Heston: Story Teller

Timeless music has been the foundation and the back bone of some of the greatest musicians of all time and Dominica born singer/songwriter Heston, who grew up surrounded by reggae, pop, classical, soul, R&B and rock music, is ready to add his talent to the mix. From the musical influences of Marvin Gaye, Beres Hammond, Bob Marley, Sade, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson to name a few, Heston has thread into his soul the passion of delivering and making good music that everyone can enjoy . It ‘s not a surprise, to see this Atlanta base musician finally getting the attention that he deserves, especially since he has been influenced by the best.

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


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