There was a time when Heston was cautious about making his music available to the mass public. Due to an influx of cookie-cutter pop acts that ruled the airwaves, he was unsure if his soulful sounds could find a mainstream audience. But after the release of Storyteller, he proved that independent artists can achieve stateside and worldwide success with the combination of great music and marketing. Heston discusses his musical influences and making it as an independent musician.

amir shaw

Who are some of the artists who influenced you?

I was born in Dominica, so I was influenced by so many genres of music. Artists that remind me most of my youth are  Michael Jackson, Sade and Beres Hammond out of Jamaica. I think he was the most talented artist out of Jamaica. When it came to reggae, he was what Luther Vandross was to R&B.

How did you decide to create music?

I wrote and listened to music as a child. When I moved to Atlanta in 1999, I did a lot of open mic competitions. I met a lot of musicians at that time, and I worked with them to produce my first EP. I was then on a few compilations, and my song “If” was chosen for the BET show “Real Life Divas.”

Your album, Storyteller, did relatively well for it to be an independent release. What allowed it to reach such a large audience?

Storyteller sold well with the help of Dome Records in the U.K., and my publicist, Fiona Bloom, has helped me push and get my name out there. It’s definitely hard work. A publicist is an artist’s best friend. By having a team to push the music, you can reach a wider audience. It just can’t be about the music. Because when the music [is finished], it has to be promoted. This music business is full of dips and valleys. If you’re not dedicated, it can pull you under.

What can we expected in the future?

The new project is Warm Human, Cold World. It was released in Europe, but is now being released in the U.S. I wanted to write an album that you can enjoy from top to bottom. It’s something that can be enjoyed for a lifetime.

A.R. Shaw

A.R. Shaw is an author and journalist who documents culture, politics, and entertainment. He has covered The Obama White House, the summer Olympics in London, and currently serves as Lifestyle Editor for Rolling Out magazine. Follow his journey on Twitter @arshaw and Instagram @arshaw23.