Singer Heather Nova is giving back to the country of her birth. She has thrown her support behind a sail training project, the Bermuda Sloop Foundation, which will teach life skills to youngsters. Ms Nova has recorded a CD for the cause, which features two exclusive new songs, one of them written specifically for the foundation. The singer is scheduled to talk to the local press about the project tomorrow. Here, in an interview with Laura Bell, Ms Nova talks about recent tour of Europe and the album she released in September, her baby boy and the pervasive influence of her island home on her music.

Q: So how are you? What’s the latest?

A: I am well, thanks. I released my sixth album in September, and have just returned from a five-week tour of Europe.

Q: I see from your website you are currently touring Europe promoting your latest CD, Redbird. How’s the reception been thus far?

A: Wonderful. The album went into the top five in Germany and top 20 in the rest of northern Europe. The tour was great. I am always amazed and feel blessed to get such a warm reception each time. Touring is an important part of what I do — it is the time to make that direct connection with the audience. It'’s a powerful and uplifting thing. I play to about two thousand fans a night. We toured Germany, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, France and the U.K..

Q: A lot has changed for you over the last year and a half. How much has the birth of your son affected your song writing, recording and touring schedule?

A: It has affected everything! - But all for the best. My priorities totally changed, obviously, and my little boy comes first no matter what so no more jumping on a plane and touring for six months. I organise the whole thing around what will work best for my son so I only do short tours. So far he seems to love it — the tour bus, all the attention, and, of course, the music. Recording was hard because it is usually something I throw myself into completely, but this time I had to do it in stages. And as for writing, well, I write more in the evenings now, when he has gone to bed.

Q: Where are you living these days? (When you aren’t on tour, of course.)

A: When I am not touring I live here in Bermuda. I made the move back home a few years ago and so far it works really well. I travelled the planet, but nowhere was as special as Bermuda, and nowhere else would have felt like home. It was great living in London for all those years while I got my career off the ground, but I am not a city person. I missed the sea, and being part of a community. Also, I wanted to raise my son here as it is such a wonderful place to grow up.

Q: The video for Welcome looks as if it was shot in Bermuda. Was it? If so, what locations did you choose? When did you shoot it?

A: Yes, we shot it here in June. We shot it at Church Bay, Fort Scaur, The Botanical Gardens, and in a Boston Whaler off Pompano. It is astounding how many people in Europe don’t even know where Bermuda is (even the journalists I speak to). Most people have only heard of it in relation to “The Bermuda Triangle”. So I try to spread the word wherever I go and do my bit for tourism! A lot of people who saw the video wrote to me and said “Wow. That made me want to go to Bermuda!”

Q: It must be liberating to own your own music without a label dictating to you. Why was that so important to you?

A:I had had enough of labels trying to get me to make my music more commercial. I have always written my own material and so I feel the need to be in charge of how it is produced as well. I got a lot of pressure on previous albums to make more radio friendly records. It has to happen naturally otherwise the integrity of the music gets lost. So owning my own records gives me total creative freedom. There is no executive breathing down my neck when I make an album. I then licence the album out to labels in each territory who want to work with it. So for instance, this album is on Warners in France, Sony in Germany, V2 in Scandinavia, etc. That way I make the albums myself but I have the major labels to do the distribution and marketing. It works well even if it means carrying more of the financial risk.

Q: How much of your music is influenced by your life in Bermuda?

A: Growing up, my parents and grandparents instilled in me a strong love and respect for nature and the sea. It is still a big part of my inspiration when I write. I have written every album here in Bermuda. Even when I was living in London I would come back here to write. I feel grounded here, and I also rediscover my sense of wonder here. You have to break down those walls that you build up around yourself living in a city, in order to access the real, the essence; the memory of who you are and why you are here. You have to strip all the extraneous stuff away in order to be truly creative and write.

Q: How’s your brother Mishka doing? I haven’t heard much from him since the release of his last CD. Any family collaborations in the future?

A: He is doing great. I am really proud of him. He made another beautiful album and has been touring a lot in North America.

Unfortunately, he lives too far away — in British Columbia — for us to collaborate these days. (Go to for latest info)

Q: How would you describe your latest album?

A: This album is a return to earlier albums. Storm, my previous album was very acoustic and chilled, and this one Redbird has a fuller sound, richer, bigger. We used string orchestras and gospel choirs and guitars and I think it really soars. The songs are very inspired by the birth of my child, though not in an obvious way — no gooey songs about cute babies! Everything just felt so intense. I felt like my heart had exploded and everything was deeper and sparkled more.

Q: Redbird is only available in Europe at the moment. How can local fans hear your latest songs?

A: Yes, so far I have only released the album in Europe as I didn’t feel I had the time to tour so much with my son. It is available on i-tunes in North America. I am shipping some CDs here to Bermuda. they should be here in January.

Q: Many Bermudians, myself included, will remember you lighting up the stage at the Millennium New Years Eve concert. Any chance we could get you back here for another performance?

A: I would love to come back and do a concert here again. (and so would my band!) I hope to put something together for next year sometime.

Q: What’s an average day like in the life of Heather Nova these days?

A: Depends on where I am. If I am on tour then we usually drive overnight from the concert the night before. We sleep on bunks in the tour bus. So most mornings you wake up in a new town. We check into a hotel for the day, which serves as a base, to take showers etc. Then these days we look for the nearest park or playground to take my son to! In the afternoon I usually have some local press or radio or TV interviews, then I do my sound check with the band, have dinner, do the show, and then it’s on to the bus and off to the next town. If I am home in Bermuda then I am just like any other mum, doing housework, etc!

Q: What’s next for you?

A: I am just putting out a CD for the Bermuda Sloop Foundation, which has two exclusive new songs on it. The main song is one I wrote especially for the foundation. It hopefully conjures up the spirit of our unique relationship to the sea here in Bermuda. Being such a small island we have been sailors for generations but many people have forgotten this and have lost touch with it. The Bermuda Sloop Foundation is building a sail training vessel that will give our youth an opportunity to experience teamwork in the form of going to sea. What I love about the programme is that it will reach every kid — not just the affluent ones, and will be great at breaking down the barriers that exist here racially and socially. I am very excited about the project and wanted to do something for them. All proceeds will of course go to the foundation and the CDS will be available before Christmas.

Q: Any advice for aspiring local singer/songwriters?

A: It’s hard to break into the music business from Bermuda. You really have to go abroad to get a record deal. But there is so much to do before you are ready to look for a deal! This is a great place to work on your writing. And there is a supportive community here. So try to get a band together and rehearse a lot and then play as many gigs as you can — Chewstick is a great event.

There are also some good studios here where you could record demos. Then when you go out there you will be really prepared. It is a very competitive business!