NewTracks New Artist: Heidi Simpson

NewTracks New Artist: Heidi Simpson

Actually Heidi Simpson featured as a NZ Musician NewTracks’ artist three years back, but then it was as half of Tāmaki Makaurau teen pop duo Laiika, alongside Grace Moller. Recording under her own name that light-hearted pop sensibility remains charmingly evident in her single What’s On TV, albeit toned and refined, and programmed with a balancing hint of post-teen melancholy. It features on NZ On Air Music‘s NewTracks compilation this October.

What’s your name, where are you from and what instruments do you each play?

My name is Heidi Simpson. I was born and raised in Auckland and I play guitar and a bit of piano. I can also use Logic Pro and often use it to write songs.

Was any high school or other music training especially important to you?

I did music from a young age and my primary school actually had a great music program where I was involved in bands, choirs etc. My dad taught me how to play guitar when I was in primary and wrote my first songs when I was 9 or 10.

Any other projects that we might we know you from?

I was previously in pop duo Laiika.

What’s the background story of how this project came to be? 

Heidi Simpson is just my solo project. I have been developing my songwriting since high school and I have been working towards my solo release since 2021 after Laiika. I have been working with a few different producers like Tomi Banx, Hugo Chan and Harry Charles.

How has your writing evolved from your beginnings in songwriting to now?

I think my writing has become a lot more honest. I think when I was first writing, I used to try a lot harder to write a cool song or sit down and try to write a specific kind of song. Now I often find that going with my instincts and trying not to filter what I say I come out with the best songs. I love having an idea or a concept and trying to fit it into a concise pop structure in a way that makes sense.

What made you decide to go with you name as your artist name?

Heidi Simpson is just my name. I considered a couple other things, but ultimately decided that that was the way to go!

Aside from this release, what’s been the big highlight to date? 

I have had play on ZM and opened for Princess Chelsea at Big Fan. I also opened for There’s A Tuesday in Auckland and Raglan.

What makes What’s On TV stand out for you as a single?

I think it’s super fun and carefree. It’s honest and upbeat yet has a melancholy edge. I think it still has my personality in it. It also has fun interesting production.

What is the story behind What’s On TV?

We started making the track and I wanted to make something a bit silly and girly, like a main character kind of song. It’s about avoiding reality and your problems and just living in your own little world.

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyrical, of the track?

I think the bridge kind of moment that happens at the end of the second chorus with the line that says, ‘I know I’m on my own, no one can save me’ because it’s probably the moment of the song that is the most grounded in reality, but then it goes back to the chorus straight after. So there’s a moment of self-awareness then back to avoiding your emotions.

Who did you write/record/produce the single with and where? 

I wrote and produced the song with my friend Hugo Chan at his home studio at the time in Remuera. We were good friends but it was actually the first song we ever made together so there was a lot of fun and mucking around at the same time. Sometimes we would do a session and then go play tennis, or buy lots of yum food and watch a movie after.

What would you like listeners to take away from this song?

That life is hard and it’s okay to live in your own world sometimes!

How do you generally work out what song would make a good single?

I play a lot of my songs to my friends so they often tell me which ones are their favourites. But for me I can usually tell straight away what I want to be a single. It’s often just the songs that are my personal favourites, songs that I think a lot of other people will resonate with.

Anyone else in your team?

Just me at the moment! I have a lot of friends who are in the music industry who help out with various things though 🙂 I have been working a lot with PJ Shepherd (Tomi Banx) because we got the new music development funding which means we have been working on a bunch of songs together!

Are there any other musical endeavours you’re working on that we should keep an eye out for?

I have a lot of singles planned and then eventually a project. Another single will be coming probably early next year! Lots of songs I’m super proud of, and they are all quite different to each other, which is cool, I want my music to be quite eclectic and showcase the different kinds of music that I like.

Can you name three other local tunes that would fit well on a playlist alongside your song. 

  • Park Road: Secrets
  • Maxwell Young: Call Ur Name
  • Rita Mae: Candy’s House

Have any previous NZOA applications not gained funding or been included on NewTracks? Got any advice for others?

I haven’t applied for any funding so far as I don’t think that I’ve been eligible. My advice would be to be as thorough as possible with applications! I haven’t had to go for funding yet, but I think it will be hard to meet some of the criteria as an independent solo artist. Some of the stats you need will be hard to do as it’s hard to meet that criteria when you’re doing it by yourself and just starting out. Particularly some of the radio and publicity stuff.

Are there any musical blogs, Youtube channels or podcasts you’re super into?

I love the Tapenotes podcast, they go into how people make their records. Sniffers is always cool!

Who did you make the video with?

Filmed by Sol Savila, edited by Archie Hamilton.