Editor in Chief,
I walked into Mike Woods’ Log Jam Music Studio in Port Hope
on a chilly night in October to interview local youth band, HERA.
It was a Thursday night, and I was exhausted after a long work
week. So, I walked in expecting that yes, this band would be
good, but definitely not expecting to be blown away by their
I was wrong. They aren’t just good, they are amazing.
I arrived a few minutes early before the band got there, so I had the chance to listen to one of their song, January. With vocals slightly reminiscent of Billy Eilish, inspired lyrics and emotive music, HERA already sound like they are on Spotify playlists and getting radio time.
They took me by surprise again when the band arrived at the studio and we started the interview: they are not only musically talented, but also clearly intelligent, articulate and grounded young women. It is unusual to have all those qualities together in four young people and that is exactly why HERA is a perfect fit for the December/January issue. Here is our Inspire Interview with HERA, in their own words.
Inspire: Tell me about your band name, HERA. So, we all got together at an ice cream parlour and we had a couple of ideas. But Raleigh came up with the really simple idea just to put our names together – so H-E-R-A Hayley, Emily, Raleigh, Abby. And then we found out later Hera was actually a Greek Goddess, married to Zeus and a very powerful woman. So, we couldn’t not choose that name!
Inspire: So how did you actually meet in the first place? We all took lessons from Mike [Woods], and for quite a while. We all liked the idea of getting together with more people and becoming a group. We each went to Mike separately and Mike helped bring us together. Abby and I (Hailey) got together and then we started looking for a singer to sing on one of our songs, so we got Raleigh and then we finally needed some percussion so then we got Emily.
Inspire: I was just listening to one of your songs when I came in, I was so impressed! I’m curious, in what genre would you put yourselves? Well, sort of Pop, but also alternative. Yeah! Kind of Indie Pop alternative.
Inspire: What inspires you all musically? And where do you get your inspiration from? Abby: Everywhere – I’ll hear another song and like the way that cord changes and that riff and then I’ll think of my own ideas and shape it to fit our sound. And just everyday things. Hayley: I agree with Abby a lot, I personally get mine from hearing everyday things – like every day hearing songs or guitar or vocals. But I also get a lot from family, my Grandfather was in a band, so I really liked listening to him and all his songs. My Uncle is in a band… so just kind of a mixture of family and every day music. Inspire: What about you guys? Rayleigh: It’s pretty much the same. I definitely like getting a lot from other songs that I hear, the music that I come up with comes from that. Listening to songs and then taking out certain parts that you like. Emily: The same. I listen to a lot of music and come from a pretty musical family. My two younger sisters love music, so we play together sometimes and write music together.
Inspire: That segues well into my next question, which is what kind of music do you like to listen to outside of the band? A wide variety! We all have very different tastes!! Abby: I LOVE older music, I’m a hug fan of David Bowie, Stone Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers… I love an older kind of music. (laughter). Hayley: I love country music. I’m easy going with music, I’ll listen to anything anyone puts on but if it had to be my choice I would always go to country. Emily: I listen mostly to pop, whatever pop comes up on the radio and country pop. Rayleigh: I listen to a lot of pop but not so much regular pop, because I work in a bakery and I listen to the radio at work, so we tend to her the same songs over and over. But I do listen to pop, just not necessarily mainstream pop.
Inspire: You are an all-girl band. Does that bring with it special challenges for you? Yes, in a way it does. When you look at bands that play at school, on the radio… we were talking when we first got together and we could only name two or three girl bands that we know. That’s why I asked the question, it’s fairly unusual. Yeah, a lot of times the bands that play at school, at assemblies… it’s all boys, no girls. So, it’s kind of a fun challenge in way. But I also feel it’s helpful, because if one of us has ups or downs in our life we’re all very supportive of it. I feel like that would be harder if there was even one guy in the band…. We’re all very supportive of each other and we find that helpful. I [also] feel like it impacts our sound quite a bit. We definitely feel like writing is different as well. Emily: I feel like it’s easier in some ways, we all get along really well.
Inspire: Do people ever not take you as seriously because you’re all girls? Umm, it’s early so it’s hard to say yet. There might be some people that come around that think that, that have that opinion, but we haven’t encountered that too much.
Inspire: And have you done much performing at this point? (Giggling) Umm… we played at a student show that Mike [Woods] puts on every year, a Port Hope Youth Talent Show and the Port Hope Fall Fair. If it doesn’t snow, we will be playing at the Port Hope Santa Claus Parade.
Inspire: What advice would you give to other musicians your age? Abby: Don’t Give up!! I was really close to giving up guitar a number of times. It just got kind of boring play the same songs over and over and I felt that I was wasting my time. But just hold on for a little bit longer, because you never know what’s going to come up. That’s great advice. Hayley: Yeah, definitely don’t give up. But also, even when you’re at a time when you’re like “I don’t want to practice, I don’t want to pick up this instrument, I don’t want to do vocals” or anything you just have to do it even if you don’t want to. Because, in the end it really does help you improve, and you will eventually get there. You just have to keep persevering and push through it. Emily: And we would also say, stop doubting yourself. Don’t listen to other people and don’t compare yourselves to bands that have been playing for twenty years. People are going to come around and tell you that this is just a kid thing, you won’t succeed, or I don’t think you should be doing this just focus on your grades or something. Abby: But they don’t know what you’ve done, they don’t know how much effort you’ve put into it. So, don’t let them affect the way you think. Inspire: Wow. That’s some great advice! If you do what you’re passionate about, it over-rides everything else. Emily: And I also think another thing is being open to collaborating with other musicians, you can learn a lot from them especially when you’re young and still learning yourself. It pushes you out of your comfort zone and you can try new things. Even for us, our coach is Mike [Woods], he’s in a blues band and a rock band so that’s helping us get outside our comfort zone and look at new things and new options. Inspire: That’s very true and I think it’s true in other areas of life too.
Inspire: Do you write all your own songs? Or do you do covers as well? We write our own songs. We are practicing covers, but I don’t think we’re going to release any.
Inspire: And are you all part of the song writing process? Yes! We are…. like with “Porcelain”, Rayleigh came in with the verses but even so, it was so build and book. And we changed a lot of things and even musically wise, if someone wasn’t there for the lyrics, music wise it’s a whole other thing. We’re always adjusting and if one person doesn’t like it, we’ll work on it until it’s 100%. There’s four people so there’s going to be four different opinions. It also helps that we’re four girls, our writing process is so much easier. And we’re all HUGE perfectionists, so that helps.
Inspire: So what’s next and where do you hope to take this? What are your plans for the future? It’s a little bit hard to think about that. I think we all know where we want to be with this band, we want to take this and we want to expand but you never know for sure what’s going to happen. Inspire: Okay, so where would like to be, say six months from now, short term? I think we’d like to be playing, and actually playing gigs in different places and definitely just feeling a little more [pause] on Spotify! You sound like you should be on Spotify! And just hoping to be out there more. Writing more songs.
I have a feeling it won’t be long before you’ll be able to listen to HERA on Spotify but until then, you can watch for upcoming performances and listen to their music on our site!