FemFocused: Artist Laura Hickli

I started by using my piano to pray.

Laura Hickli

Welcome Canadian artist Laura Hickli to Positive Publicity’s FemFocused!

Laura Hickli is an award-winning international-touring baroque-pop/chamber-folk artist originally out of Calgary, AB. Her newest single ‘Listen’, recorded during a residency at the world-renowned Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, tells the story of a woman recovering from a traumatic childhood while coming to terms with accepting herself and her mental illness.

Bringing audiences from around the globe world-class performances with a rare and chilling honesty, Laura Hickli, described as ‘indomitable,’ will shatter any expectation of the way a piano can be played, a voice can be lifted, or a life can be lived. ‘Listen’ will be released on April 19th, so stay tuned! It was set to be toured across Canada and the United States for the majority of 2020 until the coronavirus cancellations halted over 60 tour dates.

You can find Laura on Instagram, Facebook, Bandcamp, YouTube and Spotify. Read out interview below!

Photo by Kirk Stauffer (Seattle)

Welcome Laura, I hope you are well! To begin our interview, how have you been spending/managing your time during this time? How have you been doing?

When COVID-19 swept in and cancelled over 60 tour dates, including showcases at Canadian Music Week and Launch Music Festival, I was quick to realize that my temporary living situation (a small room in my girlfriend’s basement suite which I shared with my partner between tour cycles) was now going to be a room I became well-acquainted with. I am used to living in a van and touring the world full-time, so it came as quite a shock to actually have the time to adjust to the normalities of home-life (i.e. having a real sink and not having to use the bathroom at gas stations.)

Jokes aside, the freedom in our nomadic lifestyle had become something I became accustomed to and thoroughly enjoyed, so it’s been a rather difficult adjustment the past month. To stay busy and hopeful for the future, I spend nearly all of my time planning effective distribution of upcoming releases, writing new material, recording music, and doing all the admin that comes with trying to make a living as an artist out of work.

We were recently accepted into the Byrdcliffe Residency in NY, but won’t be able to attend as the borders are closed, and it would be impossible to tour in these conditions regardless. I suppose you could say I’m pretending that this basement suite is a residency, and also praying for the world to recover quickly.

Once this wild time is over, what is next for you? What do you hope to do next?

Our tour truly depends on how the world reacts to this crisis, mainly economically. I wouldn’t doubt it if many of the venues we were confirmed to play this year end up closing down, which is heartbreaking. I wonder how different the world will be for touring artists, will it be as accommodating? I hope so.

My partner and I will plan new tour routes around whatever state various cities find themselves in, whatever venues are still open, and any postponed festivals we’ve previously been accepted into. As for the release of my second album, I was planning on seeking label representation for it by building hype and touring my upcoming single, ‘Listen’ (available everywhere April 19th) in key industry markets. I think I’ll have to be a bit more creative about trying to find label support when approaching through the internet, rather than in person, and/or delay its release altogether. Either way, I have a lot of time to create new material and invent future opportunities for myself during my time at home in our little basement residency.

Photo by Kaitlyn Kerr

If you are comfortable answering this question – you mention that your music is cognitive behavioral therapy in action. Could you talk about how music has perhaps been a source of therapy for you?

When I was in therapy my counselor began to teach me the art of cognitive behavioral therapy, a learned skill which actually changes the way the brain responds to issues by re-routing instinctual thought processes for more positive outcomes. Dealing with a number of mental health issues and trauma myself, I often find myself stuck in negative thought loops that have me obsessing over how horrible life is or how useless a person I am for months on end.

I found music to be an escape from these terrors as early as 13 when I first began writing songs on the piano. The delicate and expressive sounds of particular keys played on my piano gifted me focus on how I really felt, why I felt that way, and what I could say to comfort myself. I often utilized songwriting as my most powerful self-therapy tool, and being a secluded home schooled kid, the piano became my most trusted and closest friend.

On April 19th my newest single ‘Listen’ releases. ‘Listen’ exemplifies my own cognitive behavioral therapy practice by lyrically capturing the transformation from my initial depressive thought patterns into a much more positive and self-assuring state of mind.

Thank you Laura! I look forward to seeing you live when you’re back on tour.

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