A Chat with Lady Brett Ashley’s Heather Nolan

Is your band named after a Hemingway Character, and if so, why’s that?

Lady Brett Ashley is named after a character from The Sun Also Rises. She is a notorious flirt and messes with people’s heads … so the choice was actually a masochistic one when I did my first RPM a few years back and was feeling particularly guilty about some not so moral choices I’d made. In particular, the novel writes about her in a way that makes her seem god-like, despite her actions, because it is written from the point of view of someone that is in love with her. And I had been trying to explain myself to someone that was idealizing me and brushing past the fault that I was at, when I felt that it was too big an obstacle to overlook.

Why the Ukulele as Primary Instrument on the New Album? 

The ukulele was a bit of a happy accident. I had one of those little toy ones lying around, but had never really learned to play it. Then I moved across the island to go to school, and realized at the last minute that I didn’t have space for my guitar. So I strapped the uke on my backpack and carried on. Then I absolutely fell in love with it. I love taking the light cheerful sound and turning it into melancholy, as seen in most of my songs. It’s sort of a lonely but hopeful instrument to me. When we started building up the band and adding more instruments, I loved it even more because of the balance and contrast between them.

Tell us a Little Something about One of the Songs on the Album

Winter Bones is awfully relevant at the moment. It’s also my favourite of the three. It is the song that most readily showcases the melancholy effect a ukulele can have, and I think it is the song that captures each instrument at its finest in our ensemble. I wrote that song last February during RPM. It’s about the sinking feeling you get mid-winter, like a tree so covered in snow that it can’t shake the weight. The first verse compares the winter to a harsh breakup between the trees and the leaves, and how hard it is on both parties though they can’t see the plight of the other. The second verse is sort of reminiscent of a time before the weight of the snow came. The song is foreboding and dark. It was a foreboding and dark winter, beneath all that snow on my branches.

Photo Credit: Tosha Lobsinger

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