Heather Nova: A day in the life of a rock star on tour and at home

Heather Nova is a Bermudian singer-songwriter playing folky, alternative pop. Here is the video premiere for “Girl on the Mountain," a new single from her 10th album, "The Way It Feels," to be released March 25.

Please enjoy this insight into a day in the life of Heather Nova while she is on tour and then how different it is when she is back at home.

Heather Nova: A day in the life of a rock star on tour

A day in my life on tour is totally different to a day in my life at home.  When I am at home my life revolves around my son – getting up at 6am to get him to school, keeping house, doing his laundry, getting him to football practice, cooking dinner, doing my writing, etc. But at the moment I’m on a 3-week tour of Europe. So my days look a little different!

Today I woke up at 10am. We usually don’t get to bed on the bus before 2am since load-out of the venue isn’t complete ‘til around midnight and then we need to wind down from the gig. Depending on whether the bus is moving or not I will go to bed between midnight and 2am.

I woke up and opened my little window to see where we had “landed.” Today, Villingen Schwenningen in Southern Germany. First thing I did was get up and drink a large glass of water. I do that every day whether at home or on tour. Staying hydrated helps to keep my immune system in good shape. I go into the lounge/kitchen part of the bus and see who’s up and who’s already gone out.

Then I make my breakfast – I have the same thing for breakfast usually, and it’s a bit weird! But it gets me all the nutrients and supplements I need. I am very conscious of what I put into my body. I have done a lot of detective work over the years and have found what works and what doesn’t, what runs me down and what keeps me going, what makes me congested and what keeps me clear, etc.

So my breakfast is organic oats over which I pour boiling water. I add miso, maca powder, curcumin and some grass fed butter or coconut oil. Yum! I drink a tea made from “supreme protector” capsules by Ron Teegarden. They contain astragalus, reishi, cordyceps and schizandra. At home I might have some matcha green tea as well since I need that extra boost for the school runs ;-) but on the road I drink no caffeine as it makes it hard to sleep at night on the bus.

Then it’s time to find out where the shower is today! Most places have decent backstage and shower facilities but today we are playing in a 500-year-old Monastery. Amazing, but short on the mod cons! So the promoter has booked a hotel room around the corner. I head out there for my shower.

After my shower I go into the venue to get wifi so I can check my emails and answer any urgent ones that need attention. Then I head out on a walk. Arnulf and Mishka have already gone and come back as they got up early so I’m on my own. I try to walk every day, both for the exercise and so that I get to see a bit of the area. Today I walk through the town, which is incredibly beautiful with cobblestones and many medieval looking buildings. I walk to the edge of the town and along the city wall.

I feel energized and my head feels clearer after my walk. I go back to the venue and do some business stuff and a bit of work on a song I started the other day.

The catering has arrived and I love my rider! I wish all this was laid out for me at home! Fresh berries, fresh organic veggies all washed and cut, goats’ cheese and a selection of herbal teas. So I have a little lunch.

Then it’s time for a filmed interview so I get a bit of makeup on and change my clothes. I am more relaxed about interviews than I was in the early days. Still not my favourite part of this job but at least it doesn’t stress me like it used to. And I appreciate the interest, and the chance to talk about music. Though ultimately I’m a very private person so still don’t relish the process.

At 4pm we have sound check. My crew have already set up the stage and line-checked and Arnulf sound checks all his instruments before it’s my turn.  Sound check for me takes about an hour – getting our mixes right in our in-ear monitors and then playing through some songs, fine tuning things we noticed from the night before, etc.

My brother Mishka is opening for me on this tour so he sound checks after me. Then we all have dinner.

We always eat at 6pm because I like to leave more than 2 hours between eating and singing. Again I’m very grateful for my rider. We have all organic food and it’s usually delicious!

After dinner I do a “meet and greet” with the people who have bought VIP tickets. I love meeting my “fans” as I find out what my music has meant to them in their lives. I like hearing their stories, what they do for a living, etc.

Then I have some time to warm up and get ready for the show. I need to sing for about an hour before I go on stage just to get my voice to the place I like it. So I sit with my guitar and sing on my own.

