Last January, singer/songwriter Lisa Heller recorded her most recent EP in Los Angeles. She was finally able to transfer all of her fears, excitement, thoughts and struggles into some new songs. Produced by Jim McGorman (Avril Lavigne, Sabrina Carpenter), they both co-wrote a 4-song EP that captures these struggles, triumphs and dreams. Jim said afterwards, “I work with a lot of new artists, and Lisa sees things that others don’t. She is an incredibly insightful lyricist, making her songs unique and powerful. She has so many dimensions to her voice and, as a producer, it’s exciting to see where she takes each song”. Be sure to check out Lisa Heller on iTunes.
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Mike O’Keefe: You were born and raised in Connecticut, describe your hometown’s atmosphere a bit.
Lisa Heller: Yeah, I was born in Hartford and raised in Simsbury. I’ve been there through high school and I’m going to college in upstate New York. It definitely has a small-town vibe with a lot of farms. It’s not a very big town.
© J. Stephen Conn
MO: I can relate to that, I’m actually like an hour north of New York City so some people call it upstate. Not to me, but yeah it definitely has a small-town vibe as well. What would you suggest a first-time visitor to see? Maybe in nearby Hartford?
LH: Definitely the Xfinity Theatre in Connecticut. I think it was the first concert I ever went to. It’s really cool because a lot of big artists touring start there. Sometimes it’s their first show on tour. So, I would definitely recommend going there.
MO: Fantastic. Was being involved in music an evolutionary process? Or was it something you always wanted to be involved with?
LH: It’s definitely an evolutionary process. I’m a runner and I don’t know if you’ve seen my bio, but from running I developed a breathing problem called VCD (Vocal Cord Dysfunction) and it caused a lot of problems. I would pass out over the finish line because my throat would close up. The doctor said that one possible cure, not for everyone, but some can find that singing helps when yearning. I already liked singing, I have always loved singing, but after that the singing started helping the vocal cord disruption.
Then the passion for singing became a lot stronger and I also got really into songwriting. There’s a piano that was passed down from my ancestors that I was able to get. It’s a Steinway, so I taught myself how to play a few songs. Well, actually I taught myself some cords and then I started writing my own songs, before learning other songs. I was like wow, maybe I should pursue a career in this and it started to become everything for me.
MO: That’s awesome. That’s a really interesting story, like it’s meant to be.
LH: Yeah, that’s how I think of it. Kind of like the vocal cord infection was the hardest part of my life and singing led to finding my passion and my career. I sometimes believe that everything happens for a reason and I feel like this is one of those examples.
MO: Fantastic. I heard that you’re going to be traveling to Australia soon. Tell us about the excitement leading up to the trip and the preparation going into it.
LH: It’s been pretty exciting, because I’ve been to Europe and a few other places in the America’s, but I’ve never been anywhere this far away. Exactly the opposite side of the world, I’ve been preparing for this for a very long time. I’m also going to be doing some classes there for school at the same time, but on the weekend. I’m planning on doing shows in Sydney and also traveling to other cities in Australia. I’ve done a lot of preparing and I’m pretty excited for it.
© Duncan Hull
MO: That’s awesome. You’ll get to see a lot out there. I heard the energy is something really special. When visiting a new destination, what is the first thing you try and do?
LH: First, I try to get my bearings straight, because my family is very bad at directions, so I definitely have to figure it out. After that I definitely try to find some venues. I love watching local artists or bigger acts so I definitely try to find the artists. Another thing is I said I love running, so if there’s a cool path or something I will look to run there. I also really like big open views so I travel around and see the views and the landscape, just stuff like that.
MO: That’s awesome. So, if you were traveling on a personal getaway, are you looking for more adventure as opposed to relaxing on the beach?
LH: Yeah, definitely. I actually, a couple of years ago after my vocal cord infection got under control, missed my trip that I was going to camp so instead I went to Europe. When I went there I hiked [all] through Europe. Through seven different countries over three Alps. Just looking over the Alps and seeing the view was probably the most amazing thing. I actually told people on the trip that I was a singer. We were having a really tough day, because of an accident that happened the day before, a person had to go home. But, people were like, “Wait you have to sing now!” Even with my breathing problem I was able to sing and help people get to the top. It was a 19% grade too, which is really steep. That was probably the coolest experience.
© Kosala Bandara
MO: That’s cool, definitely made the best experience out of it and another example of how music and travel fit together. If you were to perform or record in any destination where would you choose?
LH: Wow, I don’t know. Got to think about that, I love the producer Max Martin and I think he’s based in Sweden. So, if I were able to go over to Sweden and produce with him and record there. That would be probably be my dream.
MO: Nice, that’s cool. What does experiencing a new culture mean to you?
LH: Experiencing a new culture and learning about the people and their experiences is everything, because I think that the people say it all. I did a service trip to Costa Rica, learning about [people’s] experiences, even with a language barrier you learn a lot about life. That’s what makes each place different from others.
© Armando Maynez
MO: Absolutely. When you can see the difference between countries you really get a different feeling, it’s amazing. That’s my favorite part. You get to learn a new thing about each culture. Are there any destinations that you have not been to, but must see?
LH: Yeah definitely, it so cool! I haven’t been to London, and I’ve always wanted to go to there. Someday if I could go to Spain that would be cool too. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to go to New Zealand when I’m in Australia, but that would be a really cool place to check out.
© Pedro Szekely
MO: Awesome. I think the flight is so long, but it’s going to be well worth it. What’s next? You’re going to Australia, do you have any shows coming up or what’s next for you?
LH: Yeah, I can’t wait! I’ve been talking to different booking agents in Sydney. We are just going to try and book some shows as a headliner or opening for some local artists who are doing well there. That’s pretty much the plan and hopefully writing as much as I can based on my experience there.
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For more on Lisa Heller visit her website or click the single art: