Being in Music: Heyward Howkins (Interview)



After listening two fantastic albums by Philadelphia based singer/songwriter Heyward Howkins I think it is time to hear what this artist has to say. If you aren’t  aware yet, Be Frank,Furness is his second album and it is out in several formats including vinyl. Yes I know you vinyl lovers will love this one.

Feel good melodies and intellectual lyrics are the stuff his albums are made of. Let us welcome our featured artist Heyward Howkins.

1. After two albums out, what did you learn so far in terms of writing and recording songs?
The writing part is still a mystery to me. I can never predict that aspect of it. I did learn about recording during the sessions for Be Frank, Furness. We did many of the tracks live or with just a few takes. We forced ourselves to make decisions quickly. I think that captured a real natural vibe–it also took half as long as recording the first record. I am really happy with both of my records but they are very different sonically and philosophically. The new one is the carefree pop record in a lot of ways.

2. What are your memorable experiences recording Be Frank, Furness?
It was a whirlwind. The studio was being constructed around my feet as we recorded. You never knew where things were gonna be when you returned. It was slightly chaotic but I think it helped impart a playfulness and unpredictability into the record.

3. Can you give us a background as to the choice of the album title?
I came up with song idea and was looking for a name that sounded stuffy in order to convey the message of the opening of the song. Frank Furness just popped into my head. He was a famous Philadelphia architect and I have been inside several of his buildings. The name sounds great and I was able to use it to my advantage.

4. Your songs are brilliant and they are ‘cheerful’ compared to the last album. Was it a conscious decision on your part to create songs with that mood?
No actually. I don’t think about songs in those terms. This batch of songs just sort of fell in my lap from the ether. It just happened that they were more upbeat than the last album. Having a full rhythm section this time definitely added to the upbeatness.

5. Before releasing two brilliant albums, what were the struggles you went through that shaped your soul as an artist?
Haha, those struggles continue today. It is difficult to make really good music with no label and no money. I really struggled with the notion of making a second album at all. In hindsight I am glad I did and I am very proud of it. I also hope people with agree and be tempted to pick up the vinyl so I can hopefully continue to record music.

6. You record songs in an interesting way using the analogue method and even releasing an album through vinyl. Why?

I love the sound of vocal and instruments that have passed through a tape machine and I wanted to try it this time around. I also always wanted to have my music on vinyl and since we tracked to tape vinyl seemed like the way to go. Plus nobody likes CDs in my experience and I wanted a physical relic that looked and sounded great.

7. What’s next for you?
I have a bunch of new songs. I wanna get on some good shows with my new awesome live band and hopefully I will be lucky enough to record again.

8. Where can listeners buy your albums?

Right now the new record is available on 12″ vinyl at I am also on itunes, Amazon, etc.

9. What were you doing before doing this interview?
Ugh, staring at a computer and wishing I was in a recording studio.

10. Why do you think people need music?
Music is like food in my opinion. It is required in order to enjoy life and be happy and healthy. It is a global language that everyone can become enriched by.

11. Are there upcoming shows you want to promote?
I am playing a record release show on December 12th at Johhny Brenda’s in Philadelphia. We have a five piece band with bass, drums, keys, horns and a few other surprises.

12. What is the best thing being in music?
I still like how I can surprise people. Some people I know will be unfamiliar with my music and it’s always fun to see their reaction after hearing me sing. It’s usually like, “I didn’t know you could sing.” My speaking voice is really different from my singing voice so sometimes folks don’t believe me at first.



Heyward Howkins


Red, Ripe Apples: Be Frank, Furness by Heyward Howkins

Be Frank, Furness by Heyward Howkins

Like ripe red apples giving off that fresh scent, Be Frank, Furness , the follow-up to the unique The Hale & Hearty by Heyward Howkins is tempting and ravishing. Nogales, the first track, has this pop appeal that searches for that inner child in you to get up and dance. His lyrics are quirky, deep and you have to have a sense of Americana to get into his themes. But it is the music that breaks down any barrier between listeners and this artist. It is a captivating pop/rock sound tinged with the sounds of the 60s, brit pop and folk.

His voice has also attained a new level of confidence. His voice smiles in every track. He is like the jolly philosopher discussing the woes of the human condition in a jostling but playful way. Cut & Coral reminds me a bit of Pulp with its sophisticated crooning vocals. Heyward is not new to magnifying the intensity of laid back arrangements. In Rare Earths his approach to simple percussion lines and odd time signature changes really work. It draws listener to the theme of the song while at the same time, the brief silence or nuance between lines gives you a sense of reflection. Praline Country is another unmistakable radio friendly track. I praise the vocal harmonies because they give the tune this Beach Boys vibe. The title track has that swagger that is infectious.  Lorraine takes me back to the best pop tunes of the late 60s. There is something about the chords that he use in his songs. They give off that bright vibe. Wait to that smile-inducing horn part and you will love this song!

Pundit displays that sheer Americana style. You can’t miss that sparkling harmonica. His verses are wonderful. That guitar part calls to mind 80s New Wave music. The drums are fantastic! Yes I am smiling while writing this review. Brite Kites is another tune that makes use of spare arrangement. Anyone who loves dream pop or shoe-gazer tunes will definitely appreciate what he does. This fact is further enhanced with Sweet Tea Oleander. Flimsy Stock closes the album with its notable simplicity.

Everything about Be Frank, Furness reminds me why it is great to be a music blogger. There are fresh tunes that are going to become timeless.  Heyward Howkins is an international treasure as he continues to serenade this planet with beauty and grace.

Buy Be Frank, Furness on vinyl here: