B - Congratulations Heidi! What made you enter Open Mic UK?
H - I received a tweet and thought I'd give it a go! I had nothing to lose and the potential to raise my profile.
B - Did you ever expect you'd become the overall winner of the competition?
H - Not in a million years. My confidence was really knocked in the first two rounds, as there were so many big powerful voices and I wasn't used to the competitive environment. In the end I just decided to be myself and do what I do and to my shock and great pleasure they loved it!
B - How much has life changed since you were crowned champion with 'G.I.R.L.F.R.I.E.N.D'?
H - Well I've had to make some big decisions. I was at that stage where I thought it was time I should start earning some money and looking to get a mortgage and all that sensible grown up stuff. I've had to let a job go and return my full attention to music. There have been non-stop interviews on BBC and local radio and myself and my Mum even had our début television appearance on Midlands Today!
B - What advice do you have for people like yourself needing to gain more exposure?
H - Well you can definitely do a lot yourself if you are persistent. You need to be organising music nights, releasing music and so on. On order to get onto your local station you need a bit of a scoop. Being in a competition is a good way into the media, but there are other ways too. Try BBC Introducing first and get yourself on to play a live session.
B - Would you say that talent competitions are the easiest route into the music industry?
H - Usually talent competitions equal a short shelf life. The mistake people make is getting a quick ticket in then not having the substance to maintain their fame. I think it is important to already have material and a following before entering a competition.
B - Describe how it feels to be working on your third album under the guidance of Future Music and top producers?
H - I am very grateful for the help I am now being offered. I think it's always good to keep a fresh perspective and working with different producers will help this. Gareth Henderson has worked with artists I really respect such as Corinne Bailey Rae so I think he will capture my sound very faithfully.
B - You've always worked hard independently. Where do you find inspiration for writing songs?
H - Everywhere. Usually a little interesting phrase comes into my head. That suggests a melody and then I find a couple of chords and go from there. Mostly I like to write from experience: mine or others'. I don't like insincerity so couldn't really sing a song that didn't mean anything to me. I also like to orchestrate and perform all the string sections and flute parts on my albums. I just want them to be totally me I guess.
B - Your love songs aren't so typical! Do you have any amusing Valentines Day stories to share?
H - Haha - this is true. I am quite cynical about romance. I guess there is a lot of trial and error in serial monogamy! I couldn't possibly disclose any particular stories though!
B - What is the main influence behind this 'quirky' artistic style of yours?
H - I'm just a strange mix of things really and I think my life experiences have shaped me. I was always very individual at school and not always happy as I didn't 'fit in'. The class clown but also got good grades which isn't always a popular trait! My family background is alternative - vegetarian, bohemian! There is a time in your life when you become comfortable in being different and then there is a whole world of fancy dress to play around with. The northern quarter in Manchester, charity shops and TKMaxx are the main source of my wardrobe. Sound wise my influences are anything from Billy Holiday to Feist, PJHarvey and Jeff Buckley.
B - We can't wait to see you making appearances on the festival circuit. Tell us more about your immediate music goals for 2014?
H - I want to gain a good status on the singer-songwriter circuit to enable me to play at festivals which otherwise would usually be a closed door for independent/lesser known artists. I have already got some great bookings thanks to my win. Hop Farm Festival has announced Brian Wilson as headline. I am also booked to play Osfest in Shropshire and Watchet Festival in Somerset. Before winning Open Mic UK I started booking small theater gigs and would like to see that develop as more people become aware of my music. I am also hoping to spend some of my winnings on a tour of Italy as I have a good fan-base over there with thousands of plays a week on SoundCloud.
For more information on the talented Heidi Browne, visit her website http://www.heidibrowne.co.uk/ and for your chance to follow in her footsteps, you can enter for Open Mic 2014 now at www.openmicuk.co.uk.
Future Music is also about to start auditions for TeenStar Competition, after X Factor's Luke Friend took the title in its first year. To find out more and enter visit: www.teenstarcompetition.co.uk