Heather Greene
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Heather Greene

| INDIE

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Dec
08
Heather Greene @ Joes Pub

New York, New York, USA

New York, New York, USA

Oct
08
Heather Greene @ Union Hall

Brooklyn, New York, USA

Brooklyn, New York, USA

Oct
06
Heather Greene @ World Cafe

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

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Music

Press


Many of the articles written about Heather Greene in 2009 focused on the New York City-based singer/songwriter's work as an American rep for Glenfiddich (a Scotch whiskey that William Grant & Sons have been manufacturing in Dufftown, Scotland, since 1886). It's certainly an interesting, attention-grabbing hook, publicity-wise -- American vocalist becomes the U.S. face of Scottish hard liquor provider, American vocalist spends time in Edinburgh getting in touch with her Scottish/Celtic roots. But what does her music sound like? Sweet Otherwise, Greene's second album, is a captivating adult alternative effort with a slight jazz influence and some trip-hop appeal. Stylistically, her approach could be described as Joni Mitchell by way of Beth Orton, Dido, Sarah McLachlan, and Julia Fordham; subtlety and understatement prevail throughout this 2009 release, and Greene obviously doesn't feel that she has to shout to get her points across. Introspective items such as "Moon Hangs Fire," "Let It Slide," and "In the Game" point to the fact that Greene is the type of pop/rock artist who would rather float than rock, but her use of restraint doesn't mean that she isn't an artist of substance. Actually, Sweet Otherwise has a lot of substance, and the songs on this 44-minute CD have plenty of emotional meat on their bones. Much like the singer/songwriters who have influenced her -- much like Mitchell, McLachlan, Orton, and the others -- Greene demonstrates that artists who speak softly can also be artists who have a lot to say. Sure, it's possible to let albums as understated as Sweet Otherwise quietly fade into the background, although it is much better to turn up the volume, give this album one's full attention, and enjoy Greene's reflections as much as possible. The singer/songwriter field was quite crowded in the late 2000s, but Sweet Otherwise could easily go down in history as one of the more memorable and consistent adult alternative discs of 2009. - ALL MUSIC GUIDE


EW YORK - On a recent Wednesday night, Heather Greene sat in the Red Cat, a rustic-chic Manhattan restaurant, picking at a pyramid of tuna tartare. Then she checked her BlackBerry, and her face took on an expression somewhere between bewilderment and measured thrill. An e-mail had just arrived informing her that MTV was interested in promoting and distributing the new LP by her synth-pop duo, Argon 40.

HEATHER GREENE
At the Middle East Upstairs at 9 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $9 at 617-931-2000 or
www.ticketmaster.com.
Despite that project's success, however, the indie-rock singer-songwriter's energies are focused on her solo career. Her sophomore solo album, "Sweet Otherwise," was just released on BHM, and she was about to embark on a tour through France and Germany. The 30-something Greene, who plays the Middle East Sunday night, is also the American brand ambassador for Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch Whisky, and she had business to attend to for the liquor company.

"Sweet Otherwise" is an introspective album inspired by musicians like Elliott Smith and such electronica-soaked acts as Massive Attack and Zero 7, with songs that evoke the defiant, giddy energy of musicians associated with John Hughes movies. Her lyrics alternately brood over and fly in the face of the loneliness, which makes perfect sense when you learn that Greene, who also plays keyboards, wrote the album while living alone in Scotland. She moved to Edinburgh from Manhattan in late 2005 after her first album, "Five Dollar Dress," was picked up by a European label.

This was around the same time the music industry was undergoing a rapid transformation, and she was confronted with what she calls an "extreme reality check." An elderly man she met in an Edinburgh coffee shop offered her a century-old piano he was trying to get rid of, and it became the sounding board for her thoughts.

"It felt like a passing through, since it was only mine for a little while," says Greene, whose kohl-black tresses, piercing chestnut eyes, and angular features give her the look of an Anglo Penélope Cruz. Of course, the foreign landscape and local culture had a hand in shaping her ruminations. When she wasn't writing songs at the piano, she was bartending at the clubby headquarters of the Single Malt Whisky Society and serving on the Society's elite tasting panel. She's fond of telling the story of how her great-grandparents, who lived in Glasgow, came to the States on a boat, and generations later, she packed her trunk with whiskey and a vintage Wurlitzer and traveled the same route in the other direction.

