Imogen Heap is a Grammy Award winning singer and composer. Having risen to fame as being one half of Frou Frou (with Guy Sigsworth), Heap is now an international star in her own right with music appearing on numerous television programmes and films. She is also somewhat of a technological trailblazer using the internet and particularly social networking to communicate and collaborate with her fans. We were very lucky to have coffee with Imogen and talk about her beginnings as a music student, her musical style and being the boss of your own record label.
How and when did you start making music?
In my family we were lucky enough to have a grand piano in the dining room. With me being the middle child, with Giles being the oldest, and Juliet the youngest, I guess I wanted to make as much noise as possible to get attention in the house. So when I was old enough to pick up the piano and could reach the pedals and read the music I did. And then I really wanted to learn about all the different parts of the orchestra, so I learnt the clarinet and I learnt the cello. I did also start off by playing the violin but I was too awful and couldn't bear the sound of it so I went on to the cello - slightly less awful. You also look good with the cello so it gave me confidence as a kid.
Did you play in any school orchestras?
Yeah, there were no orchestras actually in my school itself but there was a local school down the road that turned into a music school at the weekends so we went there. Then when I was a bit older about 15 or 16 I had this really good clarinet teacher and he introduced me to this orchestra. Basically we had to learn the parts the day before and then we had a dress rehearsal the day after with the gig in the evening - it was like a weekend concert. Everyone would get together for that weekend for the show and it was amazing. I loved it. We played thing like Holstâ€˜s The Planets all that kind of exciting stuff.
When did you decide that you wanted to pursue music as a career?
To be honest I never thought of it as a career, it was something that I did and was just always going to be! I enjoyed writing music and songs. My parents were always really encouraging and they knew that I was into it as I'd made stuff every single day and played the piano for at least four or five hours a day. When I was about 9 they got me this Yamaha PSR450 keyboard which I could program beats on and then when I went to boarding school when I was 12, I discovered this cupboard which had an Atari computer in it with a sound module and then I started to read this enormous manual and try and figure out the stuff that was in my head not just on paper but in to the sound module so I could hear it back.
How did your first record come about?
My manager (who's still my manager today after 16 years!) heard a song that I did for the end of school CD, that was my first officially recorded song called Missing You and he loved it and kept pestering me for the whole of that year to give him more demos. I thought he just fancied me but in the first year of A levels It clicked eventually he wanted to manage my recording career (I didn't yet know I wanted as previous to this I was just thinking to write orchestral music) so I took him a bit more seriously and sent him some more demos. He then got me in the studio with Nik Kershaw, who produced a song of mine called Come Here Boy and that got me my record deal. I was still at school, and it was either go on and do further studies at either the Academy or Royal College or sign a record deal, and so I chose the record deal, to see how it'd go for a year and I haven't looked back since!
What is different about having your own label as opposed to being signed to one?
The main difference is that I'm the one who has to give myself a deadline. I have to push myself to get out of bed in the morning as there's no label banging on my door. The most difficult thing is to find the motivation to keep going and I found that online on my blog. I suddenly realised that there were all these people out there who wanted to know what I was up to. Once I say I'm going to do something and make it public then I have to finish it so that's part of the reason why I do spend a lot of time sharing the process online is so that it makes you finish it.
What are your thoughts on Take it away?
I wholly support what you're doing.
For more information on tour dates and much more, check out the Imogen Heap website