Heather Ballentine on “Christmas Kisses” & The Cat’s Meow
Music's Favorite Pin-up Girl
You just released the single and video for “Christmas Kisses” just in time for the holiday season. What inspired you to do a Christmas song?
I've always wanted to write an original Christmas song. The problem is, my writing partner Lary Bartley and I never remember it until like November. So this year we actually remembered to start early. We wrote it in February, recorded it and then got to work on the video. It literally took all year to have it ready for Christmas but we love how it turned out!
You took the animation route for the video for “Christmas Kisses.” What was the process like and how did you come up with the concept?
My team and I thought it would be cool to do an animated video especially because we wanted it to be fun for all ages, but we didn't realize how expensive animation can be. Fortunately I found an online company called Freelancer.com and we were able to hire an amazing animator through that site on budget. His name is Greg David and we worked online sending proofs back and forth via dropbox. It was a wonderful experience and I love how the end result turned out. He did a fantastic job capturing my concept.
Grammy winner Pete Anderson produced “Christmas Kisses” and your debut album The Cat’s Meow, how did you end up working with him?
It was a dream come true! I've wanted to work with Pete for years. I remember seeing him in the Dwight Yoakam "Fast As You" video and thinking he was a guitar god! I have to credit my husband for talking me into going and visiting Pete at The Cadillac Lounge in Toronto for one of his gigs. I decided to go up and talk to him on his break between sets. He asked me if I had any of my music on me and I looked down and saw one demo CD in my bag. However, instead of giving it to him, I gave it to my now manager, Michael Peters, who was at the time sitting with Pete. I figured the Grammy Winning producer would just throw it in the trash....so I guess I chose right. Two weeks later my manager called and took me to lunch and before I knew it I was making "The Cat's Meow" with Pete Anderson!
What was the process like working on The Cat’s Meow?
It was pretty incredible. I was working with a real live legend, Pete Anderson, and I must say he's a musical genius. He can listen to a song and come up with all sorts of ideas that I would never have thought of. Plus he knows so many incredible musicians. I also loved that he embraced the things about my voice that make me unique. He loved the fact that I sing in a lower register than most "modern" country females, also that I have some natural vibrato and how I like to bend the notes. He was originally concerned about mixing horns and steel on the record, since nobody really does that, but we ended up loving the end result and it really became my own signature style and sound. I'm so proud of "The Cat's Meow". It was a true labour of love.
What are your favorite songs on the album and why?
"Drama Mama" because it's so me, "6 Hours of Charm" because it is sounds so Patsy. I've always loved her and she was a definite influence of my style. I also love "Kiss Me" because it really defines who I am as an artist...a little bit country, a little bit rockabilly, and a little bit big band! And of course I love how "The Girl Can't Help It" turned out. It was Pete's idea to cover that song and I love the end result!
Tell me about the next single “Drama Mama”
I was getting ready one evening when I lived in LA and I was having a bad hair day. My co-writer Lary was patiently waiting on my couch because we were supposed to attend an industry event that night. After waiting and waiting while I changed three times....I finally announced, "What did you expect? I'm a Drama Mama!" From that moment on we decided it was a great title and we decided to write the song. I really love the way the video turned out, it features classic "Drama Mama's" of all eras! It's so fun to watch. It's my favourite production that Pete Anderson did on the album!
What is in store for 2016?
We have lots of exciting things in store for 2016. I'm working on a television concept with Les Stroud of Survivorman, we'll be releasing more singles from The Cat's Meow as well as continuing to play live. I'm also launching a membership club as a division of my current website, as well as focusing more on being an entrepreneur. I'm really looking forward to a power packed year!
Official Website: http://www.heatherballentine.com/