(Premiere) The Last Song – Heather Valley (Interview & New Music Video)
Heather Valley has put a beautiful twist on The Last Song and we’re excited to premiere the music video for this wonderful piece with you! The Last Song was originally written by country punk rock band Lucero, and creating a cover that’s as good as the original is quite the feat, but with the help of fellow Hamiltonians Matty Simpson and Justine Fischer, I think Heather Valley may have done just that! Valley is an roots/americana singer & songwriter based in Hamilton but when the pandemic hit, she was all the way in West Virginia for a writing retreat. Upon returning
Click below to watch the brand new video for Heather Valley’s cover of “The Last Song” and keep scrolling for some Q&A’s with Heather!
You put a beautiful twist on The Last Song, which was written by Lucero, who are described as a “synthesis of soul, rock and country that is distinctively Memphisian”. Would you say you made the song sound more “distinctly Canadian”? Do you think Canadian music has a distinctive
sound of its own?
To me, music doesn’t have borders. I listen to a selection of music that is pretty broad from a genre point of view, and comes from all over the globe. I would say our take on The Last Song reflects some of those artistic influences moreso than a regional sound.
The Last Song is a part of a larger “covers project” coming out next year, called Wildflower Radio. All of the songs in this collection were home recorded in the sun room at a beautiful century farm I lived at during isolation, out in the western Ontario countryside. I was feeling lonesome being out there on 200 acres by myself, and chose each of the songs in the collection because they gave me a sense of warmth and comfort.
Lucero is a band that I have had on repeat for the last year or so, especially their albums All A Man Should Do and Tennessee. That’s how I discovered and fell in love with this wistful song about going back home and living your best days, fully aware that is what they are
I decided that I wanted to combat the loneliness of isolation by asking friends to contribute to these songs from their own home studios, and I thought that my friends Matty Simpson (who plays guitar on this track) and Justine “the bass machine” Fischer would have an interesting take on this song.
When I work with other musicians, I like to collaborate with people who have excellent musical instinct and give them a lot of space to apply their own creativity, and that’s what we did here. I sent them over a demo of the song with acoustic and my vocal, and asked them to interpret their parts however felt right. When they sent back this dreamy, atmospheric electric guitar and upright bass interpretation of the song I just thought “yes! This is incredibly gorgeous and so perfect.”
It caused me to reimagine my own vision of the song. I muted my acoustic and rerecorded the vocals to fit the world they created, and I think it turned out to be very unique and beautiful reflection of all three of us as musicians. You can definitely hear how closely Matty studied the guitar performance in the original, and how he maintained elements of it while translating it distinctly into his own musical voice, and you can hear Justine’s gentle but deep way of interacting with the world through her bass.
I don’t think that any of us were concerned about representing a regional sound when we created this, we just focused on the composition, what it needed, and we interpreted it in a way that made sense in our own hearts.
I feel like this message applies more to now than ever, why do you feel it so important to
appreciate what we have before it becomes a memory?
This year has been really hard on everyone, and I found that a lot of people were having trouble finding the beauty in the moment, instead focusing on what they used to be able to do, or on what they would do once we got through the pandemic.
That struck me for two reasons – first, it made me feel a renewed gratefulness for the beautiful experiences I have had in the Canadian music scene so far, after escaping my bleak former life as a lawyer and survivor of domestic violence. I found myself wondering if I would think back on those times performing as “the best of days” and if they would ever return. But it also got me thinking about the hard times we were in the middle of. There is still some beauty in them. I do not mean to undermine the tragedies and struggles that many have faced during the pandemic. Those are heartbreaking and real. But one day we will look back at certain elements of this time with a strange nostalgia. And I wanted to live in an awareness of that and to try to notice it.
You made this into a love song about Hamilton. The entire industry across the country has come to halt, but can you tell us about the vibrancy of Hamilton’s music scene pre-covid?
Absolutely. I have been based in Hamilton for two and a half years now, running events at the Casbah including the open mic that used to take place on Wednesdays, and performing in the City as well as across Ontario. The first thing that struck me about Hamilton was how warm and inviting the music scene was, it is full of genuinely good, welcoming people. The second was how incredibly talented and diverse it was. Events took place throughout the week at numerous venues. Musicians you might see at a small pub are hit song writers who perform across the world. And the city also attracts top level talent from across the globe. The options for collaboration are there for all levels, from young developing talent to established artists. It was really inspiring, and we are all doing our best to hold on and keep the last of our venues afloat until we can return to live performance.
I know the future is hard to predict right now, but what do you have coming up next?
Wildflower Radio will be out in 2021. In the lead up to that, you may hear another single drop. The lead single to celebrate the release will be a surprise track that I’m excited to share.
Other than that, I have put together an incredible band and I am working on the next studio album of original Heather Valley songs at Baldwin Street Sound with Aaron Goldstein (Daniel Romano, Kathleen Edwards, Lenny Bull, etc). I am so incredibly proud of what we are creating, these songs are next level.
My Canadian and European tours scheduled for 2020 were postponed to 2021, so hopefully we will be in a position to reschedule and get back to live shows. Playing, connecting with people through song, and being on the road are my favorite things in the world, so I can’t wait to do it again.
Do you have any words or hope for our readers during these crazy times?
Yeah… I want to talk about happiness. If you aren’t happy right now, that’s okay. Consistent happiness is an unrealistic expectation. Happiness is fleeting, and humans are not good at consistency, we get bored and expect more, somehow always sabotaging ourselves. It’s more healthy to focus your time on finding the small things that make you content. Once you have incorporated enough of those small moments into your life, you will notice a golden thread carries through everything. That’s the closest thing to happiness that I’ve found.
To find more of Heather Valley’s music and to keep an eye out for more great covers visit https://www.heathervalleymusic.com/ and to watch our live interview with Heather from earlier in the Quarantine click below