Toronto native Heather Russell is about to turn sixteen! While signed on the spot by Simon Cowell and having her song on Freeform’s hit Pretty Little Liars, all Heather really wants is her drivers license! We got to exclusively speak to her on it all.
Any big cultural differences since moving from Toronto to LA?
Yes, there are some pretty big cultural differences between Toronto and LA since the move actually! However, it’s nothing very new to me since I lived in Toronto for 11 years prior to living in LA. One Of the differences I’ve noticed are having to do with transportation. Basically, in order to get from one place to another, everyone pretty much drives everywhere in L.A which is why lA traffic is known to be the WORST. In contrast, in Toronto, we use the metro system and trains to get to where we wanna be as opposed to all cars. It’s actually really cool and fun, it makes me feel way more independent and older if you will knowing that I can go to places without my mommy driving me.? Another difference is some of try language we use here. In other words, we say “washroom” here instead of bathroom and “pop” instead of soda, etc. There’s a whole bunch more, but you get the point. Lastly, there’s definitely a distinct accent here that I’ve noticed through all my family here, and just people in general that I didn’t hear in L.A which I think is soooo cool! As an example, we say the word “out” differently and all words that have like that frenetic pronunciation. So like, we would pronounce that more like “oat” haha. Or, “oatside,” I think it’s pretty cute. Overall, those are the main difference that have recently popped out to me.:)
Simon Cowell signed you to his Syco label on the spot after hearing you sing. What was that experience like?
Being signed to Simon Cowell’s label Syco was unexplainable. It was that type of moment where you remember exactly how you felt within that precise moment. Just when I thought my life and myself as a person couldn’t have skyrocketed as much as it did when I only find out that I was going to be performing for him for the first time, hearing that he was signing me was absolutely asinine to me but in a GOOD way!!! I was DYING. I had been a fan of him for such a long time before this happened, and knowing that I was going to be signed by him was unreal. It was one of the coolest and greatest feelings I had ever felt, and I’m so glad it happened because it inspired me to do so much more in regards to music. For example, he inspired me to practice more and more, and in essence, encouraged me to be a perfectionist in a funny way. To this day, I’m still a perfectionist.
Your song “Got This Feeling” was featured on Pretty Little Liars. Are you a fan of the show?
Okay, so I’ve been an INSANE fan for the show “Pretty Little Liars” for a long time now. The funny thing is, I discovered it on Netflix, and from that day on, I would binge watch the show for hours on hours, you don’t even understand ? So, when I found out that my song was going to be on the show, I went ballistic no joke. I couldn’t believe that I was going to contribute to a show I had been watching for so long now!! When it came on I started crying, that’s how exited I was.
Since you’re a killer songwriter, tell us about your writing process.
One thing I’ve learned being in the industry and being able to write with so many writers is that everyone writes totally differently and everyone has a different out look on how to write in regards to what one should do first and how they should do it. For me, writing is a very easy-going type thing, because I do it liiiiiike 24/7. And writing doesn’t ask ways mean sitting down at a piano or guitar and saying “okay I’m gonna write a song,” even though I’ve also done that before. I’m conga stay coming up with ideas, and when I do, regardless of where I am, I make sure that I record on my phone, which is probably why I have no storage left, (there’s about 500 voice memos on it.) This makes it so easy to go back and work on these ideas when it’s the right time and when I feel that I wanna go back and make it into something. However, something that I also do ALL the time is when it comes to writing, writing melodies is a lot easier for me than lyrics. So when I’m by like a piano, I typically will come up with a melody, (sometimes in the bathroom) and if I like it in that moment, I bring it to the piano, and come up with some chords to fit it and then eventually the song grows. Lyrics usually come last.
Your debut EP was released this fall, any plans for a full length LP?
I did release an EP, which was an AMAZING experience. Since I had such a fun time recording for it and performing it, I really REALLY wanna make a full album next. I’m so ready to get back into the studio. That writing fire that I have inside of me is running strong right now, and I would totally love to start writing a new album, so hopefully, sometime in the future I do, which I’m sure will happen eventually.
Someone is turning 16 this year! Any big plans?
I am turning sixteeennn and I’m SOO excited, you don’t understand. For me, I’ve always looked at 16 as like the serious transition into being an adult but at the same time being in your prime as a teenager because I mean, you can legally get your license, aka freedom!! So, I’m hoping to get my license, and in terms of music, I feel some pretty big things coming this year going into next year. I plan to hopefully perform as much as possible, and to get back in the studioooo.
Any celebrity crushes?
Yes, I have like an endless list of celebrity crushes haha. Okay, so my list would consist of Justin Bieber for sure, Shawn Mendes, Bryson Tiller, Drake, The Weeknd, Jack Johnson and Chris Hemsworth. In fact, Chris Hemsworth has been my screensaver on my iPad for like three years now!! I love him SO much.
Make sure you let us know if “Got This Feeling” has made it to your summer playlist @CelebMix!