Che starts giving us the count down warning about 30 minutes before stage.  I start to feel nervous about 10 minutes before. I still get nervous every time. I think it’s healthy. Keeps me on my toes. We always have a group hug before going on – Che, Arnulf and me. Then Stephan, my sound engineer, fades out the cd and fades in the tree-frogs. The lights go down and we’re on. It takes me a few lines of the first song to relax into the music, to get a sense of the sound in my monitors (the sound always changes once there are people in the room).

Singing live gives me the most wonderful feeling – the closest thing I can describe it to is a kind of freedom. I feel ageless and alive and free of my self-consciousness. I lose myself in the music. I feel I’m fulfilling my purpose, and knowing all the people there have a strong connection to the songs makes me feel connected to life.

For the final encore we invite Mishka onstage and we all play Bowie’s Starman together. I love that feeling – looking over at my brother while we sing our hearts out together. It’s a profound moment for me every night.

After the show I go back into my dressing room for 10 minutes to drink some water (I don’t drink anything on stage and we play for about an hour and 45 minutes.)

I usually feel quite full of energy after a show. I then go out to the merchandise stand and sign CDs for people. They appreciate it a lot and it’s nice to get feedback. I never used to do it but then I would find people waiting by the bus in the cold for autographs. The only thing I don’t like is everyone wanting a photo. I am beginning to feel like the Native Americans who believed that every time your photo is taken they take a bit of your soul! I’d prefer people to just take photos when I’m on stage. But it seems to mean a lot and it’s hard to say no.

After that I go back to the dressing room and face-time with my son. It's the first tour I haven't brought him along on and I miss him a lot. We face-time every evening after the show as, because of the time difference, he is just getting ready for bed. Then, if there’s a shower in the venue I’ll take a shower. If not, I just wash my face and brush my teeth and head out to the bus. We all convene there and go over the show and relax and usually I’ll drink some licorice tea. We have a lot of laughs on the bus. Having a good compatible group of people on tour is key to a good tour. It’s reflected in the whole experience.

Sometime after 1am I go to bed. We have bunks in the back of the bus with curtains so it’s quite private once you’re in your bunk. I put a drop of lavender on my pillow, put in my earplugs and go to sleep. The bus drives as we sleep, so tomorrow we will wake up in another town and do it all over again!


Heather Nova: A day in the life of a rock star at home

"The alarm went off at 6am. I got up and showered. At 6:15 my son came into the kitchen and announced that he was supposed to dress as a crazy character from a book for school today!

Luckily crazy characters are the kind of costume I’m pretty good at. He decides he wants to be Skink from "Skink No Surrender" so I go to my closet and assemble something that has him looking like a crazy misfit, including my old True Religion jeans with patchwork and rips. (He is 12 and can actually fit into my jeans if he rolls them up and wears a belt.) We cut the front off some sneakers that are too small for him, he dons a pork pie hat and an old Hawaiian shirt and I think it's pretty complete. But we are half-way through breakfast when he tells me Skink wears an eye patch and it's really important. So I finish packing his lunch and then construct an eye patch out of felt and a piece of elastic.

We live on a small island so have to get into a boat to get to the mainland every day. We get into the boat at 7:25 and I start the engine, only it doesn't start. Sebastian has already let go of the dock, (as the engine usually does start). We are drifting down the bay and by some stroke of luck we drift up to a speed boat that is moored, which is very lucky as otherwise we would end up on the rocks. It looks like the tank is very low on gas so I figure that's the problem. But we need to get ashore somehow and there's too much wind to paddle the boat. We tie up to the speed boat and I call my sister who lives nearby. She doesn’t have any gas but heroically drives over still in her pajamas and rows out to us. We leave our boat tied to the speed boat and row back with her so I can drive Sebastian to school. He is of course late for school because of this, but I tell him it's all part of his "crazy character."

This is just the beginning of my day. Later I will get home and go online to announce the release of my video on my social media. I'll be booking flights and organising my US tour and also cleaning the kitchen, vacuuming the living room, and later grocery shopping and picking my son up from school. Tonight he has his first school dance, so we'll be assembling a whole other outfit! Tomorrow he has a football match and a birthday party, so I have to make sure his gear is all washed and that I get a present for his friend. I love the contrast of life at home on an island and life on the road. Certainly there is never a dull moment!"

Heather Nova is a Bermudian singer-songwriter who plays alternative rock with singles charting worldwide, and invitations to play major festivals in Europe, the UK and America, as well as song placement in major TV shows and film soundtracks.

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