Of course, whiskey and music are far from strangers. The spirit has been the muse, if not the downfall, of countless musicians. But Greene's relationship with the Scottish elixir has been a portal to self discovery. "There's a wistfulness to whiskey," she says, "and I love the role it played in how I thought about music on the recent album. When the chips were down, it was something I was passionate about, something that evoked the senses, like music does."

Her fascination with whiskey ultimately ties back to her stint as a bartender in the early 2000s, which helped jumpstart her music career. She was tending bar at Tonic, the now shuttered Lower East Side haven for musicians with a penchant for the avant-garde and the experimental. When Greene was younger, she had sung jazz standards in clubs, but being in the company of musicians prompted her to create her own work. She gave herself six months to write as many songs as she could. From that came her country-tinged chamber pop album "Five Dollar Dress." Musicians she met through her network of Tonic regulars ended up playing on the album, including Bill Frisell and members of the Tosca String Quartet.

"I've had the great pleasure of seeing Heather evolve as an artist," said Melissa Caruso Scott, a Tonic owner who offered Greene her first gig. "Although I always thought her dedication, drive, and talent could lead her to success, it was when I realized I was happily humming the tune to 'I Wrote Your Name,' a song on the first album, that I knew she was on to something. I had that song stuck in my head and I wanted to keep it there. For me, that's the makings of a hit."

Greene is hoping that a century-old piano, a little solitude, and plenty of Scottish whiskey will add up to even more. - Boston Globe


What’s a musician got to do to make it today? With the music business in the toilet, artists have had to find bolder ways of getting their music heard and earn a living.

Enter Heather Greene, a singer-songwriter who, for the past several years, has served as a brand ambassador for Glenfiddich, a Scotch whiskey made by William Grant & Sons. Now she’s starting to use her role as a corporate spokesperson to leverage her music.

What that means is that she travels the U.S. hosting tastings for bar staff, distillers, journalists and the public. Greene, who followed her nose for Scotch whisky to Scotland and the Scotch Malt Whisky Society for training while taking a break after releasing her first album, is one of the few female Scotch whisky experts in the world. From there she joined William Grant & Sons.

On Tuesday night she performed the first of a series of concerts that combined her day job with her music career. Taking the stage in New York’s Greenwich Village bar Zinc, she played selections from her new album “Sweet Otherwise” while a mixologist prepared a variety of Glenfiddich cocktails for the audience, including one named for her album.

In an interview she said, “I hope to infect a little of ‘Let’s look at this iconic brand [Glenfiddich] in a new light,’” with her work as a brand ambassador.

William Grant & Sons, based in Scotland, has been around since 1886 and considers itself a patron of the arts, said David Bitran, senior brand manager. However, Bitran is careful to say that the company places no restrictions on the artists who it makes brand ambassadors. “It’s not like there’s some script she has to follow,” he says.

For the company, the relatively inexpensive cost of underwriting the alcohol and small performance spaces offers a way to stand out in a competitive category. According to preliminary data from the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, sales of single malt scotch rose only 0.2 in 2008. In contrast, vodka rose 4.1 percent.

“If at the end of the evening you [people who come to Heather's show] become a fan, then it’s a success,” Bitran says. - Wall Street Journal


