I Heart Hamilton is excited to premiere the brand new single by Hamilton-based indie pop singer-songwriter Heather Janssen!

After gaining a following on YouTube starting in 2011 (where she now entertains 33K subscribers!), Heather was later part of a duo before striking out on her own. She made it to the Top 10 on the Canadian talent search show The Shot, and also opened for JUNO-nominated artist Ria Mae. Last summer, Heather independently released her debut EP Fear Of Falling, packed with fresh and soulful pop gems.

Take a listen to the brand new single “Keeping Secrets” and learn more about Heather from our chat below!

Find the track on SpotifyApple Music & more!

I Heart Hamilton: How did you get started – was music always a big part of your life while growing up?
Heather Janssen: Music is very much within the family. My grandparents were extremely musical, and both my mom and dad sing, play guitar and piano, and were in their own separate bands/led music for their churches. My mom is a piano teacher as well, so growing up there were music lessons constantly in the house, or we’d be dragged to worship practise and be running through the pews while her and dad we’re up there playing. I’m so thankful for that upbringing. Added a lot of colour to my childhood. I started writing around 8, taught myself guitar at 13, and it naturally just grew into a passion for songwriting. There was never really a moment where I said ‘I want to be a writer and singer’. It was more of a need, a way of expression and sorting through my thoughts.

You have a lovely sound that incorporates pop with some jazz influence as well, which you can really hear with this new single! Have you ever felt confined to certain genres or is it fun to experiment with different styles?
My musical journey since I’ve been about 16 years old has been all over the place. I was very singer-songwriter/folk in the start, then moved to EDM-Pop, then tried out a pop-rock duo group, and then slowly started moving into the direction I’m in now. It’s just been a natural process of discovery. As a writer first though, I tend to write in and for so many genres, and it has been hard to find what’s ‘my’ sound and genre. And at times, yes, that’s felt a little confining, when you have a constant stream of ideas flowing and feel pressured to choose just a few of them. But for the first time, especially with this next single “Keeping Secrets”, I feel like I’ve found where I sit. I remember writing it, and at the time I had really slowed it down and made it very old school, jazzy, crooner kind of feel. And it just felt so right. I’m an old soul to begin with, so finally tapping into this smooth pop-jazz feel and genre just feels natural to me. I’m not trying to be anything, or pander to a certain audience. It’s just where the pen and my voice are naturally going. Of course you always wish you came across these discoveries sooner, but that necessary process is very much the beauty of the journey. 

Heather Janssen

Can you tell us a little bit about the new single “Keeping Secrets” and the inspiration behind it?
“Keeping Secrets” is a mysterious and sultry track, with a very curious feel to it. The inspiration came from somewhat of a muse at the time, but my focus was really on the melody and songwriting. I remember sitting at the piano, and playing the walk-down chord progression, and there was something so captivating about it. I wrote a few lyrics, and then started playing a little piano lick, but it was so hard to play and sing together. So, when I sang it out loud in the studio to show my producer, I just mimicked the piano lick with my voice – and that ended up becoming the chorus! Funny how things come together. It’s my own little story of how a weakness at the time (not being able to play the dang piano part) can turn into something great! I didn’t even realize it but again, it naturally felt right as this sort of scatt-chorus, very jazzy. And I loved it. 

As an artist, how have you found navigating this time during the pandemic? Has it been a good time for you for being creative?
Oh, it’s been quite a weird time haha. It’s had its good and bad moments. So much time at home to slow down and really reflect on things can very much confuse and discourage you, but also inspire you. The past couple months have been kind of like a series of mood swings – one week I’m inspired and have ideas coming out the ears, and the next I’m questioning why I’m doing it at all. But that’s just natural. And it’s allowed me to ask some really important and tough questions. It’s been a great time of understanding areas of improvement, learning new skills, and getting inspired about the future and how myself and my team are working towards that. At the end of the day, I’m just very thankful for the place I’m in, surrounded by positive and creative people. 

What are some of your favourite Hamilton spots? Your music video for “Love Me More” was shot at one of mine – The Cotton Factory / The Mule Spinner!
Oh my goodness, I remember stumbling across The Cotton Factory and thinking this is PERFECT. What a beautiful spot. I love the industrial rustic feel down there. Of course one of my favourite spots is Princess Point – such a great running route, and the Westdale area into there holds a lot of memories for me. VintageSoulGeek has some of the best thrift finds! But one spot that always sticks is a Wine Bar (that I can’t seem to find the name of!) right around Merit Brewing (another fav). I remember stumbling in there one night with a friend, it was dimly lit with candles, just about closing time, and there were two DJs (The Brown Brothers) and about 5 other people in the bar, just sipping wine and enjoying the eclectic music. They ended up closing the spot down and letting us all hang together. It was the most welcoming, relaxing environment and we had the best time just connecting with new faces. Hamilton has a lot of little gems to discover, and I’ve got a lot more discovering to do!

Thank you Heather for the premiere!

Kristin Archer is the creator of I Heart Hamilton (www.ihearthamilton.ca), where she has blogged about experiences around her hometown since 2011, growing a social media presence along the way. Encouraging locals to “be a tourist in your own city,” she promotes arts and culture across her various social media platforms, blog, and weekly radio show on 93.3 CFMU.

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