6: Facing Fear and Organizing Creative Local Shows with Heather Edgley - Wilde Musicians Podcast

HEATHER EDGLEY
Singer-Songwriter | Seattle, WA
Website | Facebook | Instagram | Spotify

As a child, Heather Edgley used to keep her music “in the closet” because life as a professional musicians was pipe dream. One step at a time, she’s walked her way into the Seattle music scene and is now known for the creative themed shows that she organizes. In this episode, on a dark rainy winter night, Heather and I drink tea on the sidewalk outside Chocolati Cafe in Wallingford, Seattle and talk about how scary it is to share your music and start performing, how writing sad songs is great therapy and how to organize your own shows with creative strategies to draw a larger local crowd.
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BEST QUOTES

"How dare I say I want this if I don't let myself do it." — Heather Edgley

It was hard in the beginning because it was hard enough to sing let alone share deep dark feelings, especially in front of friends.) It was easier in front of strangers. You're my friend but you don't know about these deep dark things in me but I'm just going to sing about it in front of you. Don't ask me about it afterwards but I'll just sing about it!” — Heather Edgley

Art is so important for artists who get to express those emotions but also for people who don't have that ability to paint or write music or poetry, they resonate with people' art. We all feel the same human emotion so it's helping other people too so they can feel like they're not alone in those feelings. You put it out there and it pulls it out of them like a magnet. It's therapeutic for me to get those emotions out and it's nice to know you're not the only one and someone else will be positively impacted and know they are not alone.” — Heather Edgley (paraphrased)

Because I write so emotion based, there is a lot of sad songs because that's what I want to get that out of my system. When I'm sad is when I feel the need to write. Your music is like your therapy and people don't tend to go to therapy when they are happy. — Heather Edgley (paraphrased)

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ADVICE FOR YOUR PAST SELF
Get started in it sooner than I did. It took a long time to start pursuing music and believing in myself more. If I had someone that encouraged that in me sooner, it would have been great because I love having music in my life and I'd have more time and I'd be famous by now.”


QUESTION FOR OTHER MUSICIANS
”(I would like to hear) tips and strategies for getting people out to shows locally. Creative social media tips. Social media feels like a chore. I want to be involved in it but I don't even know who I'm posting for or talking to. I don't know how to come up with good content. I don't know how to engage. Hearing other people's stories and writing processes.”

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MENTIONS
Alie Byland
Drea Marilyn
Robert Lang Studio
Spence Hood
❤ Sarah St. Albin — Judas Queen
Tyler Hamilton
Kreea Mae
Chop Suey, Seattle
Chocolati, Seattle
Art with Heart
❤ Student Engineering Program at Robert Lang Studio
The Voice
American Idol


TRANCRIPT

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0-10 MINUTES

Alie BylandDrea Marilyn

Starting writing lyrical songs around age 7. Piano melodies started around age 12. But music became pretty closeted and wasn't encouraged as anything more than a hobby. Started performing out 3 years ago. She started solo and now plays with a four piece band. Currently recording her first EP and just released her first single. Part time legal assistant. Music keeps you busy; band practice, organizing a show, at a friend's show.

Music takes over life. It feels amazing to have music take over life considering how closeted it was before.

Why was music closeted? Not to throw my parents under the bus but.... You don't have fears or inhibitions as a kid until people tell you you need to. Parents told her that her singing in the car wasn't that good and asked her to stop. She felt like she wasn't good at music. She expressed her emotions through writing lyrics but she was embarrassed to share because she didn't feel like she was good. It was easier to keep it to myself and that way I was free to express myself without pressure of an impossible dream. Did the talent show a couple times and her parents would support it as a hobby but whenever she mentioned it as a profession her parents would say "that's not going to happen. maybe you should think of other things to do with your life." So she thought about other things. She was never planning on putting music out at the for front. She felt like she had to keep music protected.