I
t’s appropriate that Heather Greene appears in our beauty issue
this month, not just for her striking good looks, but for her life
as whole. Her motto is “Listen to music and drink scotch,” and
she speaks of both with equal zeal and delight. She wrote her
first song in the second grade (“It was about lying on the swings,” she
says) and began pursuing music professionally in 2001. It was then
that he gave herself a deadline to write ten songs in six months and
showcase them in New York City, a goal she met with success. Just
one of many musical successes, as she is now releasing her sophomore
album, Sweet Otherwise, and has a second musical project taking off
as well, an electronic group called Argon 40 that has been likened to
such fan favorites as Goldfrapp and MGMT.
Sweet Otherwise mixes sounds from different eras and genres
including toe-tapping rhythms and electronic melodies, but it is
her smooth, understated voice that stands out the most. At times
mournful, at others, celebratory, it’s a quiet album, music to drink
whisky to in good company and low light. During the course of
my conversation with Greene, I not only learn the inspirations and
elements that go into songwriting, but also the elements that go
into scotch making and craftsmanship. Much of the inspiration for
the album was culled in Scotland, where she lived for over a year
and where a newfound talent quickly turned into a second career.
“Coming from New York, it felt like I had hit a brick wall. Life
had gone from 500 miles an hour to two miles an hour,” she says.
Looking for something to keep her occupied in between tours, Greene
went to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Edinburgh, asked for a
job and was hired on the spot. The society is housed in a building
hundreds of years old that Greene describes as “really magical.”
“It has high vaulted ceilings and stone fireplaces that I
would light every morning, and while it was still quiet I would
take notes and do tastings and start learning about scotch. I
fell in love with the whole wistfulness of it.” Uncovering a new
talent and passion, Greene was invited to become an ambassador
for Glenfiddich, administering tastings and educating drinkers
the world over as to the creation and craftsmanship of scotch, as
well as flavors and notes to look for in a quality malt. The perfect
career marriage, her tours as ambassador provide opportunities
to play music and reach out to new audiences.
When I ask what she would recommend to a novice scotch
drinker, Greene launches into an enlivened explanation of the
nuances in texture and balance of Glenfiddich 12, including flavor
differences between neat scotch and scotch on the rocks. She even
asks when I’ll be home next and offers to bring over a bottle to share
so I can learn more and taste for myself. “It is something outside of
music that feeds my soul just as much,” she says. A life with such
successes and fulfilling passions is nothing short of beautiful.
EMILY KROPP - Zinc Magazine


After countless forays to strip clubs, strip-club steakhouses and biker clubs, my girlfriend finally voiced an objection to my adventures in New York’s inebriated underbelly.

