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An Interview with Timothy Heller

Updated: Apr 2, 2020

I've been listening to Timothy Heller since her Dresses days, and her style may have changed since then, but it's only gotten better. I've enjoyed watching her personal and musical evolution. Both figuratively and literally, she has strong voice, one that is unwavering despite the adversity she's faced, and that's something to be admired. In fact, it's her refusal to be silenced that draws the most hate.

There's a lot to appreciate about Timothy, even disregarding her personal life. Timothy's lyrics and melodies have never failed to comfort me when I'm nervous, entertain me on a boring Sunday afternoon, and give me strength at my most vulnerable points, so I would admire her for that anyway. She has a song to fit my every mood, from the satisfyingly brash "See Ya" to the thoughtful and, quite frankly, disturbing "Sleep." I also am always impressed by how well her visuals match her music, especially the hazy pinks and purples in the music video for "Sleep" that perfectly capture the song's haunting ambiance. Obviously, even though it's not relevant to her music, she also has a great fashion sense, with her cherry earrings and fluffy petticoats.

Ultimately, however, it would do both her and her music a disservice to ignore her personal life, because her work feels so, well, personal. You don't write music like she does without suffering. She inspires me to be unstoppable.

Who are your inspirations? I’m really inspired by women who make music that have kept going no matter that shitty situations have been thrown their way, like Kesha, and Stevie Nicks. Also others who make truly genuine music that you can tell comes from a place of true artistry and nothing else..I like listening to artists whos sound and genre you can’t pinpoint because it’s so entirely themself. Ones that come to mind right now are Angel Olsen, Caroline Polachek, Haim. I also have some really inspiring friends like Blair Waters, and my other friend Hana Haley. They really remind me what being an artist is all about.

What work are you most proud of? I’m really proud of my Self Titled EP. After calling it quits with my band Dresses I wasn’t sure if I’d ever regain the confidence to put out something that was entirely my own. I put it off for a long time but that confidence is coming back slowly but surely! I really learned to stop worrying about rules and restrictions when it comes to music and how to let go and make what I know how to make. Who would you most want to collaborate with? Basically everyone I mentioned in my inspirations, but I think Haim most of all. They’ve been my favorite band for a while now and I’ve always dreamed about doing a song with them, or getting to open for them on tour. Or being their adopted 4th sister would be great too. I also just saw Angel Olsen in concert and just love her voice so much...I think our weirdo voices could be really cool together.

What’s been the most transformative experience of your life? Over the past 2 years I’ve been subjected to a lot of hate on the internet.  Going from someone who’s basically never been disliked, to what my experience online is like now, was a really extreme adjustment. But the corny line “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” has really proven itself true. I have survived more these past 2 years than I ever could have imagined, and really grown a lot of strength in doing so. I’m really proud of myself for not giving up and really feel like I was put through these challenges for a bigger reason. What do you wish you had known when you were younger? I wish I had known that it’s ok not to be perfect. I feel like growing up I gave up a lot on things I enjoyed because I didn’t feel good enough at them, and now as a grown up I’m having to relearn that it’s ok to not be good at things and that’s the only way you get better! So recently I’ve been trying to revisit all these things I’ve given up on, like painting, drawing, dancing. I really want to get into pottery. I just wish I had known I could do all of these things just because they make me happy, and it’s not always about the end result being amazing. What’s the best interaction you’ve had with a fan? I haven’t had the opportunity to go on tour so I unfortunately haven’t gotten to meet a lot of my fans yet! Hopefully I get to soon because I have some incredibly sweet ones that I interact with online. One time when I worked at an ice cream shop a girl I was serving asked for my autograph which was hilarious and really confused my coworkers. When was a time when you felt the most hopeful? I don’t think I’ve ever felt more hopeful than I do now. I’ve never felt more ready to create the kind of art I’m meant to create. I’ve never felt stronger or more prepared for what’s to come. I’ve been really scared for the future for a long time and that fear still shows up but I’m mostly just excited. Using a metaphor, how would you describe your creative process? Sky diving, probably. I’ve never done it but it seems similar to how I feel about writing songs. It seems really scary, I don’t know if I can do it, I don’t know if I should. Then when I finally get over the fear I remember that I can do it and it comes naturally. Afterwards I feel a huge sense of relief! I have a really complicated relationship with writing music as you can tell, haha. I’m working on being less critical of myself.

How do you hope people feel when they listen to your music? I hope they can sense the honesty in my music.  I hope it feels refreshing and authentic. I hope if they relate to my experience it makes them feel less alone.

How do you hope your work will change in the future? I don’t know if it’s something I can really foresee at the moment! I’ve never been someone to write with a specific sound or goal in mind, it just comes from whatever I’m experiencing at that moment and if I try and force it it doesn’t work out. Hopefully that means as I evolve as a person, my songs will do that too! It’s like I’m leveling up, haha.


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