A Grammy nominated multi-instrumentalist, who began writing music by her 13th birthday (and broke America by her 28th)1, an innovative singer-songwriter with a quirky and inspirational character2, a tech savvy musician with an eccentric sense of style and uniquely graceful music3, Imogen Heap is a profoundly English artist whose songs transcend time and place to conjure captivating digital dreamscapes of love, loss and hopefulness.
Imogen's distinct, eclectronic-style, a brilliant kaleidoscopic symphony of voices, beats, sounds and emotions5 - mixing beautiful lyrics with breathtaking melodies6, traditional instrumentation with computers, to create a sound that's folk-hued and digital and sparks the imagination7 - has won her over 350,000 friends on MySpace and more than 250,000= followers on Twitter. Fans include Brian Eno, Jeff Beck and Scrubs star Zach Braff8, while US chat show hosts David Letterman, Jay Leno, Carson Daly and Hollywood mega blogger, Perez Hilton, have all championed her ability, musically and physically, to transfix9. Imogen is, in all senses, an EXPERIENCE.
Age 5, she crept downstairs in the middle of the night, carved her name in BIG letters on the grand piano lid and swore it wasn't her11. Age 12 she learned how to layer sound with an Atari and sequencing software.12 Age 18 she signed her first record contract and age 20 she released her debut album, iMegaphone.
An anagram of her name, iMegaphone mixed angst with vulnerability, quirky noise with sombre reflection, to be refreshing and intriguing14. An aurally delicious blend of emotive piano, understated technology and haunting melodies15, it was a promising experiment in turning emotions into something tangible16. Produced by David Kahne, Eurythmic Dave Stewart and Bjork/Madonna collaborator Guy Sigsworth it attracted a loyal following and her first film credit17; single "Come Here Boy" featured in Rupert Penry-Jones's Virtual Sexuality.
2002 saw a new side to Imogen as she embarked on a short collaborative journey with Guy Sigsworth, forming electronica duo Frou Frou19. Their album, Details, shifted from the darker iMegaphone to an airy, dream-pop landscape20. Laden with skipping beats, cool synth layers, and stunning attention to detail21, its glittering melancholy was punctuated with beautifully intricate and poetic lyrics22. Together Imogen & Guy were able to take computer music and bring from it real sensuality and emotion23. Frou Frou toured Europe and America, and became an underground hit after Scrubs star Zach Braff used "Let Go" in his film Garden State24. The duo also recorded a version of Bonnie Tyler's "Holding Out For A Hero" for the closing credits of Shrek 2.
With new confidence and determined to have complete creative control, Imogen remortgaged her flat to fund her second solo album. Working almost entirely alone, Speak For Yourself took Imogen exactly a year to write and produce. It was released in 2005 on her own Megaphonic label26. An album of extreme joy, desperate sadness and a little bit of wondering what it would be like to be a stalker27, it's Imogen laying bare her soul over 12 tracks28. Stunningly original and creative, incorporating everything from piano to blips and boops, carpet tubes, passing trains and a frying pan29, a shimmering vehicle of electro and lustrous orchestra30, the album delivered huge pop hooks, atmospheric soundscapes and lyrics to make you consider the intricacies of your own life31. Therapy on a disc, a journal read aloud and set to music32, this time Imogen took all she'd learnt musically and lyrically to a whole new dimension.
Utilizing the internet to market Speak For Yourself, Imogen pioneered a new Artist/Audience relationship34. She was one of the first artists to bring her music to a new audience via MySpace, iTunes, YouTube and her blog35. The inclusion of sparse vocoder/harmonizer song "Hide & Seek" in the season 2 finale of hit TV show The O.C. was an another jump start for Imogen's career36, sending the song to #8 on the US iTunes Hot 100 Songs and to #1 on iTunes UK37. "Hide & Seek"'s rise led to licensing deals with Sony BMG on both sides of the Atlantic, ensuring the album got the full release and promotion it deserved.