“You’re not going out with Glenfiddich’s female whisky ambassador,” she commanded. I swear steam issued from her ears, like a real-life cartoon. “I don’t want you hanging out with women wearing bikinis, dumping whisky down your throat.”
Though that mental image pleased me, I tossed water on that wet dream.This whisky emissary, Heather Greene, would wear pants. She held a respectable, enviable position: traveling the East Coast, guiding Glenfiddich tastings and proselytizing about the woodsy spirit. Plus, she’s an accomplished musician, with international tours under her belt.
“That doesn’t make me feel better,” my girlfriend said, reluctantly acquiescing to my plan: date night with a woman I wasn’t dating.
“Ready for some WHISKY?” Heather texts.
“Sweet heavens, I hope so,” I reply, arranging to meet at Tribeca’s temple of dark spirits, the Brandy Library.The Library is all leather and wood, liquor bottles glowing like amber jewels. Since the fairer sex is in short supply, I instantly ID one thirty-something Heather. She’s wearing a leather jacket and long tresses, and a warm, lip-glossed smile from which issues a good-natured ribbing. “You must be the writer,” she says, examining my gray grandpa cardigan.
“Indeed,” I reply, brandishing a pen and grabbing a bar stool. Heather orders dual drams of Glenfiddich 18.
“This is a clean, beautiful single-malt Scotch,” Heather rhapsodizes, swirling the snifter.We toast and sip the whisky, by turns rich and mellow, oaky and a smidgen sweet—a smooth lubricant for a conversation about her unlikely career. Back when the millennium was brand-new, Heather bartended at bygone music venue
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Tonic. Watching eclectic acts inspired her to pen tunes.The songs became her 2006 debut, the country-flavored Five Dollar Dress. Reviews were righteous. “I was written up in New York and Rolling Stone, and I performed on the BBC. Everything seemed poised for success,” Heather says.
After her European tour ended, Heather returned to town and rocked a Joe’s Pub gig. Then she went to an ATM to withdraw cab fare. Her bank account was bled out. “I’d been around the world, but I didn’t have money to get home. At that moment I had to redefine my idea of success,” she explains. “I was heartbroken by the music industry.”
The cure for heartbreak, as it has been for centuries, was found inside a liquor bottle. Heather moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, and began working at the venerable Scotch Malt Whisky Society. “I think they were excited to have a Manhattan bartender,” Heather says, laughing. At the Society, Heather discovered her knack for identifying scents. She took a test. “My percentile for nosing was crazy—like the 90th percentile,” she says.While Heather honed her whisky expertise, she began penning her follow-up, Sweet Otherwise, a delightful blend of pop and country, electronica and folk. Meanwhile, her whisky nose attracted the eye of Glenfiddich’s parent firm, William Grant & Sons.The company asked her to become its ambassador.
“Whisky was a hobby that got out of control and became my job,” Heather explains. And though there are far worse jobs, the spirits world is taxing on both mind and liver. “Last week was six days of whisky— morning, noon and night,” Heather says. She balances booze with band practice and musical side projects, like her electronica offshoot, Argon 40, featuring Powerman 5000 guitarist Adam Williams (and a killer “Free Fallin’” cover). “When the weekend comes, all I want to do is order in Chinese food.” But tonight’s Thursday, and there’s more drinking to be done.
We cab it to Flatiron Lounge, where seats are as rare as they are on rush-hour trains. “Forget this. Let’s go to Mansfield Hotel,” she says, as a taxi takes us to the Midtown inn’s M Bar (12 W. 44th St., betw. 5th & 6th Aves., 212-277-8888). It’s a cozy looker, styled with a domed skylight, mahogany bookshelves and jazz musicians.We circle the horseshoe bar. Heather orders polenta fries and whisky sours. My face wrinkles like a dirty dress shirt.
“Too sweet?” she asks. I nod. “Two Glenfiddich 12s on ice,” she orders. I assumed ice was a heresy, like ketchup on a kosher hot dog. “Not true. Ice condenses the flavor,” Heather explains. “It’s like a simple cocktail.”
We toast again, to this week’s release of Sweet Otherwise. Cool whisky warms our insides and creates a conversational intimacy. I tell Heather my girlfriend thought she’d be wearing a bikini. She laughs.
“I could still make that happen,” she kids, giving me every reason to end - New York Press


Discography

Five Dollar Dress, 2006 (BHM Europe, Wildflower USA)

Sweet Otherwise 2009 (BHM Europe, Paved Earth Music
USA)

"When the Words Don't Come" Single released UK 2009, Electronica Project Argon 40

Streaming Airplay on www.girlieaction.com

www.heathergreene.com splash page (site under construction)

Photos

Bio

As one of the world’s only female Scotch whisky experts, Heather Greene has quite a life. Like most talented and aspiring artists, Heather was already building her career as a singer/songwriter of international acclaim when she discovered her passion for what has since become her “day job”. Having sold out venues throughout the U.S. and Europe and received exposure on major radio stations worldwide, Heather moved to Scotland a couple of years ago to explore her heritage and work on her music. It was there that Heather discovered a zeal for whisky. Noticing the similarities between these two forms of craftsmanship, she threw herself into the world of Scotch, and her voyage of discovery led her to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Edinburgh, where, as the first American woman to be invited to serve on the tasting panel, she became a huge fan of the William Grant portfolio, eventually joining the company as the North Eastern U.S. Glenfiddich Ambassador.

It was also while in Scotland her second album, Sweet Otherwise, that an elderly man offered her a century-old piano -- a relic that has became a constant companion and inspiration. Recorded when she returned to New York in 2008, Sweet Otherwise, produced by Dennis Martin, evokes lush, pastoral landscapes as potently as it captures the urban pulse of any major city, weaving a kaleidoscopic array of musical elements – from classic 1960s-era folk to twangy country to textural electronica to upbeat, hooky 80s pop – into a distinctive sound. Drummer and longtime musical companion Mino Gori appears on several tracks. Guitarists Bernie Reilly, Brad Craig and Derek Lee Bronston also round out the lineup.

PASTE MAGAZINE ARTIST OF THE DAY! NOVEMBER 5 2009!