New York has long been a hotbed for musical talent, producing some of the most well-known bands and musicians in popular music. As a result, it can be difficult to stand out, especially as a solo act but one such musician is making a splash with her original music so, nearing the release of a new single, we caught up with her to talk shop.

Meet Ava Rae Heatley an up-and-coming New York-based singer-songwriter. Her debut EP The Drive dropped earlier this year and, with a follow-up EP and music video in the works, the new single Grin and Bear It is set to be released on October 13th. “I wrote it very recently and took it to some friends of mine to record,” explains Heatley. “We came up with the arrangement together and recorded everything you hear on the track in their attic. It took about three days to get the whole thing rehearsed, recorded, and mixed. It was a really quick turnaround time which was really exciting for me to see this song come to life in a matter of days.” Her EP was also created in a relatively short amount of time, the whole project taking less than one year.

Heatley says she is heavily influenced by other piano-rockers such as Ben Folds and Sara Bareilles. “They were the first two artist to really introduce me to piano-based rock music and I wouldn’t be writing music if I hadn’t heard theirs,” she says. Performing as a solo artist can be tough and intimidating but Heatley has had positive experiences. “I like the variables that come with playing with other people, trying to make the same songs fresh and new for audiences each night. I aim to make my shows unique in their piano-based nature,” she explains. “I don’t see a lot of it currently in popular music so I like to incorporate it in my music and live shows.”

Besides writing and performing, Heatley also teaches music and stays busy managing her music career in full-DIY mode. “As an independent artist it is hard to keep the business and the creative sides thriving at the same time. If I am writing a lot, then I’m not posting as much on social media, or if I’m working a lot to make money for recording it’s taking me away from writing and practicing,” she says. “The challenge is really about finding the time to make all these important things work together at the same time.” Many independent artists experience the struggle of limited resources and lack of label support.

Despite the challenge, Heatley stays optimistic and dedicated to the craft. “I really love the network of other talented singer-songwriters and musicians I have found through pursuing this. I love being inspired by my peers, friends, and fellow musicians. I also love the outlet it gives me from everyday life.” She hopes to reach others with her music and continue expressing herself by writing music she loves. “It’s all about connection for me. I hope that people can hear songs I write and relate to some aspect of it and feel better when they listen to it.” Her advice to other musicians is simple: “Make the music you like. Don’t let other people or your own self-doubt deter you from doing what you love and making things that you are proud of.”

You can find Ava Rae Heatley’s music on her website, Soundcloud, and Bandcamp; follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Make sure you keep an eye out for the new single coming out October 13th and watch for announcements about her follow-up EP coming soon.

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Educated but self-effacing, opinionated but reticent, and unabashedly eccentric; Alex aka Squatch is the lead writer for A life-long musician, he founded the blog in the interest of helping independent artists gain exposure and to provide insight into navigating the creative arts industry.

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