Leilani Heather

Black Magazine - - Contents -

SUPREMELY TAL­ENTED SINGER SONG­WRITER SAR­SHA SI­MONE HAS EMERGED BACK ON THE SYD­NEY MU­SIC SCENE. OUR AUSSIE ED­I­TOR THOM KERR CAUGHT UP WITH HER TO FIND OUT WHERE SHE'S BEEN HID­ING HER SOUL­FUL VO­CALS FOR ALL THIS TIME... !!

I first met you a cou­ple of years ago through a mu­tual friend who spoke very highly of you. I re­mem­ber com­ing to see you per­form live in Bondi, and was re­ally im­pressed with your per­for­mance. There was a lot of in­dus­try in­ter­est at the time, but you dis­ap­peared off the radar. What hap­pened? First of all, your support and love for what I do is so heart warm­ing thank you. I fell preg­nant in 2012 and had to take some time out to be mum and just be for a sec­ond. I took last year after giv­ing birth to en­joy and come into my own as a mother. I have still been writ­ing and re­leased GOLD, an Ep I wrote while preg­nant last year, although I couldn’t put too much time into the pro­mo­tion or gig­ging. How did be­com­ing a mum change the plan? I be­came a sin­gle mother days after giv­ing birth, which was a bless­ing in dis­guise but also made me re­anal­yse what I wanted to do, how I wanted to do it and why I wanted to do it. Be­ing a sin­gle mother and a cre­ative is an in­ter­est­ing jug­gling act, as I need time to write or put my ideas to­gether and some­times days just don’t al­low for it. I have late nights, bro­ken sleep, early morn­ings and wake up next to the rea­son I want to be the best of me. It’s time now to find a team that I can work with and so I can just fo­cus on the mu­sic. Hav­ing taken that time off, how does it feel dust­ing off the mi­cro­phone and step­ping into the game again? The last few months have been su­per ex­cit­ing and have done a few shows that have had great re­sponse. I feel more driven and con­fi­dent about what I bring to the game then I have done be­fore. My voice has now been coached, as after hav­ing a baby ev­ery­thing needs to be trained again, so the mi­cro­phone and I are happy to be reac­quainted. I miss the in­ter­ac­tion with the au­di­ence and the magic of be­ing in the mo­ment. I just want peo­ple to feel that all over body tin­gle when they hear my voice, that makes all the love, hate and pain worth it. Let’s ac­knowl­edge the ele­phant in the room, I know that you’re about to make an ap­pear­ance on the Voice Aus­tralia - what was that about? Well, after tak­ing last year off, and the year be­fore gig­ging but not pro­mot­ing much of my orig­i­nal work, I felt I needed to say I’m here and I’m stronger then ever. Seems so cliché I know but it gave me a dead­line to get back in shape and get my voice back into gear. I think there is def­i­nitely an ap­peal­ing fan­tasy about hav­ing a men­tor who will help con­nect all the dots and make your ca­reer hap­pen. Do you think hav­ing taken so much time off, there was an el­e­ment of that in the decision to make an ap­pear­ance on the show? Yes for sure that came into it. It was hard to fig­ure out how I was go­ing to get back into my ca­reer with­out go­ing round in cir­cles. The idea of a men­tor and the ex­po­sure was for sure like some­thing shiny to a child. Are you locked into any con­tracts? No, lucky enough I am not. What was the bless­ing in dis­guise about the ex­pe­ri­ence? It gave me the kick I needed to get back into gear but it also re­minded me that ‘I am an artist and I’m sen­si­tive about my shit’. How has ev­ery­thing that’s hap­pened, in­clud­ing be­ing a mum, trans­formed you as an artist? It’s made my iden­tity to my­self stronger and my writ­ing even more emo­tional and thought pro­vok­ing. Now I re­ally want to be able to give strength through my lyrics. In­se­cu­ri­ties are apart of life, sit­u­a­tions hap­pen that suck and life still goes on with hope. Ev­ery­thing I’ve gone through has made me re­ally feel more con­nected with life and as an artist and I want to be able to share my story, even the bits I tried to for­get. I think there is a re­spon­si­bil­ity to let peo­ple know they aren’t alone. Mu­sic, art, fash­ion, what­ever it is, can be life chang­ing and I’ve re­ally come to terms with that as an artist now. What are you cur­rently work­ing on? I’m cur­rently work­ing on another Ep be­fore I re­lease an al­bum as I have a con­cept be­hind the Ep be­ing very visual. Where do you want to be in terms of your ca­reer? I want to tour the world to au­di­ences cap­ti­vated with my mu­sic as well as write for other artists. I would love to have a team around me to help take things to another level, as be­ing a mum and try­ing to be ev­ery­thing from PR to writer can be a headf#*k. I want to merge the fash­ion world with the mu­sic world in a cou­ture meets street kind of way. Like if I have an un­der­ground show in London I wanna call on Bal­main to dress me! ha ha. What is most im­por­tant to you as an artist? Stay­ing true to my call­ing. Ev­ery cre­ative has a gut wrench­ing de­sire to do what they want to do. I know I want to just give peo­ple those Sade, By Your Side mo­ments where it just con­nects you to some­thing greater then your­self. www.sar­shasi­mone.com