When did you switch and decide to go for music? Grew up in Bellingham and moved to Seattle to go to the University of Washington and had to ask herself what to study. "What Am I Going to Do with My Life Because Music is Obviously Impossible?" She started taking music theory classes out of interest. Curious to get involved in the music industry somehow but she had no connections.

10-20 MINUTES

Serendipidy: On her way to a show, she was lost and encountered someone trying to open a door and they ended up sitting together. She mentioned that she wrote songs and he mentioned that his roommate interned at a studio. She was connected to him.

Robert Lang Studio

Being around music for the first time, I felt the happiest. If I could do work that related to music, it wouldn't feel like work. As an intern, she was just cleaning the studio and getting food for bands. She got to meet cool bands and sit in during sessions. It was cool to watch people pursuing music and it made her wonder how far off a music career could be for herself.

Student Engineering Program at Robert Land Studio. One day an instructor asked her to sing a song in the studio as part of a class. She was a mock client so the engineer students could practice. Her song was produced by him as a demo; a gift. The song was a tiny proof that she could do music. She sent it to her parents.

Music was always on the backburner. The passion was always there but no one else was confirming that to her. Opportunities came her way and she pushed herself into them. She's always felt fear every step of the way. "How dare I say I want this if I don't let myself do it." First open mic was really scary.

She did a private audition for the voice at Robert Lang Studio and she was so physically out-of-control nervous she was terrible. She'd never sung into a microphone and had to sing a cover (she only ever sang her own song). She missed the cue and got progressively more nervous as the day went by. She knew people outside the door could hear her. She fought through and finished the song even though she was terrified. She was so upset about it but automatically knew she could go back and do better the next time. She didn't know what to expect going into and she couldn't control her nerves but her anger to do better drove her to keep practicing.

Any opinion about shows like the Voice or American Idol? She doesn't have an interest in it and she's heard that the benefit of those shows isn’t the winner's deal so much as the exposure and the experience.

20-30 MINUTES

Spence Hood Building a following locally vs a following globally online.

Both local & global are important but build local first. Creating a cool online content can draw more people to your show but likewise, a cool show can lead to online content that spreads.

Focus on local and climb up that ladder; moving to bigger and bigger rooms.

Do you have tips for getting fans to come to shows, not just friends or family. Playing open mics is a place to be heard and heard by random people; you'll never know who will resonate with your music. Play as much as possible to be exposed to new people but it's hard to keep up those connections; someone could like your show but they forget your name.

Spent the last year organizing events with new bands that don't have an overlap with your own fan base or friend group. You need the draw of multiple separate bands connecting to different networks. Try and play with bands that are bigger than me and have more fans than me to climb.

Turn shows into events that offer more than just music so it appeals to more people than just the people who like my music. It started with themed events; starting with a Halloween show. She organized it with Sarah St. Alban.

❤ Sarah St. Alban

What else could you offer at your show (other than music)? What about circus performers and have a whole circus themed soiree?! It was a blast but a ton of work. She started planning the show seven months ahead of time and got local bands to join the bill and they were all bands that were more successful than her and had played bigger shows already. Four bands, live circus performers, acrobatic group, LED light poi performer, rope aerialist.

For anyone who wants to plan an event like that, what would be your advice for them or lesson learned the hardway? Make sure you have enough time to plan it. Bigger bands usually book out there schedules far in advance and she wanted to be the first one on their radar. The show was in July and she asked bands inn January. She did all the planning herself and it takes a lot with so many variables to manage; venues, dates, coordiating those with bands, changing the lineups and having to reach out to different bands last minute.

Tip for approaching bands when inviting them to join your event. Be professional when emailing them. She uses a template and modifies it when reaching out to each mand. Brief introduction. Name, local singer-songwriter, this is my kinda music, this is the show I'm organizing. It was the idea of the show theme that made her stand out and why bands agreed to participate.

