By Brad Lopez
By Tom Murphy
By Noah Hubbell
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By then, Heap was thoroughly fed up with major labels and decided to go it alone -- a move to which Speak's title alludes. "I just wanted to know what I could do -- the maximum amount I could do," she explains. "And recording, writing, arranging and producing sounds like a lot, but it's actually pretty much the same thing. When you're writing a song, you're constantly producing it, constantly arranging it, constantly adding in sounds that fit the other sounds you've done, and you're mixing it as you're going along. It's not as daunting as it seems, because it doesn't feel like I'm doing seven roles. It just feels like I'm starting something and then finishing it."
Upon completing songs such as "Hide and Seek," an atmospheric, Vocoder-laced ditty that's been featured prominently on The O.C., Heap devoted herself to the business of marketing them. She admits that coordinating the distribution deals wasn't much fun ("Yeah, that got on my nerves"), but she enjoyed most other aspects of the process. "I liked getting the team together at my record company," she maintains, "and the artwork was very important to me." Among other things, she insisted on a four-fold Digipak in the U.K., "and I figured out that it's not really that much money to do it. Now they can't go, 'It's too expensive,' because I can say, 'No, I know how much that costs, because I did it.'"
In the end, Heap's one-woman-band approach wound up saving money, which helps explain why she's become such a favorite of movie and TV studios. Her songs have turned up in theatrical offerings such as Just Like Heaven and The Chronicles of Narnia, and she's currently at work creating her first complete soundtrack for an ambitious documentary about flamingos. The tale will be told almost entirely through visuals and music, and while she'll be singing on assorted tracks, her voice will be used as one instrument among many. "There aren't going to be any lyrics, which is great for me," she says, "because I find lyrics to be a pain in the ass."
And then she laughs self-deprecatingly, despite having no good reason to do so.