Heston: Story TellerMonday, November 09, 2009
Singersroom: First of all, a lot of people have compared your sound to Maxwell and Marvin Gaye, would you agree?
Heston: I think it’s a great comparison with both guys. I would more want to be link to Marvin [Gaye] because Maxwell is here now. That’s ok…it’s a compliment …we both have influences from Marvin and I think that’s where it stands for.
Singersroom: Besides Marvin Gaye, do you admire other artists?
Heston: Beres Hammond, a reggae artist from Jamaica, Bob Marley clearly, Sade, the Bee Gees. There’s so many different [things] Al Green, Gospel music. A lot of different influences but I [will] say that Beres Hammond is a big influence of mine, probably one of the biggest influences right up there with Marvin Gaye.
Singersroom: As a child did you know that you wanted to become a musician?
Heston: You know, ever since I was probably 7 or 8 years old, listening to songs like “Say, Say, Say” with Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson; I didn’t know what it was but I knew that [song] did something different for me and that feeling was something that I couldn’t [get anywhere] else. I started singing some Gospel songs cuz my mom would sing…but I didn’t really know that’s what I wanted to do… I started writing songs and I knew that interest wasn’t going anywhere, that’s probably as best as I can describe [it]. The interest was always ever present.
Singersroom: As a native of Dominica, what made you choose Soul music as oppose to Calypso and /or Reggae?
Heston: I think it was the influence of Atlanta. Although, I grew up in Philly, graduated from school in Philly, the Soul scene in Philly wasn’t really an influence cuz I really didn’t really know much. I think for one, it’s the kind of music that I listen to as a child [which] is primarily why I choose soul music as a natural transition… The music that influenced me most I think was the catalyst of soul and then when I started performing at open mics in Atlanta, the live instrumentation of it all with the Neo-Soul, poetry scene, [made me] gravitated. But it was natural for me. It’s just like when I started listening to cats like D’Angelo and India Arie; those are the type of music, [like] the Marvin Gaye artist, the Gladys Knight, that’s what always played. So it’s kind of like these are new school acts doing the same kind of music that I love. I guess that’s the best way to describe it.
Singersroom: What would you say to people from your Island who would say that you should love your music first?
Heston: I know guys from Dominica who do Reggae. I know guys who do Calypso. I know guys who do Rock. It really does not matter. I can’t please everybody and I don’t think that I am not pleasing them by doing soul music. Even when I was in Dominica, I was listening to Al Green and Marvin. I wasn’t being influenced by Calypso bands, nor was I influenced by Reggae bands… I was influenced by Soul, old 70’s Soul acts and that’s what it was, so I am only doing what comes naturally to me.
Singersroom: What makes you unique?
Heston: I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to that because when people asked me those questions, I think I can’t hear what it is that other people hear. I know people tell me; oh man this is different, you doing something different. Yes there’s a characteristic to this thing or that thing but your music is definitely individual, it’s unique. I don’t really hear that but I’ m living it all the time… But when you see people react to it, then that tells me that I am doing something different.
Singersroom: It took you three years to finish “Story Teller,” was it because you had too many stories to convey in one album?
Heston: Mostly it had to do with [finances]. I don’t make a lot of money and so to me it was about paying the guitar player, paying the drummer, paying the percussionist, paying for studio time. Although, I have an engineer who is a Godsend because what the album cost me financially, although it’s a lot of money, it was a lot less that I would have been enable to afford because he gave me a lot of his time…believed in me and [in the record]. So although it took me three years, believe me it would have taken longer without his help. But it was just a matter of the time to produce and I am really a perfectionist. Outside of music, sometimes, I am not always on point but when it comes to music I am very, very, very, in law.
Singersroom: You write, you sing, you produce, is there anything else that you don’t do?
Heston: I only play one instrument and I don’t even play it that well. This is the guitar and that’s the only instrument. I would love to play others but I don’t [and] I am ok with that.
Singersroom: You have your own label, ‘World Soul Records,” Do you still dream of being signed to a major label? Heston: I am interested and I am not. I think Eric Roberson is a great example of someone who’s not signed. And I can’t speak for him but from what I hear he’s either skeptical or doesn’t feel the need. Now, I think your best friend [should be] a great publicist, a great booking agency and a smart manager to create opportunities. And I think you can succeed as an independent or even on an independent label bigger than yours. Like Dwele, he’s been pretty successful. I am not sure exactly what he sold but maybe, I think 140.000 or 150.000 units on an independent label. I don’t mind being signed to a label but they would have to make it a priority, my music and me a priority. If you give me a stage, you give me an audience I am able to take that and do my job; which is to perform and deliver. But I just don’t want to be on a label just to be on a label.
Singersroom: Besides music what drains your energy?
Heston: Stress. Music drains my energy and I am very, very open to allowing music to drain my energy. What fulfill me are my two beautiful children. I give them a lot of my energy. My son is four and my daughter is 10. They’re the love of my life and those two things complete me. I am single and I would love to have someone to come home to. Get off the plane and get off the bus or you get off a trip and get someone to hold and hug. My biggest pet pea when it comes to music is I need peace in my life. The lack of peace drains me. That’s it. (Laughs)
Singersroom: I know that you are working on your next album, any info that you would like to share?
Heston: It’s gonna be a much sexier album. The way I can describe it, is maybe a marriage between [Marvin-Gaye] and Sade. ------ By: Interview By Valerie Varasse