When we first gave Heidi Gluck’s new album Migrate or Die a listen, it felt like a familiar dark shadow. We’ve known this feeling before, the kind we’re you’ve got a score to settle, and your next maneuvers have to be calculated ones. These were feelings of a woman not so much crossed, but a woman cutting the extra weight holding her back. Considering her last release was in 2016, we can safely say she’s had some time to sit down and make these intentional decisions. We sat down and spoke with Heidi about what it took to get this album out.
IHLM: I saw you recorded this at home. Can you tell me why you went the way you did for the recording process?
HG: All of my records have been recorded at home, starting with my first EP in 2015. I do it because I want to explore without time or money limitations. One of my favorite parts of recording is solving the puzzle of a song and its parts by rearranging, and that’s something that a lot of engineers just don’t have patience for.
I usually record around 80% at home, but send away for fantastic drumming, or rent a room + eng to use a great piano or a sick vintage vocal chain. For example, on this new record I started a few of the tracks at the original Coop studio with Mitchell Hewlett and Joel Martin. That was a blast, but The Coop closed down before I finished, so I built onto them from home and in other locations.
Recording alone at home has also had a lot to do with being a mother and stealing moments to work while the kid is occupied. I don’t think I’ll always be like this, because a) my kid’s almost grown; b) it takes me longer than it should; c) I’m sacrificing sonic quality/gear options; and d) it’s a headache to juggle the creative brain and the engineering brain while I work. It’ll be nice in the future to just be the musician and let someone else press buttons and plug in cables.
IHLM: Also saw that your kiddo appears on the album. Did you always plan to someday make music with your son as he got older?
HG: Ollie helped me with a synthesizer tone because I had something in my head but am useless at building sounds on synths. So I talked him through it and he turned the knobs. I’d love to do more together if he’s into it..
Never planned on it happening, though! I’ve always taken a nonchalant approach to him playing formally and would not presume to plan his life choices. It’s always been important to me that he has access to instruments, to records, and to learning music however he wants to, IF he wants to, but I’ve never forced it. I’m super proud that he played a song with me at a Replay show in 2022 and I’ll take what I can get.
IHLM: It’s been a while since you’ve released an album. Why now?
HG: Life bullshit made it very difficult to follow up Pony Show (2016) with any urgency.
I started to record some songs in 2019 with The Coop boys and then 2020 happened. I was already in deep ennui about music and performing, then the world shut down and I was left alone to fully wallow in that state, with a few unfinished recordings and absolutely no drive to do more.
I decided not to force it and waited until something struck again. Like, I’m not trying to be a content creator and pump songs out on a schedule. Sorry, algorithm! It was a fallow period and I wanted to honor that.
When The Roseline asked me to join them for their Sweden tour, something clicked and I felt absolutely revived. That tour was a great reminder of how much I need to play and make music in order to feel like a whole human. As soon as I returned, I set out to finish what I had started years ago.
IHLM: There seem to be a lot of themes in your lyrics of confronting conflict. What prompted these discussions and arguments in your songs?
HG: It’s the friction between holding on and letting go. Sometimes you cut ties. Sometimes you hold on to some and let go of the rest. Sometimes it’s waiting, not knowing, and giving yourself a goddamn minute.
IHLM: A lot of folks are used to seeing you accompany others in bands, but now you’ve got this new album out. What’s in store for Heidi in the immediate future?
HG: I’ll of course continue being everyone’s sideman (Roseline, 95 Sweetbird, Frogpond et al), it’s my favorite!
On the Heidi front, I have a wonderful new band with Braden Young (guitar), Bradley McKellip (lap steel), Jeff Stolz (drums), Michelle Bacon (bass), and Hannah Novaria (vox). We’re ready to play your aunt’s garden party. Hit us up.
Editor’s Note: Heidi Gluck will be celebrating an album release show on July 21, 2023, at The Bottleneck with Frightened Stag and Daniel Gum.