Check Sar­sha on BLK TV: www.black­magazine.co.nz

Photo: Thom Kerr Make-up: Becca Gil­martin Hair: Iggy us­ing Kevin.murphy. All cloth­ing and jew­ellery, Sar­sha's own

YASMINE GAN­LEY LEARNS

WHY PHO­TOG­RA­PHER LEILANI HEATHER USED SHAKIRA TO RID HER BOOK OF 'IM­MENSE SE­RI­OUS­NESS' AND SHE GETS HER JIG ON

FOR GRETA VAN DER STAR

Yasmine Gan­ley: Tell us about your show ‘Sin­gle Brown Fe­male’. What were the con­cepts and ideas you were ex­plor­ing? Leilani Heather: Talia Smith and I stud­ied to­gether at Unitec. Dur­ing our time there we were con­stantly mis­taken for each other. We both have un­ruly brown curly hair, brown eyes and Poly­ne­sian her­itage. On top of that there were some sim­i­lar­i­ties in our pho­to­graphic prac­tices at the time. We jok­ingly dis­cussed mak­ing a show one day about our mis­taken iden­ti­ties and two years later, we did. We wanted to high­light the im­por­tance of ac­knowl­edg­ing peo­ple as in­di­vid­u­als, as them­selves and as more than “so-and-so with the brown hair”. For as long as I can re­mem­ber I’ve been mis­taken for some­one else with brown curly hair. This show was a great way to qui­etly say: take the hint, work harder, use your eyes. What we ended up pre­sent­ing far sur­passed any­thing that ei­ther of us had ex­pected to cre­ate. We worked in com­plete col­lab­o­ra­tion, which was re­ally new for me. Thank you for the two beau­ti­ful books you gave me too! The first one, ‘Vic­tor Charlie’, where are those images taken? Tell us about your time here. You’re so wel­come, I’m glad you like them! Vic­tor Charlie is a col­lec­tion of images that I pho­tographed in Viet­nam. I was lucky enough to do a 3-week trip with a group of my friends a few years ago. We rode mo­tor­bikes along the Ho Chi Minh trail with a few of our Viet­namese friends. Every­day was hot, dusty and filled with new land­scapes that I still can’t be­lieve are real. We would drive from busy ci­ties into lush, green moun­tain­side vil­lages - dart­ing be­tween trucks and buses, try­ing not to de­stroy our mo­tor­bikes or die. Viet­nam is beau­ti­ful. And can you talk a lit­tle about the visual es­say in your book ‘When­ever, Wher­ever’? The project at a glance in­ves­ti­gates dis­carded, ne­glected ur­ban and in­dus­trial spa­ces in Auck­land. It con­sists of medium for­mat film images that I pho­tographed over a few months. I spent each week­end trawl­ing through out­ly­ing Auck­land sub­urbs, tak­ing way too many photographs which re­sulted in this lit­tle pub­li­ca­tion. I’m al­ways in­spired by pop mu­sic. A good pop tune is ev­ery­thing. I had been think­ing about the jour­ney I had been on over the months of shoot­ing, the spa­ces I had seen, the land I had trav­elled across and the lyrics of Shakira’s hit ‘ When­ever, Wher­ever’ came to mind - it’s kind of sad when that is the case, right? I bor­rowed a few of her lyrics as lit­tle thoughts to con­sider when view­ing with the book. Com­bin­ing

