Jeff and Alycia, are the polished duo called Heather & Snow
Where did you two meet?
We actually met through Jeff's Dad. His Dad happened to be my 5th grade teacher and I met his son through him years later.
Where did the two of you grow up?
Around Southeastern Wisconsin. Jeff grew up in Hartland, WI, and I moved around a lot as a kid.
What influenced you to get into music?
I was always drawn to it. It was therapy for me. I was in choir from the time I could be in elementary school, and in 8th grade I bought myself my first piano. I taught myself to play by ear, chord, and using music theory. I worked starting at 10 years old to pay for vocal lessons. Jeff started out drumming at an early age in middle school. He went on to graduate from UWM with a Bachelor of Arts degree in music, though he now has his own business doing 3D Animation, Motion Graphics, Video, Photography, and Websites. He still gets to write custom music sometimes for clients though.
Is there a story behind the name Heather & Snow?
Yes, there is. Heather and Snow is the title of a book by George MacDonald, who was both a Scottish writer of novels and children's books, as well as a preacher from the late 1800's. The book has a heavy theme of beauty coming out of hardship. Scottish Heather is actually a foliage that grows on the wild and rugged hills of Scotland. The interesting thing about Heather, is that it can both grow in heat, or in the wintery snow, displaying beauty in the death of winter. Life has been like that for me personally. I have found that even in the darkest times of my life, my winters, I can still find beauty and something to be grateful for. Because of my own personal winters, I have become more compassionate towards other hurting people, and to me, that is beautiful.
What is your songwriting process like?
Songwriting has taken on many different processes for me over the years. Sometimes I get inspired lyrically first, and grab whatever I can that is closest to write on, whether it be a napkin, notebook, or fragment of paper. The lyrics then drive the feel of the music and melodies. As of late though, I tend to write the music first and add the lyrics after. I process my life through my lyrics, so a lot of who I am comes out in my songs.
Do you perform live often?
We actually started out as a piano, vocals, and drum act years ago, and played out quite a bit then. When we started recording our album with our Producer, Matt Spransy, we actually had the keys, drums, bass and vocals all down. Matt then heard stuff that he thought would sound cool and pushed me in the direction of adding electronic elements to the songs. I took to it like a fish to water, and we then became an Electronic Pop duo. It's been a huge transformation and a lot of fun. The challenge from that change has been having to completely overhaul our live shows. Because we use backing tracks along with playing live parts both on the keys and using a live drum set, I have had to learn MainStage 3, and get the projects in there. We are in the practicing stage and hope to start playing live shows again sometime in summer.
Do you write and produce for other artists?
The only writing I have done for anyone else was last spring when I was part of a team of 4 people who wrote and recorded 15 songs in 3 weeks for 3 Hallmark movies. It was a fun challenge and they had no edits to our songs. I hope to write for other people more in the future. I love collaborating with other artists because both artists grow and learn from one another, and it is just fun working with friends. I have gotten to be a songwriting coach for two lovely teenaged girls, both very talented, and that has allowed me to have parts of me in their songs. Ultimately though, they are their songs, not mine.
Tell us about your latest project.
We just finished a song called, More From You, with our other Producer, Dave Olson. We will be releasing it in April and we are really, really excited to share it! We are focusing on releasing one single a month starting on March 30th, with our song, Voices, and will continue to release a single every month through the end of summer. I will then take a break to attend Judy Stakee's song writing retreat in Tennessee. Judy signed Grammy-award winner Sheryl Crow, Katy Perry, Gavin DeGraw, and Joy Williams. Over 1,500 songwriters apply each year for these retreats, and only 300 are selected, so it's a huge honor to be able to go and work with her.
Do the two of you get along all of the time? Are there ever any disagreements musically?
No married couple gets along ALL the time, and any married couple who claims to is lying, LOL. However, when it comes to music, we really compliment each other well. We respect each other both as human beings and artists and trust each other's abilities and strengths. I think one reason there really isn't fighting around the music, is that we both take feedback really well, and we are both natural encouragers. We don't take it personally, but rather use it to grow and become better as artists.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Hopefully a lot of good music being released, lots of live shows, and building a fanbase who loves us. We will keep working hard, and then the chips will fall where they fall.
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