30-40 MINUTES

She brought the show and invited people to join. She put herself third out of four band. Didn't have a big enough following to headline. The middle spot is a good spot for local shows because people from the first band will still be there, the people arriving early for the headliners will be there and your own fans will be there of course; you end up with the biggest audience. Figured she wouldn't be enough of a draw so she plopped herself in the middle.

The best success for getting people to come to your event, invite them personally via text or facebook messanger. Until there's a personal interaction, people won't notice or take it seriously because there's so much clutter.

So much of it is trial and error and focusing on figuring out what can you do that will stand out from the crowd.

Tyler Hamilton (?): How much of your day is spent working on the business side of your music.

The first year was getting her feet in the water and getting comfortable on stage. After feeling comfortable and getting a band together she was playing shows to empty rooms and that wasn't fun so she started thinking about how to get more people out. She spends a good amount of time organizing and planning shows (unique shows in particular). Reaching out to bands, googling ideas, coming up with new ideas.

Uses Google docs to plan ahead for a year, paces out full band shows out every other month so she has more time to promote and get people to them.

You create your own schedule with your music career because you're self employed. When she finally made the jump to pursue music three years ago; she was out of college, working full time for a year and on the day she put in her notice at work she did her first open mic. "I just quit my job and if I can't force myself to get up on stage and sing, what am I doing?"

She quit her job and has only been working part time since them. She has been figuring out ways to make it work because she wants more time for music. If you want to do it as a hobby then some open mics are good enough but if you want to climb and do music professionally, it takes a lot of time.

The problem though is that you have a lot of unstructured time. The first month, she didn't know how to be productive with her time. She would sleep in and watch Netflix.

You have to give yourself a new structure. How did you figure out your new structure? It takes time and she'd get frustrated with herself and felt like she was wasting her time. She thought of all the things she was doing with her time. Someone called her out and asked that now that she's pursuing music, what is she actually doing with her time. She started writing a silly song about how lazy she was being.

Song: Video Clip

40-50 MINUTES

Tell me about the art of your music. Sometimes it's hard to be fully in the art side of the job because the business side takes up so much. The kind of writing she does is a way for her to express whatever emotions she's going through in her life. The fact that her music was so closeted for so long, it was unfiltered and honest and vulnerable. It was hard in the beginning because it was hard enough to sing let alone share deep dark feelings, especially in front of friends. "Here's all my deep thoughts and feelings and even more so in front of friends. It was easier in front of strangers. You're my friend but you don't know about these deep dark things in me but I'm just going to sing about it in front of you. Don't ask me about it afterwards but I'll just sing about it!"

Try to maintain that vulnerability and honesty. It feels so good to express those emotions and helps her work through them.

{man walks by with no shoes, just socks}

Something that you didn't want to happen happens to you and it's shitty and you get it out through a song and then you aren't so upset anymore because now you have a cool new song because of it.

❤ Kreea Mae: "I'm so grateful that I'm an artist because it means that anything that happens to me can produce a beautiful piece of artwork and therefore it's okay. If I didn't have art and I didn't know how to express it I woudl just be sititng with these things." (paraphrased)

Art is so important for artists who get to express those emotions but also for people who don't have that ability to paint or write music or poetry, they resonate with people' art. We all feel the same human emotion so it's helping other people too so they can feel like they're not alone in those feelings. You put it out there and it pulls it out of them like a magnet. It's therapeutic for me to get those emotions out and it's nice to know you're not the only one and someone else will be posititively impacted and know they are not alone.

Because I write so emotion based, there is a lot of sad songs because that's what I want to get that out of my system. When I'm sad is when I feel the need to write. Your music is like your therapy and people don't tend to go to therapy when they are happy.

Music as expanded my mind on the different ways people write and gets me to try writing about new things; new challenges to write about stuff that isn't as directly related ot me. When experimenting, there are tons of bits of songs that never turn into anything but it's cool when it does turn into something.

Where else do you get inspiration? Other songs and lyrics, random things and concepts out in life that I'll jot down and explore later. Talking to other musicians and hearing their writing process is inspiring; like writing in a cafe. She never does that.

