Premiere: Heidi Lynne Gluck reaches new heights with ‘Skyscraper’

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Heidi Lynne Gluck. // Courtesy the artist

It’s been nearly seven years since Lawrence musician Heidi Lynne Gluck released her debut full-length, Pony Show, on Lotuspool Records. In the intervening years, Gluck has released a few singles and a slew of demos, played as part of Frogpond and the Roseline, and generally kept musically busy.

In early July, though, we’re finally getting Gluck’s official follow-up to Pony Show. Entitled Migrate or Die and being released by Gluck herself, it’s everything you loved about Gluck’s debut, with lovely melodies, catchy hooks, and a veritable who’s who of collaborators creating songs with which you immediately fall in love.

We’re excited as heck to premiere a new single from Migrate or Die, entitled “Skyscraper.” While you take a listen to the track, read through our interview with Heidi Lynne Gluck about the new album.

The Pitch: What led you to put this album out on your own?

Heidi Lynne Gluck: Impatience and being a control freak! After a long fallow period of feeling almost no urgency to follow up Pony Show, once I had the Migrate or Die masters in hand, I found that I wasn’t willing to wait for a spot on anybody else’s schedule. Releasing music is pretty much the wild west right now, and with the exception of the elite few so-called “indie” labels who wouldn’t touch me with a ten foot pole anyways, nobody I know seems to have a firm handle on how to effectively release music in this environment. So I thought, I’ll experiment on my own without having to have conference calls for every decision. I wanted to be in control and attentive to everything that needed to happen, and stay closely connected to my seventeen fans.

The production on Migrate or Die is very much a collective effort. Why do you enjoy working with Paul Mahern, and how’d you come to work with Mitch Hewlett?

Yeah! I’m so happy to have gotten to start the album in 2019 (yes 2019) with Mitch and Joel at The Coop. I think that came about from working with Joel on the No Magic record. I was excited to get away from doing all the engineering and playing by myself. Mitch and Joel both provide stellar hangs, cool ideas, great instincts, plus they’re great players and engineers! Then, y’know, the virus… and The Coop moved out of the neighborhood, so I took an enormous break and eventually finished the rest of the album at home and remotely.

Paul and I have worked together for over twenty years. So much of what I’ve learned about studio recording happened in the room with him, and the encouragement he’s given me to record myself sans gatekeepers got me into making these solo records starting with The Only Girl In The Room EP.

Listen, I’m not a good engineer and I don’t have fancy recording gear. I’m not being coy – it’s just not my strength. But I’m a good arranger and a decent writer/singer/player and I really love assembling songs on record. Paul has a way of taking my chicken scratch recordings and turning the lights on. I keep working with him because he makes me sound better than anyone else makes me sound. And that’s it!

Is there a difference in writing songs for “Heidi Lynne Gluck” and your other project, 95 Sweetbird?

95SB doesn’t write together – we just bring existing songs – some are Jeff’s, some are mine, some are covers. Maybe one of these days? Probably not. We’re not a real band 🙂

Tangentially, given that you work with so many other musicians, where do you find the time to write music for yourself?

I don’t; it’s a problem. Send me to the woods.

This collection of songs was written in a span of four years.

Heidi Album Artwork High Res 3000x3000For you, where does “Skyscraper” fit in the grand scheme of the album as a whole?

It’s part of a thematic throughline that calls out the “takers” of the world. I ask “on whose back do we let the burden fall” when we’re like, building our empires, both on a psycho-spiritual plane and in the physical world.

I’ve had so much fun performing this song in lots of different ways. I love how Joel made it shine with his sprinkly piano part. This was the first recording I did for the album, years ago, and each time I revisited it, I felt motivated to keep going.

How do these songs change with your new band versus how they came to be in the studio?

I’m pretty particular about arrangements and parts in the studio, so I’ve tried to surround myself with players who find it intriguing to learn them, and to understand how/why I assembled these songs the way I did. Assembling/arranging/part-writing is the most exciting part of music for me, way beyond songwriting or performing. It’s like a puzzle that’s super satisfying to solve.

So from that foundation, I get to see the songs and performances flourish with all of the brains/energy/heart of the people in the room. I like to imagine that we’re arranging the air together. It’s kind of fuckin’ magical.

The band is sweet and talented. Jeff Stolz on drums, Brad McKellip on lap steel (I finally realized how much I play it on the record and asked him to join to make those parts happen), Michelle Bacon on bass, Hannah Novaria singing backup, and the amazing Braden Young on guitar – he has a very rare ability to get right to the core of the songs and arrangements (and does some beautiful singing too). We’re very much looking forward to some Kansas City shows later this summer.

Categories: Music