"The joy brings itself. I just get my fears out of its way."

I first met Heidi when she taught music classes at The Little Seed. Fable was a baby and we lived in walking distance to the store and attended classes every Tuesday with some friends and it was the highlight of my week. Heidi is very much a beacon of wonder and light and her new children's album, My Cup of Tea mirrors allll of that goodness and more. 

GGC:  Lady! Congrats on CUP OF TEA! Tell me about it!

Heidi Swedberg: My Cup of Tea is a seriously diverse grouping of songs with very little in common on the outside.  The two great musicians I work with, John Bartlit and Daniel Ward, give it the unified sound.  What the songs all really have in common is that we love them. They are songs I really want to share, I want everyone to know. They come from around the world, some of them I wrote, some are more then a century old, but they all connect with me, and I think they give everyone something to connect with- to a broader world.
back to back
GGC: What was the process like? Any stories to share?

HS: Recording can be something of a painterly process, laying down a sketch, adding layers, varnishing...  We recorded this over about 3 months, mostly in New Mexico, where a great friend, David McRae invited us to work in his incredible studio.  I teach and am a parent, so I fit my work in during school holidays.  We laid the base tracks at Christmas, Daniel and John added more layers and we waited until Easter for me to return and finish up.  Then the really hard work began- mixing- which I leave to Daniel and our David McRae, our amazing engineer.

We had so much fun working together.  It is ALL ABOUT the food.  Well, and the beer.  Being a seriously maternal/foodie type I did a lot of cooking.  I would get up early and do a bunch of prep for posole or a stew, throw all the elements into a crock pot, then we'd head to the studio in the mountains. We'd plug in the crock pot and get to work.  5 hours or so later we would be starving and ready for a break- right when some great smells would be making their way through the soundproof booths. There's several great breweries in NM, like the Marble Brewing Co. Marble IPA and posole with green chili can make a session waltz by.

GGC: You played an iconic role on Seinfeld  and acted for many years before transitioning into music. How has your professional history influenced your professional present? 

HS: I think working in Hollywood made me practically fearless when it comes to doing my own thing. The TV world is so restrictive, so conservative, and frankly, dog-eat-dog, un-supportive and not at all fun.  Walking away from that is a great relief.  I feel so free now.  

My vocals are often dramatic- more than I realize when I am recording them. Acting is really all about communicating and connecting. Not that I think much of my acting chops, but I think in some ways I act a song more then sing it. 

GGC:  At what point did you decide you wanted to write and perform music for children?

HS: I have always found children incredible to connect with.  They are open, honest.  Before they reach the age of shame (about puberty- and most people forget to grow out of it) they are amazing creatures.  Drive, energy, uninhibited.  When I walk down the street, or through a grocery store I see their eyes- and they see mine.  They are unafraid to see people, and much of the time, unafraid to be seen.  

Once I had kids I wanted a way to be able to be present in their schools, to interact with the classes my girls were in.  I knew I didn't have it in me to do a lot of the volunteer opportunities presented to me.  So I began to make up my own- music programs, song and dance parties...   I would teach the kids little songs with dances,  Play Party songs from the early part of the last century.  Then I'd pull together musical friends and we'd have a song and dance party at the school.  The band, the teaching all grew from there.

GGC: You have two daughters. How do they inspire your work? 

HS: My younger girl and I wrote the title track of My Cup Of Tea together over a cup of tea at breakfast. Kids are great rhymers.

GGC: What brings you joy?

HS: The joy brings itself.  I just get my fears out of its way.
GGC: What's next? Any plans for more music classes?

HS: Always!  Trying to form a class on Larchmont Blvd right now. And there are ongoing classes at McCabes in Santa Monica, ukulele for families plus a new program of early childhood classes.  One of my favorites is one we are calling McBabes- an infant class. 

GGC: Can you tell me how you came to the ukelele? Any advice for those interested in taking up the instrument or introducing the uke to their children?

HS: The uke came to me via the Easter Bunny when I was 5.  My family lived in Hawaii and my 3 sisters and I woke up to chocolate bunnies wrapped in foil and triangular shaped boxes with inexpensive but solid starter instruments.  I would still have it today if I hadn't loaned it to my high school boyfriend. (Curse you, Jeff Page!)

The uke is the easiest instrument to learn besides the kazoo.  Get one for yourself, the nicest starter model you can afford.  Buy one for your kid which costs $30, like the Diamond Heads they have at McCabes.  They are so affordable, cheap as a toy.  

I love to teach parents and kids together in families.  I do a class this way at McCabes and privately.  I had a family over the summer, Dad, 2 boys and grandpa. It was incredible. 

So, yes. Play songs, sing- don't take it too seriously. And be fearless! Fail. Suck. Just do it.  After all, what are they gonna do...fire you?

GGC: What are you listening to right now? Any final thoughts you'd like to share?

Christmas Music! AHHHH!!!  

I teach (of all places) at a Catholic School- St Brendans, and already it is time to start getting it together for their annual Holiday Show. Elizabeth Mitchell is putting out a GORGEOUS CD of Christmas Music this year, and she gave me an advance copy. Inspiring. 


Speaking of inspiring... 


And if you're local to LA, Heidi will be be making the following appearances this month and next:

9/22 - McCabes Guitar Shop, Santa Monica 11am
9/29 - Abbot Kinney Festival, Venice, 3:15
10/13- Dragonfly DuLou in Los Feliz, 11:30am
10/19 & 20 - Descanso Gardens, La Canada Flintridge, 11am
10/19 - The Talking Stick, Venice, 6pm

And in Albuquerque... 

10/26 - Outpost Performance Space - 11am. 


Heidi has offered to give three copies of her new CD away here on GGC. To win? Tell us about something that brings you joy. In the meantime, you can find Heidi on twitter and facebook. Thank you, Heidi. You are fantastic. 



Bridget | 11:25 PM

Pumpkin bread gives me joy!

Bridget | 11:25 PM

Pumpkin bread gives me joy!