Shakira with my work was the best way I could rid the project of im­mense se­ri­ous­ness and at­tempt to in­ject some cheer into a study to mun­dane, every­day places - it just seemed to work for me. I get an inkling that you and your mum are su­per close? Can you tell us about her in­flu­ence on you and your time grow­ing up? My mum is my hero. She raised my brother and I - for the most part - as a sin­gle mum. It goes with­out say­ing but I have so much re­spect for sin­gle mums, I can’t be­gin to imag­ine the pres­sure of rais­ing chil­dren alone. I grew up in Waitakere Town­ship in the coun­try­side. I feel so lucky to have en­joyed much of life in that beau­ti­ful area. My mum moved to New Zealand in her late teens from Apia, Samoa. That alone is mind blow­ing to me. When I was in my late teens I went on two-month hol­i­day to In­dia. Em­pha­sis on HOL­I­DAY. I wasn’t im­mi­grat­ing to a new coun­try and set­ting up the foun­da­tions for my new life. I am al­ways in awe of how hard my mum works and the stan­dard that she works to. It’s crazy. I feel re­ally lucky to have such a strong fe­male role model in my life. She en­cour­aged my brother and I to be our­selves at all costs and most im­por­tantly not to take shit from any­one - cru­cial life ad­vice. I love her. You re­cently opened your own on­line store, Bon Week-end, with your friend Rob. What was the mo­ti­va­tion for do­ing this? Rob and I started Bon Week-end in late 2013 and it has been su­per fun. We have been close friends since our fast times at Massey High. We’re ac­tu­ally flat­mates now, which is awe­some. We had a few ma­jor mo­tives in start­ing Bon Week-end. Firstly, we both wanted to cre­ate some­thing that we could see start to fin­ish with no com­pro­mises. Some­thing to call our own. Se­condly, we were re­ally in­spired by our friends who were cre­at­ing things and didn’t have an on­line pres­ence. There’s so much I could say about Bon Week-end but I guess the bones of it is that we’re two friends, try­ing to share cool ob­jects with who­ever wants to seem them - near or far. What are you cur­rently work­ing on/ and who with? For Bon Week-end I am cur­rently work­ing with de­sign ge­nius Kate Megaw of Penny Sage on some spe­cial win­ter items ex­clu­sively for our store. Per­sonal work wise, I have a new project on the go, which I am ex­cited about. It's still pretty early stages but it in­volves some images I pho­tographed in Samoa late last year amongst other things. Hope­fully I will have a new pub­li­ca­tion self-pub­lished be­fore the year is out. As an artist, what would be some stand out exhibitions of other artists you have seen? My favourite artist is Imo­gen Tay­lor. A few pieces of her work are dot­ted around my room and stu­dio. Her work has so much hu­mour and strange beauty, I can't go past it. Another stand out for me is the col­lec­tion at Zen­trum Paul Klee - a mu­seum ded­i­cated to Paul Klee's life works in Switzer­land. I'm ob­sessed with his line draw­ings and the pup­pets that he cre­ated for his son. They're disturbing and charm­ing. A stand out show that I loved re­cently here in Auck­land was Michael Lee's 'Lead Singer' at Fuzzy Vibes. www.leilani­heather.com

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