Bright, brilliant, and big pop music can go hand-in-hand with quirky and clever expression.
Just ask 20-year-old New York singer, songwriter, entertainer, and activist Heather Brave. Her musical approach owes just as much to Jodi Picoult as it does to Christina Aguilera. For an idea of what you’re getting into with the songstress, think Regina Spektor writing on Oops!... I Did It Again — a marriage of widescreen pop palatability and handwritten honesty.
“I love the whole process, but I’m a writer,” she exclaims. “It really comes down to the lyrics for me. That’s my home. I make songs as if I’m writing a novel. I wanted to take that intelligent energy from indie and infuse it into something accessible and fun with straightforward subjects that aren’t sugarcoated. You don’t have to comprise artistry and universality.”
Initially inspired by an obsession with The Wizard of Oz, Brave took the first step on her very own yellow brick road at the age of five when she donned a different Dorothy dress every day. After cutting her teeth in local theater, she began landing film and television roles by high school, but music resonated the loudest, especially as she discovered the likes of Ingrid Michaelson, Lily Allen, Kate Nash, and Vampire Weekend.
“At the beginning middle school, I knew who I was and that I wanted to devote myself to music,” she goes on. “The more I wrote and committed time to it, it became clearer that was my destiny.”
A 15-year-old Brave picked up a purple guitar, taught herself “Hey Jude,” and “put as much energy into writing” as she could. Relocating to Los Angeles, she immersed herself in the city’s songwriter and producer scene, making in-roads and quietly forging a signature style along the way. Between amassing a respectable list of Imdb credits for her “day job,” Brave met Nashville-based producer Jase Blankfort in the summer of 2016. Immediately, they forged a creative bond.
“I felt like I had found my musical soul mate, because he’s such a good listener,” she explains. “When you’re trying to tell your story, that’s the one thing you need. I really trusted him with communicating who I am and what I wanted to do. It flowed naturally and was very therapeutic.”
Produced by Jase and co-written with A plus A, Brave’s 2017 debut single “Like A Wave” illuminates the passion in her voice and prowess of her pen. She recounts the wonders of “infatuation at first sight” via artful, yet direct lyricism and an immediately irresistible hook powered by heartfelt delivery. It’s the perfect introduction to her sound.
“To me, ‘Like A Wave’ is about knowing right away when you feel something about somebody, surrendering to it, and being confident the other person feels the same way,” reveals Brave. “It was the product of this amazing session. We were done in 45 minutes. It was like we got hit by a truck. We all recognized the energy right as it was developing and got excited really fast.”
Simultaneously, she represents resiliency in its purest form. Diagnosed with extreme food allergies to nuts and shellfish after a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction to peanuts at two-years-old, Brave acts as a spokeswoman for FARE: Food Allergy Research & Education. Living with these allergies has inspired the strength that defines the music.
“In a lot of ways, it taught me to be responsible and unafraid to speak up for myself,” she admits. “I think that’s a valuable lesson in any circumstance. You need to take ownership of any situation. It’s something I live with, and it’s okay. At the end of the day, it’s made me a better, stronger person. That comes through in my art. I’m honest, and I use my voice. There’s nothing timid or coy about me.”
You know exactly what’s on her mind. That sort of honesty and heart makes Brave the ultimate pop outlier.
“The message of my music is you have to do you,” she concludes. “You should never let anybody else’s opinions or big fears stop you from taking chances. Because I’ve followed my gut, I’m here. It pays off huge. Don’t be afraid of what you want to do and do it all the way.”