Heather Woods Broderick: Making Time for Her Own Art

It’s been a while since we have heard from Heather Woods Broderick… or at least under her own name (She has played in Efterklang, Horse Feathers, and Loch Lomond,...

It’s been a while since we have heard from Heather Woods Broderick… or at least under her own name (She has played in Efterklang, Horse Feathers, and Loch Lomond, in addition to backing Laura Gibson, Sharon Van Etten, and Alela Diane).  Her sophomore LP, Glider, is set to be released on July 10th, courtesy of Western Vinyl.  The album follows-up her debut, From The Ground, released in September of 2009.  The sound she established with her debut was a dreamy, ethereal brand of folk that tended to ponder the darker aspects of existence.  Glider would seem to continue such sentiments, but the songs are a bit more focused, both in their creation and theme.  The general inspiration behind the collection of songs is the very fact that Heather has spent the past six years largely in flux, moving back and forth across the world (She currently resides in Portland.) and playing in a plethora of different musical projects.  Heather Woods Broderick recently took some time to talk to me about the past six years and the impact they have on the album she’s about to release.

Izzy Cihak: So I realize that you work on a number of different musical projects, but there was quite a substantial amount of time between the releases of your solo debut, From The Ground, and your follow-up, Glider, which is just about to be released.  Do you feel like you’re a completely different artist than the one who recorded the debut?

Heather Woods Broderick: A lot of time did slip by between releases, but that wasn’t intentional. Right after I released From The Ground in late 2009, I moved to Europe and began what turned into a very long stretch of touring with multiple bands. I got pretty caught up in that, and without really realizing it, wasn’t leaving myself any time to work on my own creative endeavors. I definitely feel like I’ve grown as an individual and a musician since I wrote the material for From The Ground. Touring and recording with so many different projects, and also just the experiences I’ve had in different places around the world, have surely influenced my songwriting. Sonically I can still find a common thread between records though, so to me the development makes sense.

Izzy: How did the process of writing and recording your debut compare to that of writing and recording Glider?

Heather: The material for From The Ground came from a much different process, and is more of a collection of songs recorded over an extended period of time. These were my first attempt at writing songs with words, as leading up to that point I’d been in school studying classical piano and music composition, and was more interested in instrumental music. Glider was a much more intentional process for me. Although it took me a couple of years to collect all the material for the record, I went into the studio with prepared demos and ready to record all the songs in a few sessions. I knew what I wanted to do differently this time around, and for me continuity was a big thing. There is also some crossover though. For instance, my brother Peter Broderick was a big part of both records, with his presence in the recordings and the overall production.

Izzy: What would you consider to be the biggest influences behind Glider, whether they be musical or life events or just certain aspects of the human experience?

Heather: Life events have been so intertwined with music for the better part of the last decade for me that I suppose those two go hand in hand. The songs on Glider are all reflective. Some are about experiences I’ve had, and others about close friends or family. That said, I feel like all of these events are very relatable for most people.

Izzy: “Fall Hard” and “The Sentiments” are two of the best and heaviest ballads I’ve heard in recent years and each strike a pretty profound chord with me for existential reasons, so I’m curious: How did each of those songs come about?

Heather: “Fall Hard” was one of the last songs I wrote for the record. I wrote it on a little keyboard in my living room in Brooklyn, and it is about a dear friend who at the time was really struggling with an addiction. “The Sentiments” was one of the earlier songs I wrote for Glider. At the time I was really worried about the mental stability of a loved one. I guess it’s sort of an inquiry into their state of mind and an expression of wanting to see them move into a more stable, positive place.

Izzy: How did your recent batch of live dates go?  Any particular highlights?  Can we expect additional touring in the near future?

Heather: I did a short run of dates in the US with Jesse Marchant and his band, which was really fun. Even though it was short, it was the longest run of consecutive solo shows I’ve done in quite some time. I definitely want to get back out this Fall/next Spring for some more shows.

Izzy: I understand you’re currently based in Portland.  How do you feel about their music scene? I seem to interview tons of artists from Portland that are not only doing really cool things, but doing really different things from each other.

Heather: I do currently have a place in Portland, but I haven’t really been home at all since I started renting it in March, so I’m not really sure I can comment on the scene there. I lived there some years back as well, and it feels like a new city after being gone for the past seven years or so. Portland has always been a city that has drawn artists of all kinds though, and I think there are a lot of really great bands there right now.

Izzy: How do you hope and plan to spend the second half of 2015, whether relating to work or leisure?

Heather: I don’t read my horoscope very often, but this year on my birthday I looked it up. It advised me to throw out all my plans for the year and take each day as it comes. I had basically just made some moves doing just that, so it sounded good to me. I’m not really sure what’s around the corner, so I guess I’m up for another adventure!

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.