Check out this exclusive interview
When did you decide that a career in music was for you?
I didn’t ever think that I would have a career in music. It kind of just happened. When I was in high school, I turned to songwriting as a form of therapy, but I looked at that more as a way to cope. After college I needed a change and wanted to be in warmer weather, so I decided to move to LA, and I ended up just stumbling into doing music as my career.
Who are your musical inspirations and why?
Growing up, my parents had me listen to groups like The Fray and Coldplay, so that type of music became my original inspiration. While in high school I fell in love with Christina Perri, Colbie Caillat and Sara Bareilles, who became big influences on my songwriting style. More recently, I’ve been inspired by singer/songwriters like Lewis Capaldi and Sasha Sloan, as I love how relatable their lyrics are.
Can you tell me 3 things about yourself that people might not already know?
One reason I fell in love with singing was that while running XC in high school, I was diagnosed with VCD (Vocal Cord Dysfunction) and my doctor told me to sing or hum during cross country races to relax my vocal cords.
The first song I sort of wrote was when I rewrote “Hey Soul Sister” to “Hey Grandmother” for my grandma’s birthday when I was 12.
I have anxiety and music has helped me cope with it! It’s one reason I fell in love with writing songs.
What song of yours best describes you and why?
I think “Figure It Out” describes me especially now, because I am constantly trying to figure out who I am and who I am supposed to be. I tend to question a lot of things about myself and the world (it can get very philosophical in my brain). “Figure It Out” was focused on my trying to figure out who I am as an artist and a person.
What has been the best gig you have done to date and why?
The best gig I did to date was when I performed at CADA, a high school convention in Pasadena. It was definitely an amazing experience because all of the students held up their phone camera lights, and students came up to me afterwards with tears in their eyes saying how my songs had helped them. This reassured me that I should keep doing music.
If you could perform a gig at any venue where would it be and why?
Ever since I was little I dreamed of performing at Bowery Ballroom in NYC. It is the perfect sized venue as it still feels intimate yet it’s a big venue! The Troubadour in LA is a dream of mine as well!
What has been your best achievement to date and what would you like to achieve in the future?
I think I’m most proud of releasing my debut EP. I would love to release multiple albums and tour worldwide someday.
Tell me a story from backstage or after a gig?
I met Rachel Platten after I opened for her at a small gig in my hometown. She was the sweetest and told me to just keep working hard and it will all work out. It was super inspirational to hear from someone as positive and talented as her.
What do you like best about being a musician and why?
I love that as a musician I am able to take any negative thoughts and stress and turn it into songs and lyrics. It has really helped me cope, and it is super rewarding to see the songs help listeners through things as well.
If you were not in the job you are now what would you be doing?
I’m not sure what I would do exactly, but I do know that ever since I was in 3rd grade I wanted to do what I could to help others. My mom always tells the story that I would pace around the living room saying “how can I change the world? Really I mean it!”. So I’m sure that I would be working in the nonprofit and mental health spaces, as helping others especially with mental health is a huge passion of mine.
What has been the best gig you have been to as a fan and can you tell us about it?
This year I saw Dermot Kennedy perform at The Wiltern in LA. It was a pretty amazing show- it was super focused on Dermot’s amazing vocals, accompanied by a simple band arrangement and backdrop on stage, which let him truly shine. I loved that there weren’t a ton of extra bells and whistles, yet it was still incredible.
What would your ideal festival line up be and why?
I would love to play a festival with Lewis Capaldi, Sasha Sloan, Adele, Billie Eilish, and Julia Michaels. I think they are all super talented and it would be fun to play a festival with these powerful voices and incredible performers.
What would you say is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
My good friend (and an incredible songwriter) Adeliz has given me advice I have been taking to heart. She told me that I should always follow my gut when it comes to music, and that I should live with love and not with fear. She has helped me stay true to myself, stay positive, and not stress too much.
What things make you happy and what things annoy you?
Being outside, writing music (surprise!), planning vacations I may never go on, traveling, hanging with friends, going on crazy adventures, dogs and my family all make me super happy. Things that annoy me are when people chew food or gum really loudly (lol) or if people are not nice and accepting (aka pettiness).
What things do you like to do when you are away from music?
I usually do the things I mentioned that make me happy when I’m away from music. I just love experiencing new places and things!
Do you think social media and the internet are a good thing in the music industry?
