics come from?
It doesn’t know limits. Sometimes I write about the silliest, most useless things. Other times I write because it’s an emergency, and if I don’t write I’ll be an emotional wreck. Songwriting can be therapy or it can just be fun. When I’m lucky, it’s both.
How do you feel art and music influence each other?
I’ve experienced a few times how art and music can interact, and it’s been very powerful. The most obvious form of that sound & visual combination has actually been in the form of music videos, especially where visual artists collaborate with bands. Usually the visual is inspired by the audio. For example, my friends in the band The Sea The Sea had an entire song painted frame by frame. It was composed of a few thousand paintings! Also, I once went straight home and wrote a song after a trip to Mass MoCA, out near where I live in Western Mass. It was so incredibly inspiring and I’d love to explore more art-inspired songwriting!
What surprises do you have in store for fans at your Side Door music series performance at the Currier?
I’m thrilled to be accompanied by my bandmate Ryan Hommel for this show, What he brings to my songs has been a real treat for the audiences on our tour. We’ve got a number of new, unreleased songs that we will play, as well as some oldie-but-goodies. I think that the songs will really come alive in a new way in such an inspiring visual setting as the Currier!