The list of musicians who are also visual artists is long and illustrious (think Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Freddie Mercury, David Bowie …). I am envious of such polymaths who make a confluence of arts into one vision and voice. David Heatley, known to me primarily as a comic strip artist, has been making music and art for a while, and his music videos are the result. On March 24 he will release a new album titled If …. Its single “Mess” is out now, as is what I’d describe as a post-punk video directed by Heatley and Dusty Deen, and animated by Deen. I’ve interviewed Heatley before about his dual gifts, and there is no more propitious time to do it once again …
David, how many music videos have you done now?
This is my fourth. The other three from my last record are on my YouTube channel.
Do you have backup, or are you a one-man band?
I’ve been working with musicians down in Louisiana for the last two records, all of whom were brought to my attention by a producer named Mark Bingham. It’s amazing to be able to scale up the right band depending on the song. Everyone knows this, but the talent down there is ungodly.
What inspired “Mess”? Was the video a response to or a trigger for the music?
My whole new record If … is about impossible love in general, and most of the songs were written about a certain crush that I had in the midst of recording down South. She’s a bit of a mess in the best way possible. Like any crush, there’s an archetype at work, and she fit very neatly into a type that’s always drawn me in: the badass girl who doesn’t give a fuck what people think of her. She’s been winning my heart since grade school. Once the track was done, I knew I wanted to collaborate with an animator named Dusty Deen. I gathered all the found footage and did a rough cut, with a few spots left open for his ideas and input. I did some light directing as he sent me sections, but Dusty mostly just ran with it and did all that handcrafted rotoscoping. I think it’s perfect.
What must an indie musician do to reach an audience in this saturated music field?
It seems like music has the best shot at being heard if it’s combined with some kind of storytelling: musical theater, TV or film soundtracks, animated music videos. It’s almost impossible to break through the fog of content out there, especially for someone like me who isn’t interested in touring or playing live much and has never really had a music following. I honestly just love writing songs and recording them in the studio. My guiding principle is to try to make something as undeniable as I can. Make the song and the video good enough to stop people in their tracks. After that, I gotta just let it go. If anyone bites, great. If not, onto the next …
What are your musical goals? Do you plan on adding more media to your creative repertoire?
I’m trying to move into animated television and have been developing a TV pitch based on my last graphic memoir. I have some designs on using my music in my own TV projects. So, I just need to get a TV project greenlit. How hard could that be?