jason decrow/associated press file photo
If Imogen Heap were as widely known as her music, she would be a household name.
Heap’s dreamy, computerized songs have been prominently featured in blockbuster films such as The Chronicles Of Narnia and been used to convey the drama on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Six Feet Under and The O.C.
But while her songs may get plenty of mainstream exposure, that hasn’t been the case for the 27-year-old musician and singer-songwriter herself. Though the self-produced British artist has been in the business for more than 10 years, and had indie success as part of the duo Frou Frou with the 2002 song Breathe In, the name Imogen Heap is unknown to many fans whose musical knowledge revolves around pop hits and Top 40 radio.
Her Grammy nomination for best new artist might change that — at least a bit. She’s also nominated for her song Can’t Take It In from The Chronicles Of Narnia.
Whether or not she reaches the podium, Heap’s profile has already had a boost.
Q: Why do you think you’ve had so much success in TV and film?
A: It’s not all over the place on radio, and when people are looking for things that are kind of interesting and exciting for their film, which is new, or their TV program, which is new, they don’t necessarily want something that is constantly on the radio .... So it kind of works in my favour that I’m not 24-7 on the radio, if at all (chuckles). Another reason is that I can do it all in my studio, and get things together pretty quickly.
Q: Do you think there’s something about your music that lends itself to theatrical projects?
A: I think because it’s not me and two guys and a guitar; it has more interesting soundscapes. It has wide strings, and trumpets, and harps, and orchestral percussive sound. It’s nicer with the widescreen when it has more ears to draw on.
Q: How difficult was it to put out your music on your own label?
A: In the beginning, we all look for record labels and think that’s the way to go, and at the end of the day, we need money to make the albums that we wanna make. And sometimes, it seems like getting a record deal is the simplest way to do that. Thankfully, in the last few years it’s become easier to be able to get your music out there on the Internet or virtually through MySpace ... I’m lucky to be in this time, because it enables me to be able to do something like that, to be self-sufficient and try and distribute it myself and get a little buzz on the Internet ... I’m not saying that all record companies are bad, I’m just saying that kind of idea that you sign a record deal and instantly you become a success is kind of misled (laughs).
Q: Were you always comfortable being outside the mainstream?
A: Obviously, you pour your heart and soul into a record and it’s always nice to hear that it’s going well on the radio, because it means that you’re reaching people, that may or may not like it but at least they get the choice. It’s the easy way to get to people if you can get it, but it’s very difficult to get in the first place.