United Kingdom

James Heather

Artist information

“A masterful set of contemporary piano pieces. The sound Heather makes is captivating.” Electronic Sound
“Superb instrumental music.” CRACK (8 Stand Out Moments from Green Man Festival)
“A special voice…” Headphone Commute
“Capable of supreme tenderness and yet, tonally, hugely powerful.” Mixmag
“Incredibly emotive pieces. A tender, touching album.” Loud and Quiet (Albums of the Month)
“James Heather’s debut album quietly announces him as a new contender. A possible future heavyweight.” The Arts Desk
“Masterful contemporary piano.” Dummy
“Shimmers on the cusp of emotive melody and ambience.” Mojo
“This classical masterwork seems like it has simply come out of nowhere.” Bandcamp (Albums of the Week)
“A fragile, beautiful album.” The Line of Best Fit
“Modulations EP2’ is a remarkable piece of music that yields more secrets the more it’s played.” Clash

As a child growing up in Southampton, James Heather’s Grandad on one side of the family taught him composition techniques and how to manipulate the tuning of piano strings, whilst his Granny on the other used to dabble with dreamy improvisations on the instrument. Inspired by a love of Beethoven, Debussy and hearing his older neighbour’s Acid House pirate radio station, Heather spent many years honing his piano playing alone. He imagined composing for a collective of some sort one day, but a mixture of shyness and the different trends of the day meant things mainly evolved privately, expressing the band he imagined in his head, but using only solo piano. After a near death experience, he had the energy to step out finally as an artist. The result was to bring a fresh take to piano music which on streaming services have been played over 120 million streams in just a few years and his debut album charting at #14 in Classical Crossover in the Billboard (USA) charts. Influence wise, the music takes as much from electronic music in structure, ambience and sensibility, and post-rock in its exploration of building meditative tones as it does its classical and jazz grounding. Heather proves adept in the intricacies of composition from the tender to more propulsive, trance-inducing dynamics, always highly personal and with warmth and hope in the sadness, it belies the fact the music is often coming from just one acoustic instrument.

In 2022 Heather releases his second album, “Invisible Forces”. The album is about becoming aware of invisible forces around us to help deepen understanding of self and our connection to the world, from tuning into the natural world and getting lost in its patterns and energies to gaining more knowledge around ancestral lines such as the concept of epigenetics. It’s about looking that bit deeper into things, into areas that are not instantly visible but are all around us to achieve this. “Composing these songs gave me an anchor to feel more present in life after some troubling times and sent me on a journey to rediscover a kind of wonderment with the world. I hope the Invisible Forces universe will bring warmth to other people too.” A step forward compositionally from his 2017 debut album ‘Stories From Far Away On Piano’, the songs are grander, deeper and broader in emotional range and are developed through a series of improvisation techniques rarely seen in the often notated world of classical music. He describes his music as “pulse music” with each track performed in a single take and each with its roots in this improvisation, as the compositions evolve gradually.

The tracks (alongside 2021’s “Modulations: EP2”) were this time more honed on the road, playing concerts such as Green Man Festival, Glastonbury Festival, Berlin Planetarium, Wilderness Festival and Dublin National Concert Hall. Also in 2021, Heather released a new version of ‘And She Came Home’ with added strings for Coldcut’s ambient @0 compilation in aid of CALM, Mind, and Black Minds Matter, with the song being promoted as a double-single alongside Ryuichi Sakamoto. On the same compilation he contributed piano parts to a new version of the seminal ambient track ‘Autumn Leaves Return’ by Coldcut & The irresistible Force. Heather initially started to release music via Ahead Of Our Time in 2017, Ninja Tune founders Coldcut’s resurrected first label. First came “Modulations: EP1”, seven tracks which were written in various headspaces. Next came his debut album “Stories From Far Away On Piano”, a more unified conceptual piece of work, followed by some high-calibre remixes and alternate versions titled ‘Reworks’ in 2018. Heather was reworked by DJ Seinfeld, Aparde, Echo Collective, Mary Lattimore, Chihei Hatakeyama, Sarah Davachi and composed new additional string quartet versions himself. Supporters of Heather’s music include James Lavelle (UNKLE), Nils Frahm, Cillian Murphy, DJ Seinfeld, Emika (who he played 2 sold out shows at the Berlin Planetarium with in 2020), Mary Lattimore, Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label) and The Cinematic Orchestra, who asked Heather to rework their song “A Caged Bird / Imitations Of Life” for their ‘To Believe’ remix album. He has collaborated with Dawn Richard, Coldcut, Mumdance and Roger Robinson (King Midas Sound).


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Upcoming shows

James Heather Utrecht, TivoliVredenburg