“No one can make or break you, but you:” An interview with Heather Bright of “Bright Lights”

Many of you know I help run a classical music blog and I’m not averse to raving about how awesome, say, Faure is. While looking for new music recently, I encountered “Bright Lights,” which makes excellent electronic, dance and house music: check them out at wearebrightlights. Heather Bright was willing to take time out of her extremely busy schedule to answer a few questions about what it’s like being an artist and trying to make it nowadays. I was curious to hear about music school and reality tv as well.

Do give Bright Light’s facebook page a like and add them on twitter. I can’t thank Heather enough for the interview.

1. What was music school like? I imagine getting in isn’t easy and that when one’s in, life in a conservatory is rough. Since everyone’s good, is there an intense pressure to be the best? Any tips for budding young musicians?

Heather Bright (HB): Music school was a lot of fun! The best part was being surrounded by the best musicians in the world for nearly three years. A lot of the people I performed with every week went on to play for some of the greatest artists in the world. One of my former drummers is now Beyonce’s live drummer. Another bandmate tours with Cirque Du Soleil. Lots of friends from school have moved out to LA and have great careers playing out several times a week. I didn’t know any music theory before I attended Berklee. All my training was by ear. So that has helped me tremendously. I run into Berklee kids all the time in this business and there’s an immediate understanding and level of respect. We all speak the same language.

2. You’ve been on reality tv and seem normal. You’re definitely friendly, hard-working and eager to try new things. I guess your experience of reality tv was quite different from what I see on, say, “Rock of Love?”

HB: I don’t know quite what you mean by “normal” lol. I’m a good person with a good heart. I try to do right by everyone I meet, and that will always come before aesthetics and riches for me. I’m far from perfect like anyone else, but I think that’s what makes us all so uniquely beautiful… the imperfections. I was at a very strange place in my life when we filmed that show. It’s hard for me to talk about because it’s still kinda painful remembering how that made me feel. I was raised very strict as a child so I didn’t find out who I was until way later in life. Those kind of shows can be devastating to new artists who are trying to figure out who they are and light their own path. I felt like my entire career was over before it even began. The truth is, it’s television. You don’t have to be an artist to entertain. And no one can make or break you, but YOU. I almost quit after that. Good thing I didn’t :)

3. “Bright Lights” is described an “ever-expanding collective of artists.” I was curious about the challenges that are unique to collaboration. There are a lot of artists on the web who collaborate often and a lot more, I think, who don’t even realize how necessary it is. At least from my experience, I find it necessary just to say sane. I know I’ve said a lot, but thoughts?

HB: Collaboration is key for any artist. You can’t stay locked inside your black hole forever, though some of the best seeds of inspiration come out of those depths. We all need help to execute our ideas, whether that comes in the form of a great engineer, songwriter, producer, choreographer, etc. I help develop a lot of young, budding producers via Skype. It’s important to me and I love watching their growth. I don’t need to sign anyone to help them. We can all grow together. If you’re an 8 or a 9, I can turn you into a 10. I can help you make hit records, and what do I get in exchange for that… duh, a hit record! :) That’s what Bright Lights is all about.. it’s a platform designed to launch some of the greatest talent this world will ever see! All I want is better music, bigger stars, better shows… I want a revolution, and if it has to start with me, then so be it!

4. On a recent Facebook post, you talked about getting credit and paying your dues. I liked that post a lot, especially this part: “I had to believe that at some point my voice and writing style would be so undeniable and recognizable that people would HAVE to give me credit. I have to believe that everything I touch turns to gold. It’s not ego, it’s faith in nature. It’s about fulfilling a prophesy. How are you gonna change the world if you walk around worried about who gives you credit?”

I’m asking less about collaboration, I guess, and more about how one forms oneself as an artist. I know for myself I have defense mechanisms – to some degree, I have to take pride, I have to build myself up – because I have to get things done and worry about the result later. I was wondering if you had any advice on those lines, especially since I don’t know anyone realizes just how much self-doubt one encounters trying to do things independently until they’re in the thick of it.

HB: Question number 4 I will answer with a quote from another artist, one of my favorites, Andy Warhol… “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”

5. Finally, some thoughts on what happens when you make it really, really big?

HB: Haha! Some thoughts on when I make it really, really big :) let’s see. The only thing I really try to keep in the back of my mind is staying humble. I’ve heard “no” a million times, that I’m not good enough, that I don’t have what it takes, that my ideas are too big, that I’ll never be able to do it all. My whole career I’ve had doors slamming in my face left and right. So when the fans make it clear to the industry that we’re here to stay and that this is a cultural phenomenon, it’s going to be very hard not to raise my middle finger and scream “SEE!! I told you so!!” LOL! I’m going to try not to do that :)

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