Electrifying performances on David Letterman, Jay Leno and Carson Daly cemented Imogen's US success. Unique sets at Sundance and Coachella, and extensive touring, established her as an unparalleled live experience39. No two gigs are alike. Treading a fine line between chaos and brilliance, live she's technology meets edge of the seat spontaneity in a one woman show.40 With fairy lights, a MacBook Pro, clear Perspex piano, Keytar and a mbira, she sends shivers down the spine41, looping sounds and hitting switches, and bringing it all together into one of the most intimate and intoxicating shows imaginable42. New and exciting every time, she doesn't just play music, live she IS music.
In 2005 and 2006 Imogen became songstress of choice for US film and TV44. "Goodnight And Go", "Speeding Cars" and her cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" were all used in The O.C.45 She Heap-ified children's nursery rhyme "I'm A Lonely Little Petunia In An Onion Patch" for an episode of HBO's Six Feet Under46, covered the Classics IV song "Spooky" for Reese Witherspoon film Just Like Heaven47 and wrote, performed, recorded and produced "Can't Take It In" for The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe.
From English eccentric to celebrated artist, Imogen was nominated for Best New Artist and Best Song Written For Motion Picture for "Cant Take It In" at the 49th Grammy Awards in 200749 and caused quite a stir on the red carpet when she turned up wearing a lily pond themed dress complete with Gary The Grammy Frog 50. After touring Speak For Yourself across Europe and America, Imogen was eager to get back to recording and start work on her third solo album, Ellipse. For inspiration, she set out on a writing trip which took her to Maui, Tasmania, China and Japan51. The album's first song, "Wait It Out", was started sitting at a piano in a house in Maui, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, in March 200752. When she came back to England, Imogen took on her childhood family home 53 and fittingly transformed the room she used to play in as a child into her studio.
From the writing trip to building the studio, recording to mixing, tweaking to re-tweaking, Imogen kept fans regularly updated on the album's progress via Twitter, MySpace and YouTube55. Partly out of love for her fans, partly to maintain her sanity56, she pioneered a new kind of creative process, one that's open, inclusive and asks fans to participate57. From bursts of late night craziness via 12seconds.tv, to little snippets of songs in her 40+ YouTube posts58, the always upbeat Ms Heap video-blogged the hell out the recording59. An artist who has gone above and beyond just making an album60, redoing, fixing, ripping apart and piecing together the picture perfect record61, she worked herself into near madness, documenting and sharing all the tantrums62. Amazingly accessible and down to earth for such a luminary63, Imogen truly understands the relationship with her fans as a human one, rather than one married to business64. She even encourages fans to be creative, writing her press biog and helping her design album artwork65. The Twitter biography itself defines Imogen's innovative, fresh and fun approach to everything she does.
If the vBlogs heightened expectation, the first new track to emerge, "Not Now But Soon", assured fans wouldn't be disappointed67. First airing on hit US show Heroes, it once again confirmed her ability to transport to another level, pushing boundaries with raw beats and ethereal melodies68. Imogen also found time during recording to remix former Sneaker Pimp Chris Corner's IAMX single "Spit It Out", giving it a slinky new outlook69 and re-record "Hide & Seek" for Rupert Hine's Songs For Tibet charity project70. She contributed to Brian Eno's Plague Songs album, collaborated with Nitin Sawhney on "Bring It Home"71, played at the wedding of The O.C. creator Josh Schwartz72, co-wrote and produced a track for Mika's second album and donated an unfinished track, "The Song That Never Was", to the Twitter charity event Twestival - fans donated to download Imogen's vocals and add their own music; there are now more than 400 versions of the song.
A multi-instrumentalist with what seems to be limitless creative ability74, the culmination of eccentric style and a sound which is unlike anything else75, Imogen's an artist who isn't afraid to experiment, either with her music or with her relationship with her fans76. Her new album once again seduces you into a world where fantasy and reality meet in an atmospheric dream state77, to be the musical soulmate of both Casablanca and Bladerunner78. It's organic electronica79. Hauntingly beautiful computer music80. Avant-garde. Otherworldly. Comforting. Tantalising. Heaven on a disc.