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Mike Ragogna, Contributor
Trafficbeat Entertainment, Music Biz Vet

In Parallel, Boom Boom And Woodland Echoes: Conversations With Dhani Harrison, RedOne, And Nick Heyward, Plus Meklit And Common Deer Exclusives

10/27/2017 11:05 am ET Updated Oct 27, 2017

A Conversation with Nick Heyward

Mike Ragogna: Nick, your new album Woodland Echoes is beautiful. I didn’t realize you’ve been following a more spiritual, nature-based life.

Nick Heyward: The connection to nature probably happened to me because in 1998, after being on Creation Records, I had a week where I was off Creation Records, off publishing, my relationship with my girlfriend ended, and my mom was told that she had emphysema and she didn’t have long to live. All this happened in a short span of time. I was kind of tearing my hair out and feeling lots of pity and anger and angst. It was a time of deep struggle, and then one morning—the 30th of April, 1998—I just fell onto the kitchen floor at about five o’clock in the morning. I was lying there after tearing my hair out and writing, “Bastard! Bastard career! Bastard f**king everything!” So there I was, lying on the floor suddenly in this blissful place, feeling like I had just let go of everything. A thunderbolt of lightning had come down and split through my life. In hindsight, I know exactly what it was, but at the time, I didn’t know. I just felt amazing. Blissful. I was thinking, “God, it was only minutes ago that I was feeling the opposite, what on Earth is going on?”

I got up and I started crying tears of joy and I was writing. It was like Nick Heyward had completely disappeared. He was just gone, and all the reasons for him and all the struggle and all the angst against, the reasons why the things weren’t happening. The girlfriend, it didn’t really matter—bless her, she was just moving on. I was thinking, “Who on earth is this person that’s so opposite?” It felt like opposite at the time, but in hindsight, I know it wasn’t opposite, but I was at the beginning of a blissful time. That then became being connected to nature.

I remember going to the bookshop and I couldn’t find out anything on it. I kept looking up “Falling onto your kitchen floor in a state of bliss,” and there wasn’t anything on it. The internet wasn’t around either. I remember there was one book that I found and I read the beginning; it said, “The origin of this book.” It was The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle. That’s the closest I could come to explaining what had happened. I thought, “Great! Somebody else! Wow, this is amazing.” I was telling my friends at the time and they asked, “Are you okay? You seem completely different. Is everything all right?” I couldn’t help it. I just felt like I was in love. I would cry at the sky because it was more turquoise than before. I would cry at the clouds because they were even more gray, and the gray was more beautiful than before. Everything was just more beautiful. The guy in the shop across the road, he was Indian, and I suddenly started to get into deep conversations with him about the universe. Before, all I was doing was buying a Mars bar from him, and here I was getting into long discussions. There was a plumber who came around to unblock my sink and we talked for the rest of the day on how the universe is colliding with itself. Normally, he’d just go in and go. Everything just shifted. I was connected to nature so deeply it was almost like I couldn’t contain myself being around it. I’d go to a forest and it was like it was so pumping, so alive, and that’s how I felt.

That’s why music stopped. I didn’t really do much for a while because I was just living completely content for a year, two years. The music world wasn’t really favorable to an artist like me. I remember when Creation ended, even Alan McGee said, “Guitar music’s gone and dead.” I had gotten so into guitar music, I was that person at that time. That had gone. It wasn’t favorable, I don’t think I would’ve gotten a record deal if I would’ve tried around the late nineties and early 2000s.

Then MySpace came along and the internet changed. I was just making music and doodling and sharing it straight away. As an artist, I was actually really happy with that. As an artist I thought, “Ah, I like this new music business, it’s great.” Then MySpace went and that changed and evolved into something else. Then you could actually make records in your spare room. Equipment got better, Logic got better, microphones got better, home studios got better. I found myself with my son [Oliver] making music and thinking, “Well, actually, this could be released as an album!” So we started to do the process of an album. You’re doing that and then as a songwriter, you think, “Oh, I know my role. As a songwriter, has this song reached its full potential?” and you can’t lie to yourself. You know if it has or hasn’t. When I first started, I thought, “This will take about a week, that’ll do,” but it doesn’t, though. As a songwriter you can’t say that. That turned into, “Okay, do some more live playing and that will pay for some mixing. I’ll get it mixed by Chris Sheldon and it’ll sound even better.” I felt like the songwriter had to make the songs reach the full potential, and I feel like I got that. I didn’t have Air Studios, I didn’t have Geoff Emerick, and I didn’t have Paul Buckmaster doing the string arrangements, but for what I made, I felt like craft-wise, the songs reached their full potential.

PHOTO CREDIT: RALPH DE PALMA