I think social media and the internet have had both positives and negatives in the music industry. Even though people are buying less music and streaming instead, this has also given independent artists an opportunity to build their fan bases and stay true to themselves without signing their souls to record labels. It has become easier than ever to build a following directly, through social media, which is pretty cool!
How important do you think you look and image is when it comes to being in the music industry?
I think a specific look used to be really important in the industry a long time ago (skinny, white, tall etc), but now I think that people just love authenticity. So instead of having a specific look, I think it is important to understand who you are as an artist, while staying true to yourself.
Can you tell us about any tattoos you have and the significance of them to you?
I don’t have any tattoos but I really want to get my first one :).
If you run the country for a day what would you change about it and why?
It would be hard to get a lot done in just one day, but as a leader I would definitely encourage kindness and positivity!
What would your ideal day consist of?
Hmm my ideal day would definitely start off with brunch (favorite meal by far), going to the beach with friends, maybe stopping in another country like Paris, and finishing off by playing a sold out show :)!
What has been your experience during the Covid 19 situation? Can you tell us how this has affected you personally, how it has affected you professionally and maybe a story from this time or a message for people out there?
I ended up flying back home to Connecticut for the time being. It has actually been kind of nice to be home with my family, even though I miss my friends and life in LA. Obviously no shows are going on right now, but I’ve continued to have writing sessions over Skype and on the piano I grew up playing. I was able to play my song “Closure” for a virtual prom, since many students are unable to find closure right now- from prom to graduation. I hope that everyone can stay positive during this challenging time! For anyone reading this, I know this is a mentally tolling time- if you are feeling depressed or anxious, make sure to reach out to and talk with those you are closest to, and a medical professional if need be!
If you could say one thing to your fans what would it be and why?
I would say please stay true to yourself, and if you are going through a hard time, just remember that it all works out in the end, and if it is hard right now, it will get better soon. I care about you and people care about you!
How would you answer the question Who is Lisa Heller and what are the differences between you as a music artist and you away from music ?
I’d say I’m still trying to figure out who Lisa Heller is. What I do know is I am just your typical girl, who happens to write music. I am trying to learn who I am and who I am supposed to be, and along the way, I have written songs that document that journey for me. I don’t think there is much of a difference between me as a music artist and me away from music. I want to be as authentic as I possibly can in general and as a musician, so I don’t think it is necessary to differentiate between the two. I am Lisa Heller, a sister, a daughter, a past student, mental health advocate, I get anxious, I make mistakes, I don’t know what I’m doing sometimes. But I also love to write music, and songwriting is helping me along the way!
What was the first record or song you purchased and why?
The first song I purchased was “You Found Me” by The Fray. My parents introduced me to this type of music, and when I was 12 I was finally allowed to purchase music on iTunes. This was the first song I bought because I loved the instrumentation and how universal the lyrics are.
What would say to someone thinking about becoming a musician and getting into the music industry?
I would say be ready to work really, really hard, know who you are and don’t let anyone ever try to change you!
If you could collaborate with any other band/singer or musician who would you choose and why?
If I could collaborate with anyone, I’d work with Lewis Capaldi as I think he is an incredible talent- both from a songwriting perspective and his voice. I love how he stays authentically true to himself versus following the “trends”. It would be amazing to collaborate with him!
If you could have written one song from history which would it have been and why?
If I could have written any song, it would have been “Someone Like You” because it is both modern and classic, the melody is genius, and it just hits the heart every time.
What things make you uncomfortable?
I don’t like when people are focused on drama or pettiness!
Where can we hear your music at the moment and what do you have coming up in the future?
You can hear my music (including my new debut EP, “The Lisa Heller Project” on all music services- from Spotify to iTunes to Youtube if you search Lisa Heller. I’m also on instagram, twitter, facebook at @lisahellermusic ! I have new videos coming out soon, and am working on another EP as we speak!
If you wrote a book about yourself what would it have in it?
If I wrote a book about myself, I would definitely talk about the struggles I went through, and how music saved me. Finding my passion in music was life changing and so helpful, so I would talk about how finding that “thing” that makes you tick is so helpful. The book would also include my songwriting process, and how I got to where I am today! I’d also talk about mental health and how it shouldn’t be stigmatized!
What has the rest of the year got in store for you?
I plan to release another EP before the end of the year, as well as collaborate with other artist friends of mine. Once Corona clears, I also hope to play shows and plan a tour!! My debut album should be coming soon too!