By Walter Price
There is a great amount of romanticism about making music. Whether you have the luxury of a fully built-out state of the art studio or you’re at your kitchen table with a laptop and an inexpensive editing suite.
If you’re doing it on your own and without meddling hands or friendly, but unwanted, ‘advice’, the experience can be even greater, if not daunting. If you are traveling this route then you know the struggles and rewards of being a DIY artist.
Out of South London comes such a music maker going by the longstanding moniker Strobegirl. Beautifully voiced with matching lyrics and making sounds ranging from folk, indie-pop/rock and retro flavored synth coolness and it’s all 100% DIY. This is an artist who also reacts, supports and helps nurture other ‘indies’ through social media and her surrounding scene. That is something to dig on.
Heather-Jane Strobegirl embodies true heart and soul of what making music should be about. Expression, free will, a want leading to need to have your music made and heard and community.
You’re from the South London or at least based. How did you get started with your music?
Yes I’m from Croydon which is south of London. My Uncle who was a jazz musician bought me my first guitar when I was 18 and it started from there! I plodded along but I was first able to get my music out there more with the advent of social networking and the indie artist revolution. There are so many tools available to indie artists now that there weren’t when I first started out.
How did you get the discoey name Strobegirl?
Because when I was a girl I was always first on and last off the dance floor! I’m more of a woman now but ‘Strobewoman’ doesn’t sound as good. I bet she would make an awesome super hero though!
There are a ton of big name artists from the Croydon area. Any of them play a part in your diverse range?
LOADS of great artists come from the South London area. Incidentally Croydon played a huge part in the birth of dub…but I digress! There wasn’t really any big names locally , more like other indie artists like myself and producers that really encouraged me to keep going.
They played a big part in what I do now.
You are clearly all out DIY, what struggles do you have as an indie artist?
To put it simply my main struggles are lack of time and money…and it gets lonely!
To elaborate you have to be your own manager, promoter, booker, negotiator, and also work maybe outside the music world to fund your music. All this on top of practicing, writing and actually recording your material. I like to do my own mixing so I work a lot on the production side of music as well now.
You worked with engineer/producer Roger Fife on The Strawberry Sessions, what’s the story there?
Well this is way before I had my own studio set up. I was looking for a producer for my first EP at the same time he was looking for new projects. I saw his ad, got in touch. He had just finished working with Cyndi Lauper who is a bit of a hero of mine in New York so that was cool. We met up and he liked my demo so arranged to work together.
The cost of producers and studio time is really restrictive though for an indie artist. I saved and worked for over a year to fund the production of this ep. I’m very happy with the EP and learnt a lot from the experience. But decided to use my future funds to set up my own studio which is now where I am based.
You also work with other indie artists, tell me all the details.
Well I obviously meet a lot of other indie musicians through doing what I do. Sometimes something clicks and you both say hey we gotta do a project together and then you do.
Your sounds range from folk-ish singer-songwriter to throwback synth-pop, where are you more comfortable?
I’m really comfortable spanning the genres! My first love is folk. Joni Mitchell and Cat Stevens were the first LPs I ever listened to. But equally I have been hugely influenced by synth electro acts such as Depeche Mode, as well as punk acts like Siouxsie and The Banshees, rock bands like QOTSA and Muse and I also love a bit of Shoegaze dreamy pop too!
You do a good amount of covers. Is that to show further range or is it just a fun thing to do?
Purely for fun, I like to try and put my spin on things. Also sometimes I like to cover songs that have meant something to me in my life.
You also have a keen sense of humor as well. In “Lonely Like Me”, one of your best vocal deliverers, you say I’m not an emo girl but I think I could be” in an almost sarcastic & sunny way reminiscent of 60s era California pop. Do you enjoy the lighter side of writing?
I never really looked at that as being humorous before; I guess it was a tongue in cheek line though looking back on it now. Yes I do have to rein my comedic side in ha ha. If I get bored of music maybe I’ll try some stand up!
You give a lot of love and support to other artists on social media, that’s very kind.
Why thank you, I guess I’m just a nice person!! All us indies should stick together and try and support each other.
I haven’t seen you live, tell me what your shows are like.
At the moment I don’t have a band. So it’s just me and a guitar! I like to get a bit of banter in there and generally entertain…..it’s the stand-up comedian in me again!
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Either Josh Homme (QOTSA) or will.i.am! I know contrasts eh! I think they are both amazing producers. If I had to pick I would go with Will, I think he is an incredibly imaginative inspiring human being. Almost visionary in his outlook. I think his style is completely different from anything I have done so I would love to work with him.
What do you with yourself away from music?
When I’m not making music. I spend a lot of time with and on my family. I have 3 amazing, creative older children. I also teach art, craft and jewelry making workshops. I paint and make jewelry and other fun stuff which I sell at craft events. I am also studying sound production.
What the most important thing the world needs to know about Strobegirl?
You need to know where my music is and check it out!
What’s next for you? New album, new band, live dates…
Yes I need a band! Also I am working on a new ep and some hush hush collaborations.
In a battle of the bands: ABBA vs. Siouxsie & The Banshees
The strobe loving dancing queen in me adores ABBA but Siouxsie has been a huge influence on me so I would have to go Siouxsie!
Thank you for the chat and stay in-touch!
You are welcome, I will!