She feels emotions in her body heavy and she doesn't always know what she's feeling. She feels a storm of emotion and she writes at the piano. She goes to her room and starts playing on the piano until she finds something that resonates with the emotions she's feeling. She records herself on a voice memo or video so she can create and go back later to pick through if there's something good in there during her free creation time. Sometimes it comes out in a chunk and sometimes it forms later from little pieces gathered together. She doesn't always know what the song will be about until it evolves before her. Emotions come first, then piano and then lyrics.

What feedback do you get from people when they hear your music or see your show? People resonate with the emotions of the song, appreciate the vulnerability or like how her voice sound. They'll like things she said and she thinks that's really cool because the core of her music is about the words that she's saying.

50-60 MINUTES

Playing with a band now, the songs have more layers and people could enjoy the sound more than the words. The vocals might not stand out as much as they used to or when she plays solo.

Do you plan out which songs you'll play with a band and which will be solo? When she started playing out, she would just bring the songs that she enjoyed playing at the time or the easiest songs for the band to learn. When she started writing she would change the tempo all the time because she wasn't thinking about a drummer. She also would play her more recent songs because those are the ones that resonated the most with her at that time.

Playing with a band changes the vibe. It makes her songs sound a little more rock and that's not necessarily the sound that those songs need. The first instrument she wanted to include was a cello.

She met lots of guitarists at open mics and everyone was starting out and had their own projects. She didn't know where to start to find band members. She had a cellist move in as a roommate and they played a little together but her focus was her own music and she moved out of state.

So much of her music story have happened randomly. When her band was forming she'd been playing for a little over a year. Her drummer was dating one of her roommates and had just moved into town. He didn't have a kit at the time so that didn't move forward. Then there was a guitarist friend around too. They crossed paths at a show and the bassists in the show wanted to join Heather and her guitarist friend jumped on board to and then the drummer got a kit and boom they were all together as a band.

Tips when starting a band. When you're an independent musician, you're not paying people to play with you. They are giving up their time to play with you; you want them to have fun and enjoy practice while still taking it seriously and being professionally and still have the respect that these are her songs.

She gave them the basics: here are the chords and lyrics, go write your own parts! She gave her band members a feeling to work around and freedom to figure out from there. This helps because they got to be creative and have a say in it. She was grateful to have band members so she learned to balance keeping everyone happy while also standing up for what she wanted and taking charge.

One of the hardest part would be when the guys would start jamming in between each song. She didn't know how to jam and wanted to move onto the next song. She didn't know how to move them along. As there were more songs to play or a show was approaching they would all focus more. She asked a fellow band member to help keep other people focused so she didn't have to be the bad guy. It can be difficult working as a woman amongst men; learning how to direct them while being chill and smooth.

60-65 MINUTES

What advice would you give to your past self? Get started in it sooner than I did. It took a long time to start pursuing music and believing in myself more. If I had someone that encouraged that in me sooner, it would have been great because I love having music in my life and I'd have more time and I'd be famous by now.

Where can people find you and what can they expect? @heatheredgly heatheredgly.com // Demos on the website and the first fully recoreded single with band will be online next monday // FB and Instagram shows day to day stuff and promoting shows. Find out where to go.

What's on your mind, circling in there that you would be interested to hear other musicians talking about on a future podcast? Tips and strategies for getting people out to shows locally. Creative social media tips. Social media feels like a chore. I want to be involved in it but I don't even know who I'm posting for or talking to. I don't know how to come up with good content. I don't know how to engage. Hearing other people's stories and writing processes.

What is your next project or show that we want to send people to? Single realease Sat Dec 29th, Chop Suey. SKY. Show / event. The theme is a Benefit show for Art with Heart, outreach to youth who have dealth with trama and mental health and help them through with art. Sky is about Heather's struggles with depression.

